This article compares 2-piece and 4-piece BMX handlebars.
2-piece handlebars – handlebars consisting of two distinct pieces. The main piece is a metal tube with a long span and a U-shape in the middle.
The other part is known as a “crossbar” and represents a tube welded to the main body of the bars for extra support.
4-piece handlebars – handlebars consisting of four distinctive pieces welded to each other. Unlike 2-piece bars, 4-piece bars do not have lower curves. The arms of the bars are connected via two crossbars – one at the top and one at the bottom.
What Are The Advantages of 2 Piece BMX Handlebars?
The strong points of 2-piece BMX handlebars are:
1. More Flexibility
2 piece bars have some flex to them because the main element is a single tube.
Flexible bars are a touch more forgiving during landings – an attractive quality to people who experience wrist discomfort.
Not everyone considers this characteristic an advantage, though. Some riders prefer to have their bars as stiff as possible.
2. More Likely To Bend Than To Break
2-piece bars have fewer welding points. As a result, they’re more likely to bend during a fall than to crack or completely snap.
3. A Cleaner Look
2-piece BMX bars have a minimal amount of welds – a property giving them a clean and simplistic silhouette.
What Are The Advantages of 4 Piece BMX Bars?
The strong points of 4-piece BMX handlebars are:
4-piece BMX handlebars are stiffer because they don’t have a bottom curvature. Instead, there’s a small crossbar connecting the two arms.
2. Simpler to Manufacture
4 piece bars are a bit simpler to produce because they have fewer curves. The architecture streamlines the process and reduces the need for extra bending and special heat treatment.
3. Knee Clearance
The lower curvatures of 2-piece bars do not tolerate extreme angles. If the minimum radius is disrespected, the integrity of the bars will be compromised. For that reason, 2-piece bars are a bit wider near the stem.
In different, 4 piece handlebars offer a bit more knee clearance because the two arms can be welded to the crossbars from more extreme angles.
In consequence, 4 piece bars don’t have to protrude outward as much as 2 piece models.
Old school 4-piece BMX handlebars offer a lot more knee clearance than the current ones. One example would be the iconic Redline Forklifter Bars.
At the time, the low bar was a lot shorter, and the arms were inserting from a less vertical angle. For that reason, people refer to old school 4-piece bars as “knee savers”.
Back then, the freestyle crowd greatly appreciated 4 piece bars because the extra knee clearance facilitates the performance of certain tricks.
In current times, however, the knee clearance of 2 piece and 4 piece models is so close that people rarely talk about this topic.
4. Old School Look
4 piece BMX handlebars have old school charisma appreciated by many riders.
5. An Opportunity For Custom Tubing
4 piece bars have a separate tube at the bottom (a low bar). This peculiarity makes it possible to mix tubes of different sizes.
For example, producers can combine 22.2mm side tubes with a 25.4mm or 31.6mm low tube. Thus, 4 piece bars create the opportunity for custom tubing and different clamp diameters.
The same cannot be achieved with 2 piece bars because they use a single main tube.
That said, it’s questionable whether the industry needs the extra variation. For this reason, most 4 piece bars continue to have a 22.2mm or 25.4mm diameter near the clamp area.
Are 4 Piece Bars Stronger Than 2 Piece?
Some people say that 4 piece bars are tougher because the arms can connect to the low bar from a more vertical angle.
In practice, however, it’s difficult to determine whether 4 piece bars are truly stronger because modern 2 piece bars have benefitted from the advancement in heat treatment technology.
Also, 2 piece bars tend to be multi-butted (there’s extra material at the most vulnerable places). As a result, they’re very strong and competitively light.
It’s also worth mentioning that 4 and 2 piece models have the same weak spot – the upper curves near the grip area.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to say which version is stronger. As long as the quality of the product is good, it should hold up just fine.
FAQ: What Are The Strongest BMX Bars?
There are many super-strong BMX bars out there, but Hoffman Lovehandles enjoy the most glory.
Those are 6 or 8 piece bars (if you count the reinforcement tubing as separate parts) that are practically unbreakable from riding.
The table below compares the weight of 2 piece and 4 piece BMX handlebars.
|2 Piece||Material||Weight||4 Piece||Material||Weight|
|BSD Safari Oversized||Chromoly||771g||Salt Pro||Chromoly||903g|
|Odyssey Lumberjack XXL||Chromoly||789g||BSD Grime||Chromoly||754g|
|United Supreme||Chromoly||907g||Mission Crosshair||Chromoly||1108g|
|Fiend Reynolds||Chromoly||774g||Animal 4AM||Chromoly||776g|
|Fiend Team||Chromoly||793g||Saltplus HQ||Chromoly||894g|
|Jet BMX Chromo||Chromoly||988g||Odyssey 49ER||Chromoly||992g|
|Mutiny Comb||Chromoly||848g||Fly Fuego 6||Chromoly||727g|
|Mission Command||Chromoly||975g||United Supreme||Chromoly||993g|
|BSD Raider||Chromoly||776g||Volume X FTL||Chromoly||949g|
|Animal Empire State||Chromoly||887g||Federal Drop V2||Chromoly||816g|
|Average weight:||850.8g||Average weight:||891.2g|
The average weight of 2-piece bars is ever so slightly lower than that of 4-piece bars.
The results aren’t surprising because both versions require a similar amount of material.
Bar Upsweep: The ends of most BMX and MTB bars rotate upward. The degree of rotation is known as upsweep.
The upsweep has two objectives:
- Reduce wrist strain
- Put more weight on the outer palms and free the long fingers to control the levers and shifters (on MTBs).
The degree of upsweep is a personal preference. Some riders like flatter bars while others prefer a pronounced upsweep. The standard is about 2-4 degrees.
The next table compares the upsweep of 2 piece and 4 piece bars:
|2 Piece||Upsweep||4 Piece||Upsweep|
|BSD Safari Oversized||3°||Salt Pro||3°|
|Odyssey Lumberjack XXL||2°||BSD Grime||2°|
|United Supreme||1°||Mission Crosshair||1°|
|Fiend Reynolds||1°||Animal 4AM||5°|
|Fiend Team||1°||Saltplus HQ||3°|
|Jet BMX Chromo||2°||Odyssey 49ER||1.5°|
|Mutiny Comb||3°||Fly Fuego 6||3°|
|Mission Command||1°||United Supreme||3.5°|
|BSD Raider||2°||Volume X FTL||1°|
|Animal Empire State||1°||Federal Drop V2||3°|
|Average degree:||1.7°||Average degree:||2.6%|
Conclusion: 2 piece and 4 piece BMX handlebars have a similar degree of upsweep. Some 4-piece models offer a couple of extra degrees – a wrist-friendly characteristic according to some riders.
Backsweep: The rotation of the bars towards the rider
The backsweep is meant to reduce wrist stress by placing the joints in a more natural position.
To understand the principle, you can do the following experiment. Grab a thin item such as a pencil or a pen and put your hands forward as if they’re on a bike’s handlebars.
Squeeze the pen. You will see how the angle of the pen changes. The part of the pen near the outer palm gets closer to you whereas the end next to your thumb goes away from you.
Bars come with some degree of backsweep as a way to reflect those mechanics. The result is less stress on the wrist.
|2 Piece||Backsweep||4 Piece||Backsweep|
|BSD Safari Oversized||13°||Salt Pro||11.5°|
|Odyssey Lumberjack XXL||11°||BSD Grime||11°|
|United Supreme||12°||Mission Crosshair||12°|
|Fiend Reynolds||12°||Animal 4AM||11°|
|Fiend Team||12°||Saltplus HQ||11.5°|
|Jet BMX Chromo||10°||Odyssey 49ER||12°|
|Mutiny Comb||13°||Fly Fuego 6||10°|
|Mission Command||12°||United Supreme||11°|
|BSD Raider||11°||Volume X FTL||12°|
|Animal Empire State||12°||Federal Drop V2||11.5°|
|Average degree:||11.8°||Average degree:||11.35°|
Conclusion: 2 piece and 4 piece bars offer practically the same degrees of backsweep.
The table below summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of 2 and 4 piece handlebars:
2 Piece BMX Handlebars
|More flex||Less knee clearance (depends on the model)|
|More likely to bend than to crack or break||Lack stiffness|
4 Piece BMX Handlebars
|Extra knee clearance (potentially)||Rugged rather than smooth look|
|Simplified production process||More likely to crack than to bend|
|A bit more upsweep (depends on the model)|
|Old school look|
Making The Right Choice
The differences between modern 2 piece and 4 piece bars aren’t substantial.
The parameters of the bar (upsweep, rise …etc.) and its quality rather than the number of pieces that it consists of decide how comfortable and strong it is.
If the bars are made by a reputable company, and your anthropometry agrees with the design, it doesn’t matter whether the handlebars are 2 or 4 piece.
For that reason, the final choice comes down to personal preference.
If you like the look of 2 piece bars, and you can find one in a shape that suits you, go for 2 piece.
If you like 4 piece bars, and the available models fit you fine, enter the 4 piece life.
If you’re a beginner and unsure what to do, choose the cheapest quality bars that you can find and just ride. As you accumulate more experience, you can replace them with a model that better compliments your style.