How-To: Mountain Bike Cockpit Set Up with Art's Cyclery 21

Proper cockpit setup is easy if you know what to look for. Vital MTB and Art's Cyclery will go over a few tips to get your cockpit ready to rip. Let’s start with handlebar setup: Handlebar widths of between 740-780mm will give you enough leverage to keep the wheel tracking straight in the rocks. Most handlebars are designed to be cut down for a perfect fit. Clamp the bars down in the stem so that they just barely rise when viewed from the side. Torque the stem faceplate down with a torque wrench to the manufacturer’s specification in a crisscross pattern, slowing adding torque with each pass around the stem’s faceplate. With modern disc brakes one finger is plenty to get you stopped. Set up your levers so that your braking finger rests next to the upturned end. Brake levers are generally best when set up at around a 45-degree angle relative to the ground. If they are too high, they are hard to reach when you are over the front end of the bike. If they are too low, it is hard to get your weight back on the bike for drops and steep sections of trail. Keeping the brake lever close to the grip when the brakes are engaged will give you more braking power. Just make sure that you can’t bottom out the lever on your grip, or you could end up with no brakes when you really need them. Don’t torque your levers down so tight that they won’t move in a crash. The last thing you need after a crash is to discover that your brake lever is snapped off and you have to ride home injured and with no brakes. Set up your shifters so that they can be used without moving your hand on the grip.

Credit: Vital MTB / Art's Cyclery
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  • Art's Cyclery

    1/24/2014 4:35 PM

    Gareth Warren has the eagle eye! Your concern is well-taken, but we always make sure to clean the stanchion with a lint free rag, and use soft jaws on all our work stand clamps. As long as nothing abrasive comes in contact with the stanchion, and clamping force is low, there is little risk of damaging the seatpost.

  • Gareth_Warren

    1/24/2014 6:02 PM

    Yeah but surely clamping the stand to the frame eliminates the risk of damaging such an expensive part altogether. Especially a customers pride and joy, risk it on your own bike yeah but i wouldn't be too pleased if i saw you do that to my reverb.

  • D.Ironshirt

    2/9/2014 8:52 PM

    Yeah clamp the frame cause its super cheap? how bout replace the seat post with a dummy. @ ARt cyclery your break lever advice is fine until u recommend angles. why not think about the angle the bike will be on the descent. I am an average sized rider and only have my brake levers at 45 degrees on my DJ which is mainly a flat ground bike. All my other bikes are around 34 degrees. The bike rotates underneath you and so you should set your levers for this position. Raise the rear wheel 6 0r 8 inches and set them at 45 degrees. Then recheck with the bike level and see what you get. If your body position is good I bet you will feel better on the Descents.

  • Art's Cyclery

    1/24/2014 4:35 PM

    Daniel Layton brings up a good point too. Proper bar width is a function of rider physiology, style, and discipline. For smaller riders, 740mm could be too wide. Also, our recommendations are for Vital readers, who are mostly trail/all-mountain/DH riders, who usually value high-speed stability through technical sections over climbing efficiency. You are absolutely right, though. XC riders and smaller riders will benefit from experimenting with bar width.

  • Art's Cyclery

    1/24/2014 4:34 PM

    Hey folks, thanks for the feedback. There are some excellent points brought up by the commenters. Slyfink's concerns are legitimate—our recommendations are not going to be perfect for everyone. Stem length and handlebar width interact and are influenced by your bike's geometry and your physiology. Slyfink, if you went with a zero-rise 50mm stem, there's a good chance that the lower handlebar position is what messed up your steering. There is no rule of thumb, but take a look at this for some thoughts on stem length.

  • scarface

    1/24/2014 1:10 PM

    I prefer Eddie from Edmonton. That dude is dialed. For enduro, they go in the middle.

  • Gareth_Warren

    1/23/2014 4:44 PM

    Forget the cockpit, how about not clamping the stand onto the stanction of the dropper post.

  • Live2Ride2Live

    2/19/2014 9:50 AM

    Agreed. Good way to destroy that dropper

  • Daniel_Layton

    1/22/2014 1:22 PM

    Its crazy how the video can make fun of the changing fads in bar widths from mtbing websites while at the exact same time advocating the latest fad! It was also the only segment of cockpit setup that barely gave a reason why their recommendation made sense (and the one they gave was incorrect). Their only reason is that 740 to 780mm bars gives you enough leverage to keep the front wheel tracking through the rocks. Well don't the rocks you track through change between disciplines? With that logic an XC rider that doesn't encounter nearly as many rocks which would affect the front wheel's tracking would require much less leverage than a DH rider. Are they suggesting that entire change in leverage needed is accomplished by a 40mm range?

    In any event the logic is flawed. They make the mistake of thinking longer bars = more leverage and that 740 to 780 is long enough, and that nothing else matters. But if that length doesn't work with your body, your arms and shoulders then you get less control. Go too long or too short and you can't engage your muscles to do the leveraging optimally.

    Correct handle bar width is be a function of your body measures, arm length and shoulder width. Go too small and you won't have the right hand position to leverage the bar AND TOO WIDE and you'll get the same thing. Saying that EVERY bar should be between 740 and 780 is ridiculous. Your 5'5" girlfriend will not only look comical with a 740mm bar but also be less able to get all the power and leverage she needs because of the overwide hand position.

    The recommendation is i think right for most men, but not women and the reason why is only partly correct. That segment needed more explanations and caveats.

  • esstinkay

    1/23/2014 5:27 PM

    I had to rewatch the video to find out if there was actually some useful information that I'd somehow missed the first go through. Complete waste of time and mildly humorous at best.

  • bjenson

    1/22/2014 3:20 PM

    "The recommendation is i think right for most people"

    bingo. this video was pretty clearly made for most people, not midgets or shaq look-a-likes. it's a recommendation and a qualified one at that. don't have a coronary.

  • Daniel_Layton

    1/22/2014 4:00 PM

    So almost all women that ride are midgets?

  • scarface

    1/24/2014 1:08 PM

    Where are these "women who ride" you speak of???

  • slyfink

    1/22/2014 11:16 AM

    this is great and all, but what I'd like to know is how to choose stem length... beyond "anything more than 50mm is for gomers"...

    I fell for that last year, bought a 50 mm Thomson stem, and it didn't improve my bike handling, and actually made descending worse. Stems might be an experimental thing, but it gets expensive to buy stems in each 5mm increment. There has to be a rule of thumb?

  • banj

    1/22/2014 11:29 AM

    The rule of thumb is to keep it under 50mm! Works really well for me.

    Haha, how tall are you?

  • slyfink

    1/22/2014 12:39 PM

    5'9".... I'm on a medium Mojo HD. Apparently, it has an unfashionably short top tube. For me, I think it will ride better with a 60mm or 70mm stem. With the 50 I'm constantly nailing my knees against my levers (both climbing and descending), and my hands just feel too close to me, like I'm all bunched up. The 70 is my baseline, but it had a 6° rise. It was ok, but maybe a tad forward on the downs. I'm going to give a 60mm no-rise stem a try this season. I just wish I hadn't had to buy two stems to figure this out...

  • banj

    1/22/2014 1:05 PM

    I'm the same height. I like 50mm or shorter stems. I have used (with varying success) 60mm stems in the past on frames that felt a little short. I find 70mm stems way too long though. How wide are your bars? The answer better be between 740 and 780 (haha).

  • slyfink

    1/22/2014 1:58 PM

    haha, 711mm... Easton Carbon Havens... now that I looked, I can't imagine riding 740 for trail riding. I just grabbed my 760mm Furbars on my DH bike, and it's way too wide for trail riding as far as I'm concerned... though I suppose it's worth trying I guess.

  • bjenson

    1/22/2014 3:23 PM

    your medium ibis isn't just "unfashionably" short, it is short. while a longer stem could help you feel more comfy, you'd be far better off on a longer frame. if you feel good with a 70mm, check out the reach numbers on your current rig and be sure to go 15-25mm longer on the next, then swap for the 50mm stem. you'll be happy you made the switch.

    in the short term you could slap those 740+ bars on with the 50mm stem. increasing bar width while decreasing stem width effectively feels the same reach wise since your arms and bar are just making a triangle.

  • banj

    1/22/2014 3:44 PM

    Bingo. 711 is narrow! Put a bigger bar on there and you can run that short stem.

    I'm running 760 on both my dh and trail bikes. Try it, you'll love it. I'm sure you used to think 760mm was too big for DH as well.

  • russthedog

    1/22/2014 8:58 PM

    this doesnt change how close your knees are to the stem though, which is one of his problems. Longer stem only for him I think, or longer frame as you have suggested. More narrow bars actually allow you to get further back through laidback post/ pushing seat as far back as possible, but this will still result in a rubbish handling bike