Why Are Mountain Bike Handlebars So Low?

Mountain Bike Handlebars So Low

A mountain bike is necessary whenever you plan to go for a mountain hike experience. But then, the height of the handlebars plays a very crucial role when it comes to handling mountain bikes.

The bike’s control depends on the level of allowable adjustment to the bike’s handlebar. There are benefits to adjusting the mountain bike handlebars, and this article is a guide to knowing better.

The reason for mountain bike handlebars being low is primarily for the sake of stability and control. Test experiments show that a lower height reduces the center of gravity, increasing stability. Also, with a lower handlebar, there is increased traction on the front wheel, which allows for climbing. 

Why Are Mountain Bike Handlebars So Low?

Mountain Bike Handlebars So Low

A lower mountain bike handlebar generally improves bike control which eases mountain climbing.

Furthermore, low handlebars allow for a centered position of the rider on both wheels which tends to reduce the center of gravity.

For this reason, mountain bike handlebars are set to be lower than the seat level.

You’ll need all the bike control possible for off-road and mountain hikes to avoid unnecessary damages and accidents.

So by lowering the height of the bike’s handlebars, the rider’s weight is balanced, which allows for alertness.

The effect of the lower height is more noticeable on rough terrains and mountains or hills.

Also, aside from mountain use, a lower height gives a more aerodynamic position for elite road users. Plus, it allows a wide range of riders with varying height differences.

In general, having a lower handlebar on a mountain bike is for the overall benefit of the rider himself and not necessarily fashion.

However, there is a level of how low the bike can go; otherwise, it will pose control difficulties. So, don’t lower the adjustable handlebar height to the last as it will affect handling negatively.

Therefore, you should adjust it to suit your comfort and the purpose of the ride.

The conventional height level where the bike handlebar height is either equal to or above the seat level is for recreational use.

This mountain bike handlebar height level gives a very comfortable position at the expense of stability.

Therefore, it is right to say that the mountain bike handlebars are so low because of their purpose.

Should Handlebars Be Higher Than Seat On Mountain Bike?

A small change in the height of the mountain bike handlebars makes a lot of difference in handling.

Several reasons stand in favor of a lowered mountain bike handlebar headset stem.

Below are some of the reasons why mountain bike handlebars should be lower instead of higher than the seat level.

#1. Control

The handlebar height on mountain bikes can sabotage your ride when not adjusted to suit the terrain. Lowering the mountain bike handlebar stem has a lot of impact on control.

A low handlebar stem is easier to control than a handlebar higher than the seat level.

For racers who value speed and control, a lower height will be advantageous as there is a gain in aerodynamics and speed.

In this position, the rider’s weight is balanced by both wheels promoting stability which gives reasonable control.

In addition, a lower handlebar demands more flexibility which is a plus for bike control.

#2. Stability

Adjusting the mountain bike’s handlebar makes a lot of difference regarding your stability on the bike. A lower handlebar height gives the most stability.

Since aerodynamics favors lowered height, most modern bikes are designed in fashion.

The wrong adjustment will certainly impact aerodynamics and your comfort level on the bike. In addition, all those mentioned above determine how stable you will be on the bike.

Therefore, a lower handlebar is the best fit with great balance, stability, and control.

It is very much a debate that a lowered handlebar headset brings discomfort and suffering from pain.

The truth is that there is a limit to the adjustment that will impact the body negatively.

Nonetheless, adjusting handlebar height and angle depends on factors that depend on adjustment.

#3. Higher Performance, Less Effort

The design of mountain bikes isn’t necessarily for long joy rides but basically for racing.

For this reason, the mountain bike’s handlebar is usually lowered to ensure higher performance even with less effort.

The adjustable handlebar headset for a higher level is an addition for normal casual rides. 

A good output, amongst many other reasons, stands in favor of a low mountain bike handlebar. However, as mentioned earlier, every adjustment is made with a purpose.

Therefore, the low handlebar best fits mountain rides and rugged terrains.

Are Wider Mountain Bike Handlebars Better?

Of course, wider mountain bike handlebars, according to riders, help increase grip, which is a plus for bike control.

In addition, a wide handlebar allows riders to firmly handle the front wheel through aggressive roads.

In the case of a narrow handlebar, any little hand movement will result in a bigger turn which sabotages control.

Also, it gives enough allowance to the chest level, which helps riders to breathe better.

Fatigue will be on the low with a wide handlebar, not to mention the degree of comfort that comes with it.

A push-up with hands close together requires more energy than a bit apart; hence wide bars save energy. 

In addition, a rider absorbs shock force better with a wide handlebar bar than with a narrow bar. Also, it is easier to keep the bike’s head on target with a wide handlebar than normal.

Today, most mountain bike handlebars have wider bars and a short stem which is a win-win combination.

However, wider handlebars aren’t the best for normal road or cross-country riders.

Plus, in some instances, due to the wideness of the handlebars, you may not be able to navigate through some paths.

Therefore, they only suffice for mountain use, downhill, and rough terrains.

How To Raise The Handlebars On A Mountain Bike?

Adjusting the handlebar height is with a specific intention that should suit the purpose of use.

Any change to the height of a bike’s handlebars will cause a great impact on stability and control.

Hence, it is important to know what you want from your ride before making adjustments.

For a new bike, do well to browse through the manual that comes along with the bike.

Since mountain bikes come in different designs, the way to adjust the handlebar of one will differ from another.

The following is a simple guide on how to raise the handlebars on a flat bar mountain bike.

  • Begin by loosening the top bolt stem cap using an Allen key. 
  • Loosen the smaller bolts on the threadless headset stem using the Allen key.
  • You can then remove the entire handlebar from the stem.
  • To raise the height of the mountain bike handlebar, add spacers to the main stem tube.
  •  Measure the height to your comfort for every spacer.
  • Replace the stem and then the stem cap.
  • You can then tighten the stem cap. If the handlebar refuses to turn properly, loosen the handlebar until it moves as you want. 


There is a clear reason for every locomotive design we see worldwide. For example, the fact that mountain bikes usually have their handlebar lowered is for a reason too.

Therefore, lower the handlebar height for optimum control and maximum stability on your mountain hike.

Josh Matthews

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