Is bar width a rider preference thing, or will I ruin my bike's handling by reducing the bar width from 27-inches wide to 25-inches wide on my 29er?
--Neil, who hates hitting trees
Mountain Bike Action:
Achieving the right handlebar width is a combination of properly fitting a rider to the bike and personal preference. It also has a huge impact on handling. Newer bikes are going to wider bars because they offer much more leverage and stability. The wider bar also opens up your chest for better breathing, especially on climbs. Narrower bars, by contrast, offer less control and can make a bike feel “twitchy.” They can also pinch your chest. The wrecking crewers run their bars from 27 inches wide all the way up to 31 inches wide, and the difference all depends on the rider’s personal preference.
We are all for tinkering with different setups and would certainly encourage experimenting with different bar widths, but don’t get the hacksaw out just yet. Slide your shifters, brake levers and grips in an inch on both sides and go for a few rides. Make sure you get what you are looking for before you take a blade to your bar.