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Why are bars so wide?

photonic69photonic69 Posts: 1,052
edited August 2018 in Road general
Been looking at new bikes today and all seem to have wide bars. I'm talking 440-460mm bars on a 56 frame. Even the guy in the shop says it was silly as he swaps them out for customers who have to buy narrower bars to fit. He says he's got about 10 wide bars sitting in a box that nobody wants

My perfect width is 420 but unless I buy a small frame I'm stuck with wide bars I don't want and have to spend on swapping.

Is this a new trend?
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  • timothywtimothyw Posts: 2,482
    Yeah, it's annoying.

    I'm pretty huge but still like to ride 42cm bars.

    Part of it is the gravel bike trend - off roading it can be beneficial so have somewhat wider bars.

    Of course, there are a few retailers (Ribble, Dolan, planet x etc) who build to order so you can specify what bar size you want. Others you might be able to ask nicely....

    On the upside, new handlebars are cheap if you don't mind swapping over yourself.
  • figbatfigbat Posts: 680
    photonic69 wrote:
    He says he's got about 10 wide bars sitting in a box that nobody wants

    And this place is...? I have a project gravel-type bike in conception, fancy some 440s on it. Doing it on the cheap.
    Cube Reaction GTC Pro 29 for the lumpy stuff
    Cannondale Synapse alloy with 'guards for the winter roads
    Fuji Altamira 2.7 for the summer roads
    Trek 830 Mountain Track frame turned into a gravel bike - for anywhere & everywhere
  • photonic69photonic69 Posts: 1,052
    Yeah. Bars are cheap but it's still a faff with bar tape and cables especially now with gear cables under the bar tape and getting the prefect outer cable radius. Just seems like a stupid fad to me.
  • photonic69photonic69 Posts: 1,052
    figbat wrote:
    photonic69 wrote:
    He says he's got about 10 wide bars sitting in a box that nobody wants

    And this place is...? I have a project gravel-type bike in conception, fancy some 440s on it. Doing it on the cheap.


    Bike shop in Keynsham near Brizzel :wink:
  • ProssPross Posts: 24,258
    I'd expect a decent bike shop to swap them out for you if you make the point or they fit you for the bike.
  • peatpeat Posts: 1,243
    I've always had to swap bars as a first job when getting a new bike. Being lofty and ordering a 60cm-62cm frame, they assume you're built like a rugby player.
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 20,507
    Wider Bars FTW! ;)

    (is it an MTB thing?)
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • peatpeat Posts: 1,243
    I like the idea of a flared drop bar. Best of both worlds.
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    Yup, I always expect to change both the stem and the bars every time I get a new (second hand) bike. It's part of the fun for me.
  • CitizenLeeCitizenLee Posts: 2,227
    As a MTBer soon to join the dark side, I like the idea of wider bars.

    To me it certainly makes sense for CX and Gravel bikes to have them. Not sure I see any benefit for purebred road bikes though, but that's trends for you.
    Current:
    NukeProof Mega FR 2012
    Cube NuRoad 2018
    Previous:
    2015 Genesis CdF 10, 2014 Cube Hyde Race, 2012 NS Traffic, 2007 Specialized SX Trail, 2005 Specialized Demo 8
  • MoonbikerMoonbiker Posts: 1,706
    Iv'e noticed this on newer bikes probably a fashion thing or is it something mammils need riser stem and 46cm bars?

    Wide bars look weird especially on smaller frames.
  • ProssPross Posts: 24,258
    I don't think I've ever seen 46cm bars as standard even on larger (56 or 58cm) framed bikes. Having had a quick look at the specs for various bikes the bar widths aren't often advertised but where they have been they've tended to be 42cm on a 56cm frame or sometimes 44cm.
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 20,507
    I ve never seen it on a road bike either. However if they are getting more common that means more aftermarket choice for me and my big shoulders so...win

    Pro (...so...Shimano!!) have one 46cm bar in the whole range and it's a cheapest model. Wherefore my smooth, road buzz free carbon dream bar? ;)
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • As a diminutive rider, I'm annoyed by the lack of bar options that are 36cm wide. I think there are literally 2 models out there and one is marketed as a women's handlebar. :|

    There aren't any 36cm flat-topped aero bars either which is ironic since narrower bars are probably more aero? Chris Hoy apparently liked to race bars as slim as 22-26cm width and still favours 36-38cm generally. I'm sure he can get custom though.
  • https://www.planetx.co.uk/i/q/HBNIRM3/n ... -handlebar

    Thought about buying these so often to stick on the Voodoo, instead of the 747mm Knuckleball bars.

    The only hesitation, alongside PX's yo-yo pricing, is whether I could use the existing MTB shifters and brakes on the bar tops or would I need to spend out on suitable replacements.

    The aero savings on a fatbike would be awesome sauce.;)
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,143
    I don't think they are getting more common they've been this way for at least 10 years. It comes from the idea your bars should be as wide as your shoulders. I agree though 42cm is pretty wide, personally I'd rather see 38-40cm specced on bikes as standard.
    AFC Mercia women - sign for us
  • JaymeJayme Posts: 48
    photonic69 wrote:
    figbat wrote:
    photonic69 wrote:
    He says he's got about 10 wide bars sitting in a box that nobody wants

    And this place is...? I have a project gravel-type bike in conception, fancy some 440s on it. Doing it on the cheap.


    Bike shop in Keynsham near Brizzel :wink:

    73 degrees? Cracking shop
  • JaymeJayme Posts: 48
    As a diminutive rider, I'm annoyed by the lack of bar options that are 36cm wide. I think there are literally 2 models out there and one is marketed as a women's handlebar. :|

    There aren't any 36cm flat-topped aero bars either which is ironic since narrower bars are probably more aero? Chris Hoy apparently liked to race bars as slim as 22-26cm width and still favours 36-38cm generally. I'm sure he can get custom though.

    Deda Elementi bars measure outside to outside instead of centre to centre. I can tell the difference between my deda bars and my specialized bars.
  • Jayme wrote:
    Deda Elementi bars measure outside to outside instead of centre to centre. I can tell the difference between my deda bars and my specialized bars.

    Great, that's 3 handlebars I can choose from now when speccing a new bike. :lol:

    The others I've found that are 36cm hood to hood are "Specialized Women's Expert Alloy Shallow" and "Zipp Service Course SL-70"
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,001
    Jayme wrote:
    Deda Elementi bars measure outside to outside instead of centre to centre. I can tell the difference between my deda bars and my specialized bars.

    Great, that's 3 handlebars I can choose from now when speccing a new bike. :lol:

    The others I've found that are 36cm hood to hood are "Specialized Women's Expert Alloy Shallow" and "Zipp Service Course SL-70"

    RSP mini bar is 38cm c/c - and is also very cheap, so worth a look.. https://www.tredz.co.uk/.RSP-Mini-Road-Bar_53250.htm
  • I'm looking for 36cm wide bars centre to centre though. :)
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,001
    I'm looking for 36cm wide bars centre to centre though. :)

    Why 36cm specifically? Either way, the narrower (or wider) you go, the less choice there is at either end of the scale. There are a few track/sprint bars available in 33-36cm widths, but those are not necessarily compatible with road shifters/levers.
  • JBVRVJBVRV Posts: 27
    Just switched from 44cm to 38cm and it feels great. Haven't noticed much difference in handling off-road either. Only problem is less space for lights, bell, gps mount
  • Imposter wrote:
    Why 36cm specifically?

    I guess a combination of aero, aesthetics (small bikes look awful with wide bars in my opinion), comfort and ability to filter through narrow gaps in city traffic.

    I have 36cm Zipp SL-70s on one of my bikes and I'd definitely buy them again. It's just a shame to not have as much choice in terms of bar shape, bar profile, drop length and looks.
  • It comes from the idea your bars should be as wide as your shoulders.

    Indeed. File under 'KOPS'.

    I'm glad nobody has suggested that wider bars are better because they open up your chest for breathing. It's utter tosh.
  • photonic69photonic69 Posts: 1,052
    Yeah, I'm looking now at bikes that are built to order with an online configurator as some savings in the sales are not all they cracked up to be if I have to change bars, rear cassettes and rear derailleurs
  • MoonbikerMoonbiker Posts: 1,706
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  • poptart242poptart242 Posts: 487

    I guess a combination of aero, aesthetics (small bikes look awful with wide bars in my opinion), comfort and ability to filter through narrow gaps in city traffic.

    I have 36cm Zipp SL-70s on one of my bikes and I'd definitely buy them again. It's just a shame to not have as much choice in terms of bar shape, bar profile, drop length and looks.

    Seconded on the SL-70s in 36cm width - my new 52cm CAAD came specced with 42s (and 172.5mm cranks, WTH).

    They just immediately make the bike feel more like a race bike.
  • chrisw12chrisw12 Posts: 1,246
    Are you finding any disadvantages with going narrow? I currently have 40 on road bike but fancy going to 36. Is there enough hand room on the top? The geometry of me and my bike I sometimes hit my knee on the bar when standing climbing, do you notice this happening more so with narrower bars?
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    I'm a smaller rider but my bike was fitted with 42cm bars based on my shoulder measurement. Always thought they looked and felt a bit too wide for the 51cm frame, and I never got on with the anatomic shape. Just fitted some 40 cm bars with a nice compact curve, and it's amazing how big a difference it seems to have made. Not sure I'd go smaller though; there's just the right amount of space on the tops for light, GPS and hands.
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