What would seem like a minuscule amount can have a significant impact on bike handling and responsiveness for little outlay of funds.
Upgrading and changing out the stock bar and stem set up on your bike, can create a whole different feel on the bike, with many riders responding well to the new found confidence when tackling steep terrain or sharp corners.
Yes, I am sure bike engineers have factored in the ideal reach and bar width for the frame , but riders come in all sizes and have different preferences for how they ride and what they like. You would be hard pressed to find a pro riding a stock setup for their stem and bar requirements*.
* As a side note I also understand that many pros have separate accessory sponsors, which may also dictate their bar and stem choice.
So what are some of the best mtb bar and stem upgrades that you can implement?
Below are a list of options that are top of mind for riders looking for an after market upgrade. These 3 brands have consistently offered multiple options for bars and stems and have been proven on the world stage, in a multitude of environments, as top of their game for MTB components.
The Renthal Fat Bar series has become the go to bar for the ultimate upgrade available in 780mm width and in the following riser options of 10mm, 20mm, 30mm and 38mm. As with most bars, they are supplied with an on bar cutting lines for cut-to-length conversions – right down to 680mm. Available in the original series, Carbon and Lite options, the Renthal components have transitioned well from their motocross roots.
The Apex stem series, is the ideal complement for the Fat Bar series, with stem length options for the All Mountain, Enduro and XC rider. From 31mm through to 90mm, the Apex series has got you covered.
The Easton Havoc and Haven bars, from Easton have also been staples of the All Mountain MTB community. The Haven in particular, has been design specific for the All Mountain/Enduro rider with the increased stiffness that comes with the larger 35mm diameter (versus the standard 31.8mm) and an ideal width of 750mm. It comes in either a 20mm or 40mm riser option. The carbon model is light at 188g for the low rise and 205g for the high rise. The Havoc series is similar, yet has the 31.8mm diameter bar and weighs in at 235g.
Matching up their AM/Enduro specific Haven bars is the Haven stem. This stem is a 31.8mm clamp diameter and available in a good range of widths of 55mm, 70mm, 85mm and 100mm.
The Raceface SIXC has been beefed up for riders wanting a 35mm diameter with extra wide bars at 800mm (can be cut down to 750mm). Theses SIXC come in three different rise increments of 10mm, 20mm and 35mm – again plenty of options for customizing your cockpit.
Raceface also have plenty of stem options with both the Atlas and Turbine sub brands providing 35mm and 31.8mm options.
The only way you are going to get a good understanding is to test the lengths and widths. Getting good advice from your local bike store, reviewing the specs on enduro and all moutnain bikes and researching mtb specific forums will all provide reasonable advice, however the best way is to test in-situ. Have fun with it!
Not bar or stem specific, but who doesn’t like a good MTB video. See below the 2016 apparel and accessories video for Raceface.