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How important is drop handlebar width?

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How important is drop handlebar width?

Old 09-11-11, 07:05 PM
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How important is drop handlebar width?

Maybe the title of this thread should be "recommend some bars for me." Out of curiosity I measured my shoulders and got just about 18in (~46 cm). Now from what I have read a general "rule" is that the bars should be the same width as your shoulders. This might explain why I've having some issues with getting my hand/arm position to feel "right" on my current 40cm (c-c) bars. Any recommendations for some budget bars?

Last edited by wfournier; 09-11-11 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 09-11-11, 07:11 PM
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Performance house brand bars (Forte) are good bars for the buck but if you prefer "name" brands, Salsa bars are a good deal.
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Old 09-11-11, 07:16 PM
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According to this thread, it's either not important at all, or you'll suffocate if you get it wrong, lol. Actually, there's some pretty good info buried within. Hope it helps.

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Old 09-11-11, 07:25 PM
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I'm pretty broad shouldered. My Panasonic came stock with 38cm handlebars. I rode with them for a few years but always felt a bit uncomfortable, like I was "squished." For my birthday this year my wife bought me a new set of Dimension bars with a 44cm width. The comfort difference is night and day. Should've made that switch when I first got the bike.

There's a bit of anecdotal evidence for you.
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Old 09-11-11, 08:40 PM
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I have pretty wide bars...bought the Nitto noodles road bars in a 48. It does help open up your chest for better breathing
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Old 09-11-11, 09:02 PM
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Check eBay. I got a new set of Bontrager lite bars that were new for $35, and they usually sell for $80. Same guy sold a set of Carbon $300 bars for $100, wish I had jumped on them.

The place that did my fit told me I need 44cm bars, and I have 42. Said not to immediately run out and get new bars, but they may be more comfortable. I plan to change the bars when I need to do a new wrap.
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Old 09-11-11, 09:07 PM
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wfournier, For me (~44 cm shoulder width) I'm good if the handle bars are 42-45 cm C-C wide. 38 cm is a bit cramped. I've not tried wider than 45 cm or narrower than 38 cm.

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Old 09-11-11, 09:49 PM
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I Switched from 41 cm, to 44 cm shallow drop bars and am very happy that I did. 44 is my shoulder width.
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Old 09-11-11, 10:08 PM
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I had old narrow steel bars on my main bike back when... . Changing to wider ones was a revelation.
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Old 09-12-11, 01:43 PM
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If you are broad shouldered, and have narrow bars, it will put alot of strain on your shoulder and neck muscles, and you get fatigued really quickly.

I use the Salsa Bell Lap Handle Bar in a 46.
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Old 09-12-11, 05:40 PM
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I've been riding 46cm bars for quite some years now and wouldn't trade them in for anything narrower. And I've only had one failure was over 20 years ago on some early "new" 7075 aluminum alloy bars that had 26.0mm clamp and these were thin walled "competition" bars with an outer collar. The break was right where the clamping collar ended. Luckily it was while going slow and honking uphill so the crash wasn't more than a couple of scrapes. But imagine trying to get back home without a working handlebar and hoofing it 2 miles barefoot because I had cleats on. And my elbow and outer knee were bloody. Luckily, a driver took pity on my predicament and drove me back down the hill.

But this isn't to say you need to worry about the quality of your handlebars these days. New manufacturing uses butted aluminum and internal bulge forming in the center to create a collar area without stress points like in the old days. But if you are a big guy and put stress on bars like me, a couple of things I keep in mind when I shop for handlebars:

1. Get new ones to replace older ones, because you don't know the fatigue history on an old set of bars.
2. Yes, the moment arm is longer with 46cm bars and so both the stem and handlebars will see more torque.
3. Competition aluminum bars, even with heat treatment, are fine usually, but if you plan to ride sometimes on rougher roads (e.g. dirt paths, roads w/ bumps and pot holes), it may be prudent to get thicker walled, heavier bars
4. Bulge formed centers are better usually than collared. Look for those (some are 31.8mm) so you'll need a stem that fits these and your steerer tube, both.

That said, for cost effectiveness, look for the ITM (italmanburi?) bars. They have the Anatomico 46 (6061 alloy) and 360g for $10 - $20 or so I think and the ITM Visia 46 (7075 alloy) for $20 - $30 (just 265g).

Last edited by gyozadude; 09-12-11 at 09:48 PM. Reason: spelling error
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