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Bike Handlebars For Short Arms: What To Do And Options Available

A person on a cruiser bike with handlebars swept back for easy reach, with the ocean in the background.

Cycling is a fantastic sport that has something to offer everyone. It is not, however, as easy to find a perfect bike for some people as it is for others. One of the most common difficulties is finding suitable handlebars for riders with short arms. So, what are your handlebar options if you have short arms?

You can experiment with shortening your handlebars until they are a comfortable width for your reach. Alternatively, you can buy handlebars such as cruise-style monkey handlebars, which were designed specifically for cyclists with short arms. There are many options for handlebars that work with short arms.

Read on to learn more about handlebars for short arms, how to make your handlebars shorter at home, and your options for buying handlebars designed specifically for cyclists with short arms.

What Are The Options For Bike Handlebars For Short Arms?

Are your arms unable to reach your bike’s handlebars properly? Is this causing you discomfort and cramping your style on the road?

Whether you’re a short person all around or have congenitally short arms, plenty of handlebar options are available to optimize your bike’s fit and get you on your bike with maximum comfort in no time.

How To Tell If Your Handlebars Are The Correct Width

Many modern handlebars opt for a wider frame, with a common width of between 710 and 800 mm for larger mountain bikes and around shoulder width for faster-paced road bikes. These are all designed for people with average-length arms, and so if yours are on the shorter side, this can be impractical.

Handlebars that are too wide for your arms can cause discomfort and a lack of steering control over your bike. These factors may cause muscle strain or increase your chances of an accident, so it is essential to ensure you have the right fit.

An easy way to determine the correct width of mountain bike handlebars for your arms is to lie down and stretch your arms out at right angles to your body. Now bend your elbows at right angles, creating an ‘L’ shape with your arms.

Next, measure the distance between the middle fingers on each hand. This width is approximately that of the right handlebars for your build and should thus inform your handlebar purchase.

Generally, the right handlebars for cyclists with short arms are much narrower in width than standard handlebars. If you have very short arms, the best width for your mountain bike handlebars may be between 400 and 640 mm.

Bikes lined up with taller easy to reach handlebars that have green grips on them.
Handlebars with narrow width work best for short arms

What Handlebars Should You Buy For Short Arms?

Now that you know how to determine the correct width of your handlebars, you may wonder whether it is possible to buy handlebars that are designed specifically for people with shorter arms.

Luckily, the answer is yes! There is a range of handlebar options for cyclists with short arms readily available on the market. These include products such as these Short Reach handlebars, which are designed to optimize the bike fit for cyclists with shorter arms.

Another great way to ensure that the handlebars you get aren’t too long for your arms is to invest in a set of cruiser-style monkey handlebars. These narrow handlebars sweep back, often all the way to the rider.

This shape allows the rider to grasp the handlebars at a point that feels comfortable to them, which means that monkey handlebars can be used by anyone, no matter the length of their arms.

This factor makes monkey handlebars particularly useful for cyclists who have shorter arms but haven’t quite worked out what the correct width for their handlebars is yet.

If you are interested in purchasing cruiser-style monkey handlebars, take a look at these ‘Ape Hanger’ handlebars on Amazon.

What To Do If Your Handlebars Are Too Wide For Your Arms?

On the other hand, suppose that you have already bought handlebars for your bike, only to find that they are too long for you. In this case, there are several modifications that you can make to your handlebars to ensure they are a better fit.

The simplest is to cut down the handlebars until they reach a comfortable width for your arms, moving the grips and controls as you do so. Shortening your handlebars can either be done at home if you have the right tools (such as a pipe cutter) or through your local cycling shop.

We recommend shortening your handlebars in increments, as over-shortening them is much harder to remedy than under-shortening! For instance, if you start with 800 mm handlebars, shorten them by 10 mm at a time and ride the bike for a while before you decide on going shorter.

How Tall Should Your Handlebars Be For Short Arms?

As we have discussed, getting the proper width of handlebars for your arms is essential, especially if your arms are shorter than average. Handlebar width isn’t the only crucial factor, though, as the height of your handlebars is equally important. So, how tall should your handlebars be?

A general rule is that the height of your handlebars should range from level with your seat to 3 inches below your seat level. However, the taller someone is, or the longer their arms are, the lower their handlebars should be than their seat.

Therefore, cyclists with short arms should measure their handlebars to be level with their seats. Doing so minimizes the reach required and will thus make cycling substantially easier for people with short arms.

A bike with raised and easy to reach handlebars in a sunny field.
Finding the right handlebars for arm length is important


While finding the right handlebars may seem challenging if you have short arms, many options are available. The most important thing is first to establish the correct width and height for your handlebars relative to your arm length.

You can shorten the handlebars you own until they are an optimum fit for your arms. Alternately, there are several options of handlebars on the market which are specifically designed for cyclists with short arms. These include monkey handlebars and short-reach handlebars and are readily available online.

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