Choosing A Dirt Bike Handlebar

Choosing A Dirt Bike Handlebar is difficult with all the options and bends. What constitutes the “best” handlebar is entirely based on personal preference. Find one that fits you and your riding style is not that easy and can be very frustrating.

This article is designed to explain what all those bends are and highlight the features of the more popular bars. So, you can make an informed decision. So the next time your current handlebar breaks or you simply want to try something new and see if that’s the thing needed to make the podium. Let us start by understanding how bars are measured.

Dirt-Bike-handlebar

Height

A handlebar’s height is the measurement from the clamp area to the top of the control length (or end of the handle part of the bar). The height of the handlebar can be adjusted by loosening the bar at the clamp area and adjusting forward or backward to your preference.

Rise

The rise is similar to the height in that it measures the length from the clamp area to the handlebar’s first steep bend. To lengthen the rise you can use riser clamps to maximize the handlebar’s overall height. The taller you are the more likely you’ll want to raise the height of your handlebars or use handlebar risers.

Width

The dirt bike handlebar width is measured from one end to the other or the end of the left control length to the end of the right control length. Generally, most handlebars are constructed within a few millimeters of one another if not the same width altogether – about 800mm(31.5 inches). Some manufacturers make “mini” handlebars which reduces the width of the handlebars by as much as 600mm (23.5 inches).

Sweep

The sweep is best viewed by looking at the side of your bike. Also known as the “pullback” it is measured from the center of the clamp area to the end of the bars (control length) in a letter “L” shape.

Control Length

The control length is the area for your grips.

Clamp Area

The clamp area is the bottom of the handlebars where it clamps onto the bike. The clamp area is where you can add risers and other equipment to change the measurements and feel of your handlebars. The thickness of the clamp area is 7/8th or 1-1/8th -inch.

Best Dirt Bike Handlebar For Trail Riding

The Contour is ProTaper’s most popular handlebar. Oversize diameter handlebars, without crossbars, were invented and patented by ProTaper in 1991. This design allows the handlebar to flex more and absorb impacts better than conventional bars, offering the rider more comfort and less fatigue without sacrificing bar strength. The ProTaper Contour helps absorb the roughness of the trail, that makes is the best trail riding handlebar. Choose your color, then choose a bend that’s right for you. See sizing chart.

No matter what bend and metal choice you make, you’ll have an easier time in tight woods if you cut 1 inch off each end of the bars. Most bars measure in around 32 inches and most Cross Country Tree Spacing Standards is 30 inch spacing between trees. It’s amazing what a difference those 2 inches make. Before you make the cut make sure that there’s enough bar left to get all of the controls on there.

If you’re between 5’6 and 5’9, try a low handlebar(the C measurement from the above diagram) and rotate them down a little, closer to you. If you’re above 6 feet tall, you’ll be better off with taller bars, rotated forward a little. But don’t ask yourself too many questions, don’t question whether you made the right choice or not, or wonder “what if”. It’s just a pair of bars after all, and even choosing the right bar won’t turn you into a super trail rider, it just makes thing more controllable.

I’m 6’2″ and 190 pounds and I’ve raced Cross Country events and love riding trails. My handlebar is the ProTaper Contour Windham/RM Mid. I move them forward of center 2 mm, that’s it. The contour has a bit of flex to it, this really helps my hands and wrist during long races. If you are 6′ this may be a great bar for you. It takes a little trial and error to find a bar that fits you, but having a starting point makes it easier.

Best Dirt Bike Handlebar For Motocross

Renthal is the worldwide leader in handlebars for the motocross market, just stating what top riders are saying and using.  Twinwall® are engineered for the toughest of conditions. The Twinwall feature a patented design that borrows aircraft design principles by utilizing two tubes. Providing the rider with a combination of Strength, lightweight and safety.

Riders come in all shapes and sizes, each with their own personal needs and WorksFit™ will be an additional aid in determining the correct bar. You can use the WorksFit™ program and it will help you choose the right Motocross bar that best suits your bike and you.

Worksfit™ allows the user to choose their reference handlebar, maybe the OEM bar which came on their specific model, and then choose another bar which they wish to compare it to, and then overlay the two images to see the visual differences in height, sweep, width etc. A complete list of the key dimensions will be shown and the user will get 3 different views to analyze. Go to the WorksFit™ tool page.

Dirt Bike Handlebar Position

dirt-bike-barsThe first thing you want to do is pick a handlebar bend that you are comfortable with. Evaluate the stock bar height and sweep (how far the ends come toward you). Anyone with a little riding experience should have a basic idea if they feel high, low or somewhat comfortable. ProTaper and Renthal both have charts to show you all the dimensions. So between the dimensions listed online, your stock bars and asking your riding buddies, you should be able to find a handlebar that suits you. Typically a lower bar will allow you to “muscle” the bike more but it should still be relative to your height.

There’s a fair range of movement available before your handlebars end up in a position that isn’t ideal, so you should be able to find a comfortable position there somewhere. If you can’t, maybe you need to look at a different bend.

Here are some of the control and adjustment options:

  • back/forward and rolling
  • up/down – rise
  • forks up/down
  • handlebar length
  • choose the proper handlebar

Back/forward and rolling

The first thing is where to put the handlebars: back or forward. Also the position in the clamp… there are many possibilities but here, my preference is to line up the handlebars with the forks, not too far forward nor too far back. You may want to adjust this and move forward or back if you cannot comfortably have a proper Standing position.

Rise

The rise is important. To adjust the rise, there are all kinds of after-market risers you can buy. Why you’d do this is to get a comfortable standing position, where you don’t have to reach too far, or too low and still be able to keep the elbows up.

You may need between 0 and 50 mm of rise, and it’s a function of the shape of the bike and your body. What I suggest is to get a kit of swappable risers if possible, which allows you to rise in steps and test them until happy.

Length

Wide bars make for easy handling but tree-banging, so, if you think they’re too wide, you could cut them. That could involve changing the clutch-side grip though. If you plan to ride trails or woods race try to get the overall length to 30.5 inches.

Forks: rake

The forks can be adjusted up/down in the triple clamp. This not only changes a little bit the height but, more importantly, it will change the rake (the angle of the forks with the ground) which massively impacts the handling of the bike. Raising the forks a mere 4 mm will change the rake by 1 degree and alter the steering dramatically.

The steeper the forks, the twitchier the bike is: it turns very quickly but it is less stable at high speeds. Look at bicycles for that – most have the forks almost vertical and are very twitchy.

If you lower the forks too much, then the rake gets more like that of a cruiser and the bike is harder to turn but more stable at high speeds.

As with every adjustment, it is best to start where the factory settings are and play with it while paying attention to the changes in behavior.

If you don’t like the behavior of your bike, this is one of the things to look at – the rake angle. Certain lower links require adjustments in the rake angle and/or fork position.

Final Thoughts: Sometimes you get it right the first time when choosing a new bar, but it took me 3 sets of bars before I found one that just felt good. That is the key to a great handlebar, its all about how it feels to you. If your wrist is sore and hurt after a ride, start with a new set of bars. You can use the WorksFit™ program and it will help you compare your current handlebar to other bars that might suites your bike and you. Hope this has helped, now let’s go ride.

Full disclosureThe links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you buy anything, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps me keep the site going.

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