In this thread we will discuss the specs and features of most aftermarket BMX Handlebars. After reading this, you will have everything you need to know to choose your own BMX Handlebars!
The Rise, or Height of the Handlebars will be measured in inches from the bottom of the knurled clamping surface to the top of the grip surface. Most modern Handlebars are offered in sizes varying from 8.25" up to 10"+. Generally speaking, the shorter the Handlebars, the more room you have to pull the front wheel off the ground, therefore making it easier to hop higher. However, taller bars have been proven to help posture while riding, which can make a major difference for those that experience back pains/cramps from riding. Using this information, it is important to pinpoint your "sweet spot" for maximum comfort without minimizing your hop height. Everyone's sweet spot is different, especially for those with back problems that need a little extra rise, however these are some fair recommendations for Handlebar Rise based on rider height. 5'5"- : 8.25 - 8.5" 5'6" - 5'10" : 8.5 - 9" 5'11" - 6'2" : 9 - 9.5" 6'4"+ : 9.5 - 10.5"
The Width of the Handlebars is the distance from bar-end to bar-end measured in inches. Most handlebars come in options from 27" up to 30"+, however any set of handlebars can easily be cut to your width preference with a pipe cutter or a sawzall/other power saw (so don't worry if your favorite handlebars are wider than you'd like.) Generally speaking, the ideal Handlebar Width for BMX is the rider's shoulder width, or close to it, because this provides the most efficient use of your arms when pulling up to hop (try doing a push-up with your hands at shoulder width, and another with them spread out past your shoulders, you will notice that you lose efficiency of your muscles when half your force is being exerted outwards instead of straight up & down.) Trick-wise, narrower Handlebars make bar spins much easier, while wider Handlebars make turn downs easier to click.
The Upsweep of the Handlebars is the upwards angle of the grip-section, and most Handlebars are available with anywhere from 1 to 5 degrees of Upsweep. This is a tricky spec, due to everyones' wrists being slightly different & how Handlebar Width affects it. What the Upsweep does is create a level contact surface for your hand on your grips, so you can properly absorb impact into your arms while minimizing any harm to your wrists from doing so. Examples; If you are not riding enough Upsweep, you may notice pain/uncomfort in your inner wrist. & if you are riding too much Upsweep, you may notice pain/uncomfort in your outer wrist. The "perfect" amount of Upsweep will allow both your inner and outer wrist to be in contact with the grip simultaneously, providing maximum comfort. And with all that said, the wider you hold your hands apart, the more you increase the angle of your wrists, thus needing more Upsweep to compensate & vice versa (so if you plan on changing your Handlebar Width on your next set, you may want to consider a slight difference in Upsweep to compensate.)
The Backsweep of the Handlebars is the backwards angle of the grip-section. Most handlebars will be available with anywhere from 9 to 12 degrees of Backsweep. Quite similar to Upsweep, Backsweep is to ensure a proper hand-on-grip contact for comfort & proper impact absorption into the wrists. This spec is also entirely dependent on the rider's wrist angle, how wide they hold their hands apart, etc.
A lot of aftermarket Handlebars are Heat Treated, which means the tubes have been heated and cooled in a way that strengthens them. The first and cheaper method is to use heat treated tubes to build the Handlebars. However, the heat of welding can negate the treatment of the tube near the weld, which brings me to method #2.. Post-weld Heat Treatment is a process that consists of heat treating the Handlebars post-production so that the properties of the metal are the same through out the welds. This is the most efficient way to strengthen both the tubes and the welds.
2 Piece vs. 4 Piece
2 Piece (2pc) & 4 Piece (4pc) both refer to the amount of tubes used to build the Handlebars. This does not necessarily effect the strength or function of the handlebars, and is entirely aesthetic.
2pc Handlebars usually are built by bending a long tube into what will be both the grip-sections & the knurled clamping area, with a second, shorter tube used as the Crossbar.
4pc Handlebars generally use two separate tubes for the grip-sections, along with two Crossbars, one of which has the knurled clamping area.
With all of this information taken into consideration, you should be ready to pick out your own new BMX Handlebars!
Questions? E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org