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  1. #1
    viva la v-brakes!
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    bar width: leverage vs fit?

    So, I have been fittling with bike fit lately and have my geared bike pretty dialed in. This week I got on my single speed for the first time in, eh hem, quite a while and noticed how awkward the fit felt. I made some tweaks, but I think a lot of it comes from the fact that my bars are 4cm wider than my geared bikes bars.

    For example, my wrists are cocked at a awkward angle, and it makes me start to wonder if the wrist pain I get when riding my fully rigid SS has more to do with bar fit then it does with the fully rigid fork.

    Everyone talks about running wider bars for "more leverage", but is this really important compared to how well the bike fits?
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  2. #2
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    I think it would make more sense to say that you generally don't want to run a narrow setup on an SS (rather than saying you must go wider than your normal setup). The trend has been towards wider bars on all bikes, so what you're already riding on your geared bike may be wide enough for SS.
    At one point I did actually have a 22" flatbar on my SS, and it was obvious that I should be running something wider. But I now run a 24" riser, which is typical of what I run on my geared bikes.
    You may also want to look at the sweep on your SS bars, it may be different than your geared bike (resulting in your wrists feeling awkward).
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  3. #3
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    "width vs. fit" should not be a trade-off. A wider bar can also be a correct fit if you dial in stem length, bar height, or whatever other factors are affecting your personal fit on your bike with that bar. One observation I have made with different setups is that going to a wider bar usually works best in combination with shortening your reach. Also watch out for sweep like trailville said. Some people prefer sweep pointed up, level or even down. My 17deg Salsa feels pretty comfy on my wrists when pointed down.

    True, some people don't get along with certain bars, but i think you should be able to dial it in.

  4. #4
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    i would say wrist injuries are far more severe than not clearing a hill because you lacked leverage. Stem length, as mentioned, will deffinately play a roll in the angle of your wrists to your forearm.

  5. #5
    viva la v-brakes!
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    my cockpit length is about 1.5 cm shorter on my SS compared to my geared bike, and I think once you take fork sag into account my position is a bit more upright on the SS, my thinking being that having my weight further back and up would make the bike a bit less prone to tossing me over the bars in the abscense of an endo-damping suspension fork.

    I think I may chop about 1 cm off either side of the bars and move my brake levers in to match the position of my geared bike. Might give me the best of both worlds.
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  6. #6
    trail rat
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473
    So, I have been fittling with bike fit lately and have my geared bike pretty dialed in. This week I got on my single speed for the first time in, eh hem, quite a while and noticed how awkward the fit felt. I made some tweaks, but I think a lot of it comes from the fact that my bars are 4cm wider than my geared bikes bars.

    For example, my wrists are cocked at a awkward angle, and it makes me start to wonder if the wrist pain I get when riding my fully rigid SS has more to do with bar fit then it does with the fully rigid fork.

    Everyone talks about running wider bars for "more leverage", but is this really important compared to how well the bike fits?
    I find that wrist discomfort is more a cockpit length and bar sweep issue than anything.

    I try to get the fit and setup of geared FS vs rigid SS vs road / commuter as close as possible. I start with getting saddle height and front to rear position relative to the cranks identical. Then reach from saddle to bars via stem length. Finally, handlebar height relative to saddle by measuring from the ground to saddle and ground to bars; it does not matter if they are the same bike to bike, since the FS will sag, but the drop or rise between saddle and bars should be the same. On the roadie, I use the brake hoods to be consistent with the grips on the MTB.

    I run Cane Creek Ergo bar ends on the SS,, to the bars are about 2-2.5 inches wider at the outside, but the grips are the same when my hands are on them. Works for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473
    my cockpit length is about 1.5 cm shorter on my SS compared to my geared bike, and I think once you take fork sag into account my position is a bit more upright on the SS, my thinking being that having my weight further back and up would make the bike a bit less prone to tossing me over the bars in the abscense of an endo-damping suspension fork.

    I think I may chop about 1 cm off either side of the bars and move my brake levers in to match the position of my geared bike. Might give me the best of both worlds.
    My body angle is the same on both bikes. I feel one is more likely to endo on an FS due to fork dive. Get your cockpits the same, and I think your wrist discomfort will be less, recognizing that a rigid SS is harder on them, but I love mine.
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  7. #7
    Mac & Jacks African Amber
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473
    ...running wider bars for "more leverage", but is this really important compared to how well the bike fits?
    My experience says that I needed ~ 685 to 700 mm wide bars when riding switchbacks that put me at almost zero velocity, then I had to climb back up a slope and the "single" gear (16T on 26" wheel) requires me to stand and pull hard to make it up.

    If I had been geared at 20T or greater I may have been able to stay in the saddle and pedal up.

    So, I would say that you first have to identify the "main" type of riding you are dealing with when on your SS.

    A SS on relatively flat terrain does not need the leverage "that people refer to" and thus a narrower bar with a slightly more up-right body position and more efficient for pedaling in the saddle is fine.

    And to make a "much" wider bar "fit", you are likely to need to install a shorter stem with more angle to shorten the cockpit length and keep a similar riding position (weight on hands).

    I would invest in a few parts and try them out. You will not be able to know for sure without experimentation. And you will be helping the economy to recover.
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