Handlebar Widths

Photos & Words By: Chris Gaeta


It seems as though the topic of handlebar widths went from 750mm to 800mm overnight. Indeed, the times of 650mm bars are gone with 750-780mm being somewhat of a new standard, but why are bikes coming with 800mm? Is it what the brands recommend now? Hopefully, this article sheds some light on the nuances when it comes to handlebar widths and modern mountain bikes.

Why 800mm?

A common question we get around the shop when customers see a 800mm bar on a stock build is "do you recommend running these at 800mm?" The answer to that, in most cases, is no. Manufacturers are typically sending these out at such a wide width, so that you can easily tailor them to the rider without having to swap the handlebar out for a wider one. It's like a haircut - you can always take a little off, but you can't ever put it back on.
You may not always see 800mm come on every bike. The stock width is usually in-line with the type of bike it's on. A more cross-country trail bike (SB115, Tallboy, Trail 429, etc) usually come with a 760-780mm handlebar, whereas the more enduro models come with 800-820mm. On more women specific models you'll find handlebars starting around 760mm. At the end of the day, these numbers should really only be looked at as starting points rather than a recommendation for what widths the bike is meant for.

What Width Should I Run?

When it comes to figuring out what width works for you, taking a measuring tape and measuring your shoulder width can be a quick calculator. However, I believe riding style can play a huge part. Again, that's why these handlebars come so wide to begin with. As you ride, you can start chopping off 5-10mm here and there until everything just clicks. Some riders may prefer something slightly wider than their shoulder width and some slightly narrower. Once you hone in on your desired width you can carry that with you from bike to bike as you would your saddle height. Like most things with mountain bikes, it's just personal preference.