Notices
Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

Handlebar width

Old 02-10-20, 01:05 PM
  #1  
pdxn8
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Handlebar width

I'm starting up a new build. I just purchased a 2020 Soma Fog Cutter, which as best I can determine is a modern equivalent of my current bike (2003 Soma ES or 'Extra Smoothie'). I'm partly embarking on this due to gear acquisition syndrome, and rationalizing at least part of the expense by building up a new bike with disc brakes. I ride year round in Portland and the brakes on my old bike make me nervous on cold wet winter days in traffic...

I have the frame, headset, and fork so far. Next up I'm looking at handlebars. My current set are 44cm, but I'm thinking about going to 46 or even 48. I'm 6'4", 220lb, with moderately broad shoulders for my height. I prioritize comfort over aerodynamics and was seeking feedback on others who may have gone with a broader handlebar width? Did you like it, would you do it again, etc.

Thanks in advance.

Nate

ETA: I looked closer, and my current set is 46 (not 44 as noted above).

Last edited by pdxn8; 02-10-20 at 03:34 PM.
pdxn8 is offline  
Old 02-10-20, 01:21 PM
  #2  
jsigone
got the climbing bug
 
jsigone's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: San Diego
Posts: 9,907

Bikes: one for everything

Mentioned: 80 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 542 Post(s)
Liked 62 Times in 44 Posts
you can get flared bars like Salsa Cowbells or similar. 44cm are wide for me (6'1) and use them only on my singlespeed for more leverage when going up hills.

check this link out

https://bikepacking.com/index/gravel-bars/
__________________
Rule #10 // It never gets easier, you just go faster.
jsigone is offline  
Old 02-10-20, 01:53 PM
  #3  
base2 
Senior Member
 
base2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 1,170

Bikes: N+1

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 618 Post(s)
Liked 147 Times in 100 Posts
I've always understood the rule of thumb to usually be: Handle bar width should be the same width as the bony protrusion (outer edge to outter edge) on your shoulders.

How much that applies to you is up for debate based on you & whatever bike you have & what you are using it for. Comfort is the be-all/end-all only criteria that matters.

Nevertheless, if it is too wide, you'll end up with neck pain, pain or soreness at your upper back and/or headaches. If it's too narrow your elbows will flare out or rest uncomfortably restricting chest/lung volume. Longer rides usually expose this better than short rides.

On a related note when it comes to handlebar reach (saddle to controls) Too far away & you'll probably get lower back soreness from flexibility issues. Too close & you're hands or your wrists will hurt, get numb fingers etc. Some combination of too close/too high & you can add hotspots under sitbones & lower back soreness from gravity/weight bearing into the mix.

Different bars themselves have different reach, so once you find bars you like, that have nice comfortable curves, drops that you can use, brakes you can reach, etc...then control of reach can be accomplished with selection an appropriate stem. Bike shops often have boxes & boxes of discounted "take-off" stems for this reason.

In short everything is figured after the pedal to seat relationship is established & can take several iterations to get right before you decide to apply bar-tape for the first time. Lastly, don't apply bar-tape until you've got at least a half dozen happy comfortable rides & you are sure this is the best you can do. There is no sense in unwrapping or throwing away perfectly good bar tape for what would otherwise be a minor adjustment or bar swap.

Good luck!
edit:
So, OP: How wide are the bony protrusion (outer edge to outter edge) on your shoulders?

Last edited by base2; 02-10-20 at 02:20 PM.
base2 is offline  
Old 02-10-20, 03:37 PM
  #4  
pdxn8
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Thanks for the replies thus far.

I should have mentioned that my existing bike was fitted recently (last spring), and I've ridden approximately 1500 miles on it since then. My new frame is the same geometry and size of my existing one. My plan is to use it as a template for seat positioning, reach, etc.

The one variable that I have been debating is whether going a little wider might help - I'm going back and froth between "if it aint broke don't fix it" and "it could be a little better if...".

I also edited my original post to reflect that I'm currently using a 46. I will most likely stick with that.

Thanks again.

Nate
pdxn8 is offline  
Old 02-10-20, 05:17 PM
  #5  
cyclist2000
Senior Member
 
cyclist2000's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Up
Posts: 3,931

Bikes: Masi, Giant TCR, Eisentraut, Jamis Aurora Elite, Zullo (trainer bike), Cannondale, 84 Stumpjumper, 2 Waterfords, Tern D8, Bianchi, Gunner Roadie, looking for a Ti frame and Brompton M6R

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 159 Post(s)
Liked 86 Times in 62 Posts
Are the 46's comfortable?
cyclist2000 is offline  
Old 02-10-20, 06:04 PM
  #6  
pdxn8
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
base2 - I am right at 18.5" (47.5mm)

cyclist2000 - They seem fine. My longest ride last year was ~50 miles so I can't comment on longer than that.
pdxn8 is offline  
Old 02-10-20, 06:07 PM
  #7  
ups
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
I have a set of 44s that seemed pretty wide. I'm 6-1 as well.
ups is offline  
Old 02-10-20, 09:43 PM
  #8  
base2 
Senior Member
 
base2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 1,170

Bikes: N+1

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 618 Post(s)
Liked 147 Times in 100 Posts
Originally Posted by pdxn8 View Post
base2 - I am right at 18.5" (47.5mm)

cyclist2000 - They seem fine. My longest ride last year was ~50 miles so I can't comment on longer than that.
Then 46's or 48's seems like it would be in range.
Some makers do center to center others may not. It seems that every manufacturer has their own way of measuring. I would choose center to center measurement width at the hoods (where you probably spend the most time) to negate the influence of flare at the drops or marketing shinnanigans.

I think you're on the right track.
__________________
My lights are obscenly bright because drivers are dim.

I shouldn't have to "make myself more visible;" Drivers should just stop running people over.
base2 is offline  
Old 02-17-20, 09:25 PM
  #9  
rollalongnow
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 31
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by pdxn8 View Post
I'm starting up a new build. I just purchased a 2020 Soma Fog Cutter, which as best I can determine is a modern equivalent of my current bike (2003 Soma ES or 'Extra Smoothie'). I'm partly embarking on this due to gear acquisition syndrome, and rationalizing at least part of the expense by building up a new bike with disc brakes. I ride year round in Portland and the brakes on my old bike make me nervous on cold wet winter days in traffic...

I have the frame, headset, and fork so far. Next up I'm looking at handlebars. My current set are 44cm, but I'm thinking about going to 46 or even 48. I'm 6'4", 220lb, with moderately broad shoulders for my height. I prioritize comfort over aerodynamics and was seeking feedback on others who may have gone with a broader handlebar width? Did you like it, would you do it again, etc.

Thanks in advance.

Nate

ETA: I looked closer, and my current set is 46 (not 44 as noted above).
Iím 6í3Ē with somewhat broad shoulders. Iíve never gone above a 44, but everyone is different.
rollalongnow is offline  
Old 02-17-20, 10:04 PM
  #10  
howie2wheels
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: British Columbia
Posts: 15

Bikes: Specialized Epic Competition, Specialized Sequoia, Rocky Mountain Sherpa Touring, Rocky Mountain Fusion, Raleigh Challenger, Raleigh Cetury, Raleigh Rocky II.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
I am most comfortable with 44cm road bars the width of my shoulders plus a few centimeters. Offroad is a different story where several centimeters wider works for me.
howie2wheels is offline  
Old 02-18-20, 08:44 AM
  #11  
TugaDude
Senior Member
 
TugaDude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2,156
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 177 Post(s)
Liked 51 Times in 48 Posts
Bar width is obviously a personal issue, however there are caveats. One caveat is to bear in mind that if you go zipping in-between cars a lot, wider bars are problematic. For that reason, many urban riders go with narrower bars. The other caveat is maneuverability. Wider bars provide greater control. As implied above, offroad use benefits from wider bars.

So I would choose the widest bars that allow for the type of riding I would be doing. 46cm is not too wide if you have wide shoulders. You can also get a little more width by going with 46cm bars that flare. Salsa Woodchippers would be a good choice.

TugaDude is offline  
Old 02-23-20, 04:36 PM
  #12  
TK LP
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 110
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 17 Times in 4 Posts
When I went through fitting, I was told to go with the widest bars I could find. I’m 6’-4” and am using Nitto Noodle 48cm. They felt big the first time I rode them, but after about 5 minutes,I was sure they ere right for me. very comfortable.
TK LP is offline  
Old 03-08-20, 11:44 PM
  #13  
tallbikeman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Yolo County, West Sacramento CA
Posts: 166

Bikes: Modified 26 inch frame Schwinn Varsity with 700c wheels and 10 speed cassette hub. Ryan Vanguard recumbent. 67cm 27"x1 1/4" Schwinn Sports Tourer from the 1980's. 1980's 68cm Nishiki Sebring with 700c aero wheels, 30 speeds, drop bar bicycle.

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 47 Post(s)
Liked 22 Times in 19 Posts
Wider drop bar usage

I recently built a drop bar bicycle after not having one for over 30 yrs. I bought a used 46cm Velo Orange drop bar on Craigslist and am very happy with it. I am 6ft 5in so a wider bar does work much better than the old narrow bars I used to have. Shoulder width and bar width are definitely correlated for comfort and control reasons. I use 29in, (73.6cm) wide flat bars on my allroad bicycles after trying many widths and found it the most satisfying. Next year I will have a different opinion on the subject no doubt but that is how it stands right now.
tallbikeman is offline  
Old 03-10-20, 11:34 AM
  #14  
Kobe 
Senior Member
 
Kobe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Schwenksville, Pa
Posts: 2,582
Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 165 Post(s)
Liked 23 Times in 22 Posts
I am 6'6" and my favorite drop bar is the Soma Highway One in 46cm. The shallow drops make it much easier for my 57 year old body to get to them.


__________________
'85 Bruce Gordon, '88 Proteus,'07 Rivendell AHH,'13 Black Mountain Cycles Cross, '16 Clockwork All-Rounder,'19 Gunnar Sport
Kobe is offline  
Old 03-16-20, 02:07 AM
  #15  
SethAZ
Senior Member
 
SethAZ's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 1,084

Bikes: 2018 Lynskey R260, 2005 Diamondback 29er, 2003 Trek 2300

Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 442 Post(s)
Liked 75 Times in 50 Posts
Originally Posted by pdxn8 View Post
I have the frame, headset, and fork so far. Next up I'm looking at handlebars. My current set are 44cm, but I'm thinking about going to 46 or even 48. I'm 6'4", 220lb, with moderately broad shoulders for my height. I prioritize comfort over aerodynamics and was seeking feedback on others who may have gone with a broader handlebar width? Did you like it, would you do it again, etc.


ETA: I looked closer, and my current set is 46 (not 44 as noted above).
Oops, I was going to add that I switched from a 42cm to a 46cm handlebar a few years ago and would do it again in a heartbeat. I'm 6'2", reasonably broad in the shoulders, and I find it definitely more comfortable. I'm a fan of that width, definitely.
SethAZ is offline  
Old 03-25-20, 04:50 PM
  #16  
Paul J 
Senior Member
 
Paul J's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Lancaster County PA
Posts: 850

Bikes: 1982 Eddy Merckx (Currently in a box awaiting a modern build), 1995 Eddy Merckx 10 sp Campy Centaur, Bushnell Tandem, Co-Motion Speedster

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 108 Post(s)
Liked 14 Times in 12 Posts
Wider bars

I'm a bigger guy, 6'2" 225, and like wider bars. I've been riding 46ctc and wanted to try something wider to open up a bit. 48's in standard drop bars are hard to come by. I picked up a pair from Zinn which are by JK. Here is the link. https://www.bigandtallbike.com/JK-wi...C-C_p_169.html
__________________
1982 Merckx (Currently in a Box awaiting a modern build), 1995 Merckx Campy Centaur 10, Co-Motion Speedster, Bushnell Tandem,

Paul J is offline  
Old 03-26-20, 02:08 AM
  #17  
Miele Man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 3,112

Bikes: Miele Latina, Miele Suprema, Miele Uno SL, Miele MTB, Bianchi Model Unknown, Fiori Venezia, VeloSport Adamas AX

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 754 Post(s)
Liked 327 Times in 226 Posts
I can remember when the suggested handlebar width was the same width as the distance of your shoulder bones. That was back in the days of KOPS. Is that handlebar width still used?

I also remember that you wanted the handlebar width to be wide enough that your knees didn't hit your elbows when you were riding in the drops of the handlebar.

Cheers
Miele Man is offline  
Old 03-29-20, 11:17 PM
  #18  
tallbikeman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Yolo County, West Sacramento CA
Posts: 166

Bikes: Modified 26 inch frame Schwinn Varsity with 700c wheels and 10 speed cassette hub. Ryan Vanguard recumbent. 67cm 27"x1 1/4" Schwinn Sports Tourer from the 1980's. 1980's 68cm Nishiki Sebring with 700c aero wheels, 30 speeds, drop bar bicycle.

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 47 Post(s)
Liked 22 Times in 19 Posts
I'm 6ft 5in and hitting my knees on drop bars is a real issue for me. Appropriately sized frames and stems to stop that issue. Recently I bought a 46cm Velo Orange drop bar and installed it. What a beautiful size bar for me. Since I have a frame that is more appropriate for my size I would really have to drop the handlebar a lot to hit my elbow with my knee and my current frame won't allow that drop. I know that even wider bars work also. I use 29 inch wide flat bars on my other bicycles and I love that size also. 29 inches is roughly 73cm. Being larger than average height and weight creates so many problems for me when trying to get properly fitted bicycles. My drop bar bicycle is an old lugged steel Nishiki Sebring in the 68cm size. This works really well for me. I don't hit the bars with my knees. The handlebar stem does not have to be way out of the steerer tube to be right for me. I do notice that fairly tall professional european road racers run very small headtubes with their handlebars way below their seats. I imagine they get used to the closeness of their elbows to their knees. The bicycles also may have longer top tubes and stems to counter the shortened head tube. My drop bar is an inch or so below the saddle height so this will never be a problem for me. O course I'll never go as fast as a pro road racer either.
tallbikeman is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.