Forum home Road cycling forum Road general

Handlebars. Go narrow?

gmkleusergmkleuser Posts: 25
edited March 2017 in Road general
Hi folks, it seems that many in the pro peleton are going narrow in their handlebar selection. Even a relatively larger rider like adam Hansen is running a 38cm.

Is it something any of you have thought about? Are most of you continent to stick the more standard 42-44cm?

I am considering going to a 38cm bar as, although I am an averaged sized guy, my shoulder width is rather slight compared to the rest of my dimensions. Last year I bit the bullet and went with 170cm cranks, can't say I noticed a huge difference but I can say that I have staved off the pesky knee pains that would bug me off and on.

Anyway, what do you think about compact set ups in terms of handlebars, cranks, etc (excluding 50/34 cranksets, that another debate).
«13

Posts

  • That depends - why are you doing it? If you are trying to reduce your frontal area, narrower is likely to be better, but in terms of comfort and handling, barring extremes, you will adapt to whatever you use. The classic shoulder blade measurement test says I should use 40cm bars (IIRC), but I use 38cm bars on one bike, 40cm on two others, and my TT bike base bar is 42cm.

    In other words, using narrower bars may make you a bit more aero. It won't make you more comfortable (but may not make you less comfortable either). Suck it and see.
  • I've switched all my bikes to 38cm from 42 and I think it's one of the best things I've done in terms of fit. OK I'm quite small, but I definitely feel more aero and nimble. I needed to buy a longer stem to compensate, as the narrower position slightly straightens my arms. But the combination really works for me, and I fell fast and comfortable using it..
    Everybody is different so might not work for you but you can get Deda RHM01 bars for about £15 so very cheap to try.
  • stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
    I'm running a flared bar, so you get the narrow width on the hoods but it flares back out to a 42 on the drops where you want the stability. It's a nice compromise. I think mine is a smidge over 40 on the hoods, I started off riding 44's but have slowly gone narrower over time, I prefer it now.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 53,316 Lives Here
    gmkleuser wrote:
    Hi folks, it seems that many in the pro peloton are going narrow in their handlebar selection. Even a relatively larger rider like adam Hansen is running a 38cm.

    Is it something any of you have thought about? Are most of you continent to stick the more standard 42-44cm?

    I am considering going to a 38cm bar as, although I am an averaged sized guy, my shoulder width is rather slight compared to the rest of my dimensions. Last year I bit the bullet and went with 170cm cranks, can't say I noticed a huge difference but I can say that I have staved off the pesky knee pains that would bug me off and on.

    Anyway, what do you think about compact set ups in terms of handlebars, cranks, etc (excluding 50/34 cranksets, that another debate).

    Yes, I ride 36cm on my commute and 38 on my road bike.

    I would like to have the narrower bars on my road bike but I can't find any that are low enough weight to justify.

    I find them very comfortable, and easier to get through traffic.
  • JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
    I'm pretty broad but have moved from 44cm to 40cm bars, find then really comfortable. For sprinting they gave a slight outward angle for the drops, can't see me going back to wider bars now
    Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
  • In answer to the title? Yes!

    Try typing '3 good reasons to try narrower handlebars' in Youtube.
  • philbar72philbar72 Posts: 2,228
    I've gone from 44 to 40 cm. you will be more aero and in some instances more comfortable.
  • bigjimbigjim Posts: 780
    Wide bars is a newish thing isn't it? Most of my bikes are pretty old [like me] and they all have narrow bars as standard. I'm broad shouldered but don't find them a problem. I wonder why they changed to a wider bar on modern bikes?
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 5,655
    The "new thing" is narrow bars, cos its more aero. I'd need convincing that its significant.

    For as long as I've been cycling (ahem-years) the "standard" has been 42cm range, bigger for 'cross. Its only become ambiguous since some manufacturers started measuring between the outer widths - making 44cm appear more common, whereas they are still close to 42 measured centre to centre.

    To my mind, if the difference between 42cm and 38cm bars is relevant to whether you can make it through a gap in traffic, there isn't enough space.

    Most of all, your bars are a contact point. Get the size that fits and feels most comfortable, whatever the actual width. You wouldn't wear shoes that are too small just because they were more aero, would you?

    ....Actually, I'll bet a few peope would....
  • It is significant.

    You reduce your frontal profile significantly by dropping a size (or two). It's been one of the best things I did in terms of bike fit.

    I found no loss of comfort (in fact the opposite). If I could get the 3T Aeronova in a 38, I'd take it, but unfortunately the smallest is 40.
  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 3,109
    It is significant.

    You reduce your frontal profile significantly by dropping a size (or two). It's been one of the best things I did in terms of bike fit.

    I found no loss of comfort (in fact the opposite). If I could get the 3T Aeronova in a 38, I'd take it, but unfortunately the smallest is 40.

    Is that you in the You tube video?
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 5,655
    It is significant.
    I bet it isn't.
  • ryan_w-2ryan_w-2 Posts: 1,162
    I'm a big guy and ride 42's.

    Contemplated 40's but my rather large legs need the extra room when forearms are flat on the tops.
    Specialized Allez Sprint Disc --- Specialized S-Works SL7

    IG: RhinosWorkshop
  • It is significant.
    I bet it isn't.

    Depends on your definition of significant I suppose....!
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 5,655
    It is significant.
    I bet it isn't.

    Depends on your definition of significant I suppose....!
    Is it the difference between pretty slow and pretty much just as slow?
  • MBCaad8MBCaad8 Posts: 127
    If I could get the 3T Aeronova in a 38, I'd take it, but unfortunately the smallest is 40.

    Yes, shame isn't it or I would have a set too. Been riding 38s since I broke my collarbone a couple of years ago and started to suffer pain on longer rides with anything wider.
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    Funny thing, but I tried 40c-c last year and they had a huge impact in the way the bike felt, handled and my ability to get aero. Also I was able to look backwards when looking for rearward traffic a lot easier too. I saw my bike fitter and he was like no no no and suggested I go back to 44 so I did not do it for long but certainly made the bike feel like a different machine. The odd thing is that three made they bike feel a better fit but I stuck with the 44 for now as I spent last year recovering from a bad neck and did not want to exasperate the issue. I might try again this spring.
  • MoonbikerMoonbiker Posts: 1,706
    Wide bars is a newish thing isn't it? Most of my bikes are pretty old [like me] and they all have narrow bars as standard. I'm broad shouldered but don't find them a problem. I wonder why they changed to a wider bar on modern bikes?

    I wondered this also maybe it is just fashion?

    Narrow bars look alot prettier also imo , some of the sportive bikes that all seem to have massive looking 44cm bars just look wrong.

    So seems now the fashion is going back to what it used to be maybe 18c - 20c tyres will male a comback also doubt it though :o
  • Funny thing, but I tried 40c-c last year and they had a huge impact in the way the bike felt, handled and my ability to get aero. Also I was able to look backwards when looking for rearward traffic a lot easier too. I saw my bike fitter and he was like no no no and suggested I go back to 44 so I did not do it for long but certainly made the bike feel like a different machine. The odd thing is that three made they bike feel a better fit but I stuck with the 44 for now as I spent last year recovering from a bad neck and did not want to exasperate the issue. I might try again this spring.

    You obviously have a lot of confidence in your bike fitter!

    Not sure that bar width has much impact on neck comfort..?
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 53,316 Lives Here
    Funny thing, but I tried 40c-c last year and they had a huge impact in the way the bike felt, handled and my ability to get aero. Also I was able to look backwards when looking for rearward traffic a lot easier too. I saw my bike fitter and he was like no no no and suggested I go back to 44 so I did not do it for long but certainly made the bike feel like a different machine. The odd thing is that three made they bike feel a better fit but I stuck with the 44 for now as I spent last year recovering from a bad neck and did not want to exasperate the issue. I might try again this spring.

    You obviously have a lot of confidence in your bike fitter!

    Not sure that bar width has much impact on neck comfort..?

    I find narrower more comfortable around the shoulders / arms, so I can see why it would affect the neck.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,519
    I am on 42 largely because that is what the bike came with but if speccing from scratch I'd buy 40s. A while back I do fit some 44s to a winter bike I built up when going wider was the fashion and didn't like them at all.
    AFC Mercia women - sign for us
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    Funny thing, but I tried 40c-c last year and they had a huge impact in the way the bike felt, handled and my ability to get aero. Also I was able to look backwards when looking for rearward traffic a lot easier too. I saw my bike fitter and he was like no no no and suggested I go back to 44 so I did not do it for long but certainly made the bike feel like a different machine. The odd thing is that three made they bike feel a better fit but I stuck with the 44 for now as I spent last year recovering from a bad neck and did not want to exasperate the issue. I might try again this spring.

    You obviously have a lot of confidence in your bike fitter!

    Not sure that bar width has much impact on neck comfort..?

    Yeah, I am kind of over it now as experimentation costs money and time, but that said, I am very good at bar taping now so all good bike building practice. I know the key is buy dirt cheap but so many variations on reach and drop.
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    Got 38's on my road bike and 42 on my single speed. Vastly prefer the 38's
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • hjghg5hjghg5 Posts: 97
    I have switched most of my bikes other than my cross bike over to 38s and feel so much better. I used to get shoulder pain on wider bars but it has gone on the narrow ones. Although I'm female I'm not particularly small so didn't think I needed narrow bars but they were suggested at a bike fit and I haven't looked back.
  • webboowebboo Posts: 3,274
    The old rule of the thumb was your bars should be as wide as your shoulders. However wider bars were supposed to be an aid to sprinting and climbing in that you could use the leverage to get up to speed and keep the momentum going.
    Narrow bars do look a bit sh*t though.
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    Don't really need them as levers now people have worked out that gears are better than riding 53/42 and 11-21 everywhere :)
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • A 'normal' Q factor is about 140mm, (so half is 70) + distance to pedal centre (approx 30mm) so the pedal force is applied 100mm away from the centreline of the bike.

    A 400mm handlebar is 200mm away from the centreline.

    Therefore the force you need to apply at the handlebar to counteract the pedal force is about 2 times less.

    However, a longer lever (wider bar) will tend to scribe a larger arc, which promotes rocking of the body, which personally I prefer not to have.
  • lesfirthlesfirth Posts: 1,126
    [

    Yes, I ride 36cm on my commute and 38 on my road bike.

    I would like to have the narrower bars on my road bike but I can't find any that are low enough weight to justify.

    I find them very comfortable, and easier to get through traffic.


    Wow! I measure the gaps between cars that I aim for in feet. Have you tried thinner gloves? :lol:
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    In London its not uncommon that I will brush against a stationary bus to get through gaps with my shoulder - SCR is LIFE!!!!!11111
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • adam0bmx0adam0bmx0 Posts: 263
    I went the other way, was running 40cm and went to 44cm. I actually have narrow shoulders, but found the extra width more stable, especially when sprinting. Found it nicer climbing too when using it as leverage on steep climbs.
    If the bar ain't bending, you're just pretending
Sign In or Register to comment.