Handlebar width and stem length

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Ken81, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. Ken81

    Ken81 New Member

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    Hi, recently I had changed my stem and handlebar.

    I am riding a 50cm roadbike and my original stem is 110mm with a 400mm CtoC handblebar. The shape is ergonomic/anatomic/whatever you call it that doesn't look like a classic drop bar. The reach is quite far, about 85mm. The drops is around 145mm.

    My weight is around 75kg and my height is about 175cm. My shoulder width is about 42cm.

    Since I bought the bike, I had adjusted my seatpost and saddle to a position i am very comfortable at. Meanwhile, the handlebar I had it lowered till there wasn't any spacers between stem and bike frame. I had also rotated the handlebar down slightly.

    For the original parts, during downhill when I hold the drop bars, the back of my neck is quite painful as it is hard for me to reach the brake levers, I had to lower down my body till my arm is almost in a L shape. Next, during climbs, I noticed I would hold the outer edge corner of the flatbar and even then, my elbows would bend quite a bit. It seems like I am trying to expand my chest more.


    Then I did some reading and now I had changed the stem to 100mm and my handlebars to 440mm CtoC. Reach is 75mm with a 130mm drops. Classic drop bars. I lowered the shifters a little, so when I hold the drops, my fingers are able to reach the brake levers easily now.

    I haven't got the chance to ride it yet but when I sat on the bike, it feels more comfortable now but I can feel my arms spread out when holding the hoods. When I hold the flat bar, I feel very relaxed and comfortable too, it doesn't feel tight like previously. Though, I can feel it is a lot more upright now compared to last time. Also, when I hold the hoods, I can see the hub in front of the flat bar. Where else when I hold the flat bar, I can't see the front hub and my tyres looks longer than last time.


    Question is, I really haven't got a chance to ride but the LBS is offering to swap the stem back to 110mm by tomorrow, should I do this?

    As for the handlebar, is 44cm too big now? I kinda regret that I took the 44cm now cos it feels really wide. What is the downside of a wide drop bars? Is it better for climbing now, on the flatbars?


    Thank you and I do apologize for the amazingly long text...
     
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  2. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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    try the new setup for a month before making any decisions, why do the LBS give you a deadline until tomorrow ? the main problem is that you went from 40 to 44 on the handlebars skipping the 42, for your size its either 42 or 44, 40 is really for track cycling IMO, p.s. if you purchase a new bike in the future try a 52 or 53cm to see how they feel, 50cm is barely on the limit for your size, oh, when you get the perfect fit, measure center to center, carefully, the distance from the saddle to the handlebars and the distance of the saddle to your bottom bracket and write it down on your files for future purchases,
     
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  3. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    44cm is wide. I have wide shoulders and use 42c-c, 44o-o (some manufacturers measure outside to outside). Width should correlate to body dimension. if you have the widest shoulders on the block, maybe you need the widest bars manufactures make.

    If the bar feels too wide, it probably is too wide. There is no bike fit methodology that trumps feeling good on the bike.

    You removed all the headset spacers, right? If you neck is sore it may also be because you are too low, not because you were too stretched out. Having hyper-extended cervical vertebrae can easily cause this. Furthermore you are on a small frame for your height (unless the 50cm is describing the new sloping size paradigm, like Colnago who's 51s is really the equivalent of a 54cm) with a shallow head tube increasing that hyperextension. What is the difference between the height of your stem and the height of your saddle?
     
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  4. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Mostly what he said. With respect to the 44cm vs 42cm vs 40cm wide handlebars, Danfoz is right that in general handlebars that are as wide as your shoulders are approximately the right size, at least that's the rule of thumb. With that said, what's more important is comfort. Some folks do find that sizing up one size is more comfortable than the rule of thumb size. Some. It's unclear from what you wrote whether your comfortable on the current 44cm wide bars. The stem length change will have slightly lowered your bar height, but how much it did depends on the angle of your stem. If for instance you have ±6° stem (really common) and it's flipped up, going from 110 to 100mm long stem will have reduce bar height by 3.9mm and decreased reach by 9.2mm. If the stem is flipped down, bar height would be reduced by 1.9mm and reduced reach by 9.8mm. In both cases, the net result would be that would be bent over slightly less, and that could result in the relief of neck pain. If you want to plug in number for your stem and bike's head tube angle to find out what the resulting change in position was between you two stems, here's a stem chart that will help you. You did make a lot of changes at once. Generally it's best to make one change so that you can see it's effect clearly.
     
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  5. Ken81

    Ken81 New Member

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    Hi there, thanks for all the great replies and information.

    Reason why the LBS is rushing me is because there is a cyclist looking for the 100mm stem and since I had not used it yet, the LBS had offered me to swap the 100mm out of my bike to the other cyclist's bike. The other cyclist is my friend btw.

    Anyway, attached below are the pictures of my current setup. Really appreciate your input and advice. Thanks!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Try putting a 10 MM spacer under your stem and changing to a 42 CM C-to-C bar. It also looks like you could raise the nose of your saddle. A 100 MM stem is more 'normal' to a 50 CM frame size, but even that is dependent on personal fit preference and body proportion.

    All fitting measurements are highly individual in nature and I'm just going by the proportions of the bike and the body dimensions you supplied. It would be far better to have local experienced riders observe you on your bike.

    BTW, that's a good looking Fuji.
     
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  7. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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    yes ! edit: i made a mistake above, i meant measure center to center saddle to pedals (with the crankarm extended) not to bottom bracket,
     
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  8. Ken81

    Ken81 New Member

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    Thanks again for the advice. Will try to raise the nose of the saddle up a little and start noting down the measurements, never thought of this before! Tested it for a 50km ride. The shifter is set too low, felt pain on the area between my index finger and thumb, so I rotated the handlebar upward slightly, about 5mm. Will try it out again later. As for the width, I can feel less aero as I kind of expand my chest now but when I stand to pedal, the bike felt very comfortable when I pull from the hoods, left and right. For cornering or steering, it feels more responsive now, kinda twitchy. This being the shorter stem and wider bar, I suspect. The stem length is kinda okay for now. Feel very, very comfortable when I am on the flat bar. Would it be better if I try out a 110mm or 120mm? Is there anything else I should look into for this setup? And yes, I think I would like to try a 42cm CtoC bar now, kinda expensive to change so soon.

    This bike is nice overall wish to have the new Altamira though :)
     
  9. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    The nose down tilt of the saddle 'may' be a sign you are forcing your position in order to reach either forward or lower (or both) for the bars. Getting the saddle set to a more level position would be my first step in refining position on the bike.

    I would leave the 100 MM stem on for now and raise the bars with a 10 MM spacer. A 50 CM frame indicates you are a shorter height rider if the frame is fit correctly to you in the first place. If you are proportional in height/leg length/torso/arm length the 100 MM stem might be a closer fit. Might. I would start there and only after riding a few days try first lowering the stem/bars and then trying the longer stem at that same height.

    The "shifter set too low" comment may point to the bars still being too low and you carrying too much weight on your hands or it may be that you are just not yet accustomed to the lower position. It may be that you are not varying your hand position often enough. Not knowing your level of proficiency and experience it is almost impossible to say. That's why you need several local guys to give you a good looking over while you ride. I do think rotating the bars up a few MM is a good move, just looking at the one side photo of the bars you provided. There is a range of preference there, as with most position measurements, and you are very much in the middle of it.

    As others have said, be careful of making multiple changes at one time unless you are positive they will benefit you. It gets difficult to track things unless you write down your starting position measurements, record the changes and then record what they feel like and what they do for your riding.

    Yeah, the Altimiras are very nice, although I really like the SST. I think Fuji has done a great job with their line of carbon frames.
     
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  10. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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    he is 175cm tall
     
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  11. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    "he is 175cm tall"

    So...in Engrish...that's like...er...carry the 4...multiply times 1.625971...factor in 6 stones...uh...that's...almost forgot to convert Avogadro's number...uh...68.8976378".

    Or...5' 9". Not going to start in the NBA without a bunch of HGh.

    So yeah. 100 MM to start if the frame has a reasonably proportional length TT and the rider has reasonably proportional body dimensions. Of course, the OP may prefer a longer layout for aero and have a pelvis that easily rotates and a back that bends like a snake. The nose down saddle was leading me to believe the rider was over-extending to the bars or trying to go too low or both. Like I said, the OP really needs to get local guidance from some experienced riders/fitters/coaches.

    Begs the question...with all the dimensional variations in bars and theoretical TT lengths and weird saddle setbacks...there's probably a ±20 MM range of stem length that would make up one component of a good fit.
     
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  12. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    FWIW. Presuming your fit was theoretically dialed in, then the-wider-the-bar-the-shorter-the-stem to replicate the same relative reach ...

    For a lower relative stem height you would want a shorter stem ...

    I happen to be 175cm tall.

    Of course, unless you are a physiological twin, how my bikes are set up won't necessarily be how your bike should be set up ... but, I think you may want to use them as a point of reference ...

    While my Road bike frames are a slightly larger sizes (52x54.5 + 120mm stem, 53x55 + 110mm stem, etc.), I have one pseudo-Track frame which I set up to FEEL the same to me (i.e., same net reach resulting in the same body position) which may be roughly comparable to your FUJI's frame ...

    • Here is an out-of-date picture of the bike which has a 53x55 frame (the current handlebars on the OLMO are a set of Cinelli 66 instead of the pictured Cinelli 65 handlebars) ...
    [IMG ALT=""]http://www.cyclingforums.com/content/type/61/id/273789/width/350/height/700[/IMG]

    My "Track" frame has approximately a 21.25" (53.975cm) effective top tube & a 100mm stem. The shorter combined nominal length from my Road bikes is due to the lower stem (~1" lower) relative to the top of the saddle. The set up is roughly similar in size to your Fuji's frame & the net stem height relative to the top of the saddle is roughly the same as the stem height which you appear to have pictured ...

    [IMG ALT=""]http://www.cyclingforums.com/content/type/61/id/290250/width/350/height/700[/IMG]

    BUT, on my "Track" bike's frame, the stem is shorter AND the forward reach of the handlebars is less (see picture) with the total forward reach appearing to be about 2cm shorter than your bike's set up.

    Regardless of whether-or-not YOUR fit may be the same OR something in between, if you are not wedded to the current handlebars which you pictured then you may want to consider a handlebar with less forward reach ...

    OR, if you are wedded to that bend then you may want a considerably shorter stem OR (minimally) to move the spacer from above the stem to below the stem.

    BTW. Your FUJI is indeed a Nice Bike!
     
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  13. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    BTW. Here is another bike which I have which has a comparatively short, 53cm top tube ...
    [​IMG]

    However, this setup has a 130mm stem because the difference a between the hoods & the top of the saddle isn't quite as great AND the Drops of the handlebars were orientated to make the Drops slightly more comfortable (for me) which lessened the reach. The stem length was chosen AFTER determining the handlebar orientation, but it could certainly have been done the other in the reverse order. With a different handlebar OR a different orientation, I might have used a different length stem.

    My riding position is certainly not aggressive,

    Of course, it isn't as casual as the riding position which a lot of other people prefer.

    It is what works for ME -- again, use it as a point of reference

    THE BOTTOM LINE is that because you are uncomfortable when your hands are in some of the positions on your current handlebars you may want to consider a more casual riding position (even if you are racing & especially if you are not racing) which you can achieve with a different stem length or a handlebar with a different bend ...

    • this is probably stating what may be obvious to some other people, but the "width" between the "center" of the levers may be less than the stated width of the handlebars, so your 44cm handlebars may effectively be 42cm handlebars again, if you eventually decide that you are comfortable with the bend & width, then focus on the stem length & rise
    [*]also, there isn't necessarily continuity between different model handlebars within a product line
     
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  14. Ken81

    Ken81 New Member

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    Wow, thank you for the superb details.

    The rides that I do are mostly for fitness. So I am right in the middle of a racing and casual set up.

    Anyway, I made the jump and I swapped in a 120mm (-10 degree).....

    Reason I did this is because on last Wednesday I tested it out with the 100mm and find it very comfortable but doesn't really affect the cycling duration and very little or no pain at all on any body parts. Distance was about 40km. Stem was a PRO PLT with -10 degree.

    Then I rode again on Thursday with a 110mm stem and rotated the handlebar upward a little. Not the same though as I feel I am stretched out a bit and I feel a bit of soreness on the area between index finger and thumb. Distance was about 60km. Stem was a Deda Zero 100 with -8 degree.

    Finally I rode again on Sunday morning, doing a 40km, 1,700m inclination sufferfest. Was a great area to test out the 120mm stem I swapped in. Going uphill was fine as I was on the flat bar most of the time. On certain stretch of the road which is flat, I held the hoods and find it "OKAY" as I again, rotated the handlebar upward again, by around 2-3mm.

    Then comes the downhill. I hang on to the dropbar for the whole ride and it feels "OKAY" too.

    The only part that I felt pain now is the back of my neck when I go downhill, holding the drops, trying to look ahead as much as possible. Also felt numb on my left hand but I suppose this is due to my amateurish habit of not changing my hand position (going uphill, holding on flat bar 90% of the time).


    So then is it advisable to change my handle bar to 42cm? The stem is it ok now or do I need to go for longer rides, >100km to truly test it out?


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  15. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by Ken81 .
    The only part that I felt pain now is the back of my neck when I go downhill, holding the drops, trying to look ahead as much as possible. Also felt numb on my left hand but I suppose this is due to my amateurish habit of not changing my hand position (going uphill, holding on flat bar 90% of the time).


    So then is it advisable to change my handle bar to 42cm? The stem is it ok now or do I need to go for longer rides, >100km to truly test it out?



    [​IMG]




    Only you will know if you need (or want) the 42, but one thing to consider: The drop on those bars looks pretty deep so maybe if your neck is sore after the ride while in the drops from craning your neck to look ahead, and if you do go with new bars you may also want to try something shallower like the Deada Newton classic shallow bend (pictured below), or similar.

    There's probably only a 10mm diff but when it comes to fitting changes, sometimes less is more...

    [​IMG]
     
  16. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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    yes the trend is coming back to shallower handlebars, why don't you try a couple of spacers to raise the stem, since you still have room for it on the fork steerer,
     
  17. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by vspa .


    yes the trend is coming back to shallower handlebars,
    why don't you try a couple of spacers to raise the stem, since you still have room for it on the fork steerer,

    It's because everyone is slamming their stems and getting sore necks from being in the drops ;)

    OP, the spacer advice is worthwhile. if it then feels too high when on the tops the shallower bars should remedy, and your bike will still look pro.

    I like a shallow bend because I spend a bunch of time in the drops (and don't like a sore neck) but don't like to feel too upright on the top or hoods. Unfortunately it sometimes takes a few iterations and some $$$ to free your inner Goldilocks.
     
  18. Ken81

    Ken81 New Member

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    Thanks again for the advise. I will put 2 spacers below the stem and try it out tomorrow.

    2 spacers below, 2 spacers above.
     
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