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Is there a comparison of current narrow/shallow sprint handlebars?

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Is there a comparison of current narrow/shallow sprint handlebars?

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Old 11-14-18, 01:34 PM
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Super D
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Is there a comparison of current narrow/shallow sprint handlebars?

Pardon me if I missed an existing thread on this, I searched but couldn’t find it. (Please share a link if you would be so kind, for a pertinent thread.) I’m trying to compare the current crop of handlebars for sprinting. I’m working on getting my two stem/bar setups dialed for next season (one for pursuit, one for everything else). It seems recently that sprint bar geometry has been evolving from generous drop and medium width to shallower drop with narrow width.

Look’s aero track bar and the 3T Scatto are great solutions, but is there anything else one would want to look at (especially on a tighter budget)?

I’ve got a Pro Vibe 7S alu track bar now, great stiffness, just too much drop and too wide. So I’m looking to go shallower, narrower, and aero is a small consideration too...but my arm, body and head position is really taking on most of that responsibility. (Which I also need to work on of course!)

I’m going to play with stems and spacers, need to put a compact sprint bar in the mix.

Thank you for sharing thoughts on this.

Last edited by Super D; 11-14-18 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 11-14-18, 02:27 PM
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There is a table on UpUpUp but it’s getting dated now. The newest addition would have been the BT bars but there’s a few other options around now like Look et al

Handlebar reach and drop table ? Up! Up! Up! An introduction to track sprint cycling
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Old 11-14-18, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by brawlo View Post
There is a table on UpUpUp but itís getting dated now. The newest addition would have been the BT bars but thereís a few other options around now like Look et al

Handlebar reach and drop table ? Up! Up! Up! An introduction to track sprint cycling
Thank you, very interesting site! Good to see the geometry from bar to bar like that.
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Old 11-14-18, 02:56 PM
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What width are your current bars? I have a set of 35cm Scattos and think they're great - the narrow width and the forward sweep of the bar does alter the feel quite considerably from a straight bar, so the setup will change a fair bit, but I do feel considerably more aero than I did on a 40cm straight bar.

I like the look of the Dolan Alpina sprint bars as well, though I anticipate they aren't as aero as the Scattos.
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Old 11-14-18, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by FinkFloyd View Post
What width are your current bars? I have a set of 35cm Scattos and think they're great - the narrow width and the forward sweep of the bar does alter the feel quite considerably from a straight bar, so the setup will change a fair bit, but I do feel considerably more aero than I did on a 40cm straight bar.

I like the look of the Dolan Alpina sprint bars as well, though I anticipate they aren't as aero as the Scattos.
I've got the Pro Vibe 7S in a 42. Too wide and too much drop, I'm pushing lots of wind. Getting a longer stem and will add stack height in the front to bring hands up more, and forearms more angled to cut the wind better, but the width of these bars opens my arms up too much anyway, so hunting for something overall more compact and with longer reach. I already have a 130mm stem, trying to find a decently stiff 150 if one exists. I've got the alu Pro Vibe 7S stem, and it's impressively stiff. Just too short as it turns out. I'm on a 58cm frame, might even have to up to a 60cm to get more spread out. Trying to avoid that for now, that's an awfully big frame.
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Old 11-14-18, 03:14 PM
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Old 11-14-18, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Poppit View Post
The Selcof stuff is so inexpensive, what's the catch?
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Old 11-14-18, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Super D View Post
The Selcof stuff is so inexpensive, what's the catch?
I suppose itís all relative, is it cheap or are all the others expensive. Weíve recently been using a Selcof front 5 spoke, its well built and rides well and at £300 it was a steal.
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Old 11-14-18, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Poppit View Post


I suppose itís all relative, is it cheap or are all the others expensive. Weíve recently been using a Selcof front 5 spoke, its well built and rides well and at £300 it was a steal.
Pretty amazing. It'd be interesting to do a blind test with some top racers, put them on their bikes and change out the front wheels, have them do some flying 200s and some TTs or Pursuits and see what happens.
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Old 11-14-18, 03:34 PM
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With bars I think it depends on your bike fit. I know of one guy who had to swap from Scattos to the alpina type of bar because he needed to be lower and the Scattos were too shallow, I know of others who want to go the other way. It isn’t all about the width.
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Old 11-14-18, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Poppit View Post
With bars I think it depends on your bike fit. I know of one guy who had to swap from Scattos to the alpina type of bar because he needed to be lower and the Scattos were too shallow, I know of others who want to go the other way. It isnít all about the width.
Yep, agreed, and I also believe it's a good idea to try a couple of different bars and see what becomes the best combo of fit and aero. If aero is great, but you can't breathe, then the fit isn't dialed in for the specific person. Not everyone can have the same aero position, each person's fit is a little unique to them is what I've been learning. I'm really curious to feel what a very aero sprint position is like, to see if I can breathe well enough, or how much of a less aggressive position I personally would need to arrive at a balance.

I dialed in my TT road bike fit over months of tweaking, and may still need to get a little lower in the front end, but I'm nearly there. On the track bike, I'm starting all over again, and with one bike used for two purposes, it's two completely different fits. Kind of a fun project, really.
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Old 11-14-18, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Super D View Post
I already have a 130mm stem, trying to find a decently stiff 150 if one exists.
3T make the ARX stem in 150mm. The trick is finding one as they seem to be pretty rare. I have one on my bike that's permanently in the trainer.

Originally Posted by Super D View Post
I'm on a 58cm frame, might even have to up to a 60cm to get more spread out. Trying to avoid that for now, that's an awfully big frame.
Pffft......my bike has a 63cm TT
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Old 11-14-18, 06:22 PM
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Not suif this has been mentioned, but when you go to a narrower bar, this pushes your torso up...so you need a longer TT and/or stem to compensate.

I ride a 58cm road bike 61cm track bike for this reason. The bars are narrower on the latter.

Just adding more stem could affect handling. Sometimes more TT is whatís best.
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Old 11-14-18, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by brawlo View Post
3T make the ARX stem in 150mm. The trick is finding one as they seem to be pretty rare. I have one on my bike that's permanently in the trainer.



Pffft......my bike has a 63cm TT
Yes, hard to find a 150, I've never actually seen one. I'm not sure they exist. Kind of like the Easter Bunny.


Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Not suif this has been mentioned, but when you go to a narrower bar, this pushes your torso up...so you need a longer TT and/or stem to compensate.

I ride a 58cm road bike 61cm track bike for this reason. The bars are narrower on the latter.

Just adding more stem could affect handling. Sometimes more TT is whatís best.
Yes, I'm wrestling with that, trying to avoid buying another frame, but it may come to that. In terms of handling, do longer stems slow down steering response?
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Old 11-14-18, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Super D View Post
Yes, hard to find a 150, I've never actually seen one. I'm not sure they exist. Kind of like the Easter Bunny.
The ARX is now superseded but there may be some old stock around. I got mine via my bike fitter with connections to the Aus 3T importer. The new 3T Apto stems list up to 150mm on their website
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Old 11-14-18, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Super D View Post
...In terms of handling, do longer stems slow down steering response?
Yeah, as well as making out of the saddle stuff, like standing starts, wonky.

Obviously stems are cheaper than frames. But, just be open to a longer TT than you are accustomed to for road bikes. Another reason is that track races are shorter and have higher average speeds. So, if your races are 5-20 minutes, you can maintain a more aggressive position than you'd want for a 2-4 hr ride. With higher speeds, aero gains help a lot.

Lately, it seems that the "knuckles on the tire" downward fit has given way to the "stretched forward" fit as it pierces the air better.

All of the above is fine tuning. But, it's winter. There is lots of time for speculating and debating and buying stuff we don't need
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Old 11-14-18, 07:36 PM
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Also, larger frames usually have taller head tubes. Tall head tubes move backwards more, away from the front tire. So, if the goal is to put the palms of the hands directly over the front axle (my reference mark), doing that with a 60cm frame might require a 140mm stem and doing the same with a 50cm frame might require a 80mm stem...using the exact same handlebars.

People at bike shops would look at me like I'm crazy when I asked for 140mm or 150mm stems. "Why do you need such a super long stem??!"...because I'm 6'1" on a 60cm bike with short/shallow 35cm Scatto bars.

Super D, I think you are quickly picking up on the fact that, while similar, fitting for track can be significantly different from fitting for road.

I think the riders that experience the most frustration are those that think, "Well, for road bikes I always use X, so that's definitely what I need on the track!" I did that. My first custom track bike was 57cm...because that was the size of my favorite road bike. My current custom bike is 61cm. FOUR centimeters longer with all other angles the same! Part of that was going from "wide" 38cm bars to "narrow" 35cm bars. But, a lot of that was also learning more about fitting.
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Old 11-14-18, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by brawlo View Post
The ARX is now superseded but there may be some old stock around. I got mine via my bike fitter with connections to the Aus 3T importer. The new 3T Apto stems list up to 150mm on their website
I saw that 150 size listed for the Apto, but I've got no idea how to get a torque wrench on those inward-facing bolts. Sure it's an aero looking design, but for mechanical work, no idea what they were thinking (I really like 3T stuff in general, this one was a surprise).

Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Yeah, as well as making out of the saddle stuff, like standing starts, wonky.

Obviously stems are cheaper than frames. But, just be open to a longer TT than you are accustomed to for road bikes. Another reason is that track races are shorter and have higher average speeds. So, if your races are 5-20 minutes, you can maintain a more aggressive position than you'd want for a 2-4 hr ride. With higher speeds, aero gains help a lot.

Lately, it seems that the "knuckles on the tire" downward fit has given way to the "stretched forward" fit as it pierces the air better.

All of the above is fine tuning. But, it's winter. There is lots of time for speculating and debating and buying stuff we don't need
Yes, definitely open to it. Now that I've been slowly realizing that I'm on the wrong size frame...and due to the taller head tube, probably on the wrong model as well (I've been looking at the TK1 frame geometry versus the TK aluminum frames and the carbon frame certainly has a long-and-low format).

Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Also, larger frames usually have taller head tubes. Tall head tubes move backwards more, away from the front tire. So, if the goal is to put the palms of the hands directly over the front axle (my reference mark), doing that with a 60cm frame might require a 140mm stem and doing the same with a 50cm frame might require a 80mm stem...using the exact same handlebars.

People at bike shops would look at me like I'm crazy when I asked for 140mm or 150mm stems. "Why do you need such a super long stem??!"...because I'm 6'1" on a 60cm bike with short/shallow 35cm Scatto bars.

Super D, I think you are quickly picking up on the fact that, while similar, fitting for track can be significantly different from fitting for road.

I think the riders that experience the most frustration are those that think, "Well, for road bikes I always use X, so that's definitely what I need on the track!" I did that. My first custom track bike was 57cm...because that was the size of my favorite road bike. My current custom bike is 61cm. FOUR centimeters longer with all other angles the same! Part of that was going from "wide" 38cm bars to "narrow" 35cm bars. But, a lot of that was also learning more about fitting.
Yes indeed, picking up on it, trying to work around it with stem and bar, but knowing I will eventually succumb to getting a different frame. Track fit is more challenging than road fit, I'm finding. Especially for long-legged, monkey-armed guys like me.
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Old 11-15-18, 02:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Poppit View Post
I've got this on my bike. Really like it, hard to find fault with it
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Old 11-15-18, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by FinkFloyd View Post
I like the look of the Dolan Alpina sprint bars as well, though I anticipate they aren't as aero as the Scattos.
I ride these in 33 width. The bars themselves may be less aerodynamic, but it's more about putting the rider in the best position.

https://www.dolan-bikes.com/black-fr...rint-bars.html
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Old 11-15-18, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by gl98115 View Post
I ride these in 33 width. The bars themselves may be less aerodynamic, but it's more about putting the rider in the best position.

https://www.dolan-bikes.com/black-fr...rint-bars.html
These are excellent bars. I have a set and love them.

I've seen these ridden by NZ sprinters and British sprinters and enduros (even Madison riders) in top events.

The price is reasonable as well. I ordered mine directly from Dolan. Arrived in about a week to Atlanta.
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Old 11-15-18, 01:16 PM
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I feel like the Alpinas have largely gone out of style though. While they are still super stiff, they are very deep. Many (most?) high-end carbon frames have gone with incredibly short head tubes, meaning one has to run a lot of spacers and an upturned stem to get the hand position right on those Alpinas, compared with a shorter drop bar like Look or Scatto.

Older frames and many of the aluminum offerings still have fairly tall head tubes, so the Alpinas work better there.

Also, I found the 33s to be way too narrow for my liking.
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Old 11-15-18, 02:05 PM
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The Alpina 33s do take some getting used to.

Standing starts arenít as good as with 38cm Easton sprint bars and out of the saddle pumping may feel awkward, but the gains come at cruising speeds and top speeds.

They are essentially a legal almost-superman arm position.

You are right about short head tubes.
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Old 03-03-19, 09:36 AM
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Reporting back on this. I didn't come to a conclusion on exact reach and drop yet (not settled on my frame size, so that's in the mix as well), so I'm experimenting with geometry in the front end. This way I can figure out where I need to be fit-wise in the long-term, then will buy the bar and stem I'll stick with (and can sink more money into both as needed). I'm currently running my third bar/stem set, the Zipp SC SL 80 (80mm reach, 125mm drop) in a 38cm width. And I went from original 110 to 130 to now 140mm in the stem, using the 3T Apto.

Impressions are:
  • This bar and stem geometry narrows my hands and arms versus where I was, but raises them as well. Better arm and hand aero positions.
  • No issues with breathing, extending with the longer stem and decent reach with the bar keeps an open easy-breathing feeling. (I run a 44cm on my road bike, but now will switch to narrower and longer setup on my next one.)
  • Leverage with narrower bar is fine for starts, feels stable.
  • Got used to this setup within a few laps, feels very natural.
  • Now with the longer stem, I'm legal for sprints, but not for mass starts. Dammit, need a longer frame, knew that was going to happen.
  • The backside bolt heads on the 3T Apto stem are the result of a poor design. No way to get a torque wrench on them without angling.
  • The flat hand position section in the drops on this bar feel very natural. I much prefer this to a constant radius.
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Old 03-04-19, 01:35 PM
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2 takeaways from this thread:

- This is why the LOOK Ergostem and similar 2-hinge adjustable stems are extremely useful and worth the extra expense when testing fits.
- Finding the right bar + stem + frame combo is a journey. It's also one that many don't put much effort into.
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