Author Topic: Mountain bike fit - primarily a bars/stem question  (Read 3867 times)

Mountain bike fit - primarily a bars/stem question
« on: April 10, 2016, 06:53:29 pm »
I've started riding my mountain bike again because I have discovered that parts of NCN 5 around Oxford are basically unridable on my 23mm 700c road bike (no clearance for bigger tyres or mudguards!). My bike is a Carerra Fury, and it has pretty decent spec (hydraulic brakes, decent front suspension, Mavic rims) as you can see in the picture below:
2016-04-10_05-40-21 by duncancmartin, on Flickr

I think the bars are the regular riser bars that came with the bike (685mm according to this review: ). The thing is, being quite wide and high, the bars make it really inefficient at reasonable speeds and I'm not using it properly offroad enough to justify the extra leverage and inefficiency. It's not especially comfy either - it feels like I'm riding it with my elbows out, loading up my hands as well as maximising my frontal area! Also, the bulge in the bar where it meets the stem is large, so I can't fit spinacci bars to try to get a tucked in position when on exposed roads, all I can do is get a wide low position on the ends of the bar ends.
I spoke to someone at a bike festival today who suggested that I could change my stem and bars to make it slightly more stretched, and choose a smaller diameter stem/bar combo so I could fit spinaccis if I want. I like the hydro disks, so I don't want to change to drops and have to mess about with them.
What do others do with their MTBs? Is bike fitting very different for road/MTB - I'm going to try to get a bike fit soon...
PS - it's currently running Schwalbe Speed Cruiser tyres - I think they are 1.5". They are decent, but I'd be happy to change if there are better rolling ones...

Re: Mountain bike fit - primarily a bars/stem question
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2016, 08:25:02 am »
Quite apart from the central bulge, Mtb bars have a different diameter to road bars in the grip area, so fitting Spinacci bars would still require shims.  I've had some success with fitting bar ends in-board of the brake levers on my mtb to give a more relaxed and aerodynamic cruising position.

ETA as seen in this video:

You could also consider 'H-bars' but that's an expensive option.

Simple flat bars at circa 600mm width are pretty cheap  as fashions have moved to silly-wide riser bars, so one of these possibly with bar ends might be an option (you will need a 25.4mm stem, though).

Finally, it is possible to find narrow bullhorn bars in mtb diameter (22mm) which would allow you to use the existing levers - albeit with untidy cabling. This is an option I'm pondering myself on the Moulton.
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Re: Mountain bike fit - primarily a bars/stem question
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2016, 12:45:49 pm »
My mountain bike is currently more of a rough-stuff tourer than an off roader. However, as I'm labelling it touring I tend to value comfort, taking in the views and eating cake over speed, aero efficiency and bike weight. However, like you, I do have road-ish tyres, some mud protection, front suspension, hydraulic brakes, racks etc.

on-one do various non-riser bars - I used to have some of the Mary's, which were more comfortable (to me) than risers for shorter rides. The lack of hand position variety wasn't so good for longer rides, so I'm now using flat bars (not too wide) and bar ends. Running MTB hydraulic brakes does reduce the range that can be used as many of the more interesting shapes assume road diameter levers. Now hydraulic on the road is a thing I suppose you can get hydraulic levers for road bars - but that's not a thing I've considered lately. If you're feeling too upright then a longer stem seems like a good place to start in cost and complexity.

This bike will always have a different set of trade-offs to the 23mm / no guards road bike. However I've no idea how rough the tracks you're considering are though, so how far you can reasonably take the compromises I don't know.

Re: Mountain bike fit - primarily a bars/stem question
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2016, 09:57:11 pm »
I'm gonna experiment with my route again this weekend - I think there are some quiet roads that run alongside the washboard stuff. Some of the path along there was so bad I specifically unlocked my forks so I had less shock through my arms! I'll check out the regular 600mm flat bars - I remember them from when I was first into mountain biking what feels like a long time ago now!
The bar ends seem like a good idea too - if I get the ones with a slight bend in them they could amost pass for stubby aero bars!

Re: Mountain bike fit - primarily a bars/stem question
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2016, 09:40:57 pm »
There are so many cheap stems in the PlanetX liquidation sale it seems silly not to try a different length stem. I guess I should measure up what I have first before I buy something that won't fit (or is identical to the one I have!).  :)

Re: Mountain bike fit - primarily a bars/stem question
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2017, 03:48:31 pm »
I've had similar thoughts with my single speed MTB conversion where I was trying differnt bars/stems and got a few things at PlanetX

The numbers I learned to look out for are 1 1/8 headset (obvious maybe but you do see 1" and 1 1/4" occasionally). The handlebar end of the stems come in 25.4mm and 31.8 (for MTB and fat MTB bars) and sometimes 26.0 (roadie bars)

By sticking with either of the MTB bar sizes you will definitely be able to reuse shifters etc (assuming bar shape works for them)

I ended up with a 120mm zero rise 1 1/8" by 25.4 stem and used some 600mm flat Ti bars in 25.4 from my box of bits - much racier for me and definitely a bit retro  :)


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Re: Mountain bike fit - primarily a bars/stem question
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2017, 03:59:52 pm »
I've got an adjustable stem on my MTB, because it was a cheap way of playing around with the position to find what works (I was aiming for something fairly upright, for proper off-road riding), and I've felt no pressing need to replace it.  It does give the possibility of stretching things out a bit on a per-ride basis with some simple allen key twiddling...
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Re: Mountain bike fit - primarily a bars/stem question
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2017, 06:20:23 pm »
Riser bars are an abomination - it's like being crucified.  They're all far too wide and they can't be cut down because there is only so much space for the grips.  Get some flat bars and bar ends  :)

I think risers crossed over from DH, where they make a certain amount of sense (you don't need bar ends, as you never climb, and you need the leverage).  They make no sense on an XC bike or an MTB used for general riding.  It's a fashion thing.
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