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Thread: Handlebar Width

  1. #1
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    Handlebar Width

    Thinking about going to a wider width captain's bar on our tandem. Currently it has a 43cm on it I think? While I am new to the roadbike configeration it seems that a wider bar would keep the bike from feeling so twichie.
    Any thoughts out there?
    Gal. 2:20

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    Handlebar width can cause physical pain/problems if you use the wrong size. Go to your LBS and find out what you are supposed to be using and stick with that.

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    Originally posted by Lonnie Seachris
    Thinking about going to a wider width captain's bar on our tandem. Currently it has a 43cm on it I think? While I am new to the roadbike configeration it seems that a wider bar would keep the bike from feeling so twichie.
    Any thoughts out there?
    Give it more time. The more you ride the less twitchy it should become.

    This ties back to the discussion on stoker saddles in which I addressed your stoker's riding position, shock-post travel and other things that cause your stoker's upper body to move around as that is the source of the twitchiness. As your stoker's riding position gets sorted out, their pedal stroke becomes more natural and you begin to ride more smoothly as a team the twitchiness should begin to go away.

    As a general recommendation for all new tandem teams -- and even experienced ones -- be sure to routinely critique (using constructive comments) your combined riding performance with your stoker(s) so that you both can work to refine your riding techniques to make riding more enjoyable. Remind stokers to forewarn you before they reach down for a water bottle (e.g., drinking) or contemplate any other major body shifts. Make sure they understand that you will always feel any of their upper body movements and the more dramatic they are the more dramatic the motion that you'll feel and have to counteract via the handlebars. Examples would include quick turns of the head to look at scenery or to talk with other cyclists, arm gestures, sitting back and stretching, etc...

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    This is kinda of a late response as I just saw it but...my coach would measure the shoulder bones width and that would be the bar width (C to C). The idea is that it woud be a straight line from hands to shoulders. I had a wider bar than he spec'd and it caused fatigue. It was only 2 cm. wider too! A slightly longer stem might mellow the twitchiness unless it makes you reach too far in exchange. Or as mentioned the twitch will go away as you get used to it.

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    SDS
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    When you go bar-buying keep in mind that all drop bars are not measured the same: some are measured center-to-center, and some are measured outside-to-outside. If you move from a 42 c-t-c to a 44 o-t-o, you may very well have purchased the very same width. Take a tape measure.

    Wider bars have slower handling and poorer aerodynamics, and, if you were on bars that were too narrow, better breathing. Lance Armstrong found much better breathing and more power when he moved to 44cms from his narrower bars.

    If you are on bars that fit (center of shoulder to center of shoulder is what I remember), I'd stick with them.

    When you move from a MTB (tandem or not) to a road tandem you lose almost all of your scrub friction (Bill McCready called this pneumatic trail because for stability the effects were interchangeable: you could interchange a wider and/or stickier tire for a reduction in trail to enhance low-speed stability (?)). A road tandem on moderately-or-smaller sized tires has very little resistance to rotation of the fork once it is moving because while there is sufficient traction, there's almost no resistance to rotation of the fork, particularly in comparison with an MTB with knobby tires on a surface that allows the knobs to bite. You can demonstrate this by leaning the bike left/right and watching the fork turn in response to the lean. You can get a persistent wobble just from reduced scrub friction and/or increased trail. This goes away after you get used to it, though your stoker might also have to hold a more consistent (narrowly defined) position.

    A constant small wobble suggests a need for the captain to rewrite his handling/pedaling software for the tandem, and an intermittent wobble/dive left or right suggests a need for more care on the part of the stoker or the captain to hold a more constantly consistent center-of-gravity position relative to the centerline of the bike, including normal pedaling motion.

    Anybody who thinks stoking is not skilled labor has not experienced the difference between a good stoker and a not-so-good one. Tandeming is a team sport, and what the stoker does, does affect the handling.

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