Why I Don’t Like 35mm Handlebars (31.8mm crew for life)

From Rookie’s keyboard,

My mom didn’t raise me to be an opinionless chicken. So, I like to tell it like it is on every occasion.

Well, today is one of those days. And I have another confession to make – I don’t like 35mm handlebars. I consider them another pointless product that the bicycle industry pushes for no apparent reason other than variety and money generation. 


Where do I start? I know that e-readers like bullet points so let’s be modern:

  • Stiffness

The wider a hollow tube is, the stiffer it becomes. That is easily illustrated via PVC pipes. A thin one (e.g., 10mm diameter) is easy to bend, but if the diameter is boosted to 100mm, good look bending it.

The same is observed with bars. A 35mm bar is only 3.2mm wider than a 31.8mm model. The 9.58% difference, however, is perceivable when both bars are made of the same material. 

When I first tested a 35mm bar (not my bike), I didn’t actually know that I was riding with one. At the time, I didn’t care about bar thickness. But I could definitely sense that there was something off about the way the handlebars felt. 

They lacked “bounce” and were a little too hostile towards my wrists. Sorry, I can’t come up with a better word to describe that feeling. 

If you have sensitive wrists, I wouldn’t bother with 35mm bars as their stiffness can irritate an already vulnerable spot. 

  • Limited Options

The low demand for 35mm bars lowers the incentive to produce them in greater quantities and varieties. 

Meanwhile, 31.8mm bars are abundant. If you want purple bars, you can have them. If you want, Hobgoblin-color bars, you can have that too. 

There are also more options when it comes to the degree of the sweep a.k.a. the raise. 

  • Premium Price

The small market of 35mm bars boosts their price. This isn’t surprising. Whenever you have less of something, it costs more because only dedicated customers want it, and manufacturers raise the price to increase the margins.

In different, 31.8mm bars are generally more affordable. 

Ultimately, however, the final price depends on the brand, the model, and the store that you’re purchasing from. 

  • You need a new stem.

35mm bars require 35mm stems. The 31.8mm stems aren’t “spacious” enough for the thicker bars. 

I know that some people file the 31.8s or use extra long bolts to get around this problem, but I wouldn’t. 

I am not scared. I just don’t care about getting 35mm bars to the point where I’d ruin a perfectly good component both visually and ever so slightly structurally. 

If you want 35mm bars, get the right stem…

(So, we have to add a new stem to the bill.)

But they are lighter, screams the crowd.

Yes, it is expected that some 35mm bars will be lighter. 

Why? The wider the diameter of a tube, the thinner its walls have to be to match the strength of a tube with a smaller diameter and thicker walls.

So, when all things are equal (materials, length, architecture…etc.), a set of 35mm handlebars needs less material to be as strong as a 31.8mm equivalent. 

But I am about to give you some data that will disappoint the weight weenies among you because the weight savings aren’t as dramatic as you might expect. 

Material: Carbon

Levelnine Pro Team785mm242gOneUp Components 20800mm220g
NEWMEN Advanced 318.25800mm240gAcros Popular Bar 780mm190g
BEAST Components 31.8800mm203gRace Face Next R800mm215g
Syntace Vector Carbon High35780mm 265gBEAST Components 35800mm194g
Ritchey WCS Carbon 2X710mm 183gChromag BZA 35800mm235g
SQlab 311 FL-X 740mm198gRenthal Fatbar800mm225g
Race Face Sixc 3/4″785mm220gPRO Tharsis 3Five Carbon 720mm130g
Truvativ Atmos Carbon760mm190gSpecialized Roval Traverse SL Carbon 800mm227g
Acros Popular Bar 780mm190gBontrager Line Pro750mm222g
Average weight:214.5gAverage weight: 206.4g

The average weight difference between the carbon models is 7.1 grams. I am sorry, bros, but unless you are a few grams away from setting a world record for the lightest bike with MTB handlebars, 7 grams are ultra-inconsequential. 

Material: Aluminum

Levelnine Race720mm280gRace Face Turbine R800mm300g
Newmen Evolution SL 760mm280gRenthal Fatbar 35800mm305g
Chromag Fubars FU40800mm330gRace Face Atlas820mm320g
Truvativ Hussefelt Comp700mm347gChromag Fubars OSX800mm312g
SQlab 3OX MTB 31.8780mm325gLevelnine Team800mm316g
PRO FRS 31.8800mm345gethirteen Plus800mm280g
Spank Spike 800800mm330gRenthal FatbarLite 35760mm270g
Spank Oozy Trail 780 Vibrocore780mm270gRace Face Aeffect 780mm335g
Ritchey Comp740mm380gThomson Elite 35 800mm315g
Renthal Fatbar800mm315gPRO Tharsis 3Five 35800mm250g
Average weight:320.2gAverage: weight300.3g


In this case, the discrepancy is larger…the magical 20 grams. It’s almost 3 times more, but it’s still nothing in practicality. 

But it gets WORSE…(kind of)

We also have to consider that not all handlebars are created equal. A 35mm model can be less stiff than a 31.8mm unit. This happens because performance varies between brands and models. So, it’s possible to get 35mm bars for their stiffness and pay a premium for a feature that you can get for less. 

Of course, that’s a very small downside and a custom scenario. Don’t worry too much about it.

31.8mm Bars Are Not Weaker

Some may wrongfully conclude that 31.8mm bars are weaker, but that isn’t the case. There are 31.8mm downhill/enduro models with extra thick walls that can sustain almost anything you throw at them. 

Also, the walls of 35mm models are thinned out and thus weakened to the point where they match the strength of 31.8mm units.

There you have it, friends. 

Another article that takes no hostages.

Be wise and go for 31.5mm. At least, that’s how I see things.

Until next time,

– rookie






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