Let's talk RISERS!

Let's talk RISERS!

Handlebar risers are for many adventure riders their first add-on, and to an extent, with reason, but, do you know why you need them, and how to choose them?

It is crazy how much a little piece of metal can influence your riding, so it is worthy of diving deeper and learning a little bit more about them.

To help you in that process, I will be talking about different types of risers, show you different options, and talking about different concepts, some of which I will not fully explain in this article to avoid corrupting the topic.

Before moving forwards, and as detailed in the preface of this series of articles, I am in no way advising, nor am I recommending this or that product or brand. 

This series of articles is intended to share with you some tips to guide you in the right direction and get you asking the right questions, nothing else.


Adventure riding, as an all, can be described as a compromise.

We all want a super comfortable, incredible handling, horsepower filled carver on the road, in the same token we want a light, agile, and forgiving bike off-road.

As that doesn't exist, we compromise.

We all want to be safe, yet, light and comfortable on all seasons and terrains with one piece of riding gear.

Finding that is next to impossible, so we compromise.

I could go on and on with the compromises we make as adventure riders, and regarding risers, it is no different. 

With so many different kinds, and with all of them serving a specific purpose, choosing one over the other should be done mindfully. 

This brings us to your first riser related compromise. 

Do you want to get them to improve comfort or performance?

Choosing a riser that pulls back may increase your road comfort, but it will decrease your off-road performance.

Reference: Image from tmke.it 

Straight risers, may help you off-road, but they can, in the same token, put your road comfort at risk.

Reference: Image from voigt-mt.de

For those that don't want to make that specific compromise, some risers allow you to switch between a laidback and a straight and upright position, but not without a caveat.

To take full advantage of a system like this, you need to ask yourself if you are willing to stop and readjust them every time you change terrains.

Reference: Image from RRR Tool Solutions

So, which kind should you choose?

At this point in the article, none, and that should be your answer until you decide if you need them or not to start with.



As I pointed out before, nothing can replace the benefits of a face-to-face with an instructor, so the honest answer I can give you from this side of the screen is maybe.

Risers change the ergonomics of the bike, so to start, you need to know if your bike fits you ergonomically or not.

A great recourse for that is cycle-ergo.com, where you can put your info, your bike's info, and have an idea of what some changes can do, including risers.

The website does nothing towards explaining the concepts of a good riding position, but for those that have them, it can be a tremendous asset and a great way to try different ideas without spending a dime.

Another critical aspect the website is also omissive about is that you can rotate your handlebar, and how that will effectively pull the handlebar back and forward, as well as up and down.

This trick is not the answer to all problems, but for many, it can replace the need to spend money on risers by merely adjusting a few screws.

If you do need risers, rotating the handlebar is still something you should keep in mind. Consider it a fine-tuning on your handlebar setup.

Reference: Image from mcas.com.au and modified by BN Enduro Camp

Taking the bar rotations into account, it's noticeable that the arm and hand position are affected by it, and so are the positions of the controls and levers.

Another critical aspect is the line running up the forks and into the handlebar, with a straight alignment providing a much more precise handling and front-wheel feedback.

On the pulled back position, you can see the handlebar is pushed out of the forks alignment, and that will give you a very different feedback from the wheel, especially under complicated terrain and when standing up riding.

Rotating the handlebar may solve your riser issue for free; however, you can't forget to readjust your levers and controls to make sure your hand and finger ergonomics are correct.

Regardless of the road, you decide to take, make a little mark between your handlebar and your top clamp, so you can have a reference point you can go back to and don't be afraid to try different setups before buying risers, and afterward, if you decide you do need them.

Reference: Image from advpulse

Experimentation is a crucial part of finding the right setup for you, as well as the only way for you to get more in touch with your riding style, and with your bike.


When sitting, handlebars that are too high will tend to tense your shoulders, and in some cases, make your hand's tingle while losing accuracy and sensitivity.

Reference: Image from cycle-ergo showing a handlebar that is too high to ride sitting down on a dual-sport or adventure bike

Handlebars that are too low will tend to put too much strain on your lower back, and as your body will naturally want to rest on the handlebar, you will tend to put too much pressure over the front wheel, especially when standing up.

Reference: Image from cycle-ergo showing handlebars too low to ride sitting down on a dual-sport or adventure bike

This means it's again time to compromise, do you want to spend more time standing, or sitting down?

We all know that standing on an adventure bike is sexy, as it makes every picture and video a delight; however, that doesn't mean you should or need to stand all the time, but that is a topic for another article...

Regardless, when risers are concerned, that choice needs to happen, as a perfect sitting and standing position is a rarety.

You can, however, achieve a kind of 50-50 compromise, which is what I have on one of my bikes.

A setup where nothing is perfect, but where it all performs well enough in both situations.

On my other bike, the offset is on standing, forcing the sitting down position to lack some of the comforts found in similar models with a different setup.

But that is on my bikes, on yours, you are the one in the driver's seat, so from all the compromises you have to make when setting up your bike, allowing someone else to make that choice for you, shouldn't be one of them.

You should also keep in mind that once you find a position you are happy with, that doesn't mean its perfect forever.

An injury, learning new techniques, changes in riding styles, or just starting to ride more often in different kinds of terrains, can push you to make changes.

Accept that you change as time passes, and so do your necessities, and that reflects itself in your bike's setup.


When we decide to offset our handlebar to the standing up position, we need to go back to ergonomics, as it is natural and common to find sub-par setups.

A proper technique will dictate how we maneuver our bike when standing up. However, a lousy handlebar setup can derail even the most technically savvy rider.

If the handlebar is too low, there is a chance you will be forcing your lower back too much and end up putting too much pressure on the handlebar, making you tired faster, prone to a wrist injury, and with handling that may not be as sharp as desired.

Let's try a simple exercise.

Stand up, let your arms drop down, and try to precisely and efficiently move something at the width of your handlebar while keeping your arms straight as an arrow.

Reference: Image from cycle-ergo with bars too low to stand

You will immediately feel tension building on your shoulders, your arms pressing against your chest, and not a lot of control, as your body will try to push the object closer to you and force your elbows to bend.

On the same token, trying the same exercise with your hands at pecs height and arms bent in a tight V shape will produce a similarly uncomfortable and unnatural position, just with different tension points and natural body adjustments. 

Reference: Image from cycle-ergo with bars too high to stand

That means you should be looking for a position where your elbows will be slightly bent and pointing outwards, your torso will be slightly forward, and your hands will rest comfortably on the handlebar. And remember, its a handlebar, not a griper, so if you are either pressing it hard or completely loose from it, you are not in the right position.

Reference: Image from cycle-ergo with a correct standing neutral position

Imagine your handlebar grips as a piece of ripe fruit you want to have at the end of the ride.

To much pressure and your snack will suck, not enough pressure, and you will drop it during the ride.

Visually, from the front, your arm position should look something like this:

Reference: Image from Pixabay

In summary:

  • Check your ergonomics, and if you don't understand enough about it, start there.
  • Decide where you want to compromise or not.
  • Define the adjustments needed to make that compromise perform where you need it too.
  • Remember that levers, controls, and even handlebar types, all play a part in a correct handlebar setup.

If you went over all of that, and you still believe you need risers, go for it.

If you are unsure, now that you have some guidelines, talk to your local off-road instructor or a dealer/shop you trust, and they should be able to fine-tune your setup for your needs, with no bullshit or personal bias.

Ride safer, more comfortably, and start taking more out of your bike while investing wisely.

1 comentário

  • Beaky

    Thanks for the info, just bought an AT and the guy who owned it was considerably taller than me, I removed them and it feels so much better for me. Now I have read your article I am going to get out and check my riding position. Thanks again.

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