Who knew that a handle bar could have more than 3 different important dimensions. When buying bars, you need to know the upsweep, backsweep, rise and width to know exactly how different sizes will affect your riding. A tiny change in one of these specs will change the way your bmx bike feels.
I’m going to talk about upsweep, backsweep, rise, and width in this post. The idea is that you will be able to understand what each spec is and how it affects your riding. A small change in upsweep could have a big change on the way your bike feels.
Brant Moore does a good job explaining this in the video above.
The upsweep of a bar is what angle the “grip part” of the par rises up. For the most part, a bar’s upsweep will be pretty close to 0º. Sometimes you will come across a pair with crazy upsweep. Once I bought some Eastern bars and they had 5º upsweep. It was actually insane.
What does upsweep do?
There is a lot of discussion about 1º upsweep vs. 4º upsweep. Some people are running experiments and testing if the greater upsweep will make drops feel better. It seems like a lot of street riders run 4º to 5º upsweep. This helps for wrist pain and lessens the impact for big drops.
The best thing to do is just experiment. If your wrists hurt, try a new upsweep.
Similar to upsweep, the backsweep only differs by a few degrees. But these few degrees can change the way your bike feels. This spec is often overlooked. The amount of backsweep directly affects how much leverage you have when controlling your bike.
What does backsweep do?
As far as I know, there is a sweet spot for backsweep. Too much will make the bike feel weird, and too little will make the bike unstable. It seems like the sweetspot is around 11º to 12º. If you need something a little more aggressive and straight feeling, go for 10º, but only do this if 11º is uncomfortable.
Check Out My e-book
Writing this book was a huge goal for me. I spent a lot of time creating these 60 pages of goodness. In this book, I talk about how specs can influence your riding. For example…
Did you know how a short chain stay can make spins easier? Or how the reach of a stem can make bars or whips harder?. Check out the book to brush up on your bmx knowledge.
Your rise is how tall the bars are from where the stem clamps, to where you hold on to the bars. This spec has been evolving over the last few years, from really small bars back in the day. Now we have 11″ bars available, which would be unimaginable to riders in the 80’s.
What does rise do?
Think of it this way: More rise = More Leverage. With more leverage, you will be able to control your bike easier. Meaning it will be easier to pull up the front wheel, and things like that. This is something that takes time to figure out because you want your bars to be the right height.
Knowing the perfect width for your style is important for progress. Bar width can range anywhere from 27″ to 32″. This is the distance of the bars from end to end.
How wide should your BMX handlebars be? Most riders will ride a 28″ to 29″ wide set of handlebars. But, It really is up to you and your style of riding. Wider bars will provide you with more control, while more narrow bars make barspins easier.
What does the width do?
In simple terms, width really just affects control. Like a lot of other specs, wide bars (ex. 31″) makes the bike feel a lot more controllable. While shorter bars will make the bike more responsive.
Does it really matter?
These are all pretty important specs. In the last article about 2 pc. vs 4 pc. bars, I said it really doesn’t matter. However, these specs do matter. I reccomend that you study them and choose carefully when building your bike so that you can get the best feeling out of your bike.
Reach out on Instagram, and I’ll help you find the perfect bars.