A set of the best mountain bike handlebars are a relatively cheap upgrade that will last you for ages. We’ve compiled the best: carbon, alloy, 31.8 or 35mm.

A set of the best mountain bike handlebars are a relatively cheap upgrade that will last you for ages. We’ve compiled the best: carbon, alloy, 31.8 or 35mm.

Read more: Best mountain bike grips in 2020 – fat, medium and tapered grips

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 either 31.8mm or 35mm.

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.

We’ve come a long way from the shoulder-width steerers of the nineties and modern geometry theorists will tell you that wide bars are the way to go.

What width? 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.

Best mountain bike handlebars

Here our are current favourite best mountain bike handlebars.

  • Race Face Next 35 Carbon, 35mm
  • Nukeproof Horizon V2 Carbon Riser, 35mm
  • Race Face Atlas Alloy, 35mm
  • Chromag Fubar OSX 35 Alloy, 35mm
  • Hope Carbon, 31.8mm
  • Pro Tharsis XC UD Carbom, 31.8mm
  • Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore Race Alloy, 31.8mm
  • Renthal Fatbar Alloy, 31.8mm

‘Buy Now’ links

You will notice that beneath each product summary is a ‘Buy Now’ link. If you click on one of these links then mbr may receive a small amount of money from the retailer should you go to purchase the product from them. Don’t worry, this does not affect the amount you pay.

35mm clamp mountain bike handlebars

best mountain bike handlebars

Race Face Next 35

Great profile and resilience for trail riding

Price: £129.00 | Weight: 189g | Width: 760mm | Rise: 10 or 20mm | Dimensions: 8° back, 5° up

Pro: Lovely damped ride feel
Pro: Classic trail bike dimensions

Con: ‘Only’ 760mm wide
Con: No high rise version available

Our only caveat with these bars – and it’s a significant one – is that they are only 760mm wide. You really have to like narrow bars OR you have to be canny with your grip choice and set-up. Basically you can add about 20mm to any bar’s width by running lock-on grips with encapsulated ends and/or running single-collar lock-on grips ‘overhanging’ the ends of your bars by 10mm each. If you do that, these bars are well worth considering due to their weight and ride feel.

Read review of the Race Face Next 35 handlebar

Nukeproof Horizon v2 carbon

Nukeproof Horizon V2 Carbon Riser

Solid, comfortable, responsive, competitively light and backed up by a lifetime warranty

Price: £109.99 | Weight: 235g | Width: 780 or 800mm  | Rise: 12, 25 or 38mm | Dimensions: 9° back, 5° up

Pro: Unique offset sweeps suit modern MTBs
Pro: Accurate handling

Con: On the stiffer side
Con: Offset sweeps may not suit older bikes

Nukeproof wanted more backsweep for enhanced comfort, and has done something unique with the handlebar shape to counteract how this places hands closer to the rider and effectively reduces the reach of your frame.

The bar is ‘clocked’ slightly forwards so wrists sit at the same angle, but the bar lies further forward than most rivals with the same 9° backsweep. Offsetting the bar slightly like this gives more options to tune hand and riding position because rolling the bars in the stem makes more difference to grip position.

Read review of Nukeproof Horizon V2 Carbon Riser

race face atlas handlebar

Race Face Atlas

Top-quality construction, sorted geometry and full width

Price: £74.95 | Weight: 318g | Width: 820mm | Rise: 20 or 35mm | Dimensions: 8° back, 5° up

Pro: Super strong with long life expectancy
Pro: Wide enough for all tastes

Con: Super gloss finish requires careful brake/shifter/dropper clamping
Con: Lacks angle-dangle markings for controls

In the past we’ve been big believers in carbon bars that offered a bit more resilience, but these days aluminium can feel just as good and is usually half the price. Obviously, carbon can save weight, but the 100g weight saving is going to be pretty insignificant on modern trail bike. We also really like that extra 20mm width, as it offers a bit more leverage when muscling around on techy singletrack. I’m not saying this is an enduro bike specific handlebar but it is a little more versatile than most all-mountain/gravity handlebars.

Read review of Race Face Atlas handlebar

bet mountain bike handlebars

Chromag Fubar OSX 35

Less tiring than other oversized, super-strong alloy bars

Price: £69.99 | Weight: 320g | Width: 800mm | Rise: 25mm | Dimensions: 8° back, 5° up

Pro: Lovely calm feeling for a 35mm bar
Pro: In-yer-face graphics

Con: May feel overly dull for racers
Con: In-yer-face graphics

Chromag Fubar OSX is less harsh and more comfortable on longer descents than rival bars, while feeling just as positive in terms of control; a crucial benefit that makes it potentially less tiring than a lot of other oversized, super-strong alloy bars. The hip Canadian brand uses 7000-series alloy with its own custom drawing process to control the way the aluminium is stretched or formed into its final profile. It means Chromag can specify exactly which areas of the bar it wants the most and least material for ride feel, strength and weight saving.

Read review of the Chromag Fubar OSX 35 handlebars

31.8mm clamp mountain bike handlebars

Hope Carbon Handlebar

Hope Carbon

Looks good and feels great

Price: £160.00 | Weight: 225g | Width: 780mm | Rise: 20mm | Dimensions: 7° back, 5° up

Pro: Rides even better than it looks
Pro: UK made classy carbon

Con: Expensive
Con: One size only

Carbon handlebars in the ‘old’ 31.8mm clamp size appear to be something of a dying breed but this one is a good choice. For the money a carbon bar isn’t the most costs effective way to save weight but it’s a nice addition because it’s something you’re going to be looking at every time you ride. Hope’s Carbon riser does look good and feels great but the high price (nad lack of rise options) does count against it.

Read review of Hope Carbon handlebars

PRO Tharsis XC UD carbon handlebar

PRO Tharsis XC UD Carbon

Light enough for XC and marathon racing, strong enough for general trail duties

Price: £119.99 | Weight: 177g | Width: 700, 720, 740mm | Rise: 0, 5, 15mm | Dimensions: 9° back, 4° up

Pro: Comfortable ride for lighter riders
Pro: Ready to ride in 740mm width

Con: Lightweight results in a bit of twang
Con: Central clamp needs assembly paste (provided!) to prevent slipping

The PRO Tharsis XC is a solid option if you are looking to go carbon for your XC or trail bike. At 740mm, the extra width improves stability and handling compared to a typical XC oriented handlebar. For most XC environments, especially longer marathon type events, the additional comfort far outweighs the occasional woolly response.

Read review of PRO Tharsis XC UD carbon handlebars

best mountain bike handlebars

Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore Race

Foam-filling technology really does reduce chatter and arm pump

Price: £74.99 | Weight: 330g | Width: 800mm | Rise: 15, 30, 50mm | Dimensions: 8° back, 4° up

Pro: Ideal for those looking for flatter grip angle
Pro: Unique Vibrocore ‘filling’ genuinely reduces discomfort

Con: Graphics are looking a bit dated
Con: Shallow up sweep can feel odd to some riders

In terms of stiffness, the Spike is solid and steers precisely, but there’s a distinctly deadened, dull sensation that’s similar, yet somehow different, to the feeling you get from the best-damped carbon bars. High frequency trail chatter was noticeably more muted, leaving our hands fresher and less sore at the bottom of tough descents.

Read review of the Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore Race handlebar

best mountain bike handlebars

Renthal FatBar

At home on trail bikes as well as downhill bikes

Price: £64.99 | Weight: 3364g | Width: 780mm | Rise: 10, 20, 30 or 38mm | Dimensions: 7° back, 5° up

Pro: Modern classic that still cuts it
Pro: Great value for a classy product

Con: Not as wide as more modern offerings
Con: Signature colourway may not suit your bike!

A modern classic handlebar. There’s a reason why so many professional racers run Renthal bars, it’s not (just) because they’re paid to, it’s because they really are supreme in terms of feel and shape. The blend of stiffness-to-flexness is spot-on for all types of mountain biking. You don’t have to be railing World Cup downhills to get the benefits. And the iconic colourway and logos always raise a smile too.

Read review of the Renthal FatBar handlebar

How to choose the best mountain bike handlebars

best mountain bike handlebars

Clamp diameter

The majority of handlebars are 31.8mm stem clamp diameter ie. they fit in a 31.8mm stem. There are a couple of brands offering 35mm clamp diameter handlebars (Race Face and Easton mainly). You will need to also have/buy a 35mm stem to go with them so don’t forget to budget for that too.

best mountain bike handlebars

Carbon or aluminium

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.

best mountain bike handlebars

The red lines indicate the upsweep (height) of the handlebars and the green lines the backsweep (depth) of them

Handlebar geometry

The shape of a bar is dictated by three key measurements: rise, backsweep and upsweep.

Rise is typical measured in millimetres — hence 20 or 30mm rise — and basically indicates the bar’s height.

Backsweep and upsweep are measured in degrees and they affect the angle of the bit you hold.

Not all manufacturers produce bars in multiple rises, and you need to consider stem angle and bar rise together to achieve your perfect bar height. All of our favourite bars combine upsweep and backsweep, so we’d avoid any that are too flat or angled too far back.

best mountain bike handlebars

Cut marks and reference marks

You should know how to get your controls at the same angle by eye, but to reduce the guesswork several manufacturers print reference marks on the bar.

Cut marks are a handy addition if you want to trim the bar and don’t own a tape measure. They also allow you to ignore the old maxim ‘measure twice, cut once.’