Thursday, May 28, 2009

A "Sweeping" Trend

A common trend in Mountain Bike handlebars over the past two years has been to increase the amount of sweep. Old-school flat bars typically had 3 degrees of sweep. Then 5 degree bars became popular and now you can find bars with 17 degrees of sweep. But is more sweep really better? More sweep brings the end of your bars closer to your body and might require a longer stem to maintain the same reach measurement. The theory behind more sweep is that the increase in sweep accomodates your body's natural arm angle as your arms move outward. For example, hold your hands in front of you as if you were holding a handlebar. If you widen the stance of your hands they naturally open a more relaxed angle.

Since building up my new Air 9, I have been tweaking my position on the bike and have been running a flat bar with 11 degrees of sweep. I am not feeling the love. The feeling is too "cruiser bike" and not enough "mountain bike" for me. However, I do like a bar that is at least 660mm wide as I have wide shoulders (compared to the average thin-buff cyclist build). You can still find 3,5 and 6 degree bars but most of them are super narrow flat bars aimed at the World Cup crowd.

Synatce is offering 9 & 12 degrees of sweep

Salsa does offer a 660mm bar with 5 degrees of sweep..but only in a 25.4mm diameter

Niner's 9 degree, super wide bar is cool because you have plenty of room to cut it down to fit your shoulder width

A new player in the handlbar game, Edge Composites also offers a 5 degree bar but it is too narrow for my tastes

Even Easton, who is typically conservative in their offerings, has increased sweep to 9 degrees

This example does not even take into account the Nitto & Jones-type bars that many have adopted recently.

My tinkering with bar width and sweep will continue. Out of curiosity, I would like to know what you prefer. How wide is your bar and how much sweep do you have?


Anonymous said...

we sell the edge bar at my work and we have been very impressed with its quality. i like the fit of that bar but its a little wide out of the box for me and would require some trimming. its also nice that its made in the usa. not very common for components these days.

ibclimbn said...

Last year I switched to the Syntace Vector Carbon bar that you show at the top of your blog with 9 degrees sweep. I found it to be very comfortable.

Dave said...

ibclimbn - the 9 degree version of the Syntace bar seems to be rare these days. Most only stock the 12 degree. Interesting.

grannygear said...

I recently played with a 21 degree Groovy Luv Bar and really liked it.

Although it has a very different feel, less 'moto' if you will, but still very effective. I would not be surprised if I end up with something like this for both my bikes.

Chris said...

I'm a fan of 25.4 still and running the carbon Salsa. I tried a super swept bar 17? and didn't like it but have been running the 11deg for a year and am happy with it. I cut my bars down to 25" with bar ends, 24 or 24.5" without.

Dave said...

Chris - what kind of saddle-to-bar drop are you running on your 29er? Or are your bars higher than your saddle?

JayP said...

dave - glad to see you brought this up as you know I've been trying to figure this out more and theorize with it myself. My strongest most natural position when putting my hands down in front of me has my thumbs and grip like position very natural and maybe even reverse sweep...???? is this possible, has this been studied, people must still be running a true straight bar, or even tried running a light sweep in the reverse...curious myself...