Biking Tips with Coach Ross:
Recently at the Killington Eastern States Cup race I observed many junior riders absolutely shredding on their full size (or nearly there) mountain bikes. If young riders can handle the larger wheel sizes of 27.5" and 29" it undeniably helps them roll through and make light work of chunky sections of trail. Watching the riders maneuver these adult spec'd bikes highlighted a different point I've seen becoming more and more exaggerated. Handlebar width. Specifically bars that are too wide for a young riders proportions. Having handlebars that are in the sweet spot based on rider height (and DH vs. XC preference) can help riders control their bike better. This comes from better shoulder, elbow, and hand alignment through the bars and a much greater ability to absorb compressions and pull or press the bike away from the body while riding dynamically on the trail. Too wide of a bar and you loose a lot of movement. Too narrow and it gets twitchy at speed. Read up below and use the resources to find the sweet spot for your own handlebar width.
There is helpful supporting evidence for appropriate width handlebars here.
A formula to use based on rider height (in mm)