Wide and flat is the new riser


I have noticed that wide and flat is the new riser. It seems that everyone from DH guys to rigid singlespeed riders are rocking the wide flat bars. What gives is this the latest fad like dayglo lycra and 150mm stems or is there a true benefit to rocking this set up.


Hey E,

First of all, dayglo Lycra was rad. You should have seen me rocking my 1988 Diamondback Apex (powder coated dayglo pink), dayglo pink Answer flat bars, black/pink Lycra shorts, pink Lycra jersey AND a pink helmet cover. Oh yeah.

Here are some opinions:

The pendulum swings
Over the years, we’ve evolved from the long/low dirt roadie position to the short/high roof hucker position. For a while there, cockpits were getting taller and taller — presumably to ease the rearward weight shift required when hucking to flat.

Riders and manufacturers are realizing that taller is not necessarily better. A neutral position works better, both up and down. That’s making stack heights lower and moving the grips downward.

Combat tallness
As forks and wheels get taller, the only way to keep the bars reasonably low is to take the rise out of the bars.

Soon we’ll be rocking negative rise stems a la roadies. I still have my 150mm Answer ATAC (dayglo pink) around here somewhere.

Wider is better (to a point)
Modern mountain bikes evolved from road bikes. In the dayglo days, we were running 20-inch flat bars. It was all about recreating your road bike position on the mountain bike.

Over the past several years, almost everyone has realized wider bars improve comfort and control. I doubt most people need 30-plus-inch bars, but that’s what we’re getting.

BTW, if you want to know your ideal bar width: Get down and do some pushups. See where your hands end up naturally.

Selling more handlebars
Wide, flat bars are new and hip. Too bad I can’t get a 30-inch bar in dayglo pink.

Still riding bikes and doing pushups at 28 inches …

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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4 replies
  1. E says:


    I figured there was some truth to the trend. I have my 30 on order I figure I can always trim it down if I need something narrower. This with a shorter stem should set me up for some proper slaying of the East Coast Gnar.

    Pink DB Apex with matching kit?!? 2legit. I remember rocking a GT w the splatter paint job and thinking that was the bee’s knees.

    Glad you’re back home safe.

  2. Jonathan says:

    In the wheels getting taller department, risers do better on my 26er than on my 29er. Or at least I tend to want more rise on the 26er and less on the 29er.

    Wide is good. I don’t know where that ends though. I’m running 27-inch bars now. Haven’t gone up to 30-inches yet, but probably will try it one day soon. I for sure know that I do not want to go less than 27 inches.

  3. Hank says:

    I agree both that old school was too narrow, and perhaps new school is now too wide.

    I just switched from 28″ to 27″ with a 50mm stem and I feel like I needed the extra inch. The stem now feels too short.

    Here is my theory:

    When you do the push up test, your hands are not allowed to move inwards or outwards as you do the push up. Now imagine doing dumbbell bench presses. At the top of the press, your hands are a lot closer together than they were at the bottom.
    So, it would make sense (and this is what I have just observed) that wider bars should be used with a shorter stem than you would use with shorter bars. I am sure you could do a mathematical model based on the motion of your arms in the dumbbell press to get a formula for this.

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