Posted by: Kenny
Despite the fact that both my hardtail and FS are 29ers with 160mm forks, I run 30-40mm rise bars with 20-30mm of spacers under the stem. So basically, as high as possible. I think it's because I have a long torso.
I find it easier to lean forward more to keep the front end down on steep climbs, or weighted for corners, than to run lower bars and struggle to lighten the front end for drops and such.
I also totally accept that I might prefer this in part because I'm a mediocre rider and the high bars compensate for some flaws in my technique, but it definitely helps my confidence and ability to move the bike around.
I'm with Kenny on this. However I agree this is all hugely personal based on your body type and relative dimensions as well as your riding preferences, ability and flexibility.
When I first got back into mountain bike riding a few years ago, I thought low bars were the way to go from my long ago experience in the 90s with cross country type riding. However, with almost all my riding on the North Shore now I spent much of that first year of riding going OTB on the descents. Fast forward 4 years and I'm now riding a size large 2017 Transition Patrol 'mullet' bike that started life with a 160 mm fork and 27.5" front wheel, but now has a 170mm 29er fork and wheel, plus a 1.5" rise stem and a 1" rise bar (785mm wide which also makes a difference in this whole equation). My grips are around 3" higher than my seat and that finally feels about perfect for me. However, I suspect I am pretty atypical because:
- I am 95% focused on descending effectiveness. As long as I can still pedal up (or even walk) I don't care that much how good or fast I am on the climb up. I just do the climbs so that I can keep in shape for the descents (which becomes harder every year as I approach my mid 50s).
I have a medium torso but short legs and arms. I'm essentially a slightly scaled up dwarf (around 5'9" / 176 cm).
Because of my stocky build, I also feel I have a fairly high centre of gravity.
- Finally, I don't have super flexible hamstrings, hips and lower back.
With my current bike setup I am able to assume a good 'attack' position on the bike when descending that allows me a lot of fore and aft movement and still keeps my center of gravity low enough and far enough back that I can 'drive' the front end of the bike up, over or though most trail obstacles and rarely go OTB. The super slack front end on my bike also helps significantly in that regard.