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  1. #1
    Senior Member jgjulio's Avatar
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    Road bike handlebar question

    I picked up a new 2009 Fuji Newest 1.0 for a great price during a Performance Bike clearance sale.

    http://2009.fujibikes.com/Road/Sport/Newest10.aspx

    I really like the bike but am having trouble adjusting to the handlebar diameter (circumference). They feel too narrow to me. Compared to other road bikes I ride these "feel" too skinny.

    The handlebars are listed as being 26mm Anatomical Drops.
    I don't know what the 26mm means - is that the circumference of the bar?

    My question:

    1. would using the gel pads that go under the bar tape help. The mechanic at the LBS stated that the gel pads make the handlebar feel too squishy.
    (He suggested that I use gel gloves - I do and although it helps the bars still feel too skinny)
    Or

    2. Should I change the handlebar. If so what suggestions would you guys have for an inexpensive aluminum handlebar? What are the usual handlebar circumferences?

    Thanks
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  2. #2
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgjulio View Post
    I picked up a new 2009 Fuji Newest 1.0 for a great price during a Performance Bike clearance sale.

    http://2009.fujibikes.com/Road/Sport/Newest10.aspx

    I really like the bike but am having trouble adjusting to the handlebar diameter (circumference). They feel too narrow to me. Compared to other road bikes I ride these "feel" too skinny.

    The handlebars are listed as being 26mm Anatomical Drops.
    I don't know what the 26mm means - is that the circumference of the bar?

    My question:

    1. would using the gel pads that go under the bar tape help. The mechanic at the LBS stated that the gel pads make the handlebar feel too squishy.
    (He suggested that I use gel gloves - I do and although it helps the bars still feel too skinny)
    Or

    2. Should I change the handlebar. If so what suggestions would you guys have for an inexpensive aluminum handlebar? What are the usual handlebar circumferences?

    Thanks
    The 26mm refers to the diameter of the handlebar at the stem. It means that they aren't oversized (31.8mm). The width of the bar is measured across the bar at the brake hoods (outside to outside). That width can come in a variety of widths. It's usually tied to the size of the bike but not always. They should be somewhat proportional to your shoulders. It's a relatively easy fix but will require retaping and moving the levers from one bar to the next.

    The tape and the gloves won't do anything for the width, i.e. from brake lever to brake lever. It will increase the diameter of the bar, i.e. what you wrap your hands around.

    There are lots of bars out there in a range of prices and bends. I'd suggest you get the width of the ones you have now and then go looking for something wider. If you like the bend of the ones that are currently on the bike, perhaps trading up to a wider size of those is most prudent.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    There are lots of bars out there in a range of prices and bends. I'd suggest you get the width of the ones you have now and then go looking for something wider. If you like the bend of the ones that are currently on the bike, perhaps trading up to a wider size of those is most prudent.
    I was under the impression that the OP was looking for bars that were the same width, but had a larger diameter. If that's the case, it may be difficult to find; I've tried several different bars and the diameter was almost the same. An aero bar, such as the 3T Ergonova, will have a larger diameter on the flat area near the stem, but the drops will probably be about the same as any other bar.

  4. #4
    Senior Member jgjulio's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply cyccommute.
    I should have made myself clearer. I am talking about the circumferece of the handelbar where I wrap my hands around. I am also going to look at the width (brake lever to brake lever).

    Thanks again
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  5. #5
    Senior Member spthealien's Avatar
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    Changing the bars for me has created a far more comfortable cycling experience. I found a bar that was about the same width as my shoulders (44). It also has a flatter area on the tops (the area immediately by the stem) where I spend 90% of my hands-on-bar time. They are the Control Tech Formidable. Along with the saddle and the 700x25 tires, it helps out big time in comfort.


  6. #6
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    You might need to rewrap the bars with thicker wrap and/or more overlap on the tape. This will increase the diameter of the bar. I've read of some riders actually using a second layer of tape. More overlap will mean you need more tape to wrap the bars.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    Specialized sells those foam/gel inserts that go below the bar tape. They don't add that much thickness to the bars, though. I increased the width of my bars, by adding closed-cell foam along the top and a little to the back of my bar, and under the bar tape.

    I cut, shaved, and shaped some really spongy 8 mm thick (about 1/3 inch) closed-cell foam that was used to wrap some computer parts sent to my work (have a no throw-away and 100% recycle/re-use policy on such things at work). Closed-cell foam does not absorb water, and the roll-up/wrap-up kind that they pack computer parts in is very compressable, bendable, and tacky to the touch. In increase in diameter spreads the load across my hands better, making it easier to keep my fingers from going numb. It was perfect.

    I simply:

    1. Cut out strips of foam long enough to start a couple of inches from where the bar tape begins near the center stem, out and around to where the brakes attach.
    2. Shaved all of the edges of the foam to about a 45 degree angle. You won't notice if it is perfect or not, because it will be compressed under the bar tape.
    3. Then I wrapped the bar tape pretty tightly, so that the foam was compressed about half as thick as before.


    This makes the foam pretty firm to the touch. You can tell that it is softer than aluminum or carbon, but it is a lot firmer than double-wrapped bar-tape or gel inserts. The only time that I actually feel it "give", is when I hit a pothole or something. The biggest difference that I feel is in how it dampens small and sharp vibrations from the road, especially on roads made with lots of small and rough aggregate (chip-and-seal).

    The above option is cheaper than getting new bars, but probably too much trouble for many people. I like playing around with things like that on my bike. If you don't, I would consider asking your favorite local bike shop if you can try-out some spare/old handlebars for a few days at-a-time, with the promise that you will buy a new set like them when you make up your mind. Most bike shops have stuff like that laying around from customers that switch-out their old ones from new and used bikes. That way, you can find a bar that you really like.

    Last edited by Pinyon; 10-27-09 at 10:26 AM.
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  8. #8
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgjulio View Post
    Thanks for the reply cyccommute.
    I should have made myself clearer. I am talking about the circumferece of the handelbar where I wrap my hands around. I am also going to look at the width (brake lever to brake lever).

    Thanks again
    The diameter of the bars at the brake levers is going to be the same on all handlebars. They may be wider at the stem but outside of that, they are going to be around 1" in diameter because of the brake mounting mechanism.

    You could use two wraps of cork tape to get a wider diameter or use Delta's Aztec Vibewrap system. Coupled with cork bar tape that makes the bars pretty big in diameter. It's kind of a pain to put on...and take off...but I've had good luck with it for touring bikes.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgjulio View Post
    The mechanic at the LBS stated that the gel pads make the handlebar feel too squishy.
    What the mech meant to say (although he did not know it) is the gel pads make the bar feel too squshy for him. SOme people like it a lot, and you may be one of those people.

    As said above, bars are all pretty much the same diameter in order to mount brake levers, and you can try double-wrapped tape to thicken it up a bit too.

  10. #10
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spthealien View Post
    Changing the bars for me has created a far more comfortable cycling experience. I found a bar that was about the same width as my shoulders (44). It also has a flatter area on the tops (the area immediately by the stem) where I spend 90% of my hands-on-bar time. They are the Control Tech Formidable. Along with the saddle and the 700x25 tires, it helps out big time in comfort.

    This would be the way to go. I have lots of friends that use the wing style bars. Some more expensive models have the finger tip grips molded underneath. Nice but expensive.

    Although there are some inexpensive aluminum models at Perfomance. I'm surprised the shop boys didn't direct you towards them.

    Some other riders double wrap the tape on the bars for added grip and comfort. I don't think i'd do it but I have no problems with any daimeter bar tubing.

  11. #11
    Senior Member spthealien's Avatar
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    I saw the wing bars they had at Performance and wasn't too impressed. I did find the Formidable bars for just over $100 in San Diego and also double-taped them. The most comfortable bars I've ever used.

  12. #12
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spthealien View Post
    I saw the wing bars they had at Performance and wasn't too impressed. I did find the Formidable bars for just over $100 in San Diego and also double-taped them. The most comfortable bars I've ever used.
    Oh! I don't have anything experience with that style of bars so I can't compare, be impressed or unimpressed! I just see lots of riders using and raving about that style compared to traditional bars.

    $100 aint bad! Are the bars CF or aluminum?

  13. #13
    Senior Member spthealien's Avatar
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    They would be Al, sir. I' take a CF frame, but the bars--they will always be Aluminum. I'd fear the day my bike slides or tilts too much and falls on the ground while I'm putting my shoes on. Then the bars would be toast for sure.

  14. #14
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Ah, cool. That would be the one thing I wouldn't want CF.

  15. #15
    Senior Member jgjulio's Avatar
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    Thank you - very helpful replies.
    One more question:
    Will a handlebar that is 31.8 fit on a stem that has had a 26mm handlebar on it?
    The Fuji Newest 1.0 has a 26mm handlebar - do I need to stay with a 26 or will the stem on this bike fit a larger diameter?
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgjulio View Post
    Thank you - very helpful replies.
    One more question:
    Will a handlebar that is 31.8 fit on a stem that has had a 26mm handlebar on it?
    The Fuji Newest 1.0 has a 26mm handlebar - do I need to stay with a 26 or will the stem on this bike fit a larger diameter?
    Stems have several measurements, steerer size (where the stem attaches to the top of the fork) clamp size (the one where the stem mounts to the handlebars) length (distance from the center of the steerer to the center of the bars) and angle (in degrees offset from perpendicular to the steerer, they can be flipped for up/down). You'll need a stem to match your existing steerer and your new bars. finding the right length and angle is a matter of fit, or making the bike most comfortable for the rider.
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  17. #17
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgjulio View Post
    Will a handlebar that is 31.8 fit on a stem that has had a 26mm handlebar on it?
    The 26 clamping area of the handlebars is about 1 in (1.014) diameter. The 31.8 is about 1 1/4 inch (1.240).......Stay with the clamp and handlebar as they are engineed to one another.

    If you try to fit a big bar on a small stem, the stem bolts might not be long enough. If you try to fit a 31 stem on a 26 bar, that would be like wearing a real big diamond ring on a skinny finger. Too loose ans you're gonna lose it!

    Breaking yor face to save a few bucks? Don't do it!

    In your case, the stem's inside radius diameter of the clamping area will be too small to fit around the bigger radius of the oversized bars.


    A 31 bar trying to fit into a 26 stem, nope aint happenin'!!! Like a size 40 Clyde trying to fit into size 28 501 button up Levis!

    Last edited by Mr. Beanz; 10-27-09 at 05:09 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    Many bars are available in both 26 and 31.8 sizing.. The wing bars are definitely the way to go, I would also consider trying a shallow depth bar.. This makes the position from the hoods to drops much closer. Many bigs riders do no use the drops very often and having shallow bars make this a more comfortable position so it would get a little more use..

    FSA makes a reasonably priced wing pro shallow bar but is only available in 31.8 size.. Most wing bars I have seen are only in 31.8 size..

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by socalrider View Post
    FSA makes a reasonably priced wing pro shallow bar but is only available in 31.8 size.. Most wing bars I have seen are only in 31.8 size..
    The 3T Ergonova is the best wing bar I've used, but I have to admit that I'm partial to the 3T ergonomic bend. Stems aren't that expensive, all things considered. My favorite, the shim-adjustable Specialized Comp-Set, is only $45 and reasonably light-weight. Jenson USA is currently closing out the Easton EA70 stem for $20 and there are cheaper options available.

  20. #20
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    Take a look at Salsa's bars. I was looking at a Salsa Fargo bike at a shop and they had bars on them called Woodchipper. They are nice fat bars. http://www.salsacycles.com/handlebars_road.html

  21. #21
    Senior Member jgjulio's Avatar
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    Got it! Thanks.
    I realized in this discussion that I am more comfortable with the handlebar on my Specialized Sequoia because it is a 1. shallow drop and 2. has a flat "perch" on the top that feels wider and comfy.

    Now to look for a handlebar that is more my liking .... darn I have to visit bike shops .... my wife always worries because it is dangerous for me to go to bike shops (N+1 and all).

    I have no problem with changing the stem on the Fuji to accept a 31.8 handlebar.
    No problem right?
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgjulio View Post
    Got it! Thanks.
    I realized in this discussion that I am more comfortable with the handlebar on my Specialized Sequoia because it is a 1. shallow drop and 2. has a flat "perch" on the top that feels wider and comfy.

    Now to look for a handlebar that is more my liking .... darn I have to visit bike shops .... my wife always worries because it is dangerous for me to go to bike shops (N+1 and all).

    I have no problem with changing the stem on the Fuji to accept a 31.8 handlebar.
    No problem right?
    No problem at all... as long as the stem you get has the right diameter for clamping the steerer tube on your fork, and the height of the steerer clamp is sufficient to allow headset adjustment (the stem + spacers must be slightly taller than the steerer tube so the topcap can push the stem down and preload the bearings.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Saltybeagle's Avatar
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    double wrapping (2 bar tapes) will make it thicker.

  24. #24
    Senior Member BigPolishJimmy's Avatar
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    It's kinda oldschool and suited to an older beater bike, but I just recently wrapped a road bike with innertubes first on the top portion of the bar and then put the bar tape on. Actually I used hockey tape on top because I rarely ride this bike and it was a lot cheaper. Don't know how it will hold up yet but it looks nice.

  25. #25
    Senior Member bbeck's Avatar
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    if you like the bar on the sequoia can you not buy one from a specialized dealer or are they different in the way they mount?
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