It’s easy to overlook handlebars when upgrading your bike, but you shouldn’t. A good set of handlebars can change everything from your arm comfort to how well you can steer. High-quality parts are vital, especially when riding an MTB because of all the bumping and jolting around.
What is the best mountain bike handlebar brand? I’ll walk you through the top five brands so you can ride safe and smart.
Race Face is the best mountain bike handlebar brand because of its pure dedication to the sport and innovative designs. From wider and narrower bars to the lightest carbon handlebars on the market, this company designs what MTB riders need because they are riders. Race Face works hard to ensure its bars are durable and flexible enough for outstanding movement.
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Top 5 Best Mountain Bike Handlebar Brands
1 – Race Face
Race Face has been around since 1993. A big part of what makes this brand stand out is how they test their gear.
This Vancouver brand is created and tested by hardcore MTB enthusiasts because they felt the available equipment couldn’t handle the pressure from serious riders.
Real riders and teams test these handlebars in the field. With options like the popular Atlas Highrise and Next SL bars, you can find anything you need, from a higher hand position to ultralight and durable bars.
With every iteration, Race Face adds value to its incredible handlebars. New models come out every year, so that’s a lot of innovation.
Recent upgrades have included adjusting the width, so you have a little more space without becoming overextended or heavy.
Getting handlebars from Race Face isn’t cheap. This is definitely a high-end brand with bars in the $150 to $200 range.
However, the warranty covers all manufacturer defects for the original owner of the bars and doesn’t appear to have a time limit.
However, you won’t find a more dedicated and thoughtful company with a proper grasp of what riders want.
Check out this review of the 2021 Next SL Handlebars from Hard YTail Riders.
They are the lightest bars on the market, and they walk you through installation plus show some of their capabilities.
2 – Enve
Enve’s website states, “In 2007, ENVE was founded with little more than an advanced understanding of carbon technologies and the belief that through such, a better ride experience could be achieved.”
Although they haven’t been in business as long as some companies, that understanding of carbon tech certainly helped jumpstart this spectacular company.
Enve is well known for its excellent and innovative handlebars and bike parts.
However, they also offer industry-leading warranties, including a factory warranty and incidental damage protection.
Another thing that helps make Enve among the best is how they treat customers. This company offers world-class customer service.
They have no autoresponders. Real people answer their phones and are always happy to help with inquiries or concerns.
Plus, Enve makes all its products in the USA.
The lightweight bars are sensibly called M5, M6, M7, M8, and M9 based on how high the rise is, with the largest numbers having more upward curvature and the M5 nearly flat with a positive or negative 5 mm mounting position.
These high-end ($190 and up) bars are incredibly light and durable. Enve redesigns their bars when new technology and advancements can make them better rather than trying to pump out ‘something’ new every season.
Moreover, these bars have cut marks for riders who want to customize their length at home.
Check out this review from Ronald Kuba. He shares all the details of the M5 bar and his adjustments, including shortening it to fit the ideal position for his riding style.
3 – Renthal
Renthal is relatively new to making MTB handlebars. Its first model came out in 2010.
However, the company was founded in 1969 by Andrew Renshaw and Henry Rosenthal, a pair of engineering and motorcycle enthusiasts.
Sadly in 2000, the original factory burned to the ground, but that didn’t stop Renthal. They built back better with a state-of-the-art facility.
This company made waves when Monster Energy Specialized rider Sam Hill went on to take the World Championship Downhill gold medal using their Fatbar the first year they started production.
Their wide variety of Fatbars includes various lengths, rises, and materials for every MTB lover.
New models don’t come out often because these high-end ($110 to $220) bars are already superb as they are.
The Renthal warranty covers any defects in workmanship and materials.
Check out this review of the 800mm Aluminium, 40mm Rise Fatbar by MTB Rookie.
He calls it ‘the ultimate aluminum downhill race handlebar.” and shares why these outstanding MTB handlebars are the ideal combination of durable and lightweight.
4 – Chromag
Chromag has been around since 2003, making stellar MTB handlebars in a wide array of rises and widths.
This company makes its products in Canada and Taiwan, and they come out with new models most years.
One thing that makes Chromag notable is that its bars are considered professional quality.
As a result, they require pro installation, and DIY can void the warranty. Expect to shell out $94 to $110 for new Chromag bars.
While most companies offer an extremely limited selection of silver or black handlebars, part of what makes Chromag stand out is the rainbow of color choices riders get with these awesome bars.
The OSX, FU50, and FU40 bars come in multiple color choices.
Chromag offers carbon and alloy bars known for their lightness and a custom drawing process that provides the ideal control over how the bars are formed.
Check out this review from Mountain Biking Trips. They discuss how cost-effective these bars are, the manufacturing process, how well they minimize vibration and other important information.
5 – Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz bikes has been around since 1994. They are best known for their carbon handlebars.
However, the downside to this company is that their bars are so high-demand that they are often sold out, or they’d be higher on my list.
Expect to pay a pretty reasonable $160 to $170 for Santa Cruz carbon bars if you can get them at all.
What makes this company and its bars excellent is the dampening effect they have when you ride.
The carbon handlebars come with a lifetime warranty covering materials and workmanship defects that take effect on the purchase date.
Better still, Santa Cruz has exceptional customer service and a serious commitment to rider satisfaction.
You won’t see new models often come out for these bars because the riders who love them don’t want anything else.
Since they are strictly a carbon-bar company, you won’t find titanium, alloys, or aluminum bars.
Check out this review, where MTB Plan B shows you how to trim and mount the bar. He talks about why he’s swapping from Race Face to Santa Cruz.
Helpful Tips To Know About The Best MTB Handlebar Brands
Choosing the best brand of handlebars for your mountain bike isn’t always easy.
There are so many companies that manufacture them these days that it’s all too easy to get frustrated and ‘just pick one.’
It’s worth the time to do your research and pick from a well-known brand like the ones above.
Here are more helpful tips to know about the best MTB handlebar brands.
- Stiffer isn’t always better with MTB handlebars. The right fit and feel always depends on your preference and where you rid. Try a handlebar with more compliance (flexibility) if you’re having trouble with arm stiffness, vibration, and control.
- Carbon handlebars are typically more compliant and lightweight than alloy or aluminum. However, carbon handlebars are more expensive to manufacture, yet less durable and scratch resistant. Aluminum bars are often the most durable and cost less to manufacture, but they also dampen less vibration and weigh more.
- As Bike Roar points out, “MTB handlebars may seem a fairly innocuous component to upgrade, but sometimes a change to the cockpit can alter the way your bike rides for the better. Improved control, weight, durability, and altering the ‘feel’ to be more in line with your riding style are all gains to be made when upgrading this part.”
When it’s time to upgrade your mountain bike handlebars, I strongly recommend choosing one of the five best MTB handlebar brands on this list.
These companies are dedicated to providing high-quality products and show genuine care and foresight in designing handlebars to suit riders and their bikes.
A great handlebar can be a lifesaver when you’re trail-riding and need accurate steering. Don’t settle for a stock model.
Once you’ve ridden with a better set of handlebars, you’ll wonder why you ever waited to trade up.