Find your position
Handlebar geometry affects a bike’s performance characteristics and it comes in a wide variety of forms. Different handlebar styles will affect your riding enjoyment and ability, and with an explosion of newer shapes and sizes in the past 10 years means there are more options than ever to fit your bike perfectly.
You can find a handlebar that fits you perfectly which will help you ride longer and more comfortably. These are several things to consider when buying a handlebar.
When you sit in the saddle your elbows should not be locked but slightly bent. The distance is measured from the center of the tip of the handlebar where the brake hoods are mounted to the center of the furthest extension in which you can comfortably bend your wrist. A reach of less than 80mm is considered short; 80-85mm is medium, and 85mm or more is long.
Choosing a Handlebar: basic tips
Wider or narrower?
One option is a wider bar, which may give you more control and leverage just like a mountain bike’s handlebars do. This may open up your chest for easier breathing.
The other option is a slightly narrower bar, which may release your arms and strained back and neck muscles. This is the best option if you tend to have a lot of pain in your muscles and headache after each ride.
Material and type
Drop and reach
A comfortable position is relatively low on the saddle with a slight forward lean and a slight rotation of the hips. The handlebar is a simple but very effective way to make small changes in your pedaling style.
When you have a drop that’s too short it causes your head to tilt downward which leads to neck strain over time. Higher-priced bikes usually have taller head tubes so you don’t have to tilt your head down. You can experiment with various configurations – shortening reach is one of the things that works well with drop pedaling.
FINDING YOUR ROAD HANDLEBAR WIDTH
- Take a measurement across your chest at the point where you’d like to position the handlebar. It’s the peaks of the bony protrusions.
- Add 2cm to this number and gauge this as your minimum acceptable bar.
Fitting road bike handlebars is like going to the tailor. Getting it right is what makes the bike riding experience perfect.
The handlebar you need will depend on the type of bike you have, your height, shape and riding style. When you find the right one, you’ll feel like it was tailored just for you.