Your bike’s handlebar measurements affect your comfort and balance when riding. A wide handlebar offers more control because of its large lever, and a narrow handlebar is more aerodynamic. The optimal handlebar measurement offers either or both conveniences depending on the cycling style, but how are handlebars measured?
All you need to measure a handlebar’s length is a tape measure. For the upsweep and backsweep, you need more measurement tools, including a ruler, a protractor, and a pencil. Taking the measurements is very straightforward, but you have to know the optimal measurements for different cycling goals to make the right choice. This article looks at how to measure handlebar width, how to measure handlebar diameter, and why choosing the right size handlebars is essential.
Choosing an optimal handlebar size has multiple benefits, including increased comfort, better control, and higher cycling speed. Not many cyclists are aware of the benefits of replacing their bike handlebars. Changing your handlebars can relieve the pressure pains and body strain you experience after every riding session. The unnecessary pressure is probably caused by poorly sized handlebars.
Research by the National Library of Medicine Trusted Source The Effect of Handlebar Height and Bicycle Frame Length on Muscular Activity during Cycling: A Pilot Study This research is not just limited to performance, as the cyclist’s goal may be rehabilitation, recreation, or competition, so a bicycle that meets the rider’s needs is essential for a more efficient muscular activity. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov shows that handlebar dimensions like height affect muscular activity during cycling. The handlebar height can change your trunk inclination and indirectly impact stress on different parts of your body. If you need to learn how to raise the handlebar height on a road or mountain bike, read our articles on how to raise handlebars on a road bike and how to raise handlebars on a mountain bike.
Another study by the University of Alaska Trusted Source A Prototype Construction of Adjustable Bicycle Handlebars This project designed and produced a prototype for compound or adjustable bicycle handlebars. scholarworks.alaska.edu concluded that handlebar dimensions are directly related to riding comfort.
Moreover, learning how to measure bike handlebar width, diameter, and other crucial dimensions will help you choose the optimal size for your cycling goals. It will also help you pick handlebars that are compatible with your bike. Even if you are not in the market for a new handlebar, you will know if your current handlebar is serving you right or not.
“How are mountain bike handlebars measured?” is one of the most popular questions on cycling forums. A poorly sized mountain bike handlebar will affect your performance. If you are in the market for a mountain bike and need help choosing one from the sea of options, read our article on the best mountain bikes. The Hiland Mountain Bike is a good example of a high-quality mountain bike. The full suspension bike boasts a rugged build with a high-carbon steel soft tail frame.
Here are steps on how to get accurate measurements of an MTB handlebar.
A wider handlebar will give you better control, responsive steering, and maximum comfort as it opens up your chest for easy breathing.
On the other hand, a narrow handlebar is great for narrow trails with rolling sections as it opens up your shoulders and back to improve aerodynamics and reduce fatigue.
So, what is the optimal handlebar width for mountain bikes? There is no one-size for all option. It all depends on your riding style, body size, and shape. The standard mountain bike handlebar size ranges from 700 mm to 780 mm. Heavier, broad-shouldered riders go for handlebars as wide as 800 mm.
You can get the maximum recommended handlebar width through trial and error or with the formula:
Max handlebar width = Height in cm x 4.4.
To measure the handlebar width, you need a tape measure.
Upsweep and back sweep define a handlebar’s geometry. Upsweep is the angle at which handlebars emerge from the clamp area. It provides a more comfortable riding position for the wrist. The back sweep is the angle at which the handlebar bends back towards the rider and it also offers comfort to the wrist during cycling.
You need a piece of paper, a pencil, a ruler, and a protractor to measure both the upsweep and backsweep.
Handlebar rise determines the distance between a handlebar’s clamp area center and its inside hoods (where the steep rise angle levels out).
The key parts to measure when determining the handlebar diameter and the clamp area diameter and the grip diameter.
The clamp area is where the stem attaches to your handlebars and the grip area is the part you grip while riding. A caliper is the best tool for measuring a handlebar diameter as it is accurate and super-easy to use.
Handlebar weight is another crucial handlebar measurement you may be interested in. To measure your handlebar’s weight, place it on a weighing scale. Ensure its total weight is resting on the scale.
The standard handlebar weight for a mountain bike ranges between 0.33 and 0.88 lbs (150 g and 400 g).
Unlike mountain bike handlebars, road bike handlebars are narrower to offer better aerodynamic performance and several hand positions for maximum comfort. How are road bike handlebars measured?
Many road bike handlebars measure between 36 and 46 cm wide. Your riding style and goals determine the ideal handlebar width for you. A competitive road racer would do well with a narrower handlebar width for a significantly reduced aerodynamic drag. If you use your bike to commute, you need a balance of comfort, speed, and steering precision which a wider set of handlebars can offer.
To measure a road bike’s handlebar width;
Handlebar reach is the distance you have to cover when you lean forward in a tucked riding position. You’ll need a sheet of paper and a tape measure to measure the handlebar reach.
To measure the handlebar drop you will need a piece of paper, a ruler and a pencil.
As with mountain bikes’ handlebar diameter, you have to measure the clamp area diameter and grip area diameter to get the handlebar diameter.
You will need a caliper to make the most accurate measurement. It is also the easiest measurement method.
Measuring the handlebar weight is pretty straightforward as all you need is a weighing scale. Place the handlebar on the weighing scale, ensuring all its weight is supported by the scale. Take the readings.
A typical road bike can weigh between 0.44 and 1 lbs, depending on its building materials. Bikes made with carbon steel frames like the Eurobike XC550 weigh more. The Eurobike XC550 is an excellent bike for riding on all types of terrain, including urban roads, gravel roads, and other harsh terrains with obstacles.
BMX bikes are measured almost in the same way as road or MTB bikes, but three are some significant differences.
To measure the height or rise of your BMX handlebars, pull the tape measure from the center of the clamping area to the center of the bars. BMX bikes for pros will be around 8 inches, for juniors – 5 to 6 or 2 to 6 inches.
To measure the width of your BMX, pull the tape from end to end. The maximum width is 29 inches, according to UCI rules.
For measuring the up sweep of the BMX handlebars, you can use the steps mentioned for other types of bikes. It can vary from 1 to 2 and 3 degrees, depending on whether it is traditionally styled or newer handlebars.
The back sweep is around 10 to 12 degrees on traditional models, and if you have a newer model which is a flatter bend, it is around 4 to 8 degrees of back sweep.
Stem Clamp Diameter
Grip Area Diameter
|22.2mm||0.874″||Steel bars used by BMX and old MTBs||22.2mm||0.874″|
|23.8mm||0.937″||(Size no longer used) – Old British road size||22.2mm||0.874″|
|25mm||0.984″||(Size no longer used) – Old French size||23.5mm||0.925″|
|25.4mm||1″||I.S.O Size for most flat and riser handlebars||22.2mm||0.874″|
|25.4mm||1″||I.S.O Size for most drop handlebars||23.8mm||0.937″|
|25.8mm||0.937″||Italian size for 25.4 & 26mm stems||23.8mm||0.937″|
|26mm||1.023″||Italian drop bars such as Cinelli||23.8mm||0.937″|
|26.4mm||1.039″||(Size no longer used) Old Italian bars||23.8mm||0.937″|
|27mm||1.062″||(Sized no longer used) Titan handlebars||23.8mm||0.937″|
|31.8mm||1.252″||XL Road Bike Handlebars||23.8mm||0.937″|
Yes. You can change your bike handlebars whenever you like as long as the replacement bars have the same clamp and grip diameter. The most common handlebar diameter size for modern bikes is 31.8 mm for the clamp area and 23.8 mm for the grip area.
Bikes come with different handlebar diameters. For instance, the standard handlebar diameter for modern road and mountain bikes is 31.8 mm, 26 mm for older road bikes, and 24.5 mm for older mountain and hybrid bikes. Learning how to measure handlebar diameter will help you get a handlebar replacement that is compatible with your bike.
When it comes to handlebar width, there is a one-size fits all option. The ideal handlebar width depends on various factors like your body size or shape and riding style. A great way of estimating a suitable handlebar width for a mountain bike is by multiplying your height in cm by 4.4. If you are 150 cm tall, your ideal handlebar width would be 170 cm x 4.4 = 748 mm.
If you are a road biker, a good way of estimating an ideal handlebar width is by measuring the width of your AC (acromioclavicular) shoulder joints and picking handlebars with the same width measurements. It will give you a comfortable riding position and allow you to shift between positions during cycling without unnecessary strain.
Road bikes have different handlebar diameters. The most commonly used road bike clamp diameters are 26 mm for older bikes and 31.8 mm for modern bikes.
Many mountain bikes use either 25.4 mm (older bikes) or 31.88 mm (modern bikes) handlebar clamp sizes.
The most crucial step in finding new handlebars for your bike is measuring the one you have. The measurements will help you pick a handlebar that is compatible with your bike. How are handlebars measured? This guide has covered the key steps on how to measure bicycle handlebar width, diameter, weight, drop, and reach for mountain bikes and road bikes. Although the steps discussed are for mountain and road bikes, some points are applicable to other handlebar measurements like the ones of BMX.
A great alternative to finding accurate handlebar measurements is paying for a professional bike fit. Besides skipping all the hustle of learning how to measure handlebars, you will get the right fit for your riding style and body shape.