31.8mm vs. 35mm Handlebars – Stiffer is Not Better for MTB Handlebars

31.8mm vs. 35mm Handlebars – Stiffer is Not Better for MTB Handlebars

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Not all handlebars are created equal.

Over the years we’ve ridden countless handlebars on over 100 test bikes and have learned that the hype isn’t always real. As riders who have suffered hand fatigue, arm pump and general discomfort due to overly stiff bars, we have had multiple conversations with both professional riders and brand representatives agreeing with us that they personally prefer 31.8mm handlebars when it comes to comfort and ride quality on their own bikes.

That’s why we made this video to showcase a few very popular options on the market as well as some of our favorite bars. If you’ve suffered from aching fingers, hand cramps or arm pump, don’t assume it’s your suspension, tire pressure, or personal strength that’s to blame. It could very well be that overly stiff handlebars that were spec’d on your bike are rattling those joints and muscles too much.

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  1. Chad Sugden on January 19, 2023 at 3:12 am

    What’s your thoughts on the ONEUP carbon bars that are designed the flex?

  2. Patrick on January 19, 2023 at 3:12 am

    Renthal Father Carbon light V2 31.8 at 800mm? ever try those?

  3. Whitehawkvision Films on January 19, 2023 at 3:13 am

    You bought a Gold Stem in 35 for bling? Hell Yes! Sometimes you gotta just Love-On your bike and give it some soul! I have one bike with RED Nuke Proof Horizon Stem and RED Nuke Proof Horizon bars and I catch alotta shit from guys about it and I don’t give a ratsass… I love my Red, White and Blue Captain America themed Trek Fuel!

  4. Ewn on January 19, 2023 at 3:14 am

    Can we put 31.8 bars on dh bike?

  5. David on January 19, 2023 at 3:15 am

    Don’t listen to this guy on the deity handlebars. I have the blacklabel in 31.8 and they are complaint and super comfortable

  6. Thim on January 19, 2023 at 3:16 am

    I’m the oddball I get 31.8 because they are the only 800mm wide and 75mm rise. They only come in alloy.

  7. Dimitar Hristov on January 19, 2023 at 3:17 am

    what about spank vibrocore ?

  8. Mckay Flake on January 19, 2023 at 3:22 am

    "I hope this gold stem won’t bite me in the long run" uhhh odds are you will survive

  9. Xavier Ribeiro on January 19, 2023 at 3:22 am

    I’ve just got the Raceface atlas 35mm handlebar/direct mount stem combo simply because it just looks better. I don’t think I notice any difference in stiffness between the two measures. I do notice that grips make a huge difference. I really want to go back to simple push on grips but I don’t know of any good ones for Downhill. What do you recommend?

  10. Chris King on January 19, 2023 at 3:23 am

    I tried the One Up 35mm bars on my new Evo and couldn’t get along with them. Went to the new PNW Range 35mm bars and they are great. I had the previous versions Range bars in 31.8 on my Ripmo and also liked those. I find the 35mm Range to be slightly stiffer than 31.8, but I do not get any sort of pump or fatigue. PNW da best

  11. Dadlife828 on January 19, 2023 at 3:23 am

    I want to like your channel and your content because you have tons of knowledge, but just cut to the chase. Long winded explanations will get people clicking off the video and hurt your standing with the algorithm (YouTube won’t recommend your video as much)

  12. Jacob F on January 19, 2023 at 3:23 am

    Do you have any experience with the Spank Vibracore? looking at them for someone who has pre existing shoulder pain outside of MTB riding, looking specifically at the SPANK SPIKE 777 FR VIBROCORE Bar.

  13. star child on January 19, 2023 at 3:26 am

    The costs of bars being the equivalent to to cost of a Walmart bike doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because when you compare the amount of material, machining, fabricating, components and time (is money) to bake a bar compared to an entire bike, it doesn’t add up and the monetary value for performance gains, is all in the individuals head, ego and peer pressure.. Most of the audience take their bike to the shop to put air in their tires, much less ready for any competition type riding with zero chance of a 🏆..

  14. Mountain Cruiser on January 19, 2023 at 3:30 am

    Lookes like Loam Wolf joined a Mexican gang. So now we wait for more and more gold components and 400mm riser bars?

  15. Pete Dog on January 19, 2023 at 3:32 am

    760mm x 31.8w x 20mm rise x 6 degree Renthal Fatbar Carbon Lite is a great handlebar. I picked it up for $130. It is much more precise than my old alloy bars and doesn’t wander in slower riding situations and climbing. I ride trail and light enduro mostly.

  16. Allen Rowdy on January 19, 2023 at 3:32 am

    35 800mm for life

  17. Francis Peña on January 19, 2023 at 3:32 am

    Main reason why I went with 35mm diameter bars was because it was difficult to source 40mm or shorter stems.

    And i went from 35mm dia carbon bars to alu bars because the carbon ones were too stiff 😬

  18. Josh Grant on January 19, 2023 at 3:34 am

    I made the mistake of buying aluminum 35 bar and stem based on availability and cost. Looked good, but on a single speed hardtail, it was unbearable. I swapped them with the 31.8 on my FS trail bike. We’ll see how the 35 is on my full suspension.

  19. LiveFreeandShred on January 19, 2023 at 3:34 am

    I HATE my 35 bontrager line carbon bars. Alloy Renthal 31.8 for lyfe

  20. Niran Turgeman on January 19, 2023 at 3:36 am

    Thanks for the review! I’m currently using a 35 handlebar… If switching to 31.8, is it a must to also replace the stem and the grips?

  21. Anton Diaz on January 19, 2023 at 3:38 am

    Finally! A video that helped me decide what to get and what mm to choose. Thank you! You guys rock! 🤘

  22. JMANSWAT on January 19, 2023 at 3:41 am

    Never really had noticeable numb hands or arm pump come to think about it until I started running 35 stuff. Since then the best have been vibrocore, then Pivot cycles, then oneup. Some things like super boost plus wheels, etc. are indeed better. But I’m beginning to think 31.8 is best for most. (Vibrocore wheels are dope by the way, if u can muster the weight).

  23. Dean Emberley on January 19, 2023 at 3:42 am

    I call Bullshit

  24. Hummus Power on January 19, 2023 at 3:44 am

    Quite surprised there was no Spank Vibeocore in there. Great video tho bro!! Dope to see many bars reviewed. I’m not surprised an Aluminium bar was picked as the favourite of the bunch.

  25. SAMTB on January 19, 2023 at 3:45 am

    Hey, so i have the Diety 780’s, seems like you really dont like them. I’m looking at getting the PNW’s. What’s the main difference?

  26. B-Horu on January 19, 2023 at 3:47 am

    I’m 6’6 and weighing in at 220lbs, I only run 35mm bars, be it carbon or alloy. I notice after riding 31.8 bars for a season or so they begin cracking at the the bends of the bars

  27. Lambert J. on January 19, 2023 at 3:47 am

    just picked up a Race Face Aeffect 35 Handlebar – 20mm Rise at REI for $19. Heck of a deal!!

  28. Fran Belta on January 19, 2023 at 3:48 am

    Hand fatigue ? No man should ever complain about hand fatigue, years of jerking it has prepared you well lol

  29. NoBrakes23 on January 19, 2023 at 3:48 am

    I’ve had zero interest in 35, (Minus the PDent bars/stem I ordered that I didn’t realize are 35,) but those OneUps are tempting. Already on Vibrocore bars, and while they help, I still have issues on long rides.

  30. Gab and Kishee Emp on January 19, 2023 at 3:48 am

    I love my 31.8 raceface atlas handlebar.i feel really strong with it and don’t feel any hand or arm fatigue at all even with a 120mm travel suntour xcm fork riding on black rated trails here in Nova Scotia

  31. mike stivers on January 19, 2023 at 3:48 am

    i have OneUp on a bike, Next and Next R on 2 bikes, and TAG on 2 bikes. i think that TAG seems to be the lesser-known of the available bars, but they run w/ the big dogs. i really like them in 20 and 30mm rise. and the ghost graphics are dopee.

  32. Juan Garcia on January 19, 2023 at 3:50 am

    It’s all marketing. Every 10 years or so the cycling companies need some much needed income so they increase the diameter size of (name the part here) for additional income.

  33. John DeF on January 19, 2023 at 3:50 am

    35 mm bars. The answer to a question no one was asking…….

  34. Drogos79 on January 19, 2023 at 3:51 am

    Buying flatter bar vs. rolling existing bar to change effective angle and position over front wheel?

  35. MTBlikeaGIRL on January 19, 2023 at 3:53 am

    As a smaller riding just shy of 5ft tall, I much prefer the 31.8mm bars in carbon. I notice a lot less hand fatigue/numbing when riding with those bars.

  36. Luke Levinson on January 19, 2023 at 3:54 am

    honestly i tried both thicknesses and didn’t feel a difference at the bikepark

  37. Sea Captian on January 19, 2023 at 3:54 am

    Did things go to 35 mm for carbon bars to have more surface grip to tightening down without damage?

  38. KintamaHD on January 19, 2023 at 3:55 am

    Vital did tests with a homebuilt rig to measure flex, that is 100 times more useful than what you did here. Also where’s the most popular oval shaped oneup bar. Not sure I approve of this video, I’m in the market for a xc bar, but I came out with 0 info on anything close to that. Measure out flex for 31.8 alloy, 31.8 carbon, 35 alloy, 35 carbon, do so for different type of intended use for bar – xc, trail. Do it for the 800mm, 760mm widths. Test out a whole bunch of bars. Yes it’s more work, but it would actually be useful then.

  39. MTBover40 on January 19, 2023 at 3:56 am

    Have you ever tried the Deity Speedway 35? Personally I don´t think they´re that stiff…

  40. stefan negutoiu on January 19, 2023 at 3:57 am

    Is that paint job on the specialised custom?

  41. Stuart Mclaren on January 19, 2023 at 3:58 am

    I run 35mm reanthal carbon 30mm rise very happy with them

  42. Matt™ on January 19, 2023 at 3:58 am

    I tapped out after only seeing ebikes….

  43. Paran01ac on January 19, 2023 at 4:02 am

    Guys, I want to buy the Race Face Atlas 35mm 820mm and cut it down to 780mm. How stupid is it? How was your experience with 35mm clamp on your Spesh Enduro? What’s your bar width? THANK YOU

  44. Christian Johnson on January 19, 2023 at 4:04 am

    You guys do the best reviews. Thanks!

  45. Rameses Lizardo on January 19, 2023 at 4:06 am

    What was the rise of the Raceface handle bar on that bike?

  46. Lynx G on January 19, 2023 at 4:06 am

    Have to say, great video, well presented, hopefully with a follow up video on more specifics on more bars. As to 31.8 vs 35, yeah, I’m not riding full on DH, don’t see the need, never felt like any of my 31.8 bars ever felt flexy or dangerous, heck even good 25.4 bars can be stiff and strong enough. Did buy a few 35 bars and stems on sale to give them a go and did not get on with their geo or stiffness, they’re sitting in my parts box, almost new. My personal fav bar is the SQLab16 alu bar, absolutely love it, the 16 degree sweep really keeps my hands in a great position when doing lots of pedaling and the 16 degrees is still not to much for when it points DH and gets steep and tech.

  47. DHiller on January 19, 2023 at 4:07 am

    have you tried the OneUp bars? ive tried all of the bars in your list but i found that oneup has the best balance of comfort and stiffness

  48. Ryan Palomba on January 19, 2023 at 4:08 am

    I came for a handlebar mustache conversation and learned about my second favorite handlebar topic. Thanks for the video. 🙂

  49. Electricblaze on January 19, 2023 at 4:08 am

    So if I cut the 820mm down to 780mm its gonna be shit? I got the RaceFace SixC just because of the cool design and I thought "ill just cut my bars" So now thats not an option?

    I had some stock bars on my specialized that were 800mm and took it down to 780mm and it felt just fine.

    So im confused 😕

  50. Niran Turgeman on January 19, 2023 at 4:09 am

    Thanks for the review! I’m currently using a 35 handlebar… If switching to 31.8, does it mean I must replace the stem and the grips as well?