MTB handlebar width: correct mountain bike handlebar width

Today, mountain bike handlebars are wider than they used to be. This gives you more control over your handlebars than with narrower handlebars. Still, a handlebar that is too wide can not be comfortable. In fact, you can get physical complaints while mountain biking. This guide tells you everything about the width of the mountain bike handlebar.

Why is the correct MTB handlebar width important?

One of the things that is often forgotten when adjusting a mountain bike is the handlebar width. Too little attention is paid to the correct width of the MTB handlebar. And today that is an important factor, as manufacturers seem to be making MTB handlebars wider and wider.

Both too wide and too narrow mountain bike handlebars can cause various problems. Important reasons to determine the correct width:

  • You can get physical complaints, especially pain in your neck and shoulders
  • Less control over your mountain bike
  • Dangerous situations in densely forested areas
handlebar width mtb
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Determining handlebar width MTB

Unlike many other adjustments, the handlebar width is not a guideline. Although shoulder width can say a lot about how wide a handlebar can be, it remains a very personal feeling. One simply prefers to cycle with a wide handlebar, while another prefers a narrower version.

When you have purchased a new mountain bike, it is simply ‘try and experience’ how you ride a mountain bike. You will notice soon enough whether you feel you have to put your hands too much apart and this causes shoulder, neck and/or back problems.

Shorten mountain bike handlebars

Have you ever asked the hairdresser to make your hair longer? That is actually the same as making a handlebar wider: it is not possible to extend a handlebar. Fortunately, mountain bikes are increasingly equipped with extremely wide handlebars, so that you can shorten them where necessary.

Many handlebars have indications on the ends, which indicate the handlebar width. This makes trimming much easier. You must – of course – first remove the MTB grips from the handlebars and disassemble the MTB handlebars.

With a so-called ‘pipe cutter’ you can easily shorten a metal mountain bike handlebar. However, if you have a carbon handlebar, shortening is not smart. A carbon handlebar can lose its strength if it is shortened.

Shorten the handlebars in small steps: once shortened too far, the handlebars cannot be lengthened. After shortening a little bit, you can get back on your mountain bike to experience for yourself whether it feels better. Do you have the feeling that the width is correct, but do you still experience physical complaints? Then this can also be due to the wrong mountain bike handlebar height.

Frequently asked questions about the width of a mountain bike handlebar

Why are mountain bike handlebars so wide?

The advantage of a wide mountain bike handlebar is that you have more control on technical routes. A wider handlebar can also come in handy when downhill.

Can you shorten a mountain bike handlebar yourself?

You can. The best way to do this is with a pipe cutter. In many cases you will discover indications on the ends of a mountain bike handlebars that you can use to shorten the handlebars. Be careful with carbon handlebars: they can lose their strength if they are shortened.

How can you determine the correct MTB handlebar width?

There is no fixed guideline for a correct handlebar width. This is completely personal. It is best to experience this yourself and adjust it according to your feeling.

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