## The comfort of narrow handlebars.

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Rick
Posts: 2035
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:30 pm
11.4 wrote:We keep hearing about leverage here, but all we're really doing with wider bars is tilting the bike to one side and pushing harder with pedals on the other....

When you stomp down on the pedals, a longer bar should make it easier for the bike to be held closer to upright.

Imagine a ridiculously long bar: you could mash the pedals very hard, yet still keep the bars level (and the bike vertical) with very small forces at the end of the bar.
Imagine a ridiculously short bar: at some point you simply couldn't prevent the bike from tilting over in response to the torque on the pedals, or at least it would require a lot of strength. .

I have no idea where the optimum is, but longer bars would definitely make it easier to keep the bike upright just from the physics involved.

Again, why would you pick up a weight at arm's length rather than vertically right next to your body?

Because it is not about how much weight you can lift, it is about applying the correct force to keep the bike vertical. This is assumimg we all have "enough" strength to keep it vertical and in the the common ranges of bar widths. So they are at shoulder width ± a few inches.

11.4
Posts: 1107
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 4:33 am
Rick wrote:
11.4 wrote:We keep hearing about leverage here, but all we're really doing with wider bars is tilting the bike to one side and pushing harder with pedals on the other....

When you stomp down on the pedals, a longer bar should make it easier for the bike to be held closer to upright.

Imagine a ridiculously long bar: you could mash the pedals very hard, yet still keep the bars level (and the bike vertical) with very small forces at the end of the bar.
Imagine a ridiculously short bar: at some point you simply couldn't prevent the bike from tilting over in response to the torque on the pedals, or at least it would require a lot of strength. .

I have no idea where the optimum is, but longer bars would definitely make it easier to keep the bike upright just from the physics involved.

Again, why would you pick up a weight at arm's length rather than vertically right next to your body?

Because it is not about how much weight you can lift, it is about applying the correct force to keep the bike vertical. This is assumimg we all have "enough" strength to keep it vertical and in the the common ranges of bar widths. So they are at shoulder width ± a few inches.

It doesn't quite work that way. For casual riding, this argument is fine. If you're focused on increasing power and speed, one needs to consider efficiencies and also whether you simply need that long a lever just to keep the bike upright. The truth -- demonstrated with narrower bars -- is that you don't. Try some 38's. It won't be hard to keep the bike upright; in fact, most people find it's easier. What it does is let you apply more power up and down within a common plane, which then makes it more efficient. And when you are riding hard, it may not be about the maximal weight you can lift (your concept) but about whether you are optimizing your use of force. Reaching out, having to go through a greater range of motion, and having more unnecessary bike motion and body motion don't contribute to efficiency or speed. That's why leverage isn't the objective here.

Juanmoretime
Posts: 7107
Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2004 11:08 am
Location: Urbana, Illinois
I only have one ride in so far, tonight will be the second on my team's Wednesday night ride. I went from a Zipp SL 42 center to center to a 3T Aerotundo 40 center to center. I can't say I have noticed any big difference in spite of the 23mm more reach. At the bottom of the drops they felt good too with 10mm less drop. I'm liking it so far. I think to give this a fair evaluation I need to ride them at least 2 weeks.
RESIDENT GRUMPY OLD MAN.

Getter
Posts: 877
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2009 6:30 am
Location: So Cal
I rode a 42cm Easton bar for quite some time and never really put much thought into it. Then I demo'd a bike with some 40's. Few days later I got a 40 c-to-c Zipp bar, which comes out to 38 c-to-c at the hoods. It took a few rides to get used to the narrower with.

I went narrow on the road bike...but wider on the mountain bike.

I'm 173cm with a slim build.

patchsurfer
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:27 pm
I switched to narrower bars a couple of years ago - I did a 3-day race and suffered really badly from pain between my shoulder blades in the second half of the race. I switched from a 44 (is it just Giant that spec their bikes with bars to fit gorillas?) to a 40cm Easton bar. Quite apart from anything else, it's much easier to keep everything tucked in and neat. I'm 180cm and I broadly followed the rule of shoulder balljoint to balljoint.

I get the physics behind the idea of longer bars having added leverage, but unless you're suffering all over the bike then I would have thought that technique and keeping everything in a straight line'd be more important...and if you've reached that point you're generally screwed anyway. The again, I'm no sprinter...

helldiver
Posts: 85
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:46 pm
Location: Slovakia
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Narrow handlebars for me as well. Even if i "should" ride 43cm handlebars according to shoulder width, i switched the stock 42cm bars on my bike to FSA Wing Pro which measure little less then 40cm on the hoods and flare out to 42cm at the drops and they felt very comfortable. Then after some time i bought Fizik cyrano R3 snake handlebars in 38cm width and it's even better, they are very stiff, lightweight (for aluminium - 230g) and of course enable me to be more aero. No problems sprinting with them as well, my max speed in the sprint actually improved little bit. My only complain is that those bars have less reach/drop as they go down in size, so while 42 width has 85/140mm reach/drop, 40 has 80/130mm reach/drop and 38 only has 75/125mm reach/drop. I don't care so much about reach (i can always compensate with longer stem) but i wish for little more drop, 130-135mm would be ideal.
As a side note my winter training bike has a 44cm bars and i can comfortable ride it for hours, but i just don't see a point of having such wide handlebars on a road bike, more weight, more flex, more wind resistance and for what ? Maybe more control in very low-speed situations/uneven bumpy surface, both of them not really important for road biking.

Synnove
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2015 10:45 pm
Location: PDX
I was lucky to find some original Easton Attack base-bar/aerobars with a 38cm width (seems to be impossible to find new production basebars that are 38cm or smaller). I must say that, relative to the 42cm I was using prior, these are much more comfortable and a better fit for my small size. Will never go back to anything over 38 : P.

jpanspac
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:21 pm
Specialized has women's handlebars in 36-40cm widths. Aside from the widths they're the same as the men's bars.

http://www.specialized.com/us/en/ftb/ro ... -handlebar
My favorite components are the ones I never have to think about.

joshclick
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2015 1:31 pm
I have pretty narrow shoulders - 165cm height, 115lbs. I rode my first season on 42cm bars and got quite used to them.

On my new bike (check out below in my gallery) I switched to 40cm bars. They are much more comfortable in comparison and i dont feel like i'm reaching outwards so much to hold onto the hoods. Any out of the saddle riding is also a lot easier and comfortable since my arms aren't so wide apart and are at a much more natural angle. Just check out a video of Contador dancing on the pedals and see how relaxed his arms are.

SLCBrandon
Posts: 734
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:52 am
After reading this thread I gave 42cm bars a try down from 44 and so far I love them. Now with 2 bike on the 42's and the rest on the 44's, the wider bars just feel stupid.

nakuta
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2015 10:30 am
I'm 183cm, using 40cm classic handlebar.
Somewhat more comfortable with 42cm, just use it because of external balance when looked.

Hubert
Posts: 271
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 9:47 pm
Location: TX
I've been on 40cm bars for years even though I "should" be on 44cm bars. For most, it'll be trial and error, but I love the feel and fit of narrower bars.
Turn down the suck knob.

istigatrice
Posts: 822
Joined: Sat May 12, 2012 8:32 am
Location: Australia
Sorry to bump back up, but just bought some 36cm bars to replace the 42cm bars I'm using after reading this, and similar threads...

I've done the maths and it suggests that I should get a ~5mm longer stem (to have the same effective reach), but has anyone actually felt like they needed to change the stem (it seems like most have stayed with the same stem length?). Has anyone also experimented with more drop after getting narrower bars?
I write the weightweenies blog, hope you like it

Disclosure: I'm sponsored by Velocite, but I do give my honest opinion about them (I'm endorsed to race their bikes, not say nice things about them)

11.4
Posts: 1107
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 4:33 am
istigatrice wrote:Sorry to bump back up, but just bought some 36cm bars to replace the 42cm bars I'm using after reading this, and similar threads...

I've done the maths and it suggests that I should get a ~5mm longer stem (to have the same effective reach), but has anyone actually felt like they needed to change the stem (it seems like most have stayed with the same stem length?). Has anyone also experimented with more drop after getting narrower bars?

In my experience with a number of riders, both apply. General rule of thumb was 1 cm longer and 5 mm lower, to start with. Then experiment as needed. Well over half of the riders I've put on narrower bars have gone a bit deeper.

Marin
Posts: 3303
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:48 am
Location: Vienna Austria
130mm was too long for me with a 420 bar, but works fine now with a 400.

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