DH bars: How wide is too wide?

Our man Nick plans to step up to the new Deity Dirty 30 bar, and he’s wondering if that might be too wide. Probably not, I say.

Hey lee,

I just had a question about bar width. You have said in the past that you base bar width upon shoulder width and you determine this by your push up width. With everyone going to wider bars, is there really a benefit to form in riding with wider bars?

i ran some 711mm wide bars last year on the dh and felt really good. for my dj/4x/slopestyle bike i run narrower, but the wide bars felt great for dh stability, is there any downside to really wide bars? other than passing between narrow trees?

i am planning to run deity’s new dirty 30 bar for 2008 for dh and was wondering if there was anything to keep an eye on to know whether or not i should cut them down. Do really wide bars cause problems in tight terrain? do they limit mobility or anything like that?


Hey Nick,

Here are the downsides to wide bars:

– Clearance for trees. East Coast woods riders tend to run narrower bars than we Westerners.

– Loss of mobility. Imagine holding the ends of a broomstick. You wouldn’t have much range of motion, would you? Dirt jumpers love narrow bars because they need tons of range. For any gravity racing, a bar would have to be awfully wide to become a problem.

The pushup test: Get down and do a bunch of pushups, then measure the distance between the outside edges of your hands. That’s usually your position of maximum strength. My pushups happen to match 28-inch DH bars. (Which came first, the pushups or the bars?)

DH bars are getting wider and wider: Just recently, the max was 28 inches. Then it went 29 inches, and now we’re up to 30. (Over 18 years my MTB bars have grown from 20 to 22 to 24 to 26 to 28 and now to 29 inches.) We could call this a trend, but …

Trust the moto industry: They’ve had much more time — and much larger resources — to figure out what works best. And, if you ask me, downhill is more analogous to motocross than to road and cross country (both of which shoved our equipment’s evolution in the wrong direction). The popular ProTaper Evo moto handlebar is 31 1/2 inches long, and, according to ProTaper’s marketing manager, that’s the standard width for pro motocrossers. Heck, even mini handlebars are around 29 inches.

So, if junior motocrossers are running 29-inch bars, and adult motocrossers are running 31 1/2-inch bars, I’d say most adult downhillers should be in that range — probably closer to the high end.

We humans are adaptable, and we don’t know anything is better until we try it. Try the 30-inch bars. I think you’ll like them. If you can’t fit through trees, or if you feel like you’re holding the ends of a broomstick, get out the pipe cutter.


— Lee

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