Wider is better, yes it is.
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When it’s wider, it just feels better.
Got your attention you dirty minded folk, haven’t I? So just what am I on about? Wide bars on your bike, most notably your mountain bike.
You see, like many ‘old sKool’ riders out there (ie. been riding since some point in the 80’s), I grew up with bars being a certain width, which usually narrower than shoulder width. So, like everyone I came to believe that the ‘norm’ was the best option.
Over the years the bars I ran widened slightly, adding an inch to either side but for the most part the bars, by ‘new sKool’ standards, were pretty narrow still. The reasoning for shunning the new standard was legitimate, not just a silly bias – on tight single track wide bars can catch on things you would prefer not to catch on. So the width of my bars in anyway stayed fixed for what must have been a decade.
Recently I received all the sample bars to assess for the new Mountain Cycle bikes. I noted that not one of conformed to what I thought was a reasonable width…. they were all…. new sKool. The bars I ended up fitting to the test bike have been the 2011 Answer Haven, a pair of the most bling bars I have ever put on a bike, in their high polish light gold finish; I like just looking at them, they look so good.
Well, I can say that old dogs can learn new tricks and after riding on them for a while, especially through aforementioned tight single track, I can honestly say what the hell was I thinking running narrower bars?! Besides the fact that the Haven’s are really, really comfy, their width has changed the way the bike feels and the way I handle it almost instantly. Of course, it makes perfect sense, the bars are a lever and the wider the lever to less effort and more control you have, and while they are not the widest on the market these days, I have found their slightly wider than (my) shoulder width has added a new dimension to my riding.
Today was probably the best test for the bars, on the Awaba Mountain Bike park course. On offer ended up being 20km of diverse single track, from tight and twisty, long and fast, twisty and fast and some hysterical smile inducing roller coaster sections. The Haven’s width though made the whole lot totally comfortable and for once it was the bike itself not keeping up. Most interestingly the width provided such a greater level of extra control that even dicey sections where the bike stepped out or the previous bars had the front end bucking, felt like a breeze.
So you see, to me, now, wider is better. It feels good. I want more of it and I am never going back. I’ve tasted the goodness many other before me have. Seems I’m just a little slow on the uptake at times.
Of course, too wide and you aint riding some of the trails I did today, so you best not turn up with those monster wide DH bars doing the rounds. There is a limit you know 😉