Words: James Smurthwaite/ Ed Haythornthwaite
The feedback you get through your handlebars is so important to the micro and macro adjustments you make while riding. Bars have to be stiff and light but at the same time compliant enough for you to not be stopping to stretch out your hands every time you reach a fireroad – in short, a good set of carbon handlebars is really hard to get right.
It’s true, too, that you can’t have it all. Stong, light, cheap – pick two. Carbon handlebars are most often more expensive than aluminium ones but, as upgrades go, they’re far from the most expensive. This, plus the fact they look super blingy on the front of your bike, probably led to handlebars being the first widely accepted use of carbon in mtb.
Bars are an immensely personal choice, preferences on everything from width, sweep, rise and even styling can be dependant on your body type or bike. Really, there’s no such thing as one perfect bar. Instead here are a list of bars we’ve wrecked and rated as the top out there. In no particular order, here are our favourites: