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Handlebar width question(7 posts)

Handlebar width questionBallsOut
Aug 14, 2003 7:12 AM
Hey all,

I'm reverting back to a traditional STI/drop bar setup - I currently have a bullhorn/berend shifter configuration for my triathlon bike (hate it, hate it, hate it).

I'm looking to buy a new set of handlebars but don't know what size to buy. I have fairly broad shoulders (I think they're around 42-44 cm?). What's the best way to determine my measurments and what size handlebar I need??

Thanks for your help!
re: Handlebar width questionrussw19
Aug 14, 2003 9:13 AM
They should be about as wide as you shoulder blades.. but that's just in theory.. they really should be wide enough to let you breathe unrestricted, but narrow enough that you don't have your arms splayed out from your shoulders to grip them. I don't know if I can word that better, but when extended, they should be perpindicular to your shoulder blades, not opening out away from your chest... you shouldn't feel like you are hugging a fat family member, but should be in a neutral position.

The best way to find out what you need is to try different widths and go from there. You seem to be fairly broad shouldered, so maybe just try a 44 (c to c) and a 46 (c to c) or their equivilants in outside to outside measurements. Some companies measure differently, but you are going to be looking at the 2 widest sizes from what I can tell, no matter how they measure. Ask your local shop for some help on this and they may do one of two things for you, either set you up with a temp used bar until you see what you need, or offer to swap out a bar to a different size if you aren't comfortable and don't crash on them. I would do either or both for you at my shop, but some LBS's don't want to deal with the hassle of getting things right for a customer. If yours does, reward them with a big thank you and continue to take your business there... they would have earned it in my book.

Hope that helps you out,
FWIW, After an extensive fit at my LBS...koala
Aug 14, 2003 9:58 AM
I found that I like bars 2cm wider than my shoulder width. The bars that are my shoulder width apart always felt too narrow when I was out of the saddle. Its hard to see how a recreational rider could go wrong with bars one size wider than his/her shoulders. Maybe someone could shed more light on this, because I am about to buy one size larger for one of my roadbikes.
FWIW, After an extensive fit at my LBS...russw19
Aug 14, 2003 12:14 PM
It's not a big issue... the wider bars open your chest up more. Narrow bars help you stay aero in the drops by putting your elbows closer together, but if you can't breathe, you can't get power, so being aero is meaningless then.

Go with what you are comfortable on, it will make more of a difference than what you may or may not lose in aerodynamics. That's why I told the guy to try to test ride different bars first... it made a difference for you, so it may help him too.

Now if you had 38 mm wide shoulders and were riding 46 mm bars, that may be overkill, but 2 cm wider than your shoulders is negligable.

Thanx Russ....n.m.koala
Aug 15, 2003 2:58 AM
Different methods...PsyDoc
Aug 14, 2003 9:14 AM
The "recommended" method is to measure shoulder width and go with that measurement. A wider bar opens up the chest for "better" breathing, while a narrower bar makes you a bit more aero. One method is to measure your shoulder width by the outside of the bony protrusions at the top of your shoulders. This will give your center-to-center handlebar size. Measure across the front of your chest...not the back. Ultimately though, it comes down to what feels best to you.
go to wrenchscience.comBergMann
Aug 14, 2003 9:56 AM
Not too long ago I used the sizing feature on just to see how close it came to my preferred position, reach, bar width etc. on the bike.

With bar width, it was spot-on.
Try it!