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I've always heard "never use barends" and they're banned equipment for some of the local clubs/group rides. A number of people on-line swear by them though. What's up with that!? :-) Why would I NOT want them? When do I want them?

(Running with @sixtyfootersdude comment from Upgrading straight handlebars to drop handlebars)

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Oh those "bar ends" do non-bmx handle bars even need these kinds of bar ends? danscomp.com/shop-PARTS/BarEnds.html –  dotjoe Jul 23 '12 at 20:51
Even cyclocross event that allow mountain bikes do not allow bar ends. Want them and safe in a group ride are not the same. –  Blam Mar 11 at 0:15

7 Answers 7

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Bar ends are typically banned from group/club rides because of the potential to hook another rider when riding in a tight group. Because a flat MTB-style handlebar is wider than a drop bar, adding bar ends increases the likelihood of snagging another rider. (drop bars still can cause crashes though, which I've seen first hand)

On the plus side, adding bar ends gives you more hand positions to choose from (similar to using drop bars). This is very important on long rides (e.g. touring) since your hands can go numb and possibly suffer nerve damage if you keep them in one position for too long. Some people find the hand position on bar ends more comfortable too.

Papuass has been injured by a bar end in a crash. My experience is the opposite: the bar end protected my hand from sliding along the pavement at high speed, saving me a fair amount of skin. So it can go both ways.

If you're not doing group rides where bar ends are banned, I would definitely consider trying them for the sake of having more hand positions.

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I agree with the plus side and I did like the positioning possibilities. However, I removed mine after a trail ride where the bar end hooked a branch and sent me tumbling down a muddy embankment. I was only scratched up a bit, but still... –  user313 Jan 14 '11 at 19:08
@wdypdx22: good point, my answer was slanted towards road use. On technical trails they probably don't help much since you'd mostly be riding with fingers near the brakes. –  darkcanuck Jan 14 '11 at 20:08
I removed the bar ends right then and there after scrambling up the embankment to find the bar end nicely entangled with the branch in question. On a similar note, at one point I had a mirror attached to the handlebar end; I removed that too after it caught something and smacked me to the ground. –  user313 Jan 14 '11 at 22:12

It really depends on the road condition, traffic congestion and the type of the ride. It is banned from most local group rides that i am aware of. When you're riding wheel-to-wheel 20+ mph, chances are you're not going to be able to stop in the nick of time. Not to mention that your body weight shifts to the front which makes maneuvering and stopping twice as difficult. However, i don't see it as a problem on a quiet ride with 1 or 2 other people and where traffic is very light. Bar-ends aren't that bad. Just have to be aware of your surroundings and make a decision when it's actually okay to use them.

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+1 for increased breaking time. –  sixtyfootersdude Jan 14 '11 at 2:58

They are dangerous in case of a crash. I still have nice "Nike" form scar on my leg from my own bar end, when my front tire exploded.

Otherwise they are just fine and recommended.

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In contrast, many moons ago, I crashed, although wasn't on the bar-ends at the time, and while the bar-end snapped off, my hand was undamaged - the impact had been taken by the bar-end. –  Unsliced Jan 14 '11 at 14:09
Completely agree, bar ends can protect you in more cases than injure you. –  Papuass Jan 14 '11 at 15:08

A friend of a friend. etc... - a keen Mountain biker and senior Emergency Department Doctor advised me (very strongly - as in if you leave them on your bike, you might as well not wear a helmet) to remove them from my bike- he had treated several mountain bikers with internal injuries clearly caused by Bar ends - including one poor fella who has life threatening Liver damage, and one with Spleen injuries.

He said problem was usually going 1/2 over the handle bars (i.e. not clearing the bike like I usually do), and landing on top of the bar end when it's sticking up, or a group coming a cropper. Lay you bike on the ground and have a look at the position of the bar end, and image your soft abdomen area coming down on it from a height or at speed. For some reason he could not explain, he did not see many injuries where the rider landed on the end of the handle bars themselves when there is no bar end.

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My hybrid bike has them. The feeling of cool metal is nice on hot days, and they are just long enough I can lean on them for a lower position at higher speeds on road - sort of poor mans forearm rests.

They do become dangerous on narrow trails, when they may grab a nearby branch/tree, possibly slamming it into your hand or causing rapid halt.

In UCI regulations, usage is allowed only for certain competitions by rule 1.3.023:

For road time trials and the following track events: individual and team pursuit, kilometre and 500 m a fixed extension may be added to the steering system; in this instance, only a position where the forearm is in the horizontal plane is permitted. ...

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Maybe slightly off-topic, but I would like to share. Past summer my touring/commuter MTB looked like this.

enter image description here

The advantages of this bar ends position, compared to in the end of the handlebars are several. First, a more narrow and aerodynamic position is assumed. Second, standard grips can be used, without the need to cut them. Thirdly, for some reason those were HUGE aid on climbs.

Currently they are off, due to too much clutter on the handlebars.

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Unless you have sharpened your outward facing bar-ends or better yet, have installed a Ben-Hur Chariot Wheel Spike on your bicycle hub, I would not be overly concerned about snagging another rider unless you are Doctor Hofmann. A greater threat to cycling involves the disruption of centrifugal forces due to a single valve stem. Placing a counter-weight on the opposing side of the stem will prevent overheating and possible explosion of the wheel hub during excessive downhill riding. Dental crown treatments and concussions for chronic cyclists that avoid this sorely needed wheel safety measure are at an all time record level.

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You cannot ride a mountain bike in cyclocross race with bar end (for safety). The UCI sites disc brakes in road racing a safety issue. –  Blam Mar 11 at 0:09
Entertaining technobabble that in no way addresses the question. –  DanS Mar 11 at 9:08

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