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?