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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, 2012 at 20:51
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    Even cyclocross event that allow mountain bikes do not allow bar ends. Want them and safe in a group ride are not the same.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 11, 2015 at 0:15
  • @dotjoe Your comment contains a link which is now dead (April 2016) and without it your comment makes little sense. I found it on web.archive.org/web/20120918011007/http://www.danscomp.com/… We try not to depend on outside links for exactly this reason. Those are bar plugs, which keep dirt/water out of the handlebars and help stop people cutting round holes in their skin in an accident. They're not bar ends, which are more like Vorac 's picture in his answer.
    – Criggie
    Apr 24, 2016 at 9:24

7 Answers 7

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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, 2011 at 19:08
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    @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, 2011 at 20:08
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    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, 2011 at 22:12
  • Bar ends are no more dangerous than bullhorns though, right?
    – LeviX
    Oct 27, 2016 at 0:27
  • @LeviX As I understand it, bars with barends and bullhorns are the same in practice. You might be thinking of “ram horns” i.e. drop bars? If so those are probably safer since they’re allowed in competitions.
    – meedstrom
    Jun 15, 2021 at 13:56
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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, 2011 at 14:09
  • Completely agree, bar ends can protect you in more cases than injure you.
    – Papuass
    Jan 14, 2011 at 15:08
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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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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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    I am skeptical of the advice of medical professionals on cycling safety. They constantly see the worst of the worst traumatic injuries, so they have vivid anecdotes about the types of cycling related injuries they've had to treat. But they are not statisticians or safety experts. I have had clinicians urge me to stop riding a bike, after seeing my helmet (!!), when being treated for unrelated injuries. Their concern does not make their risk assessment accurate.
    – Bicifriend
    Feb 2 at 12:13
  • Some of these are mentioned in Nehoda H, Hochleitner BW. Subcapsular liver hematomas caused by bar ends in mountain-bike crashes. Lancet 1998 lfgss.microco.sm/api/v1/files/… academic.oup.com/bmb/article/85/1/101/292314 But in injuryjournal.com/article/S0020-1383(00)00193-5/fulltext# they say that the bad type of bar ends nearly vanished from the market (by year 2000). Feb 15 at 20:12
  • From the article "Nearly all mountain-bicyclists use bar ends to ... Therefore, it is not realistic to recommend abandonment of the use of bar ends or possible to provide figures for risk reduction without bar ends. Handle bars which point straight up without being bent and without plastic or foam covering of the metal were involved in all eight cases of liver hematoma. Therefore, we recommended the use of bent and foam covered bar ends, suggesting that their use could reduce the number of subcapsular liver hematomas following mountain bike accidents." Feb 15 at 20:17
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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.

There also exists a compromise:

enter image description here

Source: pinkbike.

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    Not really an answer, but it looks like a great set up! Mar 27, 2015 at 13:53
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    Damnit - I had this exact thought while reading the answer just two above this one. Would you have to call them bar-middles instead of bar-ends?
    – Criggie
    Mar 29, 2016 at 9:12
  • Just realised - the'y're not far removed from simply holding the up-swung part of your handlebar - but on the pictured barends you'd be much closer to the brakes.
    – Criggie
    Apr 24, 2016 at 9:27
  • Can this be done with any set of bar ends? I'm thinking about doing something similar and I don't know if it's necessary to look for a specific type. Jul 27, 2016 at 21:29
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    There are also commercial products designed for this positioning (but they wouldn't be comfortable with gripshifts though): SQLab Innerbarends and Spirgrips for example. Those are shorter, they don't really help when climbing, but it provides a position that similar to the hoods on a road bike, and you can still operate the brakes and the index shifters.
    – Renaud
    Feb 1 at 8:37
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I have been riding mtb from the age of 12-34 consistently and often with friends and small groups. I have not only never hooked my bar ends (bullhorn as called when they first became a thing) on anyone but never on anything either. I regularly ride through traffic, parked cars, trails with foliage, narrow passes on trails designed to keep cars out, and you name it. I have never had an accident with them. I think an individual has to look more at themselves and ask "Am I a Clutz who doesn't pay attention to what I'm doing?" If you are, or if you're not sure, don't get them. Myself I do a lot of long rides (even crossing my entire state of Missouri) and they are amazingly comfortable on my hands and wrists. Shrug Good Luck and I hope this helps.

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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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