When adjusting a mountain bike, adjusting the handlebars cannot be missed. The steering wheel must be at the correct height to prevent you from getting physical complaints. Think of neck complaints or pain in your back while mountain biking. On this page you will discover everything about the correct handlebar height for a mountain bike. Spoiler alert: there is no fixed calculation or size, because the best handlebar height is very personal.
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Why is the correct handlebar height so important?
Adusting a mountain bike to suit your riding style and height is incredibly important. If you don’t do this, you can get physical complaints or even unsafe situations. The handlebar height is also very important here and should not be forgotten. Some reasons to make sure the handlebars are at the right height:
- Fewer physical complaints: a handlebar that is too high or too low can cause neck complaints, back complaints or pain in the hands/wrists
- Better riding efficiency: With climbing and descending, the right height is very important for good mountain biking
- Safer situations: there is also better steering behavior with the right adjustment, which allows you to swerve faster or make better turns, for example
Adjust mountain bike handlebars high or low?
If you have your MTB handlebars very low during mountain biking, that is a big plus in the field of aerodynamics. However, with a handlebar set too low, you can suffer from your neck, lower back or shoulders. When the handlebars are a bit higher, you can sit more relaxed on your mountain bike, but then you are a windcatcher.
Now that it is clear why correct adjustment is important, let’s look at how to determine the correct height.
Determining handlebar height mountain bike
But, how do you determine the correct handlebar height? There are many different ways you could determine this. It is good to mention that these are guidelines: ultimately your body is unique, as is the feeling you experience while mountain biking. That said, you can stick to the following guidelines:
- The handlebars are often a bit lower than the saddle (see how to calculate the MTB saddle height)
- In many cases, the handlebars are at hip height when adjusted correctly
Adjusting the height of the MTB handlebar
Adjusting a mountain bike handlebar is very easy. To do this, follow the steps below.
- Loosen the top cap with an Allen key
At the top of the handlebars you will discover the top cap. You can loosen it using an Allen key. Remove the top cap from the handlebar when it is completely unscrewed.
- Loosen the horizontal stem bolts
On the side of the stem you will discover two small bolts. Unscrew it; you can leave them in loosely.
- Slide the handlebars off the steerer tube
You can now carefully slide the stem off the steerer tube.
- Fit or remove the steerer tube with spacers
Do you want to lower the MTB handlebars? Then – where possible – remove spacers. Is the steering wheel too low? Then you can place spacers under the steerer tube.
- Slide your handlebars back onto the steerer tube and mount it
Carefully slide the stem back onto the steerer tube. Screw the stem bolts back on and screw the top cap back on.
- Check the steering wheel and adjust
Check whether the steering wheel is securely fastened, but also that it can still steer well. If you screw on the top cap too tight, steering can be less easy.
When you’re done adjusting the handlebar height, it’s a matter of experience. Get on your mountain bike and see if it feels right. You may also need to adjust the MTB handlebar width.
Frequently asked questions about MTB handlebar height
The answer to this question is very personal. Everyone’s body is different and everyone cycles differently. The correct handlebar height therefore differs per person. There is also not one way to calculate this.
The best way to calculate the correct handlebar height is to simply experience it. Follow the guidelines at the top of the page and get on your bike to ‘feel’ whether it rides well.
By unscrewing the top cap and the stem bolts, you can remove the handlebars from the stem. Use spacers to raise the handlebars or remove them for a lower handlebar height.