What happened to bar ends?

Hello Lee,

I just started reading your MTB skills book. Awesome read! Only a few chapters in and have learned many new techniques. One of my favorites is the brake lever position. I moved mine as you recommended and WOW what a differance. So much better leverage and control.

Anyway, I do have one question for you. I bought a new Giant Talon last year coming off an old Hardrock(2002). I had bar ends on the HR and thought why not put them on the Talon as well. I always like to have the alternate hand position.

Today reading your book, I see no mention of them nor any pics of them. What is your recommendation? Did they go out with the ’90s?!?! 🙂



Hey Brandon!

I still have my original Onza bar ends. I rocked those bad boys for at least 10 years.

Bar ends sure have fallen out of fashion, but they deliver real benefits:

• If your bar ends curve inward, you can protect your hands from trees and such.

• Additional hand positions, including the comfy palms-facing-each-other position like on road bike hoods. Twenty years ago, it was all about replicating your road position on your mountain bike.

• THE BIG ONE: You can run a short stem for awesome handling, yet get extra extension for extended pedaling. As a matter of fact, I recently saw Yeti Super D honch Mike West cruising through Boulder on a training ride. He was running a shortish cockpit with bar ends.

I occasionally think about re-installing my Onzas, but I like having my hands at full bar width. Maybe with these new crazy-wide bars, I can keep my hands the same distance apart and attach some ’90s glory to the ends.

But I’m not in any rush: I’ve learned to climb with a shorter cockpit, as have many of you.

If you like bar ends, rock ’em proudly. With your day-glo pink helmet cover.



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10 replies
  1. leelikesbikes says:

    Yup: Tree-grabbing, which is what got my Onzas retired … metal object pointing at your guts … hooking another rider’s bar end (it’s happened to me; i held my line and the other guy ate it hard) …

  2. Tjaard says:

    It’s pretty hard to impale yourself on a bar end, in fact it might help when you take the end of your handle bar tot he gut, by spreading the impact over a larger area.

    I do see some possibility for hooking a tree or vine with them that scares me.

  3. Joshua says:

    Tree-grabbing seems even more likely now that my handle bars are a full six inches wider than they were when I last ran bar ends. Cockpit set up sure has changed since those first stumpjumpers!

  4. mykel says:

    30″ would equal PAIN. Just can not imagine BE on my carbon Havocs….

    I still have a set of the mini CaneCreek Bar ends on an old Kona NuNu that gets used as a guest / spare ride. ( And I have a set of original Onza’s in the parts box ) The CCs are surprisingly comfortable, but don’t give the range of the much bigger Onza’s.

  5. Feldy says:

    I used barends for many years with (then wide) 23″ bars. After I started using a riser bar (1998, 1999?)I stopped using them because that combo looked dumb, but I did like the super wide (25″!) risers. For many years, it was unpossible to get wide bars that were flat. Around 2003 or something, I got my hands on some 25″ flat bars and busted out the bar ends again since it wouldn’t look stoopid anymore.* Turns out that while I like bar ends on 23″ bars, they’re uncomfortable on wider bars. So for me, bar ends mate well with narrow bars but not vice versa, and I like ’em for climbing. But IMO (and I suspect 95+% of the people who rear this blog) wide bars for descending > bar ends for climbing.

    *For the record, I realize that fashion is a dumb reason to do something with bike setup, but that was much of the reasoning at the time.

  6. Anne says:

    Why I don’t run bar ends anymore:

    Going through tight singletrack in Northern Florida like always, except I found myself back first on the trail, 6 feet away from my bike that was completely upright as the bar end hooked a tree. First generation camelbak made that a less painful experience than it would have been.

    All that occurred to me at that point: Bike stopped, I didn’t.

  7. Jared says:

    Hey Anne, I had a similar experience a few weeks ago but I didn’t have bar ends. The result was the same. My bike stopped much quicker than I did.

    Lesson learned: when riding a new bike with much wider handle bars, there is a bit of a learning curve. 😀 (Second ride on my new bike, but don’t worry, not a scratch on her!)

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