How you have your bar positioned in the clamps tells you a lot about where you’d be most comfortable in terms of bar bend. It won’t tell you everything, but it gives really good insight and direction.
If you’re rolling your bar forward, chances are you need a straighter handlebar or a taller handlebar, not necessarily both. Riders typically roll their bars forward to either get a straighter feel or more height, if you're rolling the bar forward determine what you're trying to accomplish by doing so. Rolling the bar forward where the sweep rolls into the rise puts the riders hands and wrists in awkward and adverse position, making it tough to get comfortable. Consider bar height and sweep completely separate. Read through THIS BLOG and THIS BLOG for more info on height and sweep troubleshooting.
If you’re drastically rolling your bar back you need a lower handlebar or added back sweep, not necessarily both. If you’re rolling your bar back drastically, determine what you’re trying to accomplish by doing so. Lowering the height, or increasing the back sweep? If you’re rolling it back slightly, that’s fine. If you’re rolling it back drastically, there’s a better and more comfortable bar bend out there for you.
Think of the 0 or neutral position on the bar alignment grid as the sweet spot. If the bar bend is spot on, you’ll be comfortably running the bar close to neutral and rolled back just a hair to put the bar in the plane of the front forks. If you’re rolling the bar forward or back drastically it disrupts the balance of the bike and distorts the ergonomics. We recommend not rolling the bar beyond the +1 or -1 markers on the bar alignment grid.
Why should you avoid rolling your bar forward or back?
You want to avoid rolling the bar forward because as you roll the bar forward the back sweep turns into the rise of the bar, and then the issues start compounding. Inversely, if you’re rolling the bar back dramatically, the rise of the bar starts turning into the back sweep. You can roll the bar back a small amount (we recommend no more than -1 on the alignment grid), but be careful with what the bar is doing as you roll it forward and back and how that’s changing your hand position, body position, and how that’s affecting you (positively or negatively) on the bike. Although bar position is personal preference we've found riders that switch to a bend that allows them to keep the bar close to neutral in the bar clamps are much more comfortable.
In closing, try to 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 the seat position you wouldn’t be very comfortable. It’s surprising how much comfort can be found when the bar/cockpit is tailor fit to you and your preferences. After 15 years of all things bar bends, we’ve spent countless hours chatting one-on-one with thousands of riders of all different sizes, skills, and disciplines to help add comfort to their time on the bike. If you’re struggling with your ergonomics or just feel like your bar bend is holding you back, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help and more than happy to do so.
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