Should I chop my XC handlebars?

Just double checked…it is a 70 stem. Bars are currently @ 620mm and if I could cut them down further, I would.

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Ride.what you want. Waaaaaaay wide bars are all the rage here and elsewhere I assume. Funny seeing guys complain about “tree gates” on our local Facebook page cause they ride 820 bars on a trail that has no downhill more than 20 yards and no rocks. I ride 680 and I’ve never pulled a muscle trying to turn.

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Here is a set at 600mm from the factory I found in my spare parts bin, thst came on a used bike, too narrow for me.If you need narrow, they are not yet cut down, PM me and we can figure it out.


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What bike is this on?

A fat bike….

Making big changes to the manufacturer-designed stem length is sketchy. MTB, much more so than road, depends on geometry for proper handling and suspension behavior. Moving the stem a long way in or a long way out can change that drastically. The pros are obviously exceptions to every rule, but even they don’t seem to be running super-long stems anymore. They do seem to run a highly negative slope stem, but it isn’t universally long like it is in the road world. If you need a 90+mm stem, I’d suggest a larger frame and shorter stem. Otherwise the handling will be off.

This is not to say that it can’t be done safely or at all obviously.

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That’s not necessarily true. If you have the time and money, items like stems, handlebars, spacers, saddles etc. are just starting points. Items you would expect to change out if you took your brand new bike to a bike fitter.

It is important to look at it as a system. If your position on the bike is correct with your 80mm stem, changing that to a 50mm stem would require changes elsewhere to compensate. Like taking out spacers & using wider bars.

I generally don’t tell people their setup is wrong as long as they are comfortable with it. So if it works, it works.

I could have a 30mm stem on there and I still wouldn’t ride 770 bars…wide bars just aren’t comfortable for me.

I’ve been in this game long enough to understand a product trend…I’ve seen bars go from wide to narrow to wide again w/ rise to very wide…it’ll come back around at some point.

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For small changes, this true. But when making these changes, you must acknowledge that it will change the handling and suspension characteristics, sometimes drastically. A longer stem will move your hands further out over the axle, affecting where your weight is balanced and slowing the handling. A shorter stem will have similar effects, but obviously opposite. It will change things like the sag settings and tire pressure. I have seen bikes with 110mm or 20mm stems when the bike was designed around a 70mm stem. Best believe those bikes are squirrely. Again, not to say it can’t or shouldn’t be done, just know these potentially unintended consequences will accompany the changes you make.

Exactly! Completely agree.
My point is that you can achieve very similar seated reach for putting down power, while getting different handling while standing(for better or worse). But you have to think of it as a system, and not just chopping bars or adding wider bars(unless your bike fit was wrong to begin with).

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This forum is a little behind the “trends” if I may - even Pink Bike has articles suggesting that the super wide bar trend went too far. I think most riders land on 760-780 as the tendency to favor the DH is appealing to a broader audience, myself included.

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I just came here to post one such article:

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Good article…but I’m still kinda shaking my head at the widths listed for those riders.

Now, I hardly ride MTB’s anymore and when I do, I am renting one when I travel (I don’t even own a modern MTB, other than my fat bike which is used for winter commuting or snow rides), so I’ll admit my preferences could be out of date vs. modern geometry…but even when renting one, I am left thinking “these bars are ridiculous”.

I don’t imagine you are riding your fatbike like I am riding my enduro or XC bike. You can tell exactly where I rest my hands on the bars looking at the wear on my grips (reminds me, I need new ones) and they are on the far edge at 800mm and 740mm respectively. I am going to mess around and try to move them in to experiment, just because why not, but I am very comfortable on that bike.

I am also primarily an MTB rider with a leaning towards aggressive DH style of riding. I just happen to like pedaling up instead of using a lift.

Whatever you are comfortable with is probably going to be ideal.

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I just ride the MTB course next to my house. I absolutely won’t go any wider because it hurts my hands (the grips must align with them, and narrower bars makes this easier) and because I quite frequently end up wishing I had another inch or two of clearance…

It’s an XC course, not a downhill course, though.

Im an XC guy myself. My bike same stock with 720mm, so yeah I guess chop 20mm off each side. Didnt know my dimensions until I just checked

I’m on a width sweep finding journey for my Mtb’s. Currently at 740 at 9 degree sweep w/50 or 60mm stem, depending on the bike. I’m pretty small at 5’5”. Im on 42c bars & a 70mm stem on my gravel bike & holy cow do those feel small!

I’ve run width as narrow as 600 something with sweep from as much as 24 degrees to 8, I think. Most of the past few years has been spent with SQlab 12 degree sweep bars at 720mm. I found myself getting horrible pain in the heel of my right hand with those bars. It didn’t start out that way but something in my physiology has changed, I guess. I’m currently very happy with the 740/9 I’m on now. I always ride with my hands at the far ends of the grips. There is some term I can’t think of right now (maybe cognitive extension?) that says if my hands are at the ends of the bars, I’m much less likely to clip a tree with them & it’s true enough. I ride in some very tight trees and rarely have a problem.

Like you’re saying it’s not the bars in isolation, it’s the whole “package” with the modern geometry. Can’t just look at one part.

For mountain biking, aerodynamics is far less important than for road biking. So there is no “need” to go narrow for that reason. Other than holding on to the bars while seated, the primary “inputs” the bars are either pushing or pulling.

Just like a pull-up & push-up can be done with either narrow or wide grip, a bar can be narrow or wide relative to the user. But for most(?) people, their best strength doing pushing and pulling is somewhere around shoulder width. So at least to me, it makes sense that the ideal handle bar width, when discounting aero, is somewhere around that too.