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Old 07-17-07, 06:57 AM   #1
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handlebar advice needed

I am 6' tall and weigh 214lbs. I have just bought a "new" used cf road bike. It is a 58 Kona King Zing and came with a 120mm FSA K-Force Stem and 44cm FSA K-Wing Bar.The bar has a 90mm reach. Unfortunately in order to get comfortable I have had to put the saddle far forward in what would almost be a time trial position. In an effort to remedy this, I have installed a 90mm stem and this has helped enormously, but I would still like to get back another little bit. In addition I am not crazy about the K-Wing bar. Consequently I have been trying to find a carbon bar with a shorter reach. I am also trying to decide between a 42 and 44cm bar. I am 64yo and live in SW Florida so climbing is not an issue. I do pretty fast training rides with two different groups and once a month we do a time trial. When I plugged in my stats on it came up 44 for bar width, but I wonder if 42 might be more useful aerodynamically.

So, I need some advice on two issues. Which size should it be and can anybody make some suggestions for a carbon handlebar with a reach shorter than 90mm. If this is not an appropriate forum for this discussion, please let me know which would be more suitable.

Fort Myers, Florida
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Old 07-17-07, 09:02 AM   #2
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I just switched one of my road bikes from a 44 to a 42. I don't know about any aerodynamic advantage, but it sure is more comfortable. You have to have really, really broad shoulders to really need a 44. My understanding is that you want a bar that is close to the width of your shoulders, but not the flesh, the shoulder joint. This allows a straighter reach and facilicates the use of the arm muscles in better ways. Sorry I can't say anything about bars with a shorter reach.
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Old 07-17-07, 09:20 AM   #3
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As with all rules, individuals invite exceptions. Traditionally, bar width (center to center) should match that bony bump at the end of your shoulder. I've gone wider over the years. My first serious bike (21 inches 24 years ago) came with 38cm bars. (More aero is better?)

I'm 5'8" and fairly average (medium shirt size) and my bar width has crept up thru 42 to currently 44cm which I find works very well. I even have a 46cm on one bike......which also works well for climbing and general riding. 42 would feel noticably narrow to me now.

One reason for the creep up in bar width was the idea that it "opens" up your chest for better breathing. I tend to think there's something to that from my experience gasping up some hills.
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Old 07-17-07, 09:25 AM   #4
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Forget carbon stems. Thomson X2 is the best bang for the buck and comes in silver or black. Very stiff and looks good also. Bar width is subjective in my opinion. At your size and bike frame size most everyone is going to tell you a 44 c-to-c bar is correct. Not sure you are going to get much aero advantage with a slightly more narrow bar.

Correct your stem length first. Set your seat in a comfy position(relative to knee position and height) and figure out what length stem you really need. Suspect you may like the FSA bar once you get the right position unless you have very small hands relative to everything else.

Another option: Go to a good LBS with bike in tow for a pro fitting session. $150 or so but it might be worth it.

A good stiff handlebar with a fairly short reach is the ITM wing shape carbon over alum. With the smallest hands in the land, I pay attention to these things.
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Old 07-17-07, 10:55 AM   #5
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I like wider bars myself. But a narrower bar would also decrease the arm reach at a given stem length.
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Old 07-17-07, 11:01 AM   #6
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Narrow bars make will make you more aero but you can decide comfort vs performance. One way to measure is just to take broom stick and hold it as you would the bars, see what feels most comfortable and measure. I found that works better for me than trying to use shoulder measurements.

Carbon bars look nice but there is not much weight savings over Al hydroformed bars. The price difference though is astronomical. Also consider in bike crashes your bars almost always get dinged. Do you want to pony up another $200-$300 for CF bars if the bike goes down?
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Old 07-17-07, 11:27 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by stonecrd
. Also consider in bike crashes your bars almost always get dinged. Do you want to pony up another $200-$300 for CF bars if the bike goes down?
+1. A friend hit a dog a few days ago on his Roubaix Pro. He went over the bars dislocating his shoulder, and his trick carbon bars simply snapped. Even if they hadn't, after that kind of crash he would be doubtful about using them fearing failure. There comes a point for the nonprofessional where........
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Old 07-17-07, 12:39 PM   #8
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Not carbon, but the Ritchie Biomax (II) is a shorter reach/shorter drop road bar that many folks find comfortable.
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Old 07-17-07, 08:06 PM   #9
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No carbon forks, stems, or bars for me; too many horror stories of failure.
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