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Is handlebar width really critical?(12 posts)

Is handlebar width really critical?mdewitt71
May 29, 2003 9:37 AM
I have owned a Bianchi Ultegra bike w/ 42 cm bars for a year now and love it. While playing around on It stated my correct bar size is 46 cm.
Before I go out and buy a new bar and figure out its not for me I wanted to see what others thought. I am an average 5'8" 170 lbs guy.
you should be faster with a 46climbo
May 29, 2003 9:44 AM
just kidding. NO, it is not critical, but it can improve comfort and breathing if you have a bar that is VERY wrong for you. I'd say a 42 covers most people your size, a 46 is the biggest standard size you can buy so I would say that those width bars are mostly for the over 6' type person. What kind of site could make a recommendation like that? Stickk with whatever you are comfortable with, unless you have massively wide shoulders a 42 sounds about right for you.
I wouldn't change it, especially if you like your 42 cmPaul
May 29, 2003 9:47 AM
I have a friend who is 6 ft, broad shoulded, has a 46 and hates it. Supposely, it should be the same as your shoulder width for better breathing, but I wouldn't change it.
to whom?mohair_chair
May 29, 2003 9:49 AM
If the "wrong" size has worked for you so far, why change it? If you need to replace the bars at some point, maybe you can go wider, but unless you are having some kind of problem, I wouldn't change it right now.

One thing you should do before putting out money is going down to your LBS and trying out different widths if possible. Hopefully they have enough bikes sitting around with different widths so you can see what they feel like.
May 29, 2003 9:51 AM
The general rule is...shoulder width apart. But..

1. you cant really go too wide. Wider is often more comfortable, but you simply sacrifice some aerodynamic benefit. big deal.

2. Generally, narrower becomes more uncomforatable, and at extremes could restrict respiration. But I doubt the <2 inches between 42 and 46 could be considered extreme.

Are you comfortable? If not, dont worry about it.
Thanks Guys for the info!!!!mdewitt71
May 29, 2003 9:56 AM
Yea thats what I figured, its what feels better that counts.
Seeing the 4 cm difference thru me off though.
Maybe on of these days I will go downtown and ride a 44 or 46.
Yes...a HUGE difference...Bonked
May 29, 2003 9:56 AM
especially if the ones you are using are too small. I recently bought a new bike and went from ~36 or 38 to a 44 and it has made a huge difference. When I ride my old bike now, I feel that the bike is much less stable, especially when out of the saddle. Despite one bike being 15 yrs old and the other brand new, the main thing I dislike about the old bike now is the handle bar width. I would, however, check with a shop first and get measured in person rather than going by a website.
I guess I will hit a LBS.mdewitt71
May 29, 2003 10:00 AM
Its 8PM right now (Germany) but I will hit a LBS after work tomorrow and see for myself. Thanks.
It can affect your breathing, but is highly personal...miposy
May 29, 2003 9:58 AM
If your bars are too narrow for you, it can restrict your breathing somewhat. A GENERAL rule is that they should be the width of your shoulders.

I was very comfortable, because I was used to them, with my 42s. However, a friend suggested I might breathe better if I went to a 44 and in retrospect they were correct, and I'm glad I tried it. Also, handlebars are relatively cheap, so there is low risk in trying them out (especially if you have a good relationship with your LBS).
From a guy about the same size....funknuggets
May 29, 2003 10:05 AM
The ultimate answer, like everyone has said "it depends". I have 44s on my Fondriest, and 42 on my Lemond, and honestly I am more comfortable on the 44s. When I say "more comfortable", I am referring to shoulder, hands, and wrists.

Often with too narrow handlebars, you can either pinch your chest which could potentially impact breathing and often cause some additional pressure on triceps, delts, or other muscles depending on your positioning. It also depends on how you ride, do you mainly ride on your hoods or drops? Wider would have the greatest impact to your position and if you ride more in your drops as your leverage and balance on your front end moves away from your center of gravity. It also will feel really weird when you try to stand and sprint or climb if you are used to the 42s.

So sayeth the funk.
Now that you mention it...mdewitt71
May 29, 2003 10:14 AM
Now that you mention it, when I am in my drops I do feel the workout of my triceps alot. I mainly ride my hoods though so thats probibly why it hasnt really affected me.
Ill bet a 44 would be better. Gotta try one out!!
Just make sure you know how the bars are measured...Horace Greeley
May 29, 2003 10:38 AM
if you take a look at other bars. Some are c-c while others are are o-o. I'm about the same height, average to narrow build, and I use a 44 (O-O) Deda Newton Bar. A 44 bar meaured C-C will be different.