Your handlebars are an important part of your bike and they must be fixed correctly if you’re going to be having seamless rides.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the right handlebar height; how high your handlebars should be, the height in relation to your saddle, and how they affect your riding.
We’ll also be discussing handlebars adjustments in detail and guide you into properly raising and lowering your handlebars for comfortable rides.
How High Should Handlebars Be On My Mountain Bike?
Your handlebar height is more about preference, your physiology, and your height.
For climbing, however, the correct height position for your handlebars is above your seat or the same height as it.
Since you got a mountain bike, it means you’ll be doing more mountain climbing and descents than races.
If your handlebars are lower than your seat while doing this, you’ll be leaning forward, putting your weight on your wrists and front wheel. This will make you uncomfortable and hurt your body.
Your handlebars should be about 1 or 2 inches higher than your seat as too high can also cause problems.
So it should be high enough that you can go downhill without stress, but still low enough that you can climb without leaning forward too much.
Why Do You Need the Right Handlebar Height on Your MTB?
You need the right handlebar height because without it you can’t ride comfortably. You will suffer aches, body pains and may even quit riding at a point when the pain becomes unbearable.
This especially happens when your handlebars are too low for you. This will make long-distance rides impossible for you.
2- Better Handling
If your handlebars aren’t set correctly, handling your bike on steep terrains will be difficult which can lead to accidents. You will lose control of your bike often.
This happens more when you want to climb and your handlebars are set too high. Your front wheel lifts off the ground and you lose control of your bike.
So getting the right handlebar height isn’t just good, it is important for your safety.
We’ll be sharing tips on the correct handlebar height so it can guide you into choosing the best for you.
You can also get professionally fitted to your bike if you find a hard time getting the right handlebar height for your body as what works for this rider might not work for another.
Should Mountain Bike Seats Be Higher than Handlebars?
No, they shouldn’t. This can only be good for road bikes or racing bikes. But more importantly, use a height that is comfortable for you.
For mountain riding, being in a comfortable position is important and that is more likely to happen if you’re riding in an upright position. You will be more balanced on your bike and your weight will be more distributed on the bike.
You will be able to ride in and out of the saddle without problems and ride for a long time without aches. This is also a perfect position for descending those steep hills after climbing.
It may be a little tricky to ride uphill but you just need to lean a bit forward. Also, avoid setting your handlebar too higher than your seat. This can make you lose control while climbing.
The only problem is you’ll be sacrificing speed as you won’t be aero in this position. But for long-distance riding and mountain riding, comfort is much preferred to speed.
Can Mountain Bike Handlebars Be Raised?
Of course, they can be raised. If the height of your handlebars isn’t a good fit for you, you can always raise them at your will and it isn’t difficult to do.
You can easily do this without taking it to a repair shop, and it can be done in 3 ways.
A. Flip Your Stem
If you use an angled stem and it is installed downward, try flipping it. This will give it a rise and your handlebars will be raised slightly. It will raise as high as the degree of the rise.
For example, if your stem has a 5 degree upward and downward angle. Flipping it up will give your handlebars a 5-degree rise.
B. Change Your Handlebars
If you’re using flat handlebars, change it to rise handlebars. This will raise your handlebars a bit and may solve your problem.
The difference between these handlebars may not be much but if the rise you need isn’t a big one, then it is adequate.
C. Add Spacers to Your Headset Tube
This method is for riders that want to raise their handlebars significantly. Sometimes, you need more than just a little raise. If that’s the case for you, the first two methods won’t make a difference.
Let’s take a look at how to add spacers to raise your handlebars.
How to Add Spacers to Raise Your Handlebars?
Mountain bikes either use threaded or threadless stems. But most modern mountain bikes come with threadless stems so we’re just going to be focusing on those.
STEP 1- Use the Allen key to unscrew the top bolt and remove the top cap. Place it somewhere you won’t lose it.
STEP 2- Unscrew the two little bolts on the stem. You don’t have to remove it. Just unscrew it enough to be able to remove the stem. Now gently take the handlebar and stem off the tube. Ensure you do not damage the brake and shift levers.
STEP 3- Add spacers to the headset tube and put back your stem and handlebars. Add as many spacers as is needed to raise your handlebars to the desired length.
STEP 4- You can easily get spacers in stores or online. Now gently reattach the handlebars and stem to your headset tube and screw the bolts in. Not too tight.
STEP 5- Put back the top cap and screw it back in. You can use a torque wrench to do this, so you don’t damage your tube. Carbon tubes are especially fragile.
STEP 6- Tighten the bolts on the stem. Check to see that your handlebars are properly fixed on your bike. Make sure your handlebars aren’t stiff and they turn properly. Also, make sure there isn’t a play in the headset tube when you turn your handlebars.
Can Mountain Bike Handlebars Be Lowered?
Yes, they can. You’re just going to be reversing what we did when raising the handlebars. You could flip your stem to a downward angle or remove spacers from your stem.
Follow the steps we explained above but instead of adding spacers, remove spacers from your headset tube and your handlebars will be lowered.
Lowered handlebars are good for speed and climbing more easily. But too lowered could make you uncomfortable.
How High Should You Sit On a Mountain Bike?
There isn’t a general seat height for everyone as riders have different body shapes, bikes, and heights. These factors make it impossible to have a generally accepted seat height.
Most times you will have to ride before you can know how high you can sit on a bike. These tips should help though.
1- When sitting on your bike, you should be able to put your feet flat on your pedals without any issue. If you’re struggling to do this, you’re sitting too high, if your knees are too bent and almost folding while doing this, then you’re sitting too low.
2- While sitting on your bike, if you place your feet on the ground, only your tiptoes should be touching the ground.
If you can place your feet flat on the ground while sitting on your mountain bike, you’re probably sitting too low. If you can barely touch the ground with your tiptoes, then you’re sitting too high.
3- Stand next to your bike. Your saddle should be about the same height as the top of your hip bone. But if you ride with this setting and it’s too high for you, you can reduce it by 1 or 2 inches.
Before doing all that, first, make sure that your mountain bike is the correct fit for you. If your mountain bike is too big or too small for your body, it can be difficult to get a seat height that makes you comfortable.
Your handlebar height is a matter of preference, your body type, the terrain you’ll be riding, and the purpose of your riding.
Based on these factors we have explained in detail, how to choose a comfortable handlebar height.
Riding with the wrong handlebar height can cause you to strain your back, neck, wrists, and arms. It will make riding very difficult and will lead to injuries.
If you want to ride comfortably, your mountain bike seat shouldn’t be higher than your handlebars. It is not even ideal for the kind of terrain that mountain bikes are meant for.
You can raise or lower your handlebars to get the height that works for you and make you comfortable. We have explained in detail ways you can do that without stress.