Bike nerd question: grip narrow or grip wide?

Hi Lee,

I have a bike-nerd question that’s been bothering me for a couple of weeks and I think you’re the guy to help!

If you look at freestyle BMX riders they don’t hold the bars at the ends – they seem to consistently hold the bars more inward so that there is an inch or more of grip protruding from each side. Seems to go against the theory of wider bars = more control.

I’ve been playing around with this — move the controls inwards, pushing my thumbs up against the inside of the grips when I’m cornering and only using the full width when climbing — and it seems to put less strain on my wrists, but I don’t know why and I’m not sure if I’m just imagining it. Any thoughts?

Cheers – Mike


I could go into endless detail on this, and that’s why it’s taken two months to respond. Rather than let this fruit die on the vine, here are some quick ideas:

A narrower grip gives you more pulling power. Watch BMXers in the start gate — they often grip the bars inward.

Narrower grip increases range of motion for tricks.

Narrower grip can me more neutral for your wrists and shoulders, especially with a thumb-forward grip. Imagine riding a road bike on the hoods.

A wider grip tends to give you more pushing strength and makes it easier to handle violence.

Mick Hannah pulls hard on his old pump track. Check out the narrowness of his hands and elbows. Screen shot from this video.

Hannah shreds some DH. Here his grips and elbows are in a wider, bench press position. Photo from this article.

Some handlebar grips, like the Shimano PRO Atherton DH grip, are wider than others. These give you more options on the fly.

Try narrower when you’re pulling hard (like on the pump track) and climbing; wider when you’re shredding DH.

Cool? Tell me how it goes!


Know more. Have more fun!

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