Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Wider handlebars?

Old 09-06-04, 08:28 PM
  #1  
kandnhome
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I have only been riding for about a month now, but every time I ride more than just a few miles, the insides of my arms hurt right at the elbow. It seems like a muscle pain, but my muscles there aren't particularly weak. According to just about every fit calculator on the planet, I'm supposed to be using 46cm handlebars, but the ones on my bike (used, cheap, but pretty damn fast) are only 42cm. Is it possible that this pain is caused by the narrow bars?

If narrow bars are the problem, I have another: I can't find any bars wider than 44cm, online or at the LBS. Is that the common max size? Would I have to custom order something bigger? (if so, looks like I'll be toughing out the 42cm bars as my wallet is microscopic). Is there likely to be any real benefit from going to a 44cm bar?

Some possibly helpful info: I ride in all positions on the bar, but primarily on the hoods. I've tried a couple rides riding only on the tops (except for braking) and only on the hoods, to see if it might be a positional ailment, but I still get the pain, regardless of position. I haven't tried riding only in the drops, mainly because I just can't keep that position for very long without getting uncomfortable (probably flexibility issues).

Sorry for the longish post, and thanks in advance for any help
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Old 09-06-04, 08:34 PM
  #2  
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I was getting a pain in my elbow that was also causing my pinky to go numb. I went to my LBS and they took one look at my position and pointed out that I was not bending my elbows. I tried that and it seems to have cleared things up (they also said that my handlebars where to narrow, but to try bending my elbows first which seems to have worked out).
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Old 09-06-04, 08:40 PM
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have found the position of the bars to be more important then width of the bars. Since you indicate you may have a flexibility issue try to move the bars up and in. Can pick up house brand stems form catolog/web for cheap and decent quality. If you need the best name on the stem I'ld still go this way find the right length and rise the look for something more $$$ if you feel the need.
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Old 09-06-04, 09:12 PM
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kandnhome
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by "flexibility issues" I meant I can't spend more than 10-15 minutes in the drops, because I have a bit of a gut and it gets in the way of my legs, making it uncomfortable after a while

I am not getting any numbness, and I do bend my arms (though not a whole lot when on the tops/hoods, maybe 15-20 degrees of bend). I can't move the bars up and in, because I have an old used bike with the quill type stem. I suppose I could get a threadless adapter and stem and see, but that'd add a good chunk of change (in student terms) to my meager initial investment. Looks like I may just get a chance to develop a little "character" by sticking it out.

Oh, and despite this being a used, old bike, I initially set the bike up to match the wrenchscience.com fit calculations, and tweaked here and there until I was totally comfortable. Aside from this elbow thing, I feel great on the bike.
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Old 09-06-04, 09:23 PM
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Rivendell Bicycle Works sells Nitto bars up to 48cm. See:

http://rivendellbicycles.com/webalog...ape/16111.html

I just switched from 42cm to 44cm and even that seemingly small difference has had a huge effect on the way the bike feels. If you are 4cm off from your "correct" size that could be having a significant effect on your comfort level.
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Old 09-06-04, 09:45 PM
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what size/lenght is your current stem I have several quill stems if you are looking cheap. I remember the days of being a student I had more money then with a wife and 3 kids more time for4 riding to....... PM me if you are interested. or try to just rise the stem to the max line and rotate the bars up. Wider bars shouldn't be to bad to pick up if you belong to any clubs, ect ask the LBS about discounts or to check out their parts bin
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Old 09-06-04, 09:54 PM
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Are you locking out your elbows when you ride? I do this a lot and don't even realize that I"m doing it, and because of it I have pain in my elbows. On my longer rides I have to make a conscience effort to keep them soft. Just a thought.
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Old 11-18-04, 07:35 PM
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Personally I love 46cm handlebars....Nice benefit is that they let me drop my bars as low as possible and still stay comfortable. Very stable in climbs.

I wish they made 48cm bars.....I would have bought them!
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Old 11-18-04, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by kandnhome
I have only been riding for about a month now, but every time I ride more than just a few miles, the insides of my arms hurt right at the elbow. It seems like a muscle pain, but my muscles there aren't particularly weak. According to just about every fit calculator on the planet, I'm supposed to be using 46cm handlebars, but the ones on my bike (used, cheap, but pretty damn fast) are only 42cm. Is it possible that this pain is caused by the narrow bars?
I've not even read any posts other than yours, but I'll say this and likely support someone else's comment: Believe it or not, your arms are "out of shape"--for cycling. That's where they always hurt with new or unfit cyclists. Keep riding, it'll go away. Your arms support one-third of your body's weight on a properly fitted road bike. Just keep riding. If it still hurts after another 250-500 miles [within a pretty narrow time frame], only then look to other things.
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Old 11-18-04, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Maj.Taylor
Your arms support one-third of your body's weight on a properly fitted road bike.
I wonder if more weight over the front end would be faster. closer to 50/50 weight distribution would equalize the contact patchs of the front and rear tires also (assuming front and rear tires are inflated to same pressure).

I know 50/50 isn't going to happen....maybe 40/60 would be good enough
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Old 11-19-04, 04:29 AM
  #11  
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Like a lot of cyclists, my endurance riding is limited by the strength of my arms, not my legs.
You can get wider bars. The large Italian component company 3TTT make good value bars in wide sizes.
You may have some luck changing the position of the brake levers. I find that rotating the levers about the bars (so that they point inwards by a slight amount) improves comfort.
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Old 11-19-04, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW
Like a lot of cyclists, my endurance riding is limited by the strength of my arms, not my legs.
I've got arm strength all day long.....that's why I like to be low and bent over my front wheel as much as possible.....plus bike is much easier to pedal this way compared to upright touring position.

P.S. I wish I could find bars even wider than 46cm.....just to try out.
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Old 11-19-04, 06:13 AM
  #13  
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What I keep coming back to is the fact that the pain is on the inside of kandnhome's elbows. Is the location significant and indicative of a particular problem? When I forget to flex enough, my reminder doesn't come there but in my forearms. Although kandnhome reports that he does bend his arms a bit, perhaps he does it less than he thinks, being a fairly new rider (he says about a month). I know that I sometimes have to remind myself to flex , despite thinking that this would have become second nature by now. A problem magnified by the too-narrow bars?
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Old 11-19-04, 06:16 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by 53-11 alltheway
I wish they made 48cm bars.....I would have bought them!

P.S. I wish I could find bars even wider than 46cm.....just to try out.
Did you perhaps not actually read the whole thread.........?

Hint: Indolent58 posted a link to a set of 48 wide bars...........

I'm a small guy myself, but have 46cm bars on both my drop bar bikes, and can't ever see swapping back to anything more narrow.
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Old 11-19-04, 08:49 AM
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I read on-line somewhere that to size yourself to a bar, you should put the bar over your shoulders. If it the drops touch the outside point of your shoulders, you're set. I've found this to be VERY helpful.

Cole
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Old 11-19-04, 09:18 AM
  #16  
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If the pain is right at the elbow it might be a problem with the tendon instead of the muscle. Possibly might be tendonitis. Have a doctor check it out.
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Old 11-19-04, 11:13 AM
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I have 3ttt ZEpp XL size 46. Got them new off of Ebay for 12 Bucks.....They are oversized (31.8 clamp) so finding a reasonable stem can be a bit more difficult
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Old 11-19-04, 12:05 PM
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Salsa sells 46-cm bars (centre to centre), and most makers either sell bars up to 46-cm (outside to outside) or up to 44 cm (centre to centre). Wider bars may be more comfortable to you, but I don't think that the pain you are feeling is related to bar width. Considering you don't find the drops comfortable, I think that bar height and distance is the issue.

Here are a few things you could try:

- Rotate the bars a bit, so the drops come a bit closer towards you (or away from you). Rotate by a few degrees at most and see whether it helps or not. Cost: free. Change : especially on the wrists. And distance would change for the better or for the worst.

- Change the stem. If you have a threadless headset, you would need to move the stem up (put spacers under it rather than above it). If that isn't possible, change the stem for one that has a shorter reach and higher angle upwards.
Maybe your LBS might have an old scratched one to try out?

- Change the bars for very narrow ones. Sounds counter-productive, but bikes produced in the 1970s and early 1980s had 38 to 40-cm wide bars (centre to centre). At my repair shop, I can buy a set for $5-10. Not always in nice shape, but a good and cheap way to see if you indeed need wider bars.
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