mountain bike handlebars

With the ever expanding array of mountain bike components available, the selection of handlebars is often one of the most overlooked yet most important decisions a rider makes. The mountain bike handlebar is, after all, the rider’s direct connection to the bike and the interface that forces the rider’s body and steering decisions into reality. With such an important job it is important to understand the various handlebar designs, and look at the benefits and disadvantages of each to decide on the bar that best suits your riding style and needs.

The Carbon Mountain Bike Handlebar

Carbon fiber is becoming increasingly popular among the mountain biking community and is being used in more and more component designs, including handlebars. Carbon is a better choice than aluminum for a number of reasons, but its biggest draw is its light weight and incredible strength relative to its weight. Carbon bars tend to be 20 – 50% lighter than aluminum bars with the same dimensions.

Carbon handlebars are also generally stiffer than their aluminum counterparts, this increased stiffness makes them a good choice for riders who are looking for maximum strength and response from their mountain bike’s handlebars. Riders looking for a more forgiving ride though are better suited by aluminum bars, since they can provide increased compliance and dampen vibration from demanding terrain. In the right hands, a carbon bar is unbeatable in terms of performance and response, it’s just a matter of understanding what terrain and conditions they are most appropriate for.

Durability and Cost

Aluminum bars tend win out in terms of durability, they can resist bending and damage better than carbon bars and often stand up better to rock strikes and other impacts. For this reason some riders may feel more confident chosing an aluminum handlebar, knowing that the bar can take more punishment before needing replacement.

Carbon bars are relatively new when compared to aluminum and as such, they tend to be more expensive. It is important to keep in mind that carbon bars often offer a performance and aesthetic advantage that heavier aluminum bars cannot match, meaning that riders must weigh their decision between cost and performance to decide what best suits their needs.


The ideal mountain bike handlebar for any particular rider often depends on a variety of factors. The terrain and trails riders are riding, their budget, and of course the weight they are willing to accept all play a part in the decision making process. When looking for a lightweight, strong, and responsive handlebar, carbon is often the best choice. However, if the trails are especially hard on handlebars, riders may elect to stay with an aluminum bar, as they tend to be more durable than their carbon counterparts. Ultimately, it is up to the rider to decide what works best for them and their riding style, so it’s a good idea to do your research and experiment with different handlebars to find the right fit.

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