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Traditional cruiser bars: who needs ’em?

1 03 2011

Cruiser handlebars.

Those shorter, stubby versions of traditional BMX handlebars.

They always looked a little off to me.

While 20″ bars got taller, cruiser bars (until recently) stayed  smack dab in the 5-5.5 inch range. Perhaps it was a holdover from the days when people used to switch between their 20 and 24 inch bikes during races (had to keep the handlebar height  the same level for both bikes). Still, it was frustrating that you could not get a taller, cruiser-specific handlebar.

I like big bars, I cannot lie (my apologies to Sir Mix-A-Lot).  Cruiser handlebars under 6″ just don’t cut it. If you’re running bars under 6″, ask yourself:  Are my handlebars big enough?

Thankfully, It seems more and more people are realizing that taller bars are the way to go on 24″ BMX bikes. If you look at some of the more recent bike checks, you’ll see how taller bars are definitely the new trend. Granted, the elevated bottom brackets of current freestyle 24s has had an influence on this…but there’s no denying that a slightly higher handlebar would also help the handling of more race-oriented bikes.

Eva Gabrielle is tired of the bar scene

When I first made the switch to the big & tall 24umph bar from Sunday it made an immediate (positive) impact to my bikes handling. I’ve since run them on both freestyle and race bikes and don’t think I could ever go back to traditional cruiser bars. I’m also pretty intrigued by the new taller 24umph bars they’re testing. Come to think about it, even 8″ bars are not that uncommon on 24″ bikes these days.

Perhaps the only holdout, in this new trend towards taller bars is the race community. Race bikes, by and large, still feature the “regular” 5-5.5″ handlebars. But maybe we’re about to see a change there too…a casual walk through the pits at a BMX race will often show many cruisers rocking spacers and top load stems to give the rider a little extra height. Maybe it’s time for racers to drop the charade and just get  bigger bars.

To me, the days of the traditional cruiser bar are numbered. What do you think?

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37 responses

1 03 2011
Nate

Yeah, I’m with you. My older 20Forty has pretty short bars, but then again the top tube is elevated and steep. Can’t help but think another inch or two would provide better leverage.

1 03 2011
mike420lv

all i can say is the day i ditched my S&M 5.75 bars and moved up to the Sunday 24umph 7.25 bars was a great day. I thought to myself..Why are people even using these stupid short bars. My bunnyhops got higher and my overall control of the big got much better. No more feeling like i was gonna get thrown over the handlebars every time i tried to jump. now Sunday has moved their 24umph bars up to 7.75 and you can bet i’ll be sporting those soon as well.

1 03 2011
Brandon

In the late 90’s I had a cruiser that happened to have some tall 20″ bars on it. I could bunny hop like a mofo with them. Looking out of place (for the time) I replaced them with shorts. The performance quickly suffered but I think im gonna check out the new bars coming out.

1 03 2011
Gus

Well, if Eva Gabrielle is tired of the bar scene not being big enough, I’ll give her 8″ for sure!

1 03 2011
Brian

I switch from my 20″ to my 24″ depending on what my mood may be any given day, so having 6″ rise bars isn’t a problem for me. my main problem is how wide cruiser bars are. or more accurately, how wide they aren’t. for some reason, 28″ width just doesn’t cut it for me on a larger bike. I have been running some liquid cruiser bars for a while now, and I just felt like they were a touch too small. one day I stumbled upon a post in bmxmuseum about larger vintage bars. it was pretty interesting, so I browsed a bit. somewhere in there, someone had posted a link to a very awesome cruiser bar. it was four piece, 6″ rise x 32″ width, and just as sexy as hell. that bar started gnawing at my brain whenever I would think about what I wanted to do with my cruiser build next. I eventually decided to buy them and give them a go. I’m glad I did! right now I have them cut down to about 29 1/2 wide and they feel absolutely perfect. plus, they are four piece so you get the obvious badass factor going there. I love them to death. for anyone that is interested, these bars are made by immortis bike co, and are called the “bucket bars”. I recommend them to anyone who wants a wider bar. anyway, have a good one.

1 03 2011
Ian

Well I’m going to be running Sunday’s tall T bars on my Sunday model-C cruiser.
These are at 8.75″!
Why?
I’m old school and without a shadow of doubt bars were much higher back in the day.
I currently ride a Faction 22″ bike, so moving to the model c with it’s higher bb, means that to keep my hands and feet in the same position relative to one another I need a high bar.
The key measure of position are the touch points i.e., where your feet and hands are, get these right for you and you will not change when moving through the wheel sizes.

1 03 2011
John

You guys are crazy! Low bars for me! I have tried the tall bars and I just cant do it. Im stickin with the 5″ers!

2 03 2011
Mikeyp

Now who in heck is running big bars? Dirt Jumpers? Street riders? With the exception of Fast Eddie V, I like my race cruiser set up the same as the 20 as far as bar hieght goes. I ran OS Dyno bars for a bit because they were 29″ wide but still in the 5.5″ range. I just recently bought some Diamondback bars at 6 x 28, we will see how that goes, but Im still running a front load stem. Good Luck Guys and Girls and keep the rubber side down!

1 03 2011
bobx

how bout a bigger pic.

1 03 2011
goride09

Put 24umph bars on my racing cruiser and my 26″ cruiser so much better than the low rise bars.BITD all the older riders had 20″ bars on their cruisers and I thought they were dumb and now I’m that older rider with’em.I wished I would’ve switched a long time ago!

2 03 2011
Mike420lv

You should never have your bars wider than your shoulders. The best leverage comes when your arms are straight out in front of you. I take at least 2 inches off every set of bars i buy.

24 03 2011
Cmc

Bars no wider than shoulders ? You’re stuck in the late 90s man ! Big bars big whips ! Look at MX !

2 03 2011
kevin

Front load stem, 8″ bars. It’s the perfect height for me and I think it looks way better than tiny bars and a bunch of stack washers.

2 03 2011
Cro-Mag

I’ve been rockin’ the grand slams on my 26 for a few years now… perfect if you’re a giant “knuckle duster” .

2 03 2011
Buddy

Grand slams on my sledge as well.

2 03 2011
Ian

How big are the grand slams?

2 03 2011
Buddy

8.25×29 but cut mine down to 28.

3 03 2011
Stuart

My new p24 has 7.5″ bars and they are almost as tall as the bars on SS mountain bike, I can’t really imagine riding anything smaller but my previous experience is all 20″ and 26″

5 03 2011
Mike

Low rise bars limit jumping and handling. My bars have a 9″ rise and are 28″ wide. For me…a 24″ is not complete without hi-rise bars.

6 03 2011
Nate

Does Sunday not make the 24umph bars anymore?

6 03 2011
cruiserrevolution

They’re still available.

8 03 2011
Josh

I don’t totally agree with this. The reason cruiser bars are shorter is to make the “cockpit” and handling feel about the same as a 20″ bike. Putting 8″ bars on a cruiser changes things drastically… not in a good way (feels super awkward to me). If you do the math, 6″ bars on a frame like the Liquid would be equivalent to 9″ bars on a 20″ (6″ + 4″ for the front wheel – 1″ for a higher bb)… which feels good to me given that the effective top tube is fairly long. The 7.25″ bars on the Sunday would be equivalent to 9.25″ bars on a 20 inch. So, I think those guys were fairly close and designed those bars for a reason.

24 03 2011
cmc

Josh, you’re right on the math . . . and you’re right that Sunday and Liquid were aiming pretty close to a 20″ cockpit feel, with their frame and bar combos . . .

but i don’t agree with the premise that 24″s should necessarily have the same cockpit feel as a 20″– i think the real issue is that a lot of us taller or older guys are NOT comfortable on 20″s, even with 9″s or 9.25″s. i have long legs (35″ inseam) so it makes sense to have taller bars.

even back when i rode my S&M Widowmaker in the mid and late 90s with S&M Gay Bars, they felt too low and I ran the stem up and later I put 7″/7.25″-ish bars on it.

so that’s why I run 8.25″s on my Liquid. (and if I had a Model C, I’d probably have 8.75″s or 9″s on it). it’s not for everybody, sure, but i think cruiserrevolution’s point is that a lot of guys are setting their 24″s up a little bigger than “intended.”

i’m glad BMX is moving more towards a “bike fit” perspective, like road and mtb, because for too many years the attitude was one-size-fits-all. the only adjustment going on was stretchnig bikes longer, rather than considering other things as well.

9 03 2011
Roland

I try my 8′ bar on my FIT CR 24 and my front end feel not stable anymore.
I will keep the 6′ bar but I’ve inverted the front load stem and add a spacer…
Thkx for the website !

16 03 2011
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24 03 2011
Mike

I just don’t get the traditional cruiser geometry, I’m 6′ 2″. Why would someone be happy with a heavy front end? A person could throw their back out just trying to get the front end up. I use to race 20″, they are extremely agile…unlike 99% of 24″ cruisers. I have had to make some changes to my 24″ Diamondback, such as tall bars, .50″ reach stem, and I’m getting ready to perform some modifications to shorten the chainstay. Tall bars do change the geometry…IN A GOOD WAY (for larger riders). To each his own, but my idea of BMX does not include tradional 24″ geometry.

2 05 2011
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2 05 2011
ken949

The taller bar does help IMO… I’m tall, needed the height regardless and overall, it did improve the handling of the bike as well as making it easier to lift front wheel for me. I went from stock 7″ to 8.25″.

26 08 2011
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20 03 2012
Gogzee

Fitted some 8″ McNeills and it certainly suits me, easier to get the front up and helps keep the head up when blasting around. May be because I’m more used to a mountain bike now though but I also couldn’t get on with a 20″ either.

23 03 2012
Fred

The first thing I did with my 2011 flight pro 24 was ditch those baby bars for some 8.25’s. It gives me a much more comfortable ride. No back issues and it’s much more natural. The guys that buy cruisers to ride with their kids or just because they love it, need that extra height. That way the bike is more comfortable to them. I also believe in cutting my bars to shoulder width, too. My local bike shop asks why? It’s called fit to rider, not, build and collect, never to enjoy the bike, duh.

23 05 2012
marco polo

Been riding a 2004 Redline Cruiser since 2006 with 8″ odyssey bars that were 26″ wide. Now the bike came like this and it was my first foray into 24″ BMX. recently bought another cruiser to strip for it’s shiny parts and with it came 4″ diamondback bars 28″ wide. I went from being a speed demon in the streets of NYC bunny hopping all potholes to a nervous wreck with an achy back, and forget about the bunny or the hop. Researched the hows and whys of bar sizes put my odysseys back on and am back riding like usual.

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