When it comes to increasing your MTB’s handlebar reach, replacing them with BMX handlebars makes sense. The concern, however, is: can you put BMX handlebars on a mountain bike?
It’s generally possible to put BMX handlebars on a mountain, but you shouldn’t go for a handlebar with a rise that’s more than 8 inches. If you do, you could entirely change the bike’s geometry, risking a few cycling issues that’ll share later.
In addition to discussing the risks, I’ll share a guide on putting BMX handlebars on an MTB. I’ll also explain the reasons to fit BMX handlebars on an MTB.
Let’s get started with a detailed explanation of the title.
Can You Put BMX Handlebars On A Mountain Bike?
While it’s possible to install BMX handlebars on a mountain bike, you’ve to be aware of one thing:
‘BMX handlebars mostly come with a 5-8 inch rise, which is high by all standards.’
Such an elevation generally puts you in an upright position to performs stunts and jumps.
But since you are now fitting the handlebar on a mountain bike, the high rise has one primary effect discussed below.
1. BMX Handlebars Modify A Mountain Bike’s Geometry
By fitting a high-rise BMX handlebar on your MTB, you change its original geometry. That means you cannot expect it to be as comfortable or maneuverable as it was.
Here are the general risks of changing the bike’s original geometry:
- An Unnatural and Uncomfortable Cycling Posture
Once you fit BMX handlebars on your MTB, you no longer have an aerodynamic seating advantage. Instead, you have to sit vertically in an unnatural position.
The problem with such a posture is that it strains your seat bones and back, making it difficult to cycle uphill. Moreover, you are likely to suffer more wind drag, which slows you down.
An upright cycling position favors city riding and casual cycling but not mountain biking.
- Handlebars Get Dangerously Closer to the Chest
By giving your handlebars a height boost, the distance between them and your chest reduces. Usually, it’s dangerous when the handlebars are closer to your chest.
If you jump and land heavily, your chest will hit against the handlebars resulting in a painful injury.
2. Another Reason: BMX Handlebars Can Be Slightly Heavy.
Other than changing your MTB’s original geometry, the other risk of pitting BMX handlebars on an MTB is extra handlebar weight.
You probably don’t know this, but some BMX handlebars are heavier than MTB handlebars. In particular, the handlebars of freestyle BMX bikes are heavier than MTB handlebars.
That, however, is not the case with handlebars of race BMX bikes. Race BMX bikes have lighter handlebars than freestyle BMX bikes and MTBs.
How You Can Reduce The Risks Of Using BMX Handlebars On A Mountain Bike
After looking at the negatives surrounding fitting BMX handlebars on an MTB, does it mean you shouldn’t consider the bars for your mountain bike?
The answer is no! As a matter of fact, I’ll show you how to put BMX bars on a mountain bike.
Note that these risks are primarily associated with using high-rise BMX handlebars (those with a rise greater than 5 inches).
If you want to avoid the risks, go for a 3-5 inch rise or less.
The other important consideration is the clamp diameter. Preferably, go for a BMX handlebar with a 31.8mm clamp diameter if you prefer to keep the original MTB stem.
One BMX handlebar that meets the description is the Acekit 720mm/31.8mm Bike Handlebars.
This handlebar has an 18mm rise and a 31.8mm clamp diameter, making it suitable for road bikes, BMX, and MTBs.
If you prefer to replace your existing stem, get a BMX handlebar with a 22.2 mm clamp diameter.
A perfect example is the Fairdale HBAR MX 28X4in CP.
Not only does this handlebar comes with a 22.2mm clamp diameter but also a 4-inch rise.
How To Put BMX Handlebars On A Mountain Bike
Here are the general steps for installing BMX handlebars on MTBs:
- Look for BMX handlebars with the correct clamp diameter. Go for a 31.8mm clamp diameter if you choose to keep your existing bike stem or a 22.2mm diameter if you opt to replace it.
- Detach the brake levers and shifters from your old handlebars.
- Unscrew the old handlebar from the stem and remove it.
- Remove the step if you intend to replace it or leave it if you plan to retain it.
- Fit the new stem (optional).
- Fit the new BMX handlebar and bolt it tightly.
Note that since BMX handlebars are thinner than MTB handlebars, you may find it necessary to use shims in some cases.
The work of a shim for your information is to allow you to fit a bike seat post with a smaller diameter into a broader bike seat tube.
But Why Should You Put BMX Handlebars On A Mountain Bike?
Why go through the trouble of putting BMX handlebars on a mountain bike? Does it make sense, given that you’ll be spending some money on the handlebar?
Well, here are the reasons for doing it:
- More Handlebar Rise
One thing that BMX handlebars have that MTB handlebars don’t is a higher reach. BMX handlebars come with a 3-8 inch rise which puts you in a vertical/upright posture.
The advantage of such a posture is that it reduces excessive strain on the wrist and even the elbows.
Note, however, that the posture only favors ‘calm commuting,’ which is commuting on smoother terrains.
- More Room for Attachments
BMX handlebars are wider than MTB handlebars. As a result, they offer you more room for attaching accessories like bells, flashlight holders, phone mounts, GPS trackers, bags, among others.
- Aesthetic Reasons
As odd as it sounds, most people replace their MTB handlebars with BMX handlebars because of their physical appeal. BMX handlebars are more aesthetic, and so they give MTBs a distinctively stylish look.
1. Can I Put BMX Handlebars On A Mountain Bike?
It’s possible to put BMX handlebars on a mountain bike, but you will likely hamper the bike’s geometry and comfort. You may strain your back and stress your sit bones as you’ll be cycling upright.
If you’ve to do the switch, consider a mid-rise handlebar (3-5 inches).
2. Can You Put A BMX Stem On A Mountain Bike?
Provided that the BMX stem has the right thickness, you can fit it on a mountain bike. So, it’s essential that you first confirm the stem diameter and match it with the one existing on your mountain bike.
3. Are BMX Bikes Good For Mountain Biking?
Sadly, BMX bikes are not suitable for mountain biking. They only have one gear, which means you must pedal hard to go uphill. Moreover, they lack suspension for absorbing bumps.
4. Can You Change The Handlebars On A Mountain Bike?
You can easily unbolt handlebars from a mountain bike and replace them. You’ll need to use the right Allen keys.
Once you remove your current handlebars, add spacers to your MTB’s main tube before fitting the replacement handlebar.
Fortunately, bike handlebars are interchangeable, even though the process is never simple. It’s essential, however, that you get the clamp diameter correctly, and you shouldn’t overlook the handlebar rise.
If you want to ride upright, you’ve to go for handlebars with a medium-to-high rise. But if you prefer to ride more aerodynamic, settle for a low-rise.
6. Can You Ride a BMX Uphill?
Though a BMX can go uphill, it requires so much pedaling effort as they (BMX) come single-speed. Also, since BMX bikes don’t come with suspension, you will likely have a bumpier experience cycling uphill.
So, instead of getting a BMX for mountain biking, get a mountain bike.
7. Should I Buy A BMX Or Mountain Bike?
If you plan to race, perform stunts, or jumps, you should buy a BMX. But if you plan to cycle uphill or downhill, conquer terrains, commute or exercise on a bike, you should get a mountain bike.
8. Is a Mountain Bike Better Than BMX?
Generally, a mountain bike is best for mountain biking, but it can also take all kinds of terrains. A BMX, in contrast, is best for doing stunts and racing on a smoother road.
Overall, if you want a perfect off-road two-wheel that you can also ride on-road, go for a mountain bike. But if you want a racing or freestyling bike, go for a BMX.
Can You Put BMX Handlebars On A Mountain Bike? Closing Thought
The short answer is YES, but there is always a caveat. Avoid going for a higher rise as the elevation changes the bike’s geometry and makes it uncomfortable.
Preferably, go a handlebar rise that’s not more than 5 inches. But if you don’t want to take chances, go for an MTB if you have a mountain bike and a BMX handlebar if you have a BMX.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you put different handlebars on a mountain bike?
Absolutely, you can definitely fit different handlebars on your mountain bike, adding a flair of personalisation. However, bear in mind that there are specifics to handlebar compatibility with your bike stem. Typically, mountain bike handlebars come only with a grip diameter of 22.22mm. This provides flexibility to change the grips whenever you want. The clamp diameter could be either 31.8mm or 35mm. So, if you are planning to change the handlebar while retaining the old stem, you need to ensure the diameters of the two match. From personal experience, I would suggest double-checking the handlebar specifications before you purchase a new one. Trial and error can be a quite costly process, so better ensure beforehand. After all, getting the right fit not only improves the bike’s aesthetics but also enhances your biking experience.
Can you BMX on a mountain bike?
Can you put different handlebars on a bike?
Yes, you can certainly replace your bike handlebars with another set according to your personal preference. The great thing about bike handlebars is that they are interchangeable. However, remember to check whether the stem clamp size of the handlebars is compatible with your bike stem. Choosing new handlebars should not be a rushed task. It would be best if you take your time to find the set that suits your comfort of riding. I recall this one instance when I was not comfortable with the stock handlebars on my bike. I decided to switch to something that offered better grip and stability. After researching and testing a few sets, I finally found my perfect match. It made me realise that sometimes customisation is key to enhancing your ride: it made a huge difference to my bike time.
Can you put road bike handlebars on a mountain bike?
Technically, adding road bike handlebars on a mountain bike might not be the best idea due to compatibility differences. Mountain bike stems are specifically designed for smaller diameter flat bars that aren’t a proper fit for road bars. I would recommend looking into brands like Nitto Technomic or Dirt Drop that might have a more suitable stem. Aurally, you also need to consider the type of brakes on your bike. The model of the road levers can influence the performance of the brakes. For instance, some time ago, I tried to fit road bike handlebars on my mountain bike. Despite the initial excitement, I was left disappointed as the road bars didn’t fit my mountain bike stem. I had to opt for a more fitting stem solution. Hence, always remember, while experimenting is good, compatibility is the cornerstone of any modification project.