Why and How to Cut Bike Handlebars
Do you experience numbness or tingling in your hands when you ride your bike? Does cycling hurt or tire out your arms, shoulders, and wrists? Is it a challenge to properly grip your handlebars while you ride?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, then it is highly likely that your handlebars are too broad for you.
How long should my bike’s handlebars be?
The width of a set of standard MTB handlebars is generally between 26 and 30 inches (680 and 760 mm).
However, having handlebars that are too narrow is a problem usually experienced by taller people. If you are six feet or taller, it’s recommended that you look for longer handlebars as the standard size will be too small for you.
To get the width most appropriate for you, use a measuring tape while you are doing push-ups. Measure the distance between your hands while you are in a push-up position. As bizarre as this sounds, this measurement will give you the perfect width for how long your handlebars should be.
How can I make riding more comfortable?
If you want to be comfortable while riding your bike, the contact points (handlebars, pedals, and seat) must be adjusted to fit your height and stature. In the case that riding is painful, you will need to take the appropriate steps to modify them.
To reduce the width of the handlebars, you will need to cut them. Cutting handlebars isn’t too difficult, but you will need a few critical tools to get the job done right.
To cut your bike’s handlebars, it is recommended to have these items:
Cutting your handlebars
Before you begin cutting:
- Separate the handlebars from the bicycle and all of its accessories. You won’t want to get carbon dust or small metal flakes on your bike
- Place the bars on a work surface
- Measure the width and use a marker or a piece of tape to mark where you plan to cut. If you want to cut 10mm, put tape 5mm from the end of each side. Ensure that the tape is level
Depending on what your handlebars are made of, there is a different method for cutting them.
For aluminum handlebars:
- Use a pipe cutter to make an even cut on both sides
- File down any sharp edges
For carbon handlebars:
- Place the tape over the mark and make a mark on top of the strip. This will prevent the handlebars from fraying
- Place the handlebars on a bicycle stand and fix it so that it is parallel to the ground
- Use the lock-on grips as a guide and make slow, even movements to ensure a clean cut
- File down any sharp edges
Be sure to cut small portions off of both sides at a time and test them. Remember, you can always cut off more, but can’t add more length, so it is best to cut a little at a time!
Finally, put the handlebars back on the bike, add your grips and accessories back on, and you’re good to go!
If you want to see the process for cutting handlebars in action before doing it yourself, we recommend watching this video (credit to Global Mountain Bike Network):
Remember, if you don’t feel too confident about doing it yourself, most bike shops will be more than willing to help you out. Regardless, no matter how you adjust your handlebars, the important thing is to make sure that riding your bike is as safe and comfortable as it is enjoyable.