List of Swept Back and Riser MTB Handlebars

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Don’t let comfort come second to performance when you bikepack. Because the further you ride, the more important it is that you look after your body. A comfortable handlebar is a great place to start, so here’s our full Low Down list of swept back and riser models…

The Low Down is a resource series that collates all the key options available for each topic discussed; be it handlebars, bags, or tents. Our aim is to make this a valuable resource for the bikepacking community and newcomers alike. Note that some of the gear listed hasn’t been reviewed on this site. Look out for the ‘T’ symbol that denotes items we’ve tested and can happily recommend.

For the most part, modern mountain bikes come stocked with relatively wide and straight handlebars, typically with a 9-degree sweep or less, and a subtle rise at best. Whilst these may well suit your trail riding needs, they’re not necessarily the best option for big backcountry rides and long distance bikepacking. After all, a comfortable setup allows you to cover more miles, recover more easily… and enjoy the scenery while riding.

For those looking at alternatives to their stock handlebars – be it ones with more backsweep, more rise, or more width – we’ve collated our favourite ‘comfort mountain bike bars’, for want of a better term. By ‘comfort mtb’, we’re referring to handlebars that are suited to riding challenging terrain, be it on trails or dirt roads, rather than comfort bars in a more traditional touring sense, like butterfly or trekking bars favoured by many traditional long-distance tourers. And for the purposes of this guide, we’re sticking to bars with a 15 degree sweep of more.

Exactly what rise, width, and sweep you prefer will likely boil down to personal preference, the terrain you ride, body type, and even your age. Just remember that muscle memory is a powerful thing, so allow yourself time with a new setup over before deciding if it’s the right one for you. Initially, your sense of control and steering will feel markedly different with bars that feature more backsweep. Bear in mind too that changing handlebars (and sometimes your stem) will also affect weight distribution across your contact points, as well as your cranks and front wheel. This can have a knock-on effect on the position and angle of your wrists, arms and shoulders. Bike fit is a topic in itself and will be saved for another guide.

Jones SG Loop H-bar, bikepacking

What’s with the crazy sweep?

Given the caveat that the best amount of sweep for you is subject to personal taste, terrain, and how it fits in with the rest of your bike setup and its geometry… generally speaking, we think you’ll really start to notice a difference with handlebars designed around a 15-degree sweep or more, in terms of the pressure it takes off your wrists. So for the most part, that’s what we’re focussing on for this post. Broadly speaking, this is the angle at which the ulnar nerve is allowed to have a more natural position – rather than being pinched and constricted as it can be with straight bars, resulting in numbness for many. See these diagrams by SQ Labs for a clearer understanding.

More extreme angles exist, typically ranging from 30-45 degrees, which we highly recommend trying too, depending on the kind of riding you favour. And be sure to consider the shape of the bar too – some bend straight back, others curve forwards first – which may require experimenting with different stem lengths, should you also want to keep a similar reach across your cockpit. Just to add to the potential data points, some manufacturers also list an upsweep, the angle at which the bars bend up from the stem, which can affect the position of your elbows.

  • Surly Moloko Handlebar
  • Moonmen Moonriser handlebar

Why the Rise?

A lot of mountain bikes aren’t necessarily designed for touring. Their headtubes are often relatively short, or the steerer tube has been cut down more than you’d like. Options include stacking up a series of spacers like casino chips or running a stem with a steeper angle. You can avail yourselves to the increasing range of handlebars that feature a significant amount of rise, which is especially good news for tall riders. This will help bring your cockpit up and make it more in line with your saddle – probably a good starting point in a long distance setup. A more commanding riding position also has the perk of being great for looking around and soaking up the sights. Note that you can also fine tune the amount of rise, reach, and your hand position if you rotate the bars forward or backwards slightly.

What about Width?

Old school mountain bikers loved narrow bars. Modern trail bikes favour wider cockpits. We’re fans of wide bars on the whole, as they help offer a more control, especially on a loaded bike down rocky singletrack. The downside is that they can be tricky in tight corridors of trees or for the bike tourer, negotiating a bike up a flight of stairs or through a narrow doorway. Depending on your shoulder width and the kind of terrain you’re riding, a narrower bar may work better, though for the most part, wide bars can always be cut down. The handlebars listed below range from around 645mm to 820mm, which will suit different body types, preferences, and riding styles.

Materials

There’s a range of materials to choose from… aluminum, Chromoly, carbon, and titanium. Each has its own merits. Aluminum is popular, affordable and a good all-rounder, but will eventually suffer from fatigue. Chromoly handlebars are extremely hardwearing but tend to weigh a good deal more. Carbon is most compliant but less resilient to scratches and off-the-bike abuse. Titanium will last a lifetime and has some ‘give’ but is very expensive. Ask yourself if a light bar suits your build and riding style, or do you need crowbar like strength? Are you traveling overseas where bikes can be manhandled on flights or buses, or keeping to local rides? And consider that rigid setups benefit most from more compliant handlebars.

Other factors to consider are the general shape of the bar, with regards to how your bikepacking bags will fit across the tops (before the bar begins to sweep back), and how the angle of your brake levers will affect cable routing. With so many variables around, nothing beats experimenting with different handlebars. Try and borrow handlebars from friends, so you can nail down the best one for you and your setup.

Jones SG Loop H-bar, bikepacking
Jones SG Loop H-bar, bikepacking

  • Jones SG Loop H-bar, bikepacking
  • Jones Loop H-bar

    The Jones Loop H-Bar is the iconic ‘comfort’ mountain bike handlebar, the blueprint from which many other designs have been based. Although designed for dedicated mountain biking with Jones’ own bikes, it’s also a great option for anyone seeking a more comfortable riding position with other brands of bikes too, by taking noticeable pressure off the wrists thanks to a 45-degree sweep. There’s an ever-growing range of options available, both with and without loops, in a choice of materials, widths and rises. All share the same 45-degree sweep and overall hand position.

    In addition to the SG (straight gauge) model shown here, Jones offers the custom butted original, as well as titanium and carbon versions, along with the Jones Bend H-Bar Bend, which does away with the loop altogether. This offers a lighter bar with a more compliant feel, at the cost of some hand positions and real estate (the Loop is ideal for lights and a GPS etc…). Note that Jones bars are designed specifically with long grips in mind, so you can slide up and down the bar for a more aggressive or upright riding position.

    • Width 660/710mm
    • Rise .5in (13mm)
    • Backsweep 45°
    • Weight 275-625g
    • Clamp diameter 31.8mm
    • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
    • Price $75-425
    • Manufacturer’s Details Jones
    Jones Riser Loop H-Bar, Jones SG 2.5 Aluminum Loop H-Bar
    Jones Riser Loop H-Bar, Jones SG 2.5 Aluminum Loop H-Bar

    Jones SG 2.5 ‘Riser’ Loop H-bar

    The Jones Loop H-Bar SG 2.5 has the same proportions as the standard bar, albeit with a 2.5in rise. This makes it perfect for bikes with a low stack, or a steerer tube that’s been cut short.

    • Width 660/710mm
    • Rise 2.5″ (64mm)
    • Sweep 45°
    • Clamp diameter 31.8mm
    • Weight 650 grams
    • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
    • Price $79
    • Manufacturer’s Details Jones
    Surly Moloko Handlebar
    Surly Moloko Handlebar
    Surly Moloko Handlebar

    Surly Moloko

    Surly’s take on the Jones bar is the Moloko, with a touch less sweep and two prongs for extra hand positions – which has proved surprisingly useful. Made from stout steel, it also offers a loop into which nests a stowage compartment (see below). Note that there’s more forward sweep than the Jones and no rise, so you may find yourself wanting to run a shorter, steeper stem. Similar to the H-bar, there’s lots of space for attaching gadgets, like a speaker, a GPS, and the like.

    • Width 735mm
    • Rise 0
    • Backsweep 34°
    • Clamp diameter 31.8mm
    • Weight 709 grams
    • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
    • Price $95
    • Manufacturer’s Details Surly

    Loophole bags

    There are various bags on the market designed in the loop of your Surly or Jones bars, making use of that nook. Pictured below, from left to right, are Surly’s Moloko Handlebar bag ($60), Jones’ Loophole H-Bar Pack ($89), and Randi Jo’s custom-colored Jeff ‘n Joan ($90) – note that the latter is deeper, so works best as a standalone bag or perfectly with a basket. UK bikepackers can check out the Wildcat’s Tom Cat (£52). Certain rollbags are designed to be used exclusively with Jones Loop H-Bars, like Carsick Designs’ Handee Randee, pictured as well.

    • Surly Moloko Handlebar bag
    • Randi Jo Jeff and Joan handlebar bag
    • Carsick Designs Handee Randee bikepacking
    • Jones Bars bikepacking
    Velo Orange Crazy Bar
    Velo Orange Crazy Bar

    Velo Orange

    Honestly named and following on from the pronged theme, the Crazy Bar is intended for touring on paved and unpaved roads, rather than singletrack. Made from 6061 Aluminium, the main section of the bar is 670mm wide, with the bullhorn section offers a streamlined position for smoother roads and headwinds. Velo Orange say the center portion replicates the top of a drop bar, and placing your hands at the junctions is not unlike riding on the hoods. The main bar is 22.2mm so MTB grips, levers, and shifters fit. The ‘horns’ are 23.8mm, so road levers – including inverse levers – fit, as do bar-end shifters.

    • Width 666mm
    • Rise 0
    • Backsweep 45˚
    • Clamp diameter 25.4mm
    • Weight 450g
    • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
    • Price $60
    • Manufacturer’s Details Velo Orange
    Oddity Razorbar ti
    Oddity Razor handlebars bikepacking
    oddity razor steel handlebars

    Oddity Razorbar

    Oddity’s Razorbar is made to order in Colorado, USA, constructed from 4130 cromoly steel or
    titanium. The standard spec – 15 degree backsweep, a 1.8in (45mm) rise, and 820m wide – can be completely customised to suit your whims, without any upcharge. The straight section is about 30cm wide, so great for attaching bags too, while the ‘rise’ suits a set of feedbags. And there’s a choice of colors too. The ones pictured below are 800mm wide, with a posture friendly 45mm rise and a 30 degree sweep. This particular handlebar has seen action in Peru and Ecuador, both in and on top of bouncy buses, so we can definitely vouch for its durability. Note that there’s no forward sweep, so you may prefer a slightly longer stem, unless you like a shorter reach. The same bar in ti is available for $350 (see third image) and for a similar version with a ‘hook’, check out the Razorbar Plus.

    • Width 820mm
    • Rise 1.8in (60mm)
    • Sweep 15°
    • Clamp diameter Shimmed to 31.8mm
    • Weight 700g
    • Place of Manufacture CO, USA
    • Price $140-350
    • Manufacturer’s Details Oddity
    Moonmen Moonriser handlebar

    Moonmen Moonriser Bar

    Made in the USA from titanium, the Moonriser is a wide handlebar with a 3.5in rise and a 26 degree sweep, which is likely to be a good compromise for many. Given that it’s built to spec, individual wishes can be accommodated too. Although it coms with a price tag, quality and finish are fantastic.

    • Width 780mm
    • Rise 4″ (102mm)
    • Backsweep 24˚
    • Clamp diameter Shimmed to 31.8mm
    • Weight 375 grams
    • Place of Manufacture CO, USA
    • Price $395.00
    • Manufacturer’s Details Moonmen
    Defiance Arise! Handlebars
    Defiance Arise! Handlebars
    Defiance Arise! Handlebars

    Defiance Arise! Bars

    For Bjørn Olson, Defiance Frameworks’ Arise! Ti meets the three criteria for what an MTB bar should be: comfortable all day use, surgical control over the front end, and rad looks.

    In Bjørn’s words, “Beyond being comfortable for long rides, due to their upright and swept design; and beyond the powerful control and torque you can exert over the front of the bike, due to their width and perfect ergonomic arc; and even beyond them looking hella rad, which they do, these bars are also amazing expedition bars. The cross bar allows for some fantastic and very stable front-end packing arrangements.”

    These riser bars are also made in a 4130 Chromoly version for the very reasonable price of $100. The standard spec comes in with a 4″ rise, 12 deg backsweep, with a width of 780mm wide and a cool, clear powder coat finish. But given these are also made to order, everything can be made to spec.

    • Width 780mm
    • Rise 4in (10cm)
    • Backsweep 12˚
    • Weight TBC
    • Clamp diameter Shimmed to 31.8mm
    • Place of Manufacture AK, USA
    • Price $100 (chromoly)
    • Manufacturer’s Details Defiance Frameworks
    Surly Sunrise Comfort Handlebar
    surly sunrise handlebar

    surly sunrise handlebar

    Surly Sunrise bar

    The Sunrise bar is Surly’s take on cruiser bar/trail bar/bmx bar rolled into one. Backsweep is a relatively conservative but noticeable 15 degrees, with a 6.7 degree upsweep. Typical to Surly, the Sunrise built with stoutness in mind, with a generous width that can be cut down to a more svelt 780mm should you find yourself mutilating your prized doorframe or the local woodland. The cross hatched centre is a nice touch that limit slippage in the stem and helps center the bar. Price is a very reasonable $60 too.

    • Width 820mm
    • Rise 3.3in (83mm)
    • Sweep 15°
    • Clamp diameter Shimmed to 31.8mm
    • Weight 780g
    • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
    • Price $60
    • Manufacturer’s Details Surly

    Hunter Smooth Move handlebar
    Hunter Smooth Move handlebar

    Hunter Smooth Move Handlebars

    Designed in California, Hunter’s Smooth Move aluminum handlebars are made by Nitto in Japan, always a sign of quality. Heritage wise, these bars are designed around the ‘Baja Bend’, pioneered by Renthal MX. The same bar is available in two variety rises; the High Rise (75mm), the Mid Rise (38mm), both with a 5˚ upsweep. There’s two finishes available; black and polished. Hunter also offers a Flat Sweeper, with no rise but a 20˚ backsweep instead.

    • Width 750mm
    • Rise 1.5-3in (38-75mm)
    • Sweep 15˚
    • Clamp diameter31.8mm
    • Weight 380-405g
    • Place of Manufacture Japan
    • Price $100
    • Manufacturer’s Details Hunter

    Stooge Moto Bar

    According to Stooge, the 7075 aluminum Moto Bar is ‘inspired by 70’s California and the original klunkers and Motocross bikes’, accounting for the generous 800mm wide. Its 17-degree sweep is one that is likely to appeal to many, with enough rise to offer a noticeably more upright position than you would with a standard flat bar.

    • Stooge Moto Handlebar
    • Stooge Moto Handlebar
    • Width 800
    • Rise 1.5in (38mm)
    • Sweep 17°
    • Clamp diameter 31.8mm
    • Weight TBC
    • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
    • Price £65 ($85 via Aveturon)
    • Manufacturer’s Details Stooge

    SQ Labs 30X 16˚

    SQ Labs have a wide range of ergonomically designed handlebars in both aluminium and carbon, sporting a broad spectrum of sweeps and rises, with a pedigree of ergonomic research behind them. The 30X 16˚ is really comfortable handlebar that’s likely to suit those who like the sense of control that comes with a more typical trail bar, but want to take some of the pressure off their wrists. These bars feature a 4 upsweep and are available in a 15mm, 30mm or 45mm rise. The carbon version weighs in at a paltry 235g.

    • SQ Labs 30X handlebar
    • SQ Labs 30X handlebar
    • Width 780mm
    • Rise .6 – 1.8in (15-45mm)
    • Sweep 16˚
    • Clamp diameter31.8mm
    • Weight 235-325g
    • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
    • Price 90-200 Euros
    • Manufacturer’s Details SQ Labs

    Origin8 Strongbow

    If you like the idea of the Jones bar and its convenient loop, but aren’t convinced by the amount of sweep, check out the 6061-T6 Aluminum-constructed Strongbow. Amongst a vast range of options, this one sports a 15 degree backsweep and a ‘loop’ that offers potential mounting points for a light and GPS, as well as possible hand holds with a 120mm of additional reach.

    • Width 760mm
    • Rise O
    • Sweep 15°
    • Clamp diameter 31.8mm
    • Weight TBC
    • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
    • Price $65
    • Manufacturer’s Details Origin8

    Origin8 Space Off Road 2

    Amongst Origin8’s wide range of bars, Space Bar Off Road 2 bar is a popular budget model. It features a 40-degree backsweep with 50mm of forwardsweep. There’s used to be wider carbon incarnation too, the UL8, albeit with a 25 degree backsweep and 40mm of forwardsweep, but it’s currently discontinued. Note that the even more budget-friendly and slightly narrower Space Bar Off Road ($25) has a similar backsweep to the Off Road 2, albeit without the forwardsweep, in a 25.4mm clamp diameter.

    Origin8 Space Off Road 2

    • Width 655mm-685
    • Rise O
    • Sweep 25-40°
    • Clamp diameter 31.8mm
    • Weight 170-340g
    • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
    • Price $51-$130
    • Manufacturer’s Details Origin8

    Soma Clarence Bar

    Even Soma agree that the 6061 aluminum straight gauge Clarence bar is inspired by the Jeff Jones H-Bar, albeit with less sweep and a little less width too. Note that there’s both a 31.8mm version and a 25.4mm one too, which will be useful for some riders. The official spec lists a 19˚ upsweep too.

    • Soma Clarence Handlebar bikepacking
    • Soma Clarence Handlebar bikepacking
    • Width 670mm
    • Rise 1.5in (37mm)
    • Backsweep 34˚
    • Clamp diameter 25.4 and 31.8mm
    • Weight TBC
    • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
    • Price $60
    • Manufacturer’s Details Soma

    Soma Osprey bikepacking handlebar

    Soma Osprey Bar

    The Osprey has more backsweep than the Clarence Bar, with a wider straight section (135mm) in the middle, for attaching accessories. Like the Osprey, it’s available in both a 31.8mm version and a 25.4mm one too. It’s made from plain gauge 6061 Aluminium.

    • Width 710mm
    • Rise .5in (12mm)
    • Backsweep 40˚
    • Clamp diameter 25.4 and 31.8mm
    • Weight 400g
    • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
    • Price $60
    • Manufacturer’s Details Soma

    On One Mary Handlebar bikepacking

    On One Mary Bar

    Considered by the company to be their ‘extreme sweep riser bar’, On One’s Mary is a budget swept back aluminium handlebar that also comes in a variety of colors and two clamp diameters. It’s long been a staple of UK riders looking for more comfortable alternatives to flat bars. Upsweep is listed as 21˚; width is a little on the narrow side at 645mm.

    • Width 645mm
    • Rise 1.5in (37.5mm)
    • Backsweep 40˚
    • Clamp diameter 25.4 and 31.8mm
    • Weight 300g
    • Place of ManufactureTaiwan
    • Price £35
    • Manufacturer’s Details On One

    Variations on a theme

    There’s simply too many models to cover every permutation on the market. Note that Soma, Velo Orange, On-One/Planet X, Rivendell, Origin 8 (recommended for budget-priced options), and SQ Labs have a wide range of handlebars, in addition to the ones we’ve selected. Nitto make many bars for other brands and are always a good mark of quality. If you’re more of a gravel and forest road rider, you may want to check out the classic Albatross, which has seen a number of imitations over the years.

    When choosing a bar, be sure to check their intended uses, as some are designed for urban commuting and gravel riding rather than off-road touring.

    If you want to dig deeper into body ergonomics, this SQ Labs link has plenty of info.

    These guides are subject to changes and updates. Please let us know if you’ve come across any related products, and we’ll add them in.

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