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Old 09-03-13, 10:11 AM   #1
Bikedud
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Changes Over Time

For almost thirty years, I have used 44cm drop bars. At some point early on, I was told that I needed 44cm bars because I have broad shoulders and I never questioned the advice. I was also unaware of having any issues using them. But.......
About a year ago, I built up a new steel road bike, and when I went searching for a set of bars on the cheap, all we had in the shop "take off/used" box was some nice Ritchey Pro Logics in 42cm. I was in a hurry to finish the build, so I went ahead and built it up with the Ritchey 42's (thinking I would swap them later). After a couple of thousand miles, I have come to realize that I actually like the feel of the narrower bars and found them to be comfortable, especially on longer rides.
All this leads me to wonder if anyone else has experienced similar changes over time. I know many of us have raised our stems over the years as our bodies change with age, but I don't really think this was an "age" thing. What do you think? What modifications have you made over time, and do you think they were age related or not?
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Old 09-03-13, 10:19 AM   #2
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Somewhere I heard that most bars are too wide for most people. Maybe you should have had 42's all along?

To the point - Yes, I have raised (and changed) the stem, and, yes, it was an age and comfort thing. A new saddle this year - for some reason the 13yo saddle started bothering me something terrible, yet for 13 years it was OK. Maybe it just wore out??

Also, I find inline brakes really useful, contrary to 99% of other folks,

YMMV - in fact it SURELY will!!
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Old 09-03-13, 11:35 AM   #3
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Maybe you should have had 42's all along?
That's kinda what I'm thinking too.
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Old 09-03-13, 12:21 PM   #4
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I've gone from 62 frames to 58's. Like you I've reduced the bar width considerably. I've kept the seat post height and the bar height about the same on all builds. I've gone from heavier bikes and wheels to lighter bikes and wheels as well.
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Old 09-03-13, 12:28 PM   #5
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My first serious bike had 39cm (measured) handlebars ... just what it came with. I never really noticed they were so narrow until I bought my next bike, which has 42 cm bars. I have the same reaction ... I think I prefer the narrower ones.
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Old 09-03-13, 03:45 PM   #6
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Our bodies change which is not surprising as nothing else in the universe stays the same. Even though my bike is comfortable, I frequently change bar or seat height looking for the elusive perfect fit. Sometimes I find a combination that is better and sometimes worst. I am in no way suggestion that if you are happily married you experiment in similar fashion.
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Old 09-04-13, 08:23 AM   #7
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I prefer the narrow bar feelthat we had back in the 1970s. So, I've swapped in 38 cm ergo bars on my modern carbon bike. The others already had narrow bars. The tourer has Nitto Randonneur bars that flare outward at the bend, but are narrow on top. They're comfy, too.
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Old 09-05-13, 09:15 AM   #8
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Sign me up as favoring narrow handlebars on road bikes. As someone above said - 'the first bike had narrow, and we never knew any different'. Just measured the '81 AD with 38cm (CtC). The newer bikes are 40cm. The tandem is appropriately wider. I'm 6'1".
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Old 09-05-13, 09:54 AM   #9
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On my track bike, I changed to the 34 cm Scatto 3T bars. A couple of years ago, the Brits claimed they were .1 seconds faster in the flying 200 meter. I did a 2 hour structured track session a couple of weeks ago and the total mileage was 34 miles going around the 250 meter track. Most trackies have gone to narrower bars.



I have broad shoulders. On my road bike, I have a 44 cm bar. I tried the 42 cm but the wider one seems more comfortable. My posture goal is to have my shoulders down and relaxed and maintain a lighter touch on the handlebars keeping my spine straighter and the vertebrae better aligned. Over time, I have improved my hip flexibility and substantially improved my core strength and endurance. As such, I have lowered my handlebars and increased the stem length. I find this position more comfortable.
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Old 09-05-13, 11:17 AM   #10
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I've found that width is less of an issue for me than the bar shape. The reach in particular has an impact on where I can place my hands comfortably. It used to be, however, that any bar of any shape or size was cool. These days with OA in the hands, that's much less true.
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Old 09-05-13, 12:17 PM   #11
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I find that headtube length and bar shape determine my front cockpit characteristics. I love to ride in the drops on the AD because of the headtube, without an unusually tall stem.
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Old 09-05-13, 01:36 PM   #12
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Many years ago I was measured and told I should use 38cm bars . . . so I did. Not knowing any better, I thought they were alright. That is, until I was building up and bike and (much like the OP) only was able to get some 40cm bars.

Wow, what a difference! I liked them so much better I've stuck with 40cm ever since. I've tried 42's on someone else's bike for a short time and instantly felt they were too wide. So yes, sticking with 40's regardless of the "measurement" of my admittedly wimpy shoulders.

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Old 09-05-13, 02:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
My first serious bike had 39cm (measured) handlebars ... just what it came with. I never really noticed they were so narrow until I bought my next bike, which has 42 cm bars. I have the same reaction ... I think I prefer the narrower ones.
Tough to find the 39s in old style road drop bars anymore.
I've been looking for some for my lugged steel winter build
and it looks like I'll either have to settle for 40 Cinellis or
rip off my Trek for it's 39 Sakae Royals.

I know there's little difference but I've been riding with the
39 Sakae Royals forever now, on everything I've had and I've
always liked 'em.....A little more reach than the Cinellis so I will
try the others out at least to see how I like the 40s.

Bars should match the shoulder width about c/l to c/l.
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Old 09-05-13, 07:19 PM   #14
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Cranks with shorter arms. Used to use 175mm, now use 170mm and I might try a 165mm on a future build. The knee joints agree this was a great change, as they don't complain anymore after a long ride.

Shorter Stems. compared to 1970s-1980s bikes, it seem mftrs have made the newer bikes with longer top tubes. I like a 60cm (seat tube) bike, but I need to change the stem from the typical 120mm to 90mm.

Handlebars. I actually like wider bars. Most newer bikes I've bought have come with 40cm-42cm bars, I've replaced them with 44cm bars. Feels soooo much better!

(I have a lot of 70s-80s bikes, and a few from 2000 - 2008).
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Old 09-05-13, 07:24 PM   #15
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Measured, I should be 44 and that is what I ride. I have tried 42's and 40's but just feel too pinched. I will be sticking with 44's.
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Old 09-06-13, 07:01 AM   #16
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Having ridden road bikes since age 12, I found the Ritchey bars on my mountain bike a little too wide for comfort, so I hacked a couple of cm off each end, remounted my perpendicular bar end extensions, and enjoyed the ride. I guess this adjustability is the one benefit of flat bars over drops.

On a road bike, I find I am very sensitive to forward reach, i.e., seat-to-handlebar distance, which is a function of top tube length, stem reach, and, to a lesser extent, bar shape.

For drop bars, a 38cm width works fine for me; 36 feels just a bit squirrelly/twitchy, and 40 just feels wrong. Interesting that the upper body is so sensitive to this dimension ... .
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Old 09-06-13, 10:29 AM   #17
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I always rode 42s because that's what came on my bikes. I didn't think about because by conventional wisdom, my shoulder width also dictated 42.

When ordering a set of bars to try, I ordered 42, not realizing that this particular model was tapered. They felt weird, but nice when I first rode them. I measured, and found they were 39 across the hoods. I didn't like those bars for other reasons, but I've replaced all the bars on my bikes with 38s. I like those a lot. I'm not sure why, but I'm a lot more relaxed through the shoulders on them.
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Old 09-07-13, 08:38 AM   #18
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I've moved to the wide 44 bars on my last 2 bikes. I'm large built, with wide shoulders and a big chest chest so the extra width feels better and allows me to feel as if I am breathing more freely. (I know the few cm aren't really opening things much, it is the way it feels in my mind.) As far as stem height and length I have lowered my stem and turned the angle down as I have gained flexibility and lost weight. I have a 100mm length stem, a Cannondale C3, with a single 25mm spacer between the stem and headset cap. That is being changed this week, possibly today if I can get things sorted out, cutting that down to between 10-15mm whichever feels best riding. Bar shape is a shallow, non-ergo bend drop, a Cannondale C3, that feels good with easy reach for the brifters. Tape is Specialized Roubaix cork.

I ran a 38 width for a long time and a fairly long stem, both quill and thread-less systems, and a deep drop. Now the shallower, wider bars fall just right. It took a few trial and error fittings to find the set up for me. it was worth the effort and time.

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Old 09-07-13, 09:09 AM   #19
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Anything but 44 classic bends feel weird to me
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Old 09-07-13, 09:51 AM   #20
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Here is my 2012 Cervelo R3 with older bars and D/A components.



Here is my 2012 Cervelo R5 with 2012 Ritchey bars and SRAM Red components.



Note the shape of the bars where the grifters attach. On the older bars the brifters mount lower and the bars have a slight curve at the top. The newer bars are flatter at the top. When I started riding the new bars, I would get some hand pain and had to futz around with the angle and put an extra layer of tape on the bar at the brifter - millimeters matter. Also, the actuation of the older D/A has a very light touch to shift and I would use my middle finger. The new SRAM was stiffer and the new bars featured internal routing cables in the bars. The tendon on my middle finger got sore and I now shift using my index finger and middle finger. I ride and shift a lot so subtle changes in position and movement affect me.

Here are a couple of pics from the top of Mount Hamilton on a training ride in preparation for our climb up Mount Ventoux. I had changed the stem from a 100 mm -6 to a 110 mm -17 stem.





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Old 09-07-13, 12:33 PM   #21
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Reading this thread points out that everyone is different, and there are no hard fast rules when it comes to bike fit and contact points.

People like or dis-like bars wider or narrower then their shoulders. Meaning no rules apply and everyone needs to find what works for them. Same goes with stem length, stem rise, crank arm length, top tube length, etc....

No wonder bike fit and finding the correct size, width, length of the components can get overly complex, expensive and confusing. Or maybe, our bodies are a lot more adaptable then given credit and can accommodate a greater degree of indifference.

My short story.... Started with 42cm bars, came with the bike and work well. Needed replacement drop bars for a SS commuter, 44cm on sale at the LBS. Really like the extra width commuting, but still like the 42cm on the road bike. Have a 42" chest, rather wide shoulders, to help put this in perspective.
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Old 09-07-13, 12:48 PM   #22
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I rarely ride my drop bar bikes at all * .. the Trekking bar Rohloff bikes get the Use. , they
are 50 &52 wide , but I dont have to hold them at their widest part.

*Camper- touring bike got 48 wide Noodles , the other 2 have another Nitto bar , dirt drop , taken off MB1's

when GP spec'c'd them , but the bike buyer wanted regular MTB bars.
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