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Handlebar sizing 101(5 posts)

Handlebar sizing 101BikingViking
Nov 19, 2001 12:43 AM
I have a question regarding sizing handlebars. How exactly would I determine what is my proper handlebar size? My MTB has a wider bar and it feels more comfortable than my road bike bars (arms/shoulders feel at ease and chest doesn't feel constrained). Should handlebar width for an MTB and a road bike be the same? Any advice would be very helpful.
the standard method is to measure from shoulder tobill
Nov 19, 2001 10:31 AM
shoulder at the joint (basically, from prominence to prominence). But, comfort is the issue. I think, all things being equal, that most people would use that measurement as a minimum and would err on the side of a little wider (round up -- most bars come in 2 cm increments, anyway).
Any LBS should help you size a bar.
As for comparisons to MTB bars, I couldn't tell you. I'm not even sure how MTB bars are measured -- no one brought up the subject when I bought my MTB (eleven years ago). With bars as with most aspects of geometry, sizing, etc., road bikes require a much more exact fit, because you remain in one position for such extended periods compared to MTB riding. With bars in particular, because the shape of the bars and the hand positioning is so different, I doubt that there is much equivalence.
46cm felt so good I bought a 50cory
Nov 19, 2001 10:53 AM
There are several methods, all yielding about the same results. As with frames, though, you could make an argument that a lot of people ride handlebars that are too small for them.
I've ridden 44cm bars for years, and I was happy with them. When I built up my Atlantis, though (it's 2cm bigger than my other road bikes, on Rivendell's recommendation), I happened to see some cheap 50cm bars in the Nashbar catalog. I put them on just to try, planning to move them to my singlespeed when I got tired of playing with them, and I've never taken them off. I get all the usual benefits of wider bars--opens up the chest, gives a little more control etc.--plus what amounts to an extra hand position. It's amazingly comfortable. I like them so much that I'm trying to find better bars in the same width (these only cost $18), but no luck so far.
The point, if I have one: Don't get locked into a size because somebody's formula says its "right." A lot of our ideas on size were developed by and for pros, and they may not work for more nearly average people.
Road Vs Mtbbreck
Nov 19, 2001 11:34 AM
Road:
With the elbows touching your sides; arms parallel; measure center-line third finger to third finger. Buy bar w/same c/l-to-c/l measurement. Slim guyz get the more aero bars; Clydesdale's get the bird. The narrower the bar the better aero position one may obtain for fast down-hill, etc. Wider bar for climbing as better chest expansion, etc. Catch-22 for steep mountain riding, dealer's choice.

Mtb:
For comfort go wider, but will get you less quick steering on fast single track. Use a 5 degree sweep handle bar for comfort; 3 degree sweep bar for best technical climbing. Shorter width bar for single track the eco-freaks trimmed the manzanita to 3" diameter bar catchers (what the hellandbemerry are they thinking!); use bar extension that taper in such as the Answer Hyperends XC, or Answer Guardian if you are the more nervous type. Ride with the hand on the handle bars inside the bar-ends when you're brush popping, etc. For best bar-end extension angle, lay a broom handle over your bars with other end resting on top of rear tire; this is the correcto angle. High rise stem for comfort; shorter "flatter" stem for best technical climbing.

cheers,
breck
re: Handlebar sizing 101BikingViking
Nov 19, 2001 4:40 PM
Thanks for the input. It's nice being able to ask what may seem to be a "stupid" question and get thoughtful and reasoned answers from the messageboard population.