As with all handlebars, mountain bike handlebars come in a variety of styles, designs and, of course, prices. In order to find the right handle bar for you there are a number of factors to consider. Here, then, is a brief guide to what to look for.
The width of the handlebars will naturally be a vital consideration. The wider the bar the more control the rider will tend to have, although the ability to snap the bike into a turn will be impeded somewhat with wider bars. Narrower and lower bars will ensure a more aerodynamic and ergonomic efficiency, especially in longer rides.
Therefore in general, cross-country riders tend to prefer narrower bars, preferably between 22-23 inches (56-58cm), while freeriders and downhillers prefer to go for wider bars.
As for the material, the majority of MTB handlebars are constructed from some kind of aluminium alloy. However, if a greater durability or strength is required then steel handlebars are a better alternative. In addition, these days carbon MTB handlebars are becoming increasingly popular, especially at the high end. Finally, the option to go for titanium bars is still available, although these are now less popular.
The shape of the bars is also crucial both to comfort and performance. The choice here is generally between an up-sweep and a rise and back-sweep shape and will ultimately depend on personal preference as people's comfort zones tend to be vastly different. For many, however, a swept-back bar that is secured in a high position makes for the most comfortable ride.