BMX Handlebars // Through the Years

qbar1Several interesting articles on handlebars have popped up recently, and I thought this might be the perfect time for us to revisit some noteworthy blasts from the past.  If you’ve been riding long enough, you’ve seen quite a few trends come and go, and come back again.  Low-rise, high-rise, 2 piece, 4 piece, 6 piece with a side of mashed potatoes and coleslaw . . . In their defense, a lot of the bars in the following pictures hold a special place in our history.  Some fit the type of riding being done at the time, and might have even made certain tricks a little easier. Others were simply gimmicks, eyesores, dangerously weak, and had no rhyme or reason. But hey, we had to start somewhere.

From Kim Boyle:  “. . . Without pointing any fingers or naming names I thought it might be best to learn a little lesson from one of the many historically lame aspects of BMX – Handlebars.  These first two photo sets are some of the worst of the worst from over the years both in style and safety. There are a lot of them. A snapped-off bar-end stuck in someone’s neck is not a fun afternoon . . .”

We’ll let these photos speak for themselves:

” . . . The Grand Pooh-Bah of the Bad BMX bars: The Big Gulp bar . . .”


” . . . This has always been an issue in the BMX world, but over the years there have also been those must-have bars that feel great, last, and look good doing it. These are mine, and many others, favorites:

  1. Redline V-bars, the first bar to set the standard in the late 70s early 80s.
  2. GT BMX Pro Bar, 4130 Cro-Mo, 8″ rise -28′ width, flat bend. These changed everything, well at least in my neighborhood.
  3. Redline Forklifter bars, smaller than the GT bars, a little more back sweep, with a thicker-walled tubing where it mattered. Strong as hell.
  4. S&M Slam Bars. After all the ridiculous multi-piece bars of the 80s, Chris Moeller’s straight-forward 2-piece bar took charge and made it’s way onto every racers bike. Riders sponsored by other brands just changed up the stickers. A ton of street and freestyle riders swore by them as well. The Slam Bar still holds it own today.
  5. Number five is one of my personal favorites –  Hoffman Bikes Patriot & Low Drag bars, which I think Taj (Mihelich) had a lot to do with, (and kind of made up for the 1″ Love Handle bars which very much hold down a spot in the first two photos.) Similar to the Redline Forklifter, they just felt good on my bike.
  6. McGoo added Star Bars to this list & I agree, they were great!  I had a set in 82, & the Star laid back seat post was quality as well. However, Star Co. was very short-lived so they never really achieved “Industry Standard” status like they could have. From McGoo: “. . . add GHP’s Star Bar. Greg Hill’s 2-piece 0.065″ wall debuted in ’82 and beat S&M’s legendary Slam Bar to the gate and trails by nearly a decade. It’s important because Voris Dixon built both bars, and he built Greg’s thick-walled, tight-radius flat, tall bar first . . . “

bars_goodstar bmx handlebars

So, there ya go.  BMX has come a long way.  As manufacturing techniques have improved, so has design, quality, and strength. Plus, a lot of early ideas that actually worked have come full circle into modern freestyle applications. I’m thankful to still be riding in an era when we have so many excellent options to choose from, but also have to admit to having run at least 4 pairs of the questionable bars in the top photos . . . However, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’m glad BMX Freestyle is slowly learning to embrace more facets of its history as we steer headfirst into the new century.

*Parts of this post originally appeared on the Boyle Custom Moto Blog, and I spotted it while doing research for Kim’s interview, which you can check out HERE!


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20 Responses to BMX Handlebars // Through the Years

  1. Simon weekes says:

    Yes it is smothering shit on 6pc bars like graveyard and fly’n’w boneyard bars which were stronger in my opinion as I broke most bends on 2pc bars as we progressed in riding and landing smoother I stoped breaking stuff but I still like my 6pc bars but they are not for everyone but are different and therefore much more valuable …

  2. Brad says:

    I have a pair of 23″ v bars that I pulled off of a 1979 supergoose. They aren’t stamped but I know for a fact that these bars definitely “of the period”. Did anyone else make v bars or are the most likely redlines?

  3. Eddie Wannouche says:

    I’m after a set of Odyssey Flying Wedge handlebars.
    I prefer the ones with the longer top bar.

    Do you have any available and how can i make a purchase?

    Regards Eddie

  4. Dylan says:

    Don’t forget the Boss bars with the extra crossbar.

  5. Ty says:

    I had the Elf Blast bars when I was racing. They were sexy.

  6. Darren Hough says:

    Trend sent me a pair of those Peregrine IIs back in 1991. I wanted to order the much more normal looking Qs, and the guy on the line said something along the lines of “yeah, these are the new ones, they look pretty much the same, they’re designed by Craig Lepage, you’ll like them, you don’t want to wait for the Qs, get these instead… blah, blah. I remember being severely disappointed on opening that box. Even at 14 I questioned the “added strength” that the double bar setup was supposed to offer. And because I was 14 and I could just barely keep up with coming up with enough money to replace the parts I actually broke, let alone the functional ones that I just didn’t like, I rode those stupid, ugly bars for another 2.5 years before they finally bent and I could justify replacing them. Ironically, the set that I ordered next was the Peregrine Q, which was still being made and not nearly as stupid looking.

  7. Wade says:

    Did Star Bars precede VDC Woody Bars? Because Woody Bars definitely preceded Slam Bars.
    I really like Forklifter, Dyno, and Vector bars.

    • Paul Covey says:

      Woody Itson’s VDC bars evolved from the original Star Bars. Greg Hill used to hook Itson up with Star Bars. After bending a few pairs, eventually Woody sat down with Voris Dixon and designed his own – which was a slightly tweaked version of the GHP Star Bar. Both Star Bars (82) and VDC Woody Bars (82-83ish) were built in Anaheim, CA by Dixon, who was responsible for a lot of American made BMX innovation in the early 80s.

  8. Radar marglar says:

    And few it may be but there were also “8 Piece!” bars, ive a set of the fishbone -Badass ones, bit gimicky but amazing looking, especially up close, and great for candy bars jumps too.

  9. DayDay says:

    I always loved those Star Bars.

    So the Haro Kneesavers and Peregrine bars were weak? Ahh man, those were my joints.

  10. Micah says:

    I really liked the feel of the weird bend on old Powerlite racing bars. Never owned a pair though.

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  13. colin says:

    is this trying to talk shit about graveyard bars?

  14. Gordon says:

    Great read, thanks for the write up! So many memories…….

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