Handlebar width?
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  1. #1
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    Handlebar width?

    Is there a formula for determining handlebar width or does it depend on how they feel? I ask this because I generally use 42cm bars and was sent some 44cm's by mistake but they seem like they might work. Any thoughts?

    Thanks mon amigos.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by holdenJames
    Is there a formula for determining handlebar width or does it depend on how they feel? I ask this because I generally use 42cm bars and was sent some 44cm's by mistake but they seem like they might work. Any thoughts?

    Thanks mon amigos.
    There is no formula for any part of bike fit that actually works, though some will get you in the ballpark.

    They'll work, though you may find you prefer narrower bars for some types of riding or individual bikes, wider for others.
    A good habit is as hard to break as a bad one..

  3. #3
    kytyree
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    Also make sure you are comparing apples to apples as some companies measure them differently, ie some 44's equal others 42's.

  4. #4
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    Yes there are formulas

    There are many formulas and methods of measurement based upon palpable body points to determine shoulder width, leg extension, arm extension, etc. They do more that just 'put you in the ballpark', they correspond with a range of motion appropriate for the joint involved.

    Shoulder width is measured across the back between the left and right acromium process. Ideally a bar should equal that length, for my purposes and for consistency, I aim to order the bar, however it's measured, so that the centers of the bar ends most closely center up with the riders acromium points.

    Quote Originally Posted by danl1
    There is no formula for any part of bike fit that actually works, though some will get you in the ballpark.

    They'll work, though you may find you prefer narrower bars for some types of riding or individual bikes, wider for others.
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  5. #5
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    All that said, one size bigger can give you a bit more leverage for sprinting or climbing.

    44s measured outside/outside are the same as 42s measured center/center so you should check with a tape measure.

  6. #6
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    I prefer the 44's as they give me a little more space for hand positions. And yes they do help in a fast sprint or run.

    Happy Trails!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rollo Tommassi
    There are many formulas and methods of measurement based upon palpable body points to determine shoulder width, leg extension, arm extension, etc. They do more that just 'put you in the ballpark', they correspond with a range of motion appropriate for the joint involved.

    Shoulder width is measured across the back between the left and right acromium process. Ideally a bar should equal that length, for my purposes and for consistency, I aim to order the bar, however it's measured, so that the centers of the bar ends most closely center up with the riders acromium points.
    Nonsense.

    Ask a dozen metrics-based 'experts' on bike fit, and you'll get at least a half-dozen answers about exactly which shoulder point should be measured. Then there's variation about which posture should be taken when making this measurement. Finally, there's interpretation about what should be done with the number, relative to the measurement of the bars - C-C or O-O distance, at the drops or the hoods, add or deduct some amount, and so on. It's also changed quite a bit over time.

    I can easily and honestly get a 'correct' answer from 42-46, which is no answer at all. For the record, I regularily ride bikes of that range and wider, and they are all 'right' for their specific purposes. The tandem has a 46, as the added leverage is useful. The main bike is a 44, and is decent but catches more air than it needs to. A 43 or 42 works out a bit better in that regard, but the 44's are slightly more comfortable due to a wrist injury. My old school road bike was factory fitted with 40's (on a 61cm frame) and cuts a nice swath through the air. Compromises handling in crit-like conditions a bit, though.

    Some folks concern themselves with breathing on narrower bars, but I find it more bothersome on bars that are too wide. There are real anatomic/physiological reasons why both of those can be valid constraints, that measuring any set of shoulder points cannot possibly capture.
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  8. #8
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    Why not get a set of chrome "ape hangers" and be done with it. Dan's right though. Some things come in and out of style like tie widths and skirt lengths. When I started riding narrow bars were all the rage. Anybody who "knew" anything about bike were riding 42s. Yep! I bought some myself. Some years ago wide was in. Wider was better because you could breathe better. Now it seems that pretty much anything goes. What's right? What's wrong? Seriously, no one knows. Just get whatever feels comfy to you.
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  9. #9
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    Some bars have the ends (drops) slightly wider than than the top of bar ... I suppose you could describe it as the ends/drops "flaring out"

    The width, AFAIK, is often defined at the open ends of the bar (whether O-O or C-C) ... but practice could vary among Mfrs.

    A bar that is advertised or spec'd as "wider" than your existing bar, might or might not be much different than your old bar.

  10. #10
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    Listening to people and applying formulas can get crazy, everyone has an opinion. I find myself in that dilemma. My old bike has 44cm bars and my current bike has 42cm bars.

    If I choose bars according to my shoulder width, I would be using 44cm bars. The guy at the LBS told me to go with 42cm bars and if I didn't like them to come back and exchange them for 44cm bars.

    Well, I've been using the 42's for a year and really like them especially when in the drops. I do admit, I have less options for hand positions unlike the 44's, but I ride mostly on the hoods or in the drops. With that said, I guess it becomes a personal choice... right?

  11. #11
    eRacer
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    I measure 38, but 42 feels so good that I ride a 44; or is it the other way around?
    Could you pass me the tape measure?
    John Lapoint / San Diego
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  12. #12
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    You have proved my point

    as I said, there are numerous methods of measurement. I did not say that there is only one method. Your position was that there was no method.

    Quote Originally Posted by danl1
    Nonsense.

    Ask a dozen metrics-based 'experts' on bike fit, and you'll get at least a half-dozen answers about exactly which shoulder point should be measured. Then there's variation about which posture should be taken when making this measurement. Finally, there's interpretation about what should be done with the number, relative to the measurement of the bars - C-C or O-O distance, at the drops or the hoods, add or deduct some amount, and so on. It's also changed quite a bit over time.

    I can easily and honestly get a 'correct' answer from 42-46, which is no answer at all. For the record, I regularily ride bikes of that range and wider, and they are all 'right' for their specific purposes. The tandem has a 46, as the added leverage is useful. The main bike is a 44, and is decent but catches more air than it needs to. A 43 or 42 works out a bit better in that regard, but the 44's are slightly more comfortable due to a wrist injury. My old school road bike was factory fitted with 40's (on a 61cm frame) and cuts a nice swath through the air. Compromises handling in crit-like conditions a bit, though.

    Some folks concern themselves with breathing on narrower bars, but I find it more bothersome on bars that are too wide. There are real anatomic/physiological reasons why both of those can be valid constraints, that measuring any set of shoulder points cannot possibly capture.
    mohair_chair: And everyone knows that a menstruating woman attracts bears

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rollo Tommassi
    as I said, there are numerous methods of measurement. I did not say that there is only one method. Your position was that there was no method.
    Incorrect.

    There is an old saying:

    "The man with one watch knows what time it is. The man with two is never sure."

    If four formulas yield four different answers, then I still don't have an answer. Mutiple answers aren't answers, they are a range of guesses - my point exactly.

    If you wish, you can fall back to 'this formula works for me and some others,' and that may be true enough. However, it's reverse logic, really just figuring out what feels good and then inventing a measurement to describe it. There is no hard biomechanical logic that leads strictly measurement-based formulas, and can't possibly be. A tape measure cannot capture adequate information.
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  14. #14
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    Time is relative

    two watches are still two methods of measurement.

    Quote Originally Posted by danl1
    Incorrect.

    There is an old saying:

    "The man with one watch knows what time it is. The man with two is never sure."

    If four formulas yield four different answers, then I still don't have an answer. Mutiple answers aren't answers, they are a range of guesses - my point exactly.

    If you wish, you can fall back to 'this formula works for me and some others,' and that may be true enough. However, it's reverse logic, really just figuring out what feels good and then inventing a measurement to describe it. There is no hard biomechanical logic that leads strictly measurement-based formulas, and can't possibly be. A tape measure cannot capture adequate information.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rollo Tommassi
    two watches are still two methods of measurement.
    And your point would be???

    The goal is not a 'method of measurement', and it's certainly not two (or three, or more) methods of measurement. The goal is an answer - only one, and one that is correct.

    There is no single method to achieve a single answer that is correct in every circumstance, or for every rider, and no meaningful way to choose between the various possiblities.
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  16. #16
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    I ride a 40. Recommended is between 40-44.

    44 is most comfortable, but 40 is the shortest I can go before impaired breathing. That's a good rule of thumb -- as short as possible before breathing is compromised.

  17. #17
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    Yes

    That I agree with you. But to state that there are NO methods of measurements contradicts what you've just said. That is my confusion in your position. If there are no methods that work, then I can stand across the room and say that you need a 54cm frame and a 110cm stem. I'm sure you can adapt to that position and ride just fine.

    I kinda like the idea that there are no methods of measurement; I could interpret the ten commandments as I see fit, while some people follow them verbatim. yet most people find them to be fairly reasonable as a guide for behaving in the world.

    You've hit the nail on the head by saying "there is no single method..." That's a great sentence. But I've found that by becoming familiar with and understanding the various schools of thought on bike fit (and, if I may be so immodest to say several hundred bike fits over the years) that I can come to a collaborative conclusion with a rider that is "an answer". Without a set of tools and some sort of biomechanical starting point, I could just fit people online and pull "an answer" out of the air. Like the guy at the hardware store who, when I asked him if he had a pitch gauge he said "i just use a nut and see if it threads on". Well, I said, I like to use tools, it's part of my job, and I like to measure things not merely guess at trial and error. If I measure a riders' shoulder at 38cm I'm not going to recommend a 46cm bar so he/she can climb, sprint or carry a pizza box more easily.

    To digress, what I don't get is why are there such narrow choices between bar widths (no pun intended), ie, 42-44-46. If there is no difference for a rider from 42 to 44 why have a 44? Shoot me now about the whole c-c vs. outer to outer measurement. Who is in charge of these measurements anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by danl1
    And your point would be???

    The goal is not a 'method of measurement', and it's certainly not two (or three, or more) methods of measurement. The goal is an answer - only one, and one that is correct.

    There is no single method to achieve a single answer that is correct in every circumstance, or for every rider, and no meaningful way to choose between the various possiblities.
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  18. #18
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    No contradiction at all.

    Say you 'measure' a person at 42. Fine. First, that doesn't mean it's 'the' answer for everyone with the same physical measurement. There is not a single worthwhile fitter that would hold that as true. If you hold that everyone with that measurement needs to ride those bars, you are just.plain.wrong. In that sense alone, my original statement is true.

    Moreover, that measurement is highly subjective. Some argue the measurement standing upright, some in a riding position, some from the outside edges of this, the top point of that, and so on. Add the variation that presents, and there is no way a rational person can say that there is a formula that 'works.'

    So without realizing it, you are doing the fitting by eye and feel. Having a tape measure in your hand gives you a misplaced sense of confidence in what you are doing, and the impression in the mind of the person you are fitting that it's somehow 'scientific', but the fact is you are simply making a judgement call. If nothing else, you've made a judgement as to which so-called 'expert' you've chosen to believe. Your judgement has more effect on the outcome than your tape measure. Hence, it's no formula at all, simply judgement masquerading as a formula.


    On the other hand, you are going too far the other way with the 'across the room' silliness. Obviously, gross measurements are useful to get one on the right size frame, and usually within a cm or three on seat height. And once saddle setback is worked out (KOPS is not at all meaningful for the purpose, while we're wandering from topic) gross measurements get within a couple cm's on stem length and bar width. But since those are incremental goods, 'close' is no answer at all.

    Bottom line, measurements are useful for getting the right size bike. That has little to do with fit.

    Sizing on bars makes perfect sense to me. There's only a reasonable range that makes any sense (no one needs 20 cm or 60 cm drop bars, for instance.) But it's not hard to find 36's if you really need them, and I've a pair of 48's should anyone ever find use. In the meaty part of the bell curve, even-numbered increments are plenty. Anyone suggesting that someone needs a 43 instead of a 42 needs to put down the crack pipe. Some increment is needed, but 5mm on either side is goofy.

    The frustrating bit is when you do want a specific measurement in a specific model and it's not available. I could sell a bunch of K-wings if they made an honest 46.
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  19. #19
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    Now I get it

    Thank you for challenging my interpretation of your position. Can we say that the formula works only if the parties involved collaborate? (I may regret that sentence, go ahead!)

    I am always at odds with my presumption that I know what is right for a customer, or that what I "do" is a science at all. It's a sticky position to be in, a collision of Art vs. Commerce, where you are there to give an opinion and a recommendation to the best of your experience...and they pay for it. Above all though, my enjoyment of working with riders comes not from prescribing an answer but from noting a measurement 'x', suggesting what that may mean to them, and perhaps trying 'y' to see how they feel. The 'aha' of what they prefer is the fun part, sometimes that happens on a trainer, sometimes sixty miles into a ride.

    When I sit in a seminar with an 'expert' it is good sport to throw out their dicta or their reliance upon lasers and sticky dots that purportedly give 'the answer'. There are others who are much more holistic. The former usually have 'DR' before their first name, the latter do not.

    Can you talk more about working out saddle setback? (pm me if more convenient)
    thanks


    Quote Originally Posted by danl1
    No contradiction at all.

    Say you 'measure' a person at 42. Fine. First, that doesn't mean it's 'the' answer for everyone with the same physical measurement. There is not a single worthwhile fitter that would hold that as true. If you hold that everyone with that measurement needs to ride those bars, you are just.plain.wrong. In that sense alone, my original statement is true.

    Moreover, that measurement is highly subjective. Some argue the measurement standing upright, some in a riding position, some from the outside edges of this, the top point of that, and so on. Add the variation that presents, and there is no way a rational person can say that there is a formula that 'works.'

    So without realizing it, you are doing the fitting by eye and feel. Having a tape measure in your hand gives you a misplaced sense of confidence in what you are doing, and the impression in the mind of the person you are fitting that it's somehow 'scientific', but the fact is you are simply making a judgement call. If nothing else, you've made a judgement as to which so-called 'expert' you've chosen to believe. Your judgement has more effect on the outcome than your tape measure. Hence, it's no formula at all, simply judgement masquerading as a formula.


    On the other hand, you are going too far the other way with the 'across the room' silliness. Obviously, gross measurements are useful to get one on the right size frame, and usually within a cm or three on seat height. And once saddle setback is worked out (KOPS is not at all meaningful for the purpose, while we're wandering from topic) gross measurements get within a couple cm's on stem length and bar width. But since those are incremental goods, 'close' is no answer at all.

    Bottom line, measurements are useful for getting the right size bike. That has little to do with fit.

    Sizing on bars makes perfect sense to me. There's only a reasonable range that makes any sense (no one needs 20 cm or 60 cm drop bars, for instance.) But it's not hard to find 36's if you really need them, and I've a pair of 48's should anyone ever find use. In the meaty part of the bell curve, even-numbered increments are plenty. Anyone suggesting that someone needs a 43 instead of a 42 needs to put down the crack pipe. Some increment is needed, but 5mm on either side is goofy.

    The frustrating bit is when you do want a specific measurement in a specific model and it's not available. I could sell a bunch of K-wings if they made an honest 46.
    mohair_chair: And everyone knows that a menstruating woman attracts bears

    buy my old bike stuff: https://sites.google.com/site/carbonscyclingcloset/

    my playlist on Blip.fm: http://blip.fm/rollotommassi

  20. #20
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    Thanks for the responses.

    Cheers.

  21. #21
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    I came up with an interesting way of measuring people up for bars.

    Have the person do a couple of push ups (number depends on condition of person, enough to induce a little muscular stress), then have them stop and stand up. Then tell them to do more push ups. When they get into the push up position, measure the distance between the middle of their hands. That should give you their bar size, C-C.

    By putting the muscles at stress first we trick the subconscious into activating survival mode. This automatically puts the hands in the most efficient position.

    I'm not sure it matters but make sure the person is bending the elbows back and not out.

  22. #22
    So. Calif.
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    Quote Originally Posted by funktekk
    ... Have the person do a couple of push ups (number depends on condition of person, enough to induce a little muscular stress), then have them stop and stand up. Then tell them to do more push ups. When they get into the push up position, measure the distance between the middle of their hands. That should give you their bar size, C-C.

    By putting the muscles at stress first we trick the subconscious into activating survival mode. This automatically puts the hands in the most efficient position. ...
    But arms & hands aren't in that much stress during cycling -- wondering how relevant this test is ??

  23. #23
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    ok boys... what about TT bars? how do you decide how wide to place the elbow pads?
    * not actually a Rock Star

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