Roadbike Handlebar Width (What are you using and why?)

Hello everyone,

Been doing some research on Roadbike handlebar width (long Michigan winters ) and would like to know that everyone is using and why. My bike (Trek – Emonda) came with an standard 44 C-C alloy bars and I purchased a 40 C-C Zipp Carbon (even though the fitter told me to keep the 44 C-C width due to my body type).

I just installed it on my roadbike and it feels significantly smaller, but per my research that is what most people are using and provides aero advantages as well. I am not worried about being narrow due to also riding a TT bike for triathalon so my body is adapting to a narrower position on the bike.

So with that in mind, what are you using, pro’s / con’s etc?

Thanks in advance.

Just a note - I’m not sure that being able to go narrow when your arms are resting on pads necessarily translates to going narrow with hands on hoods / drops. For normal riding, having hands more in line with shoulders might give more support.

From my POV, I went from the 44 stock bars on my (60cm) bike to a Fizik 42, but that was because I have narrower shoulders than the manufacturer anticipated when they set the width.

40 c-c. More comfortable. Nicer to maneuver in close proximity to others in races etc…

I have quite wide shoulders, but went from stock 44 to 38 and then to 40.
38 felt nice, aero and extra rigidity felt as if I could transfer more power, but turning and sprinting were severely compromised. Narrow bars also allowed me to look behind with more ease for some reason.

Went to 40. Returned to 44 at some stage, but they felt huge, so went back to 40 on all bikes.

42s

But… a disclaimer. I primarily ride fixed as a roadie and focus on climbs. My shoulder width puts me (ideally) on 38-40s but I run 42s for leverage. I’m not min/maxing aero gains here.

I like consistency so on my proper geared road bike (which I mainly only ride on the trainer in TR) I just stick to 42s for comfort and familiarity.

On the occasional race I do, mainly crits (fixed and geared), I stick to the 42s which are familiar and (in my head) allow me to get my elbows out more and create a bigger box in close quarters.

I use 38cm bars on my gravel bike & road bike. Much smaller than my shoulder width but never had any issue.

I use 44cm bars on my commuter for practical reasons. Never had any issue.

For me I could ride anything between 44cm to 36cm and be ok. It doesn’t matter too much.

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40cm on my track bike initially felt small, but now the 42cm on my road bike feel like steering a boat. Will be going to 40cm on both soon.

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Stock 42 felt huge.
Went to 40…still big.
Will be going to 38.

Geared 38.
Single speed 40 double wrapped.

I an thinking that I might double wrap my track bike bars as well. I’m still a roadie that likes to ride the (non-existent) hoods but the bars are pretty narrow where my hands tend to fall. Double wrap, at least from the “hoods” back may do the trick. Have to experiment a little before putting on that new Supacaz tape.

It’s nice…the outside is still ~40 but once you get on top or in the drops it kinda changes to a 38. Bit weird but good. :+1:

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My bike came with 40 stock. I’m a smaller guy and wouldn’t see any reason to go larger. I just installed 3T Aeronova LTD bars last week and so far I absolutely love them. I thought I ordered 38s but actually got 40s. I wanted 38s because they go from 38 on the hoods to 40 at the drops. I thought that would be perfect but I’ll never know because I’m keeping the 40s which flare out to 42 at the drops. I’m really happy with them but haven’t been outside yet.

Long reach bars with long ramps help this on a track bike too. Bars like the 3t Aeronova, which I much prefer over proper hoods anyway.

38cm on my road bike, because that fits me & feels best

40cm on my gravel bike for a little extra leverage / control

I’m thinking about a bar upgrade too. he 3T aer a bit out my price range but maybe something similar.

40 c-c on road bike on a 110 stem (with 6 degree flare to drops, no flare feels weird) and 42 c-c on a 100 stem on my CX bike.

All parts of the puzzle of making a bike fit and handle. Pretty sure if had a larger road frame and shorter stem I would want wider bars. One of the many reasons I dropped down a frame size on my road bike.

15 posts deep and we are only just now mention stem length! Boombang above mentions stem length which is something to consider when changing bar width, going to a narrower bar will reduce reach so you might need a longer stem to keep similar reach.

I rode 42cm forever until getting a bike fit which suggested going to 40cm at the widest. Ideally I would go narrower which would be faster/more aero (without testing it’s impossible to know though). I stay at 40cm as I can roll my arms in and stay pretty narrow position, effectively like having a 36/38cm bar. I tried going narrower but when riding hard on gravel roads (35 to 40kmh ish) narrow bars felt skittish at the best of times but usually more than anything … terrifying.

It works out differently for everyone, hence different options existing. I’ve seen lots of guys come through my shop with super narrow bars because they want to be aero, but it forces their elbows out actually increasing their frontal area.

I’m using 3T Ergonova 42cm. These measure 40.4cm c-c on the hoods (according to 3T). My shoulder width is 45cm. The bar width and steering both feel great, better than the 44cm stock bar width I ran before.

I’m tempted to try 38cm, but will probably not bother as I’m very happy with the current set up.

42 cm shoulders and 42 c -c bars. I previously used 44 c-c for the leverage but the 42 feels more comfortable. 40 c-c pull my arms in too tightly to my chest and I feel constricted.

I’m quite a wide fella - local bike shop recommended going down to 42’s but found 40’s much more comfortable, but I use flared 44’s on my gravel bike just for the extra leverage.
The 40’s did feel a little twitchy on fast decents at first - but now I don’t notice it.