There was a time when the only mountain bike bars that you could buy were flat, and very narrow. A handful of motocross riders who also rode DH quickly realised that they could ride a whole lot faster if they chucked a pair of MX bars on their bike. For a while that was the only route to what we’d now deem to be sensible bars, but then dedicated mountain bike riser bars gradually started to appear. Like many other riders the first pair I managed to get my hands on were some Club Roost ones that came complete with a cross-brace. These sold like hot cakes cos they were pretty cheap and they instantly transformed your bike. Before long though it was Azonic bars that everyone seemed to be lusting after.
Anyway, apart from helping us to ride much faster, riser bars also kind of marked a new era in mountain biking, and let everyone else know that you were part of it. DH racing was still very much the baby of the sport, XC was king, and those guys definitely didn’t get the whole riser bar thing. A riser bar was a sign to others that you didn’t give a toss about who could climb a fire road the fastest, you were in it for the adrenaline. It was the equivalent of a leather jacket in the rockers Vs mods war.