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Is There A Reason That Mountain & Bike Handlebar Diameters Are Different?

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Is There A Reason That Mountain & Bike Handlebar Diameters Are Different?

Old 07-06-20, 08:52 AM
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cango
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Is There A Reason That Mountain & Road Bike Handlebar Diameters Are Different?

See the graphic - is there a reason that they are different? Or is it just because?

In the grip part road is 23.8 and mountain is 22.2.

Makes it difficult to move parts around from mountain to road and vice versa.


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Old 07-06-20, 08:58 AM
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You're probably heard of "Planned Obsolescence"? This is "Planned Incompatibility". They don't want you to swap parts around and from brand to brand.
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Old 07-06-20, 09:38 AM
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Road bars receive tape whereas MTB, BMX etc receive thicker grips. The resulting thickness is generally similar.

Different folks like different levels of tape thickness too on road bars but the base diameter needs to be as it is to accommodate 1.8mm tape and still be a decent diameter for grip, hence greater diameter. Some will use thicker tape for more comfort if they want.
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Old 07-06-20, 09:42 AM
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“they, They, THEY!!!!” Omg, guys, loosen up the tinfoil. No big conspiracy.

25.4 (not 26.0, unless you’re French) was the clamp size when bikes were based around the 1” threaded headsets.

Once the 31.8mm threadless became standard, bar clamps moved to 31.8 along with it. That was like 20 years ago, so it’s not like it was something that ‘just happened.’

Grip diameter is a whole other thing. MTB straight bars are typically used with a thick rubber grip, so the bar tube is thinner, to keep from making the grip too fat.

Road bars are usually taped, which is a thinner layer than MTB grips, ergo, the bar is a bigger diameter.

Besides; the form and function of most of the controls ( brakes and shifter) don’t really work if you go from flat bar to drop bar, so WTBD?
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Old 07-06-20, 09:48 AM
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What the guys above said. Drop bar brake levers from the 1920s will fit on road Handlebars from the 2020s. The brake and shift levers that were used on the original mountain bikes in the 1970s will work on the same handlebars installed in the latest Santa Cruz Hightower. The bit that has changed is the clamp diameter.
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Old 07-06-20, 10:50 AM
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There is only 1.6mm difference between the road and mountain bar grip area diameter. This is dumb except to make sure you can't move parts back and forth.
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Old 07-06-20, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by cango View Post
There is only 1.6mm difference between the road and mountain bar grip area diameter. This is dumb except to make sure you can't move parts back and forth.
You're going to be REALLY upset when you learn that MTB bars have 35mm clamp areas too.
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Old 07-06-20, 12:12 PM
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Try dealing with 50 years of quill stems and handlebars. Modern stuff (threadless stems with faceplates) are easy by comparison.

I'm working on an 1987 Schwinn Circuit. It comes with Cinelli stem and bars. So the quill diameter is standard 22.2 (not French 22.0), but I'd prefer ~1cm shorter reach. The current stem: 115cm quill type with 26.4mm clamp. Yup, Cinelli's 26.4 because, why?

So I'll spend nearly $60 for a particular Cinelli quill stem.... and so it goes. And I'll have to remove the bars and unwrap one side, because quill...
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Old 07-06-20, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by cango View Post
See the graphic - is there a reason that they are different? Or is it just because?

In the grip part road is 23.8 and mountain is 22.2.

Makes it difficult to move parts around from mountain to road and vice versa.


It's a good question.

Maybe someone will come along with better history on this than I have, but I think you should look at the early days of mountain biking and those clunkers of Marin County and so on.

Remember their big gnarly brake levers? Huge alloy jobs that held all your fingers with a curlique knob to spare? I'm guessing those were borrowed from motorcycles, which have a common 7/8" bar size. Of course, 7/8" is 22.2 mm.

So if you were Gary Fisher or whoever, and you wanted to start making mountain bikes, having a handlebar that fit in the quill stems available that could take motorcyle style brake levers, you ended up with a 25.4 mm to 22.2 mm handlebar. Tooling up, or contracting out, to do that would be a lot easier than launching a new component, like a new brake lever line.

I'd be happy to read a better history, as this is just a semi-informed guess.
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Old 07-06-20, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by cango View Post
There is only 1.6mm difference between the road and mountain bar grip area diameter. This is dumb except to make sure you can't move parts back and forth.
You know what else stops you moving parts back and forth? The shape of brake and shift levers. They’re not designed to go on both. But by all means go ahead and install a pair of 105 levers on your flat bars, and do let us all know how great they would be if not for the bar diameter.

Also, this is why lights, computer mounts, accessories etc all come with extra spacers; so you can install them on mountain or road bikes.
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Old 07-06-20, 03:46 PM
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You know what they say about "standards:" the best thing about them is that you have so many to choose from!
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Old 07-06-20, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by cango View Post
There is only 1.6mm difference between the road and mountain bar grip area diameter. This is dumb except to make sure you can't move parts back and forth.
What parts do you think can be moved between road and mountain bikes? Mountain brake levers and shift levers won’t work on the curved bar of a road bike. You can use road levers on flat bars if you wan’t but they aren’t optimum. Outside of not fitting well on different bars, modern mountain and road shift and brake levers aren’t compatible with the drivetrain and brake components.
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Old 07-06-20, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
You know what they say about "standards:" the best thing about them is that you have so many to choose from!
Right.

Quill stem diameters that I've seen: 26.4 mm (old Cinelli), 26.0 mm, 25.8 mm (old 3TTT), 25.4 mm, 25.0 mm (old French) 22.0 mm and 24.0 on old Raleighs with steel bars, e.g. Sports.
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Old 07-06-20, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Outside of not fitting well on different bars, modern mountain and road shift and brake levers aren’t compatible with the drivetrain and brake components.
Modern mountain and road shift and brake levers are compatible with the drivetrain and brake components.

https://blog.3t.bike/2019/09/12028/g...s-drivetrains/

You can also mix and match some di2 components.

https://www.cxmagazine.com/mechanica...train-shifters
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Old 07-06-20, 04:41 PM
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The best rule is: Know the dimensions of the parts on your bike, and take a caliper with you when shopping for parts. And don't forget pull ratios for brake and shift systems.

The different diameter standards predate the mountain bike.
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Old 07-06-20, 05:13 PM
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Thank goodness all 26" tires are interchangeable.
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Old 07-06-20, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by HD3andMe View Post
Modern mountain and road shift and brake levers are compatible with the drivetrain and brake components.

https://blog.3t.bike/2019/09/12028/g...s-drivetrains/

You can also mix and match some di2 components.

https://www.cxmagazine.com/mechanica...train-shifters
You have a point on SRAM but SRAM has a fairly small market share. Shimano parts aren’t compatible across disciplines and their market share is far larger.

As for Di2, how many people are going to have those?

And, finally, there is also the issue of mountain shift and brake levers won’t work on curved bars.
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Old 07-06-20, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Thank goodness all 26" tires are interchangeable.
... unless you've got an old Schwinn cruiser.
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Old 07-06-20, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Thank goodness all 26" tires are interchangeable.
I recently found that out with 24" too
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Old 07-06-20, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by cango View Post
See the graphic - is there a reason that they are different? Or is it just because?

In the grip part road is 23.8 and mountain is 22.2.

Makes it difficult to move parts around from mountain to road and vice versa.


When they started making ALLOY dropbars they increased the clamping area size to maintain strength. I have steel dropbars that do have the same diameter clamp area as do a MTB bar.

Cheers
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Old 07-06-20, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by cango View Post
There is only 1.6mm difference between the road and mountain bar grip area diameter. This is dumb except to make sure you can't move parts back and forth.
You know what else annoys me? They made it so that I can't move my mountain bike wheels and tires over to my road bike. There is no reason extra room can't be built into road frames.
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Old 07-06-20, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
You have a point on SRAM but SRAM has a fairly small market share. Shimano parts aren’t compatible across disciplines and their market share is far larger.

As for Di2, how many people are going to have those?

And, finally, there is also the issue of mountain shift and brake levers won’t work on curved bars.
Thank you for admitting that you were wrong when you claimed "modern mountain and road shift and brake levers aren’t compatible with the drivetrain and brake components."

Please provide some data that supports your contention that SRAM's market share is "fairly small." Please be specific by market - road, gravel/cross, and MTB.

Finally, if someone wanted to run AXS mtb shifters on "curved bars" they certainly could run them on the flats. That would be pretty goofy since you can already run Blips to shift.

p.s. to answer your question, many people run Di2.
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Old 07-06-20, 08:20 PM
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No one tell OP about motorcycle bars
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Old 07-06-20, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by HD3andMe View Post
Thank you for admitting that you were wrong when you claimed "modern mountain and road shift and brake levers aren’t compatible with the drivetrain and brake components."
I only admit to being wrong about SRAM. Shimano is not compatible.

Please provide some data that supports your contention that SRAM's market share is "fairly small." Please be specific by market - road, gravel/cross, and MTB.
Based on observation. I see thousands of bicycles per year at my local co-op. SRAM mountain is more prevalent than road. I can not recall the last time I saw a SRAM road system. We have boxes and boxes of Shimano shifters and derailers of both road and mountain. We have very few SRAM mountain drivetrain components in our bins (I watch for them and usually pick them up for my use). I may have seen a single SRAM road component in our parts bin 10 years of working at the co-op.

I also don’t see SRAM road components on bikes that we work on. I can tell you that most anything that comes into the shop I’m asked about and SRAM road just doesn’t come up.

Finally, if someone wanted to run AXS mtb shifters on "curved bars" they certainly could run them on the flats. That would be pretty goofy since you can already run Blips to shift.
That’s my point. You might be able to put mountain bike shifters on road levers but it’s not going to work all that well.

p.s. to answer your question, many people run Di2.
Again, based on my co-op experience, I’ve seen very few of them in a bicycle crazy town.
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Old 07-06-20, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I only admit to being wrong about SRAM. Shimano is not compatible.
No, you're wrong again. I even provided a link in my previous reply. Shimano road and MTB is compatible - Di2. Read, or watch the linked video here once again:

https://www.cxmagazine.com/mechanica...train-shifters

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Based on observation. I see thousands of bicycles per year at my local co-op. SRAM mountain is more prevalent than road. I can not recall the last time I saw a SRAM road system. We have boxes and boxes of Shimano shifters and derailers of both road and mountain. We have very few SRAM mountain drivetrain components in our bins (I watch for them and usually pick them up for my use). I may have seen a single SRAM road component in our parts bin 10 years of working at the co-op..
Thank you for admitting that your claim is only based on your limited experience working at a co-op. The reality is that the market is much different than you describe it.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
That’s my point. You might be able to put mountain bike shifters on road levers but it’s not going to work all that well.
Yeah, you're missing the point. You don't need mountain shifters to actuate mountain derailleurs with Di2 or AXS. They can work with road shifters...
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