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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 05-20-08, 10:34 AM   #1
skibike951
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Handlebar width?

Thought I would start a new thread and ask everyone about their preferred handlebar width on a tandem vs single.

I have been riding 42 cm c-c bars on single bike for years but prefer slightly wider 44 cm c-c on the tandem. It just seems like I have more control over the tandem this way, especially in slow speed situations where the wider bars provide a bit more leverage. I know there is an aero disadvantage when we are riding 22-23 mph and up but if I get down in the drops it seems to work OK aero-wise. BTW, my captain's compartment is set up with the bars about 5 cm lower than seat height. This is about 1 cm higher than on my single bikes.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

JB
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Old 05-20-08, 10:54 AM   #2
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road bike has 44cm. Our previous tandem (Burley Duet) had 46 mm.

Our new tandem (Co-Motion Robusta) just shipped with 42 cm.

The 46 mm work well for me, but probably aren't the most aero.

However, just looking at the 42cm as the shop put together the Robusta, they just looked way too narrow. (the mechanic who's about six inches shorter, and 70 lbs lighter. said he would want at least the 44cm for himself). So we swapped them out for 44cm. I'm hopeful I'll see how that rides tonight.
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Old 05-20-08, 12:52 PM   #3
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I have been riding 42 cm c-c bars on single bike for years but prefer slightly wider 44 cm c-c on the tandem. It just seems like I have more control over the tandem this way, especially in slow speed situations where the wider bars provide a bit more leverage.
What more do you need to know than that?
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Old 05-20-08, 01:26 PM   #4
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i switched from flat bars to drop bars. i used to have a 56cm flat with barends. now i have a 44cm drop bar. at first it was wobbly but i am staring to get used to it. maybe because of the drastic change. i did the switch so that i don't have to keep on changing hand position when i need to shift or apply the brakes.
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Old 05-20-08, 03:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by skibike951 View Post
...I have been riding 42 cm c-c bars on single bike for years but prefer slightly wider 44 cm c-c on the tandem. It just seems like I have more control over the tandem this way, especially in slow speed situations where the wider bars provide a bit more leverage. I know there is an aero disadvantage when we are riding 22-23 mph and up but if I get down in the drops it seems to work OK ...
I'll bet the aero difference between 42 and 44 is not even measurable at any practical level, and if there is a difference it would be totally mitigated by good aero position with the rest of your body - head, knees and elbows particularly. Even the type of clothes you're wearing, I'd bet, are much larger factors than your hands being 3/4 inch further apart.

Certainly, comfort on a single, and comfort and control on a tandem are the only factors to consider in handlebar selection.
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Old 05-20-08, 04:38 PM   #6
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I'll bet the aero difference between 42 and 44 is not even measurable at any practical level,
I suspect it's relative to the size of the riders. Being about 5'8", 44mm bars feel like a truck's steering wheel to me compared to the 42mm that I'm accustomed to. Perhaps if I was a larger rider with wider shoulders the difference between 42mm and 44mm wouldn't be as dramatic.

Anecdote: When we were building up our last new tandem I bought what were labeled as two sets of 42mm bars. I never bothered to check, but when I saddle up for the very first ride something definitely felt very wrong. A quick check of the tape confirmed one set had been mis-marked as 42mm as they were really 44mm. The store did an even exchange and life has been good ever since.
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Old 05-20-08, 05:45 PM   #7
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All I have to say is that as a stoker, my handlebars have to be wider than the captains bum.
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Old 05-20-08, 06:03 PM   #8
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Our Macchiato is being built up with 40 cm bars for both the captain and stoker (granted we are on the smaller side of things - 5'7" and 5'1"). For me, I wanted to stick with what was on my road bike and what I am comfortable with.
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Old 05-21-08, 07:52 AM   #9
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I'll bet the aero difference between 42 and 44 is not even measurable at any practical level,
And I would bet you're wrong. The wind hitting your chest between your arms is a big part of the riders wind resistence. When you move your arms in, your chest effectively is drafting your arms, and wind resistence is reduced.

In wind tunnel testing, racers spend a lot of time and money fiddling with small changes in the spacing width of the pads on aerobars because even small changes in width make a big differnce in drag.

One way to look at this is the 2cm increase in width effectively increases the width of the figure you're presenting to the wind by almost 5%.

I am certain the difference would be measurable, now whether the difference matters to you, and/or whether it is outweighed by different considerations, (such as comfort, power output, and stability.) are different questions.
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Old 05-22-08, 09:19 PM   #10
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When it comes to aerodynamics the most drag is created by the rider(s).
A pilot's height has nothing to do with bar width; the broader the shoulders, the wider the bars.
As for the stoker, she/he doesn't have much choice. The width of stoker dropbars is determined by the width of the captains upper leg/butt . . . needs to fit between the bars.
Both bars on our Zona tandem are 42 cm; we are small/short 5'7" x 4'10 3/4".
On Rudy's racing single, bar width is 40 cm.
If you are really worried about aero . . . get tri/aero-bars.
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Old 05-23-08, 08:31 AM   #11
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i'm just curious to know...at what speeds that this drag come to be noticeable?
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Old 05-23-08, 10:11 AM   #12
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Being about 5'8", 44mm bars feel like a truck's steering wheel to me compared to the 42mm that I'm accustomed to.
Wow. Thats pretty sensitive. Just 1mm in from each side. It brings to mind the fable about the princess and the pea.
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Old 05-23-08, 10:59 AM   #13
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Wow. Thats pretty sensitive. Just 1mm in from each side. It brings to mind the fable about the princess and the pea.
Indeed. It's a curse, to be sure.
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Old 05-24-08, 06:49 PM   #14
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Like the old kingsize cigarette adds: ". . . .one silly little millimeter longer"
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Old 05-24-08, 07:20 PM   #15
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The folks in the LBS laughed when I held the bullhorn bars up to derriere to make sure they "cleared". I then explained to them that I have "birthing hips". I'm also a grandfather.

As far as mine, I use the same 44 c-c that I do on singles.
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Old 05-25-08, 09:58 AM   #16
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I switched from flat bars to drop this spring for the tandem. Since my single bike came with 42 mm bars and I was always happy with it I assumed that is what I would put the same or possibly 44mm on the tandem. My mechanic/good friend laughed and said no we are going with 46mm and you will be thankful. 2 months and many tandem miles later I am re assessing the width of my single's bar as I browse the bay searching for a good deal. I am 6'3" tall and pretty broad shouldered. The comfort with the wider bars is noticeable compared to the singles narrow profile. In my case as nothing more than a recreational rider, I believe the aero gain with the narrower bars is moot. My shoulders are out there blocking the wind no matter how wide the bars. I wasn't born with a bikers physique but thats ok, I still have the passion.

Guess my two cents worth is "Use what fits the best"
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