Several 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:
- Redline V-bars, the first bar to set the standard in the late 70s early 80s.
- GT BMX Pro Bar, 4130 Cro-Mo, 8″ rise -28′ width, flat bend. These changed everything, well at least in my neighborhood.
- Redline Forklifter bars, smaller than the GT bars, a little more back sweep, with a thicker-walled tubing where it mattered. Strong as hell.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 . . . “
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.