My question is about handlebars. A while back tall and wide handlebars became popular among many riders. I bought a pair of Odyssey Lumberjacks, and also most recently have been riding a pair of S and M Grand Slam XLT’s. Both sets of handlebars have an 8.25” rise, which is great, because I am 6’2” tall. Also, I feel they give me a lot more leverage for pulling up the front end, and doing tricks like turndowns and tabletops. I keep them pretty wide and when I race they are also great power bars!! I was just wondering if there is a point where the handlebars are too tall? I know now there are at least 3 companies making 9” tall handlebars. Is there anything that this extra 0.75” would hinder? Do you think this is overboard even for somebody my size? I kind of think it could also be a little easier on my back, not leaning over quite so much. I am very tempted to run a 9” bar and I am running a top load stem. What do you think?
Dalmeny, SK Canada.
ANS- First order of business, absorb the fact that big bars are a trend, and while not all trends are bad, going with a “constant” is the only way to assure you are riding the best all around part. Take aluminum or titanium freestyle frames from the 80’s and early 90’s for example, they had short spikes of popularity, but when you step back, good old chromoly is the only constant over the past thirty years of. Has chromoly improved over the years? Of course, but at the core, it is still the material of choice. Now consider your bars, eight years ago, the lower and narrower they were the better and today it’s the taller and wider they are. Eight years ago, they said it was for faster barspins and tech control, though they did comparably few barspins and sent mostly huge gaps. Today the argument is for more control on flow tricks and stability on big jumps and gaps, while we are doing more barspins then ever and are spending more time with our foot crammed between our front tire and fork then we are sailing over and sort of gap. The constant between the two? An 8” tall and 28” wide bar. The long winded point is it’s a trend and big bars wont make you ride any more like Van Homan, then small bars would have eight years ago. That said, lets look at the pros and cons of really big bars, like those with a 9” rise and 30” width. The pros of big bars are, as you have found, easier manuals, hops and spins and the benefit of more stability and control at speed and over big jumps or gaps. The Cons on the other hand are a reduced bunnyhop height as the bars will more quickly bottom out in your lap, slower handling, increased slipping in the stem due to more leverage, they are more easily bent and can interfere with barspins because of their width, reduced compatibility with upper detangler cables which is more of a bummer to some then others, their width makes them illegal on BMX race tracks (28” is the legal width) and tricks like candybars and X-ups will either be impossible or look plain stupid with bars that are eye level and wider then your shoulders. At 6’3” and probably the biggest skeptics in the business, we tried out the 8.25” FBM bars and noticed they helped with back pain and hop control, so we stick by them and our rebirth S&M Challenger stem, but when we tried out a set of the 9” tall, 30” wide bars, they slipped, bent and offered up just about every problem we just listed, so before you jump on the bandwagon, consider the trend, consider the constant and go with what works. In our case, we followed the trend a little and liked what we found, but when we followed it all the way we were bummed. Hope that helps you make the right decision for your riding needs.