Handlebar width?
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  1. #1
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    Handlebar width?

    How do you know what size handlebars to use?

  2. #2
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    Everyone has their "the only answer" formula. The real answer is whatever's most comfortable for you.

    I tend to use narrower bars than most with my shoulder width, both on my upright mtb/commuter bike and the drop bar road bikes. I find I'm more comfortable, and have better control with my hands a bit inboard and elbows bent. (I also came to like narrow bars when maneuvering through NYC traffic and it stuck)

    By the time you're in a position to select handlebar width you should have been riding a while and determined your own preference. Trust your judgment and you'll be fine.
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  3. #3
    fun2none
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    Here's another thread on handlebar width.
    Handlebar Sizing

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by fun2none
    Here's another thread on handlebar width.
    Handlebar Sizing
    thanks for the link, I would of done a better search but I was on my ipod. lol
    the link was very helpful. thanks

  5. #5
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    I recently switched to 42's from 44's. To me it's made a huge difference. I feel like I have more power out of the saddle (which seems counter-intuitive) and more stability when seated. They a slightly shorter reach which has also made me more comfortable. I wish I'd done it sooner. So keep in mind reach AND width when considering new bars.
    Good luck!

  6. #6
    pmf
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    Narrower bars are more aero dynamic, but wider bars allow you to breath easier. I go with the breathing easier and ride 44 cm bars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf
    Narrower bars are more aero dynamic, but wider bars allow you to breath easier. I go with the breathing easier and ride 44 cm bars.
    While I have heard this thrown around I haven't noticed any difference in my breathing with narrower bars.

  8. #8
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    I've been using 42cm bars, and the ones on my commuter measure 40. I went for a 1.5h ride on the commuter and my shoulders got very uncomfortable. I think the "breathing" argument is a load of bull, and the amount of extra frontal area added by the handlebars is negligible compared to what you already have from your body. However, I will buy that there is a comfortable range for everyone and you should look to find it. A good "start" is generally measure your acromial width (bony landmarks on shoulders) in cm and find the bar closest to that. Pick it up, see how it feels, and go from there.

  9. #9
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by aengbretson
    I've been using 42cm bars, and the ones on my commuter measure 40. I went for a 1.5h ride on the commuter and my shoulders got very uncomfortable. I think the "breathing" argument is a load of bull, and the amount of extra frontal area added by the handlebars is negligible compared to what you already have from your body. However, I will buy that there is a comfortable range for everyone and you should look to find it. A good "start" is generally measure your acromial width (bony landmarks on shoulders) in cm and find the bar closest to that. Pick it up, see how it feels, and go from there.
    How can it be a load -- Lance Armstrong said it!

  10. #10
    eRacer
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY
    Everyone has their "the only answer" formula. The real answer is whatever's most comfortable for you.

    I tend to use narrower bars than most with my shoulder width, both on my upright mtb/commuter bike and the drop bar road bikes. I find I'm more comfortable, and have better control with my hands a bit inboard and elbows bent. (I also came to like narrow bars when maneuvering through NYC traffic and it stuck)

    By the time you're in a position to select handlebar width you should have been riding a while and determined your own preference. Trust your judgment and you'll be fine.
    Totally agree.
    Bars go from 38 to 44.
    The narrow bars are nice for close pack racing or crowded commutes.
    I think most use 42, but again this is personal preference and comfort.
    Unless you 'have' to get new bars, ride what you have for a while before investing in expensive bars.

    John
    John Lapoint / San Diego
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tober1
    While I have heard this thrown around I haven't noticed any difference in my breathing with narrower bars.
    Same here. I prefer bars one size smaller than my shoulder width - Plus, I challange anyone to accurately measure shoulder width across the back without the curve of the back messing up the measurement.

  12. #12
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    I have to agree about questioning the whole "breath easier" argument for larger bars. Take your hands out in front of you in a riding position - then open them up 2 cm. The effect at your chest is minimal.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by VanillaGorila
    thanks for the link, I would of done a better search but I was on my ipod. lol
    the link was very helpful. thanks
    I just hope you weren't also riding a bike while punching in this thread on your little portable machine

  14. #14
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by natedg200202
    I have to agree about questioning the whole "breath easier" argument for larger bars. Take your hands out in front of you in a riding position - then open them up 2 cm. The effect at your chest is minimal.
    I dunno, you get people here saying the difference between 172.5 and 175 is big -- and thats 2.5 mm.

  15. #15
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    ^ And to contribute something of use to the thread...

    See those 40 cm bars in my sig that are collecting dust? Got them on a bike, rode the bike twice and said, "Hmm, my neck and shoulders are getting really sore? What's going on?" I measured the bars - 40 cm wide. The bars I normally ride are 42 cm.

    I agree that it seems implausible that your body will take note of 2 cms. But, after thousands of miles on 42 bars, I guess my body had adjust to them. (I got the 40's a used bike I bought).

    Measure your shoulder width to get an idea. Also, ride the ones you have. You really aren't going to know what feels best and what works until you ride some bars a few times, or more than a few. Just one of those things that no one on the internet and no chart can tell you for sure.

    Good luck.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by nayr497
    ^ And to contribute something of use to the thread...

    See those 40 cm bars in my sig that are collecting dust? Got them on a bike, rode the bike twice and said, "Hmm, my neck and shoulders are getting really sore? What's going on?" I measured the bars - 40 cm wide. The bars I normally ride are 42 cm.

    I agree that it seems implausible that your body will take note of 2 cms. But, after thousands of miles on 42 bars, I guess my body had adjust to them. (I got the 40's a used bike I bought).

    Measure your shoulder width to get an idea. Also, ride the ones you have. You really aren't going to know what feels best and what works until you ride some bars a few times, or more than a few. Just one of those things that no one on the internet and no chart can tell you for sure.

    Good luck.
    Did you order 42cm Deda bars - and then found out that they're measured O-O and therefore are really more similar to a 40 cm bar in the more conventional C-C measurement?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camilo
    Did you order 42cm Deda bars - and then found out that they're measured O-O and therefore are really more similar to a 40 cm bar in the more conventional C-C measurement?
    Yep, I did that and in doing so realized that I am much more comfortable on narrower bars. I always rode with 42s because a great fitter at Excel measured my shoulders and said that is the right size. However everyone's anatomy is different, particularly as you get older and previous injuries accumulate. I definitely prefer the wider bars out of the saddle, but when seated the narrower bars are more comfortable.

    As for the breathing and aerodynamics question, I think breathing makes more sense.

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