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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:58 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:15 pm
Posts: 49
11.4 wrote:
Think of climbing as heavy lifting. Why hold your arms out from your sides when you lift?


Strange comparison there. Weight lifters will use a wide grip for lifting heavier weights. Ever seen anyone doing squats with their feet close together? Same goes for bench press, a wider grip is better then a narrow one.
Anyway, the ideas is that everyone should use the width that is better for them, and as someone mentioned above the way to find it out is to try different width handlebars.


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:37 pm 
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I dont really think theres any relevance in comparing weight lifting to bar width as there are many, many variables that dictate hand and feet placement in weight training. I often squat with my feet shoulder width apart or even a little more narrow - it depends on what part of my quad im trying to target. However, sometimes ill squat with my feet very wide and toes at a 45 to work yet another area. I do shoulder presses at a grip placement shoukder width apart but deadlift wider so i dont drag my hands up my body.


And for a relevant contribution to the thread; I had exclusively been riding 44cm bars until recently trying some Zipp Vukasprints in 42 and Im sold. Hunting now for another set of relatively flat topped 42cm bars


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:37 pm 


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 21, 2012 2:32 pm
Posts: 71
I went from 44 cm to 40 cm recently going on advice during a fit checkup. I love it. Way better. No ill-effect on climbing in or out of the saddle for me. It even feels as though I could drop to 38 cm if I wished, but I'm really happy with where its at now. Maybe I'll experiment sometime. 183 cm tall, but a fairly narrow build, fwiw.


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:07 am 
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Imaking20 wrote:
I dont really think theres any relevance in comparing weight lifting to bar width


The weight distribution on bench press bars is different. You put your arms out to stabilize them. I think the push-up analogy works better with handlebars, since it's body weight in both cases, and pushups with arms spread wide are a lot harder. And I can push-up more weight (more than half my total, since the feet are fixed, and the rest is pro-rated based on ratio of distance to shoulder height) than bench for the same number of reps.

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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:41 am 
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jano wrote:
11.4 wrote:
Think of climbing as heavy lifting. Why hold your arms out from your sides when you lift?


Strange comparison there. Weight lifters will use a wide grip for lifting heavier weights. Ever seen anyone doing squats with their feet close together? Same goes for bench press, a wider grip is better then a narrow one.
Anyway, the ideas is that everyone should use the width that is better for them, and as someone mentioned above the way to find it out is to try different width handlebars.


As was pointed out in that post, the only reason for such wide stance was extraneous to the real issue of lifting. For squats you use a wide foot stance and your arms have to be outside of your arms for obvious reasons. For deadlifts, arms still have to be outside, but only because of the obvious reasons again. Your greatest lifting ability is parallel to your stance.

Lifting is cited because if one is competing seriously at a high level in climbing, one has to put out significant power and how your whole body comes into play is important to how much power you can put into a lift or into climbing a steep incline at speed. Climbing, though, can be a longer aerobic activity. It's simply what a poster commented on and deserved a reply. Bar width isn't as important in climbing as it is, say, in the finish to a big road sprint where the positioning, power transfer, and aerodyamics are all critical to final performance.

Most significantly, it's about getting out and racing different equipment. We're each an experiment, and comments like this one about narrow bars are good guidelines for most, but not necessarily for all. And these comments are about how to race. If you want to put on your Lightweights and go out for an 18 mph cruise along the Pacific Coast Highway, it really doesn't matter what bar widths you use. People on is forum look to the best racers to see what equipment they race with; it's also appropriate to look at how they race as well. But again, if you aren't trying to achieve the speed, then don't worry about it and just enjoy the ride.


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:16 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:24 am
Posts: 79
Location: Sierra Foothills, California USA
Have any of you that switched or changed bar width noticed a new pain or elbow inflammation ? Any thoughts on this ?


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:45 am 
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I had 44cm bars which felt a bit too wide. When I built the new bike, went down to a 41 and still really like that (labeled as 42 but FSA omegas are measured in the drops and the hoods are 1cm narrower hence the 41). I'm 192cm tall with long arms.


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:19 am 
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As someone who is guilty of sporting 46cm bars on a size 53 bike, I just want to add a minor point: wider bars do add to the handling precision (if you try those super short fixie bars with fists almost touching the stem, you'd know what I mean). In addition, while sprinting, more leverage seems to give you more "counter force" that helps you push the pedals.

I promise I will try something narrower though, and see how it goes.

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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:01 am 
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Location: Simi Valley CA
Went from 42 c-to-c to 40 o-to-o.

At first it felt really twitchy and when out of the saddle it felt like I had less leverage. Now that I'm used to it...I feel that I can ride lower more comfortably. My arms are now in line with my shoulders instead of being spread out.

I would have done this four years ago (when I got my first bike) if I knew it would make this much of a difference.

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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:24 am 
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Posts: 53
In my experience the shoulder blades are lifted up and pressed together which causes discomfort, if the handlebar is too narrow. I had this problem last spring when I was riding my wifes bike which sports a 38 cm c-c handlebar but fits otherwise(it was bought 20 years ago and the LBS certainly didn't fit it to her) now I'm using a 42 cm c-c one and that fits great, but perhaps I would be OK with a 40 cm c-c.

Edit. Perhaps I should ad that I'm 176 cm and have a shoulderwidth of 42-43 cm.


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:46 am 
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Burgunder wrote:
In my experience the shoulder blades are lifted up and pressed together which causes discomfort, if the handlebar is too narrow. I had this problem last spring when I was riding my wifes bike which sports a 38 cm c-c handlebar but fits otherwise(it was bought 20 years ago and the LBS certainly didn't fit it to her) now I'm using a 42 cm c-c one and that fits great, but perhaps I would be OK with a 40 cm c-c.

Edit. Perhaps I should ad that I'm 176 cm and have a shoulderwidth of 42-43 cm.


This is caused by lack of shoulder/upper arm/spinal strength to keep your back from sagging. Wider bars obscure the problem. You can imagine that you don't need a position where the shoulder blades lift up and press together, which is equivalent to letting the center of your back (and thus your chest) sag forward. Your chest needs to be up and supported by your back musculature. It affects your ability to utilize your core strength so you can get the maximum power out of your hips and legs.


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:26 pm 
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Posts: 53
11.4 wrote:
This is caused by lack of shoulder/upper arm/spinal strength to keep your back from sagging. Wider bars obscure the problem. You can imagine that you don't need a position where the shoulder blades lift up and press together, which is equivalent to letting the center of your back (and thus your chest) sag forward. Your chest needs to be up and supported by your back musculature. It affects your ability to utilize your core strength so you can get the maximum power out of your hips and legs.


That might be true as my core strength was not that good last spring when I just started cycling and had very sore legs, hands and shoulders from doing my first training rides of 11 km :unbelievable:

Luckily I improved and reached my goal which was completing the 375 km Aarhus-Copenhagen sportive.


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:02 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:08 am
Posts: 1946
Location: Pedal Square
I'm always wondering why people are working their bars so much when climbing out of the saddle. (I mean normal climbing, not sprinting). Maybe it's because I've been a runner for many years and my arms are weak, but I seem to never exert any actual force with my arms on the bars. My weight is over the pedals and all I do is keeping the bike upright.

This is a honest question, not an attempt at mockery.

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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:40 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:56 pm
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It can also be beneficial to have smaller bar width to squeeze through a hole during crits.


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:40 pm 


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 Post subject: Re: Bar width
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:22 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:30 pm
Posts: 3780
Location: Bay Area
elviento wrote:
As someone who is guilty of sporting 46cm bars on a size 53 bike, I just want to add a minor point: wider bars do add to the handling precision (if you try those super short fixie bars with fists almost touching the stem, you'd know what I mean). In addition, while sprinting, more leverage seems to give you more "counter force" that helps you push the pedals.

I promise I will try something narrower though, and see how it goes.

If the sprinting point were true then Chris Hoy and basically every other modern track racer would have serious issues using the 36s they use.

Handling is an issue of motor control and several other things. Fixie bars with hands say 15cm wide vs a small difference between road bars is not really a great comparison.

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