Handlebar position: the secret revealed

Hi Lee,

I have read elsewhere that handlebars should be 1″ below or about even with the saddle height. On my 6″ travel all mountain type bike the fork has adjustable travel. If I need to weight the front end while climbing I can lower the fork. Going downhill I can put the fork back up and stay more behind the bars keeping my hands light and feet heavy. I run a short 70mm stem and 1.5″ rise bars which puts the bars about 1″ higher than my saddle and seems to work great. I tried lowering the bars by removing spacers and felt like I was leaning too far forward going downhill which felt a little sketchy. Is it considered more of a personal preference thing or is this even important at all?

Thanks, Jeff

Hey Jeff,

First: Yes it’s important!

The ideal position of your handlebars relative to your fully raised seat depends on several factors:

– Bike type

– Your riding style

– Your flexibility

– What you like

In general,

– Longer and lower reach works best for climbing-focused bikes.

– Shorter and higher reach works best for descending-focused bikes.

This diagram, right here, is why women dig me and I make the big bucks:

Click for big.

Note how the bars get lower and farther away as a bike becomes more climbing oriented.

If you’re on a 6-inch all mountain bike like an Enduro, the bars would work well about an inch above the seat (in the tall-fork position, which is what the bike is optimized for).

If you drop the bars too much without also moving them forward, the cockpit feels cramped and just kind of … sketchy. I think that’s what you felt.

Put your bars back where they belong.

Rip it!

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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