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Handlebar width & crank length?(4 posts)

Handlebar width & crank length?Mr_Grim2
Jul 10, 2002 12:44 PM
One of those fundamental questions...

I measured the bony protrusions of my shoulders from my back and came up with a measurement of 35.5 cm. Does this mean that I should ride a 40cm width bar? I'm currently riding a 44cm (yes I know, WAY to big).

Also, I'm 5'7" with an inseam of 76.2cm. I wear a 50cm frame. Should I be turning 170 or 172.5 crank arms? I do mostly crit racing with 4 or 5 road races a year. My pedal style can vary widely from "big-ringing" a climb to spinning a sprint. I'm currently turning a 175 (yes I know, WAY too big).
Whatever works!!Quack
Jul 10, 2002 1:07 PM
As far as crank length is concerned, stick with the 175. If you can spin it up and it feels OK climbing as well, stick with it. For the bars, assuming your current bars are 44cm C-C, a 40cm C-C might allow you to cut through the wind more efficiently, but it may also impact your breathing in a negative way. I would stick with the cranks and borrow a narrower bar from someone to try for a few rides. I don't believe there are any rules set in stone regarding bar width and crank length.
re: Handlebar width & crank length?xxl
Jul 10, 2002 1:39 PM
Are you unhappy with your 175's, i.e., are you getting knee pain, or having trouble with decent cadence, or what? Based on the info you gave, rules of thumb would suggest a 170 (you could even go to 165). But how it feels to you is paramount. I suggest trying a bike that has 170's (which are most road bikes, and stationary trainers), just to see if you can tell a difference. I routinely ride bikes with both 170's and 175's, (I'm tall), and I honestly can barely tell the 5mm difference; I suspect that halving that, I wouldn't notice a difference at all. I do know some manufacturers don't even bother with 2.5mm size increments (it's about the thickness of a couple of credit cards). One bonus of short crankarms, esp. useful if you ride lots of crits, is you won't be clipping pavement with your pedals quite so much.

As to the bars, again, do they feel too big to you? Measuring body distances can be notoriously inaccurate, so I wouldn't get too upset about being outside some guideline. Having said that, though, it would seem that you could get away with a narrower bar. Go to the shop and hold a few, "air-riding," and see which feels better. The rule of thumb about the bar being as wide as the shoulder protrusions is fine, but it is just a starting point, kind of like shoe sizes.
re: Handlebar width & crank length?Colorado Premier Training
Jul 10, 2002 2:51 PM
Your upper body has no real accurate "formula" for determining fit for your bike. Best thing to do is measure your acromian process (outer bony part of your shoulder) to your other acromian process. Then find a handlebar about the same (if anything, go next size wider). #1 priority is comfort! I work with a biomechanist at the Olympic Training Center and I confirmed this with him. Crank length should be 170 or 172.5 for your height you gave me. I would suggest the 170 if it criteriums you are mostly racing and bump it up to the 172.5's for Time trialing.

If you have any other questions for me, you can post a message at:
Steve Owens
Professional Cycling Coach
Colorado Premier Training