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Handlebar Width

Old 02-26-13, 07:12 PM
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Beneficial Ear
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Handlebar Width

I'm 6'1", but my 42cm handlebars feel way way wide. I measured my shoulders using acromion method and got a surprisingly narrow 35cm... which sounds crazy but when I get into the position I think would be the ideal my arms center to center are around about 35cm.

In looking around, the 36cm size is apparently for "small men and women"... and tough to find in anything but a shallow drop or the weird ergo thing... I don't want either. There are plenty 38cm bars with the right profile, I want to just go that route... but as I get down over my ruler those 2cm represent the difference between YES! and TOO WIDE! That is, its the difference between arms @ 90 degrees and arms flapped out in a similar but better than position to what I get stuck in on my 42 cm bars.

What can I do here? Deal with 38's or is there a road bar out there thats 36cm wide with a bend that is more like the 36cm track bars I keep seeing. I'd hate to buy something that isn't ideal.
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Old 02-26-13, 07:19 PM
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My understanding (which could be completely wrong) is that many of the sizing myths for handlebars have been debunked. And most simply prefer to go with the narrowest bar they feel comfortable with. I'm only 5'7 and have been on bars of 40cm cc for the longest time. Most bikes in my size range still come with bars of 42cc. Is this right or wrong who knows. I can tell you that when I built up my most recent bike I decided (against most thought process) to go up to a 42cm because I simply felt like I wanted more space to move around. I like it so far, I don't feel like I'm so open that my lungs are suffering or much of the other gobbledegook out there. Moral of the story, try some different options and see what feels best!
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Old 02-26-13, 07:39 PM
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I dug up an old thread on here that asked a similar question... and have been searching pretty hard for 36cm road bar options.

Seems the selection is just very limited in 36cm, I'll just roll with a cheap 38cm bar that has the shape I like - that 4cm definitely gets me close... but I guess I won't know till I try!
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Old 03-09-13, 09:50 PM
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Ended up with the Deda 38cm Big Piega Bar - its narrower as Deda measures from outside to outside... and although i was kinda wary to make such a drastic fit change it was a GREAT idea to stick with the "handlebars as wide as shoulders" adage. My arms fall so comfortably and it gets me into a more aero position in terms of width. I thought there might be a loss of control, but in this department the change is negligible... in fact the lining up with my shoulders just overall feels "right" and I need more time to say for sure but right now I miss nothing about my 42cm (center to center) bars.
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Old 03-09-13, 10:52 PM
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Damn son, I have 42cm wide bars(my shoulders have been measured to be about that wide) at 5'8" and I'm female...how can you have that much narrower shoulders than I
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Old 03-10-13, 01:50 AM
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Originally Posted by deep_sky View Post
Damn son, I have 42cm wide bars(my shoulders have been measured to be about that wide) at 5'8" and I'm female...how can you have that much narrower shoulders than I
This is a good question, I measured... remeasured... measured again... checked how I was measuring... measured again... I got down on the bike and got my arms all 90 degrees thinking still "this can't be right" and my ideal handlebar width still was 36cm... and even still I was wary about this purchase... Im not made of $ and didn't want to toss it away on bars marketed for unusually small people being that at 6'1 I'm only unusually small for an NBA player.

But, alas, the bars are awesomely fitting my oddly narrow frame and I can't wait to go through some of my fav long routes
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Old 03-10-13, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Beneficial Ear View Post
Ended up with the Deda 38cm Big Piega Bar - its narrower as Deda measures from outside to outside...
I did the same and bought Deda. If you look around you can find a few manufacturers measuring bars like this, which pretty much sizes them a size down. This should give you plenty options in bends you like in a size your looking for.
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Old 03-10-13, 02:10 PM
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Some FSA models are flared at the drops so the hoods are actually a size down (38cm bars are like 36's at the hoods).

Whatever works for you, OP It just seems odd that I would be that much wider than you at the shoulders being a female. You could have someone measure you, I found it hard to get a good reading doing it by myself.
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Old 03-10-13, 03:35 PM
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I must have arms like a monkey. I am 6'2" and have 46CM bars. They feel fine to me. In fact I am concerned that 46CM bars are getting hard to find and thought that I might be forced to use 44CM bars in the future.
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Old 03-10-13, 04:24 PM
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A good way to measure shoulder width is to measure armhole to armhole across the back of a suit jacket THAT FITS. If you are as oddly proportioned as you say, and don't have your clothes custom made, it s likely, however, your suits don't fit very well. Not much help there. Nevertheless the jacket gives the person measuring some sense of where to measure. Try it.

But others did suggest rightly. It is not about rules and appearances but rather about comfort and easy breathing. I assume your arms must be fairly long. Over that length the angle from your shoulders to the bar must be fairly small. Surely a 38cm bar can't be far off.
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Old 03-10-13, 06:50 PM
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Handlebar width is about leverage and control of your bike. I have not found it to correlate with shoulder width at all. If they feel wide, then get narrower bars.

If you want to generalize, sprinters prefer narrower bars, climbers prefer wider: sprinters don't want their bikes going side to side in a sprint, so go narrow; climbers want leverage, so go wide. Also, narrower bars are not only more aerodynamic, but also allow you to ride closer to other riders. Narrower bars also make it easier to protect your bars with your elbows in a race, if you are into that sort of thing.
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Old 03-10-13, 07:38 PM
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Yep ^

I have 42 bars on my CX and SS bikes, and 40 on my road bike. Works well, since I like the leverage for CX and SS, and the narrower for more aero riding. I'm 5'9".
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