Handlebars

How to choose BMX handlebars: Choosing the right set of handlebars can be a hassle if you don’t know the ideal sizes and materials that work with your style of riding. The smallest change in geometry can have a massive influence on how your bike responds when ridden. Understanding these differences can make finding the perfect set of bars a breeze.

Types

Two-Piece – Just like the name suggests, two-piece bars use two pieces of tubing to construct the component. The first piece of tubing is bent several times to form the main structure, and the second piece of tubing is welded across the middle to form the crossbar. Two-piece bars are the most common version of handlebar available on the market, and because of this they are available in the most material and size options.

Four-Piece – Four-piece bars are named after the four pieces of tubing used to construct them. This style of bars uses two long tubes, held together by two shorter tubes to form the crossbar and knurled area. Four-piece bars were more common in the earlier days of BMX, although there are several companies still manufacturing this style of handlebar.

Differences – Both styles of bars are usually manufactured with similar or matching geometries and tubing thicknesses, which means neither version holds an advantage over the other. Aesthetics will usually be the deciding factor when choosing a type of handlebar.

Materials

Chromoly – Chromoly is a high carbon steel that is commonly used in the manufacture of bike parts due to is high strength and rigidity. This is the strongest and most common material used to manufacture bars.

Aluminum – Aluminum is often use for race bars due to its lighter weight. There is a trade off for strength however, as aluminum is more prone to bending and breaking when compared to chromoly.

Carbon Fiber – Carbon fiber bars should only be used for racing. Due to the nature of carbon fiber, the material is very light, but also very brittle. Because of this, most carbon fiber bars available have weight limits. Only smaller, lighter riders that focus on racing only should consider running this material.

Butting – Butted handlebars use special tubing that changes thickness in certain areas. Thicker tubing is used in the bends of the bars, and thinner tubing is found in the straight sections that are subject to less stress. Some handlebars are butted up to 13 times, which means the tubing thickness changes thirteen times throughout the bars. This is an effective way to cut down weight without compromising on strength.

Heat-Treating – Heat-treatment is a process done to chromoly tubing that hardens and strengthens the metal. Bars that are heat-treated are often less prone to bending and breaking.

Geometry

The geometry of handlebars can affect the entire feel of your bike. The width and rise alters how a rider is positioned over their frame and how the bike responds. There are several important measurements to understand when choosing a set of bars:

Width – The width of handlebars is measured from one end of the bars to the other, spanning from the end of one grip to the end of the opposite grip.

Width is probably the first thing most people think of when they choose a new geometry. This is an important measurement to consider, because it will effectively change how you’re bike rides, and can affect the difficulty of some tricks.

Wider bars give you more control over your bike, due to your hands being more spaced out, which allows for more leverage. This makes it easier to push and whip your bike around. However, extreme widths can cause a compromise, because the larger the bars, the harder they are to spin and throw.

Rise - The rise on a set of bars describes the height from the knurled area where the bars attach to a stem, to the highest part of the bars in the grip area.

The rise of handlebars affects the forward and backward leverage on a bike. The higher the bars, the easier it will be to push forward and backward into tricks like nose manuals and manuals.

Angle of Backsweep – “Backsweep” describes the angle that the grip area sweeps back away from the crossbar.

Angle of Upsweep – “Upsweep” describes the angle that the grip area sweeps up away from crossbar.

How Much To Spend

It is always important to remember the saying, “you get what you pay for” when purchasing new bike parts. When you spend more, you are paying for higher quality materials and better construction. When it comes to handlebars, you should be looking to spend between $50-$90. The less expensive bars will usually use non-butted tubing and won’t be heat-treated, which means they will weigh more and will be more prone to bending. The more expensive bars will be both heat-treated and use butted tubing for the best combination of strength and weight. Always remember that purchasing higher quality components will mean that you replace them less often.

What To Look For

The deciding factor when choosing a set of handlebars should be based on how you ride a bike. Riders wanting to ride street, park, or dirt should focus on more durable chromoly bars. Heat-treating and butting will help contribute to strength while keeping weight down.

Riders that require less weight to perform better (such as racers) will want to run lighter components. In this case aluminum or carbon fiber bars may be a better option, but only if you meet the weight restriction. The downside to lighter materials is less durability. Because of this, many racers still ride chromoly bars.

Choosing the right geometry for a set of bars comes down to personal preference, because the type and size of bars vary according to your style of riding. There is no advantage to riding a set of bars with more or less backsweep or upsweep, and it may work better to ride a particular width depending on what tricks you do and what terrain you ride. It all comes down to figuring out what feels good to you, and what set of bars will be able to withstand your riding.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you’ve purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you’ve found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn’t answered in this guide, our BMX forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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