Talk to me about comfortable carbon mountain bike bars

Hey, I’m getting older, I don’t like that jackhammer feeling when I ride, I am appreciating comfort these days. I’m using a 270g aluminum bar and thinking about upgrading to carbon…if I can get a little more comfort. My buddy just got the On One bar and feels it has more compliance than his previous bars (I haven’t ridden his bike yet). Carbon Handlebar - OneUp Components US

Is there a consensus if this is “real” or not? Does it even matter on a 150/160mm bike? And if so, what the most comfy option? Thanks :slight_smile:


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I went from Mondraker OE ally bars to Race Face Atlas ally bars, to Renthal Fat Bar Carbon and currently on Spank Spike Vibracore bars…I can’t genuinely say I’ve noticed any difference.

The biggest differences I find are grips, tyre pressures (and inserts) and suspension setup.

(All on a 160mm bike).


FWIW, I’ve got one friend with those OneUp carbon bars and he also says they provide some nice flex/comfort. He’s had hand numbness issues over the years and plays around with grips, etc alot. Accordingly, I regard his opinion at least a bit more than most who will usually say the thing they bought is awesome since they already bought it and want it to be awesome.

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The “MTB Podcast” worldwide cyclery guys were talking about the feeling of some different bars including the one you mention on Episode 94. They also have a youtube video about it: OneUp Carbon Bars | Is The "Compliance" Legit? (Compared & Reviewed) - YouTube

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I’m going to say not real. Between tire suspension and your 150mm fork, I find it really hard to believe that you’ll feel 1-2mm of handlebar deflection.

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As said above, I’ve also heard great things about the OneUp bar, but not sure if you’d really notice on a relatively long travel fork.

What brand/model of fork are you running?

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For buzz I don’t think it’s the fork since I didn’t really notice a increase in high frequency buzz when I adjusted my fork from 160mm to 140mm.

I think grips of the appropriate size and materials would help and be a bit cheaper test than bars. The Revo grips get good reviews but are eye wateringly expensive for grips. So maybe the reviews are people convincing themselves they are worth it!

I think I’d test grips out and then go to bars.

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Bike fit/setup

Then look at kit.

I don’t get beat up on all day rides on a rigid 29er, aluminium bars, Ergon grips. By all day I do mean all day. It took 18 months to get my bike set up so that I could do that, basically because a long ride would cause nerve damage in my hands and it would take a month or so until I could try the next change.

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I have those bars on my enduro bike and I love them. I notice a difference, but I’m in coastal BC where the trails are extremely rough. You might be hard pressed to notice anything if you ride a big bike on smooth trails.

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One thing that makes perfect sense once you’ve heard it is to avoid chopping your carbon bars down if comfort is important to you. The carbon layup is optimised to the original width, and chopped bars will be harsher. If you can buy the width you need without chopping, you’ll get a better ride quality

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Lyric 160mm and set up like a big marshmallow.

I’m not on super smooth trails at home but…they’re pretty smooth. I really noticed it on a trip to summit county Breckenridge. Hammering down Baker’s Tank…I mean, I"m sure it’s not rough compared to lots of trails but for me the high frequency small to mid sized hits were “somewhat uncomfortable”. Hell my calves hurt too. And just to make this short aside a little longer (LOL), I’m running 70psi in the fork with zero tokens, 200psi in the shock (super deluxe) and I’m 200#'s kitted up so…pretty soft at both ends. Bike is Canyon Spectral.

Do you have a short list of things that made a difference that you could share?

Thanks guys!


One option is to look at something like a Vorsprung Luftkappe or similar upgrade for your fork. Supposed to provide incredible compliance/initial suppleness without affecting bottom out/mid stroke support.

At least that’s my understanding of it.

I think a carbon bar is a worthwhile choice if you can justify the cost but know that it may not solve your issues on it’s own. I think there are a few brand that are better than others with specific layups. Are you running 35mm stem clamp or 31.8?

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Please share the process you used to get there!

I’m fine on 2-hour rides, but my right hand started feeling in pain in the third hour of my 4-hour XCM race on Saturday. Any approach you can share for what sensations you looked for, what adjustments you made, and what worked and what didn’t, would be very welcome!!!

In my experience (with road bikes and mountain bikes), it isn’t about those deflections, carbon frames and parts make a difference on how they dampen vibrations. The carbon bars I have owned feel more comfortable, because they transmit less of the buzz. (The exception are carbon seat posts where you get a meaningful amount of leverage and deflection.)

I’d like to second @bobw here: comfort mostly comes from fit and, related to that, bike geometry. Comfort can come from small things. I had a fit with a former pro, and he made a few mall adjustments to my cleat position, and the result is magical. Of course, it isn’t really magic, just experience, but still.

So be sure that you are on a bike with the right geometry for you. Forget about brands, component specs and the like, does the bike fit you? If you are sure the answer is yes, you can look at dialing in the fit. The two most common adjustments are seat height, stem length and bar length. E. g. the previous owner of my mountain bike had 670 mm wide bars on them. They were too narrow, so I will exchange them for 720 mm bars next weekend. But of course this changes body position and if you want to stay as upright as before, you might need to change the stem length.

Do you need to modify your touch points? (Grips make a huge difference, too. I really like the soft ESI foam grips on my new mountain bike, although I ran ergonomic Ergon grips for literally a decade before that.) What about crank length? (In my experience this is less of an issue, at least in principle. I would like 165 mm cranks on my hardtail, too, at faster cadences my pedal stroke tends to become “unround” on my mountain bike.)

I was getting mild nerve damage, would start as pins and needles, in the small and ring fingers of both hands. Occasionally the middle finger would be affected as well. I’d be fine on rides up to six hours or maybe eight if the ground wasn’t too rough but by ten hours the symptoms would appear.

Initial changes, just one at a time mind, were to stem length and height. Increased height made most difference but really only delayed the onset by a few hours. I probably added 30mm of spacers overall.

I then happened to read an article on The Guardian (British newspaper) website about saddle sore problems in the British Women’s track cycling team. One of the solutions was to tilt the saddle nose down to reduce pressure on soft tissue and encourage use of sit bones on the saddle wings.

I tilted my saddle nose down by about 5 degrees. Problem solved! I think that the handlebar problem was actually a secondary one and what was happening was that I was getting bruised by the saddle in delicate areas and subconsciously shifting my weight onto my hands.

I still have the stem at the higher position, the popular “slammed stem” is fine for short rides but for longer rides you want to be sat more upright. Also to tilt the saddle it helps if it has some texture to help you from slipping forward. This has worked with both riser bars and Jones Loop bars.


31.8 but I could switch the stem at the same time if there was a reason to go 35mm. I’ve heard they are more stiff…which is kinda what I don’t want…but I’m sure carbon can be tuned in any number of ways.


I’ve fallen for downsizing frames multiple times over the decades and am now riding an XL at 6’ 3" and I’ve ridden the spectral in L…it just felt too small. I’m pretty sure I’m on the right sized frame. Bar width feels great, reach is 1" less than my hardtail was so…I feel like it’s a pretty solid position

One thing about frames though…back in the day of 71/73 NORBA geometry (remember that?) we sat further behind the bb. Now with 76 as a pretty common seat tube angle we’re sitting farther forward. Great on climbs but I think it contributes to more pressure on the hands/arms/shoulders on the flats. Hell my TT bike is not much steeper than 76 LOL.


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I was using a standard alloy Bontrager stem with Ritchey carbon bars on my XC bike with 110mm travel. I’ve swapped it out for the RSL all in one bar/stem and the difference is NOT imaginary!!! There was noticably less trail buzz, and clearly more compliance.

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You know that’s interesting. I’ve always felt a little downward tilt puts more pressure on my hands and the “sliding forward” and “skin tension on the taint” (if that makes any sense) sensations were not good. But the idea of subconsciously putting more pressure on my hands…hell it’s possible. I’m gonna mess around with a different saddle today so I’ll be futzing with tilt anyway, I’ll give it another shot.