Mountain bike handlebars don’t have drop sections like road bike bars and they’re wider (700mm+) than non-drop bars found on hybrids or commuter bikes. The most common form of mountain bike handlebars is the riser bar where the ends of the bar rise up higher than the centre section in the stem. The clamping diameter is usually either 31.8mm or 35mm so it’s a good idea to check what fits your bike before ordering.

RaceFace Atlas Mountain Bike Handlebar

Reliable all-rounder

Price: $68

With measurements that feel pretty much spot on for all types of rider, the backsweep/upsweep combo put your hands and wrists in a perfectly neutral position. There is a perceptible amount of give felt when pushing hard which helps to take some of the sting out of rougher trail.

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Funn Black Ace Carbon MTB Handlebar

Best carbon fibre bar

Price: $99

In terms of stiffness and ride feel, the Black Ace bar from Funn is totally on the money. Steering control feels rock-solid and precise, even when being twisted by the leverage of a stem and rider. The compliance and comfort levels are amongst the best out there, there’s zero twang or tiring vibrations on rough descents.

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Truvativ Hussefelt Comp Riser Handlebar

Best value and strength

Price: $42

Steering is super-precise and the bar really drives the bike from side to side. There’s minimal defection hitting the hardest turns or blasting the roughest sections. Although priced affordably, the classic Hussefelt is not a brutal experience. And if you’re a really big rider wanting serious rigidity, you'll not go wrong with this choice.

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Spank Spike 800 Race Handlebar

Best full-width handlebar

Price: $79

We really get on well with the shape, width and weight of the Spank Spike 800 handlebar: an ideal four-degree upsweep and eight-degree backsweep. It also has good stiffness, plenty of width for trimming and is comparable to other aluminium bars weight-wise. The overall shape and feel of Spank’s continuously tapering bars is excellent.

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Renthal Fatbar Lite Carbon Handlebar

Best for smaller riders

Price: $150

Besides the cool graphics the Renthal Fatbar Lite has a low weight and a nice compliant feel to it too. Typically, a bar made from carbon is twice the price of aluminium but carbon offers properties such as a damping effect, which reduces some of the trail chatter. At 740mm it's not the widest bar out there and as such suits smaller riders or more XC types.

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Easton Havoc 35 Handlebar

Best alloy 35mm clamp bar

Price: $80

Wit the oversized 35mm central bulge, cosmetically it is rathe striking a bit ugly, but the bar is bomber-solid. The shot-peened anodized finish is ultra hardwearing. The downhill-rated Easton Haven bar is slightly heavier than a pure trail bar might be, but the reason it still bags a spot here is simply down to the quality of the ride-feel. It's excellent in the hands.

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The importance of finding the best mountain bike handlebars for you and your bike can’t be overstated. In combination with your grips, they are the one bit of kit that keeps your bike pointing in the right direction. Wide bars are the way to go. We think you should be aiming for at least 750mm. While this may seem extreme, in the majority of cases they will add a level of control and stability that can transform the way your bike rides. Plus, a wider bar doesn’t cost any extra and you can always cut it down. Aluminium or carbon is the choice. Aluminium is cheaper. Carbon is lighter. Carbon bars can be stiffer – some can even be uncomfortably stiff. Obviously there is a spread of prices and materials here, which means there is something for every pocket. Carbon bars are pricy, but they are superbly made and you’re looking at roughly a 150 gram weight saving over the aluminium alternatives What you’re looking for is a perfect balance between stiffness, comfort and resilience. If you can also get a bar that’s light and wide enough, then you’re probably looking at a winner. For regular trail riding we're going to highlight the Spank Spike 800. Sure, at full width they may be too wide for some riders. But give them a try before trimming them down. If you're after a super strong bar for gravity fuelled bikepark bombing, we reckon the best bet here is the RaceFace Atlas. It's a classic MTB handlebar that won't let you down. If you're looking to slap a bit of carbon on your bike then the Funn Black Ace Carbon is something of a one-off: it's affordable, offers great ride feel and looks cool while doing so.