Can you Change the Handlebars On a Mountain Bike?

Building or customizing a mountain bike is an exciting experience. A mountain bike purchased from a bike shop is amazing as is, but tweaking its features to match your lifestyle and preferences makes it even better.

The handlebars on any bike are very important. They support your upper body and provide a comfortable place for you to grip and steer. The wrong handlebars can mess up your riding experience and make steering difficult.

Mountain bike trails often require you to make sharp turns and maneuver through rocky and uneven surfaces. Because of this, using comfortable and easy-to-use handlebars is essential.

Here’s everything you need to know about changing your mountain bike handlebars.

Can I Change the Handlebars on My Mountain Bike?

You can absolutely change the handlebars on your mountain bike! It’s important to keep in mind that changing handlebars isn’t as simple as changing your tires. However, for many bikers, going through the trouble of changing their handlebars is well worth it.

Why Would You Want to Change Your Handlebars?

Wrist Pain

the wrong kind of handlebars can cause wrist pain
The wrong kind of handlebars can cause wrist pain which will make riding painful. Normally, you lean over your handlebars, putting your weight onto them. Therefore, if the handlebars aren’t right, you will end up putting pressure on your wrists at an uncomfortable angle.

Different handlebars have different types of grips which may hurt or help your riding experience, depending on the length of your arms and the type of riding you’re doing. If you begin to experience wrist pain, it might be time to look into switching out your handlebars.

Sizing

the size of grips and handlebars
There are two size factors to consider for mountain bikes; the diameter of the grip and the width of the handlebar. If either of these is too large or too small, you will be uncomfortable riding.

Grips  typically come in two sizes; 25.4mm and 31.8mm. The largest size is newer to the market and is considered ‘oversized’. If you have smaller hands, this may be too large for you

In terms of the handlebar width, mountain bikes usually have wider handlebars around 710mm to 780mm.  This is supposed to make riding more comfortable. However, if you’re smaller (or taller), the standard handlebar width may not be the right match for you.

Posture 

mountain biking requires you to sit up straighter
Each type of cycling involves a different posture. Road biking is often done leaning over the handlebars since that provides the most aerodynamic support.

Mountain biking, on the other hand, requires you to sit up straighter. This is more comfortable for longer rides and helps when you’re cycling up steep hills. Remember, mountain bikes are built to go super fast, so you won’t need to hunch over to make the most out of your bike.

Damaged Handlebars

riding with damaged handlebars may result in injury
Riding with damaged handlebars may result in injury. You need good handlebars to steer safely and efficiently, so you should never compromise on the condition of your headset.

Nothing should be bent and the grips need to be intact and comfortable. Minor discomforts may result in bad riding, especially over time.

How Do I Change the Handlebars on a Mountain Bike?

This is where things get a little tricky. You can do this alone, although it might require a little elbow grease.

There are two types of handlebars: threadless and threaded. Newer bikes are usually threadless. Both types of handlebars are simple to remove, it just may take a little time. Some previous bike knowledge might also be helpful.

Removing Threaded Handlebars

To remove threaded handlebars, start by assessing how the headset is attached to the bike. There will usually be gear shifts and hand brake wires. These can be disconnected with a screwdriver  or Allen wrench . There may also be brackets to remove.

Next, locate the locknut and turn it counterclockwise with an adjustable wrench. Keep turning it until it moves the handlebars. This will detach the handlebars from the bike frame.

Finally, you’ll be able to lift the handlebars off the bike frame. This might be a little difficult, but they will eventually come off.

Removing Threadless Handlebars

To start, detach any wires attaching the headset to the bike. This step is identical to the first step for removing threaded handlebars.

Look for the faceplate on the headset. A faceplate sits in between the handlebar stem and the bike frame and holds the two pieces together with a bolt. Unscrew the bolt with the appropriate tool, which is usually a wrench or Allen key.

Grasp the handlebars and pull them upwards to release them from the bike frame.

Lastly, turn the faceplate to fully release the handlebars from the frame. You don’t need any special tools to do this. The handlebars should come completely off afterward.

Things to Keep in Mind

Although changing your handlebars is entirely possible, it’s best to purchase a bike that’s already fitted with the handlebars you need. This is convenient and more economical.

Talk to someone at your local bike shop about what you need for your mountain bike, they will be able to assist you in finding the size that fits you correctly.

How Do I Choose the Handlebars for My Mountain Bike?

There are a few mountain bike handlebars you can choose from:

1/ Riser Bar

UPANBIKE MTB Mountain Bike Bicycle Extra Long Handlebar - Riser Bar
Click the image for more info

Riser handlebars are lifted and provide support while riding. Distributing your weight properly on a mountain bike is very important since bad distribution can result in chronic wrist or shoulder pain.

The higher your handlebars are, the easier it is to maneuver and steer the bike. This is particularly helpful when riding through narrow paths where meticulous steering is a must.

2/ Upsweep Bar 

AZONIC Agile 1"" TI-Grey Handlebar 31.8/780"
Click the image for more info

Similar to a riser bar, an upsweep bar is lifted for comfort and support. If you’re especially worried about wrist pain, an upsweep bar is your best option. It provides a lot of ergonomic support and helps keep your hands and arms aligned.

Riders who like to go on long trips might prefer this handlebar option.

3/ Backsweep Bar 

SQlab 3OX 12deg Alloy MTB Bicycle Handlebar
Click the image for more info

Backsweep handlebars are turned in towards the rider slightly. This is also done for comfort. Some riders find backsweep bars more comfortable.

Materials

corki Mountain Bike Riser Handlebars
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Just like bike frames, handlebars come in a variety of materials. The standard material options are aluminum, scandium, and carbon.

Aluminum  is the cheapest option and is very durable. Scandium handlebars are usually a little thinner, although they are just as durable as aluminum handlebars. Finally, carbon  is the lightest material of them all. It’s also considered the best looking.

Can You Put Road Bike Handlebars on a Mountain Bike?

RXL SL Carbon Fiber Road Bike Handlebars
Click the image for more info

Road bikes  and mountain bikes  are different in several ways. They have different tires, gear shifts, and handlebars.

Unfortunately, you cannot put road bike handlebars on a mountain bike. The handlebar stem on road bikes is usually thinner, so they will physically not fit on a mountain bike frame.

If you manage to find one with the same frame, then you should be able to get away with it.

However, if you’re trying to convert a mountain bike into a road bike, the most important thing you need to worry about is the tires.

Mountain bike tires  are specifically designed for rocky, outdoor, and uneven trails. While they will technically work on roads (and many riders use them on pavement) they will wear out quickly.

Mountain bike tires make it difficult to get up to and maintain faster speeds. You will find yourself pedaling more than normal, and this might be tiring (no pun intended).

Road bike handlebars  usually sit lower than mountain bike handlebars , so you also need to consider if this will be comfortable for you. Consider how you will be using the bike and if it’s worth going to the trouble (and spending the money) changing the bars.

Recommended Products

1/ Wake MTB Riser Handlebar

Wake MTB Riser Handlebar,31.8 mm Bike Handlebar,720mm/780mm Aluminium Alloy Mountain Bike Handlebar Bicycle Riser Bars Extra Long Bicycle Handlebars for Downhill Cycling Racing
  • SIZE: 31.8 * 720 / 780 mm. Stable without compromise of stiffness. Extra long handlebars, help you control your mountain bike easily in complex terrain for all mountain extreme riding.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT: Made of high strength Aluminum Alloy. Double Butted, Hard Anodizing and Numerical controlled precision bending,Excellent shockproof and maximum firmness. Easy to clean and durable. Give you best support during cycling.
  • PRO-DESIGN: Ergonomic structure, CNC precision bending. Comfortable and non-slip. Best choice for riders who need more control on their bicycles.
  • MULTI-APPLICATIONS: Compatible with most mountain bikes and dirt bicycles. Great for Downhill and Off-Road.
  • CUSTOMER FOCUSED: Customer satisfaction is the goal we have been pursuing. According to the experience of the purchased customer, we try our best to improve our products and make the products step by step. If you are not satisfied with our products, please allow us to refund you,Or provide you with better products.

This riser handlebar is fitted with ‘oversized’ grips and comes in multiple colors. It’s made of aluminum so it’s very durable while still within most people’s budgets. There are over two thousand positive reviews for this product with many of the comments noting how sturdy and affordable the product is.

2/ AUTUT Handlebar Grip Wrap Ribbon Tape

AUTUT 2 Pcs 6.5Ft Length Bicycle Handlebar Grip Wrap Ribbon Tape, Universal Fit for MTB Road Bike or Other Bicycles
  • 【PACKAGE】2 x Bike Handlebar Tape & 2 x Bar Plug.
  • 【MATERIAL】Made of PU foam for comfortable touch.
  • 【MOUNTING】Flexible material can wrap on handlebar surface perfectly.
  • 【FUNCTION】Added comfort during long bicycle rides while delivering exceptional grips.
  • 【SERVICE】We are willing to offer refunds for products with quality issues, please feel free to contact us through message; If there's problem with delivery, please contact the amazon service team first.

Having a good grip on your handlebars is non-negotiable. Replacing your grip tape regularly will ensure your palms are comfortable and secure. This black grip ribbon tape is a simple product, but it will make a world of difference when it comes to riding.

To Wrap Things Up 

Changing your handlebars on your mountain bike is possible and may be the right decision if you aren’t comfortable riding. Just try not to buy a bike with the intention of changing the handlebars as that isn’t very economical or practical.

Have a think about what handlebar type will work best for you and if the ‘oversized’ grip size will be too big for you. Mountain biking is supposed to be fun and you shouldn’t have to sit through wrist, hand, or shoulder discomfort during a ride.

Have you ever had to change the handlebars on your mountain bike? What would you do differently next time? We’d love to know in the comments below!

Good luck!

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