In most cases, rider height is relative to the back-sweep of the bar. Traditionally we see taller riders prefer a straighter bar, it opens up the ergos and allows for more operating room in the “cockpit”. A rider who's 6'2 is not going to prefer the same bar bend as someone who's 5'8". If you’re rolling your bar forward at all it suggests you’d benefit from a straighter handlebar. Shorter riders tend to prefer something more neutral in regards to sweep.
The taller you go with the bar, the less the bike will want to turn. We bring bar height back to rider goals; If you’re racing every weekend and trying to trim seconds off your lap time, your best to keep the bar at stock height or close to it. If you’re just casually trail riding and looking to add comfort, a tall bar is okay. For tall riders it’s a balance of getting the bar up where it’s less of a reach, but not too tall where it’s counter productive to the handling of the bike.
The kind of bike you’re riding will play a role in selecting the right bar bend. For example, if you have a Ktm 300exc and a Ktm 1290ADV, you won’t want to run the same bar bend on both bikes. The kind of riding you’re doing from bike to bike is different, the sitting to standing ratio is different, and the amount of time you spend on road/off road is different.
If you’re riding more technical single track, you’ll most likely benefit from a low and narrow bar so the bike turns well and squeezes through trees. If you’re riding more fast and open terrain you might prefer a taller bar to give comfort while standing and a wider bar to give a more stable feel at higher speeds. If you’re on a dual sport or ADV bike and spending much time on the highway you might prefer more back-sweep.
Some folks have unique preferences, limitations, or ailments that pose different obstacles. If you have a limitation by means of a fused wrist, you might have slightly different preferences such as a bar with more back-sweep to keep your hand positioned comfortably. If you have limitations in your lower back you might prefer a taller bar to take stress off while standing. If you’re aching in a certain area, chances are a slight bar bend change would alleviate the aching.
This is just scraping the surface of the factors that go into proper bar bend selection. We could go much more in depth into each of these, and add 5 more factors to consider. Seriously, we hardly touched on bar width! Think of bar bend and bar position as the seat position in your car, if you tried to drive your friends car across the country without changing seat position you wouldn’t be very comfortable. It’s surprising how much comfort can be added when the bar is fit to you, the riding you’re doing, and the preferences you have.
Please don’t hesitate to holler with any questions or concerns regarding bar bend, we’re here to help and more than happy to do so!
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