The comfort of narrow handlebars.

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xav
Posts: 269
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:59 pm
Location: UK

by xav

I've put some 36cm Liv handlebars on a 3T Strada with the levers bent in slightly, narrow but you do get used to it and I run narrower on the track. Use the bike for road bike TTs as well as fast group rides.

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We did some aero testing recently on banned positions, as well as bending the levers in etc., there are improvements from narrower bars but how you hold them is of course more important:

https://aero-coach.co.uk/uci-road-bike- ... rodynamics

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TobinHatesYou
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by TobinHatesYou

Levers bent in slightly requiring fewer watts is interesting. I wonder if it has to do with how wrist rotation affects elbow and even shoulder position.

xav
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by xav

TobinHatesYou wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 11:54 am
Levers bent in slightly requiring fewer watts is interesting. I wonder if it has to do with how wrist rotation affects elbow and even shoulder position.
Mess it up and your elbows stick out loads, then it slows you down. This is me with my elbows starting to go (about 500m from the finish of a 32km TT) :D

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Hexsense
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by Hexsense

so if a rider is used to 40cm bar. Then he use another bike with 36cm bar. He end up flaring his elbow out. Making him as wide as when using 40cm bar (rather than being narrower). In this case, can we still expect any gain from angled forearm?

maxim809
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by maxim809

xav wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 1:43 pm
TobinHatesYou wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 11:54 am
Levers bent in slightly requiring fewer watts is interesting. I wonder if it has to do with how wrist rotation affects elbow and even shoulder position.
Mess it up and your elbows stick out loads, then it slows you down. This is me with my elbows starting to go (about 500m from the finish of a 32km TT) :D

Image
Looking really good!! Super clean kit, bike, and position.

What kind of CdA are you getting with that setup?

I'd love to go to the UK or AU and do a velodrome run with Aerocoach some day. I have tons of RChung data collected over the years and have optimized 2 out of 5 bike setups for this, but I'd love to just "relax" on a velodrome for the "high-hanging fruits", so to speak. Trying to gain 0.002 CdA from 10 things while maintaining the baseline is... a lot of work.

maxim809
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by maxim809

Hexsense wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 5:37 pm
so if a rider is used to 40cm bar. Then he use another bike with 36cm bar. He end up flaring his elbow out. Making him as wide as when using 40cm bar (rather than being narrower). In this case, can we still expect any gain from angled forearm?
xav can correct me if I'm wrong, but my educated guess is 40cm->36cm will be slower if the elbows flare beyond the silhouette of the body when looking straight on.

I would be harder to predict if better, equal, or worse if the flaring bows are within the silhouette.

And this is before adding in the complexity that, normally, when reducing 4cm of bar width you will be inclined to increase the length of the stem which can impact how you hold your body and tilt your head. Which impacts comfort and ability to sustain your new position. All which will impact effective "real life viable" CdA.

Aerodynamics is complex so hard to make blanket statements, but in general these were the puzzles I had to deal with when experimenting with narrow handlebars myself.

Something I've been doing as a thought experiment every time I consider a change in regards to my arm position, is what would allow me to penetrate the farthest into the water if I were to free dive into a pool with that new bike position head-on. Bows straight and head low are the first obvious low-hanging fruits.... and then it gets more complex from there.

xav
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Location: UK

by xav

maxim809 wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 8:48 pm
Looking really good!! Super clean kit, bike, and position.

What kind of CdA are you getting with that setup?

I'd love to go to the UK or AU and do a velodrome run with Aerocoach some day. I have tons of RChung data collected over the years and have optimized 2 out of 5 bike setups for this, but I'd love to just "relax" on a velodrome for the "high-hanging fruits", so to speak. Trying to gain 0.002 CdA from 10 things while maintaining the baseline is... a lot of work.
Thanks! Currently high 0.23s if I hold a proper aero hoods position with those wheels (~40mm), but I'd expect <0.23 with deeper/more aero wheels on, but I can't hold the aero hoods position for eternity. In the UK the regulations for road bike TTs haven't quite homologated yet, so some events have restrictions on how deep they can be.

Aero testing is great for helping solidify things and get answers, but you do often then get more questions that need answering later :D . I think I might be able to get this bike in the tunnel next week as I'd be interested to see what it's like bike only (I suspect pretty good, I got rid of the front brake cable which should help).

xav
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Location: UK

by xav

maxim809 wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:08 pm
Hexsense wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 5:37 pm
so if a rider is used to 40cm bar. Then he use another bike with 36cm bar. He end up flaring his elbow out. Making him as wide as when using 40cm bar (rather than being narrower). In this case, can we still expect any gain from angled forearm?
xav can correct me if I'm wrong, but my educated guess is 40cm->36cm will be slower if the elbows flare beyond the silhouette of the body when looking straight on.
Yes exactly - like for like position on a road bike narrower is better, we did lots of this in the tunnel when we were developing our Lann track bar for the Tokyo Olympics which is very narrow (30cm hoods/34cm drops for size small), but only if you hold the exact same position with elbows in and you don't let your elbows stick out.

CustomMetal
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by CustomMetal

xav wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:46 am
maxim809 wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 9:08 pm
Hexsense wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 5:37 pm
so if a rider is used to 40cm bar. Then he use another bike with 36cm bar. He end up flaring his elbow out. Making him as wide as when using 40cm bar (rather than being narrower). In this case, can we still expect any gain from angled forearm?
xav can correct me if I'm wrong, but my educated guess is 40cm->36cm will be slower if the elbows flare beyond the silhouette of the body when looking straight on.
Yes exactly - like for like position on a road bike narrower is better, we did lots of this in the tunnel when we were developing our Lann track bar for the Tokyo Olympics which is very narrow (30cm hoods/34cm drops for size small), but only if you hold the exact same position with elbows in and you don't let your elbows stick out.
Hi Xav, currently having a bike built for U.K. road bike TTs.. what are the wheel depth limits? I have 50 and 60mm rims..

Also as my bars are being custom printed I can go with whatever width and flare I like.. I currently run the enve aero road bars (42cm at drops, 37cm at hoods) but I angle the hoods in and they measure 36cm. I can hold this position for ages without elbows going out as I have narrow shoulders (38cm).. should I be going narrower?
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xav
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by xav

CustomMetal wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 11:01 am
Hi Xav, currently having a bike built for U.K. road bike TTs.. what are the wheel depth limits? I have 50 and 60mm rims..

Also as my bars are being custom printed I can go with whatever width and flare I like.. I currently run the enve aero road bars (42cm at drops, 37cm at hoods) but I angle the hoods in and they measure 36cm. I can hold this position for ages without elbows going out as I have narrow shoulders (38cm).. should I be going narrower?
That's exciting! Please enter the AeroCoach road bike champs on May 15th :D

Wheel depths are set by the organiser, I've been suggesting 90mm to all organisers for the AeroCoach road bike series just because it removes the issue of having to measure it on the start line. No one is going to turn up with a 100mm front wheel and 80mm and 90mm wheels are still road race legal. CTT have copied most of our rules but chosen 65mm for their wheel depth, so if you're doing one of the 6 classic series events then it'll be 65mm, but outside of that it'll depend on the organiser really.

With your bars if you can handle the position then yes I'd go narrower, maybe 35cm/40cm hoods/drops and then angle the levers in a touch to get 34cm? What frame are you going to be using?

CustomMetal
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by CustomMetal

xav wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 11:58 am
CustomMetal wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 11:01 am
Hi Xav, currently having a bike built for U.K. road bike TTs.. what are the wheel depth limits? I have 50 and 60mm rims..

Also as my bars are being custom printed I can go with whatever width and flare I like.. I currently run the enve aero road bars (42cm at drops, 37cm at hoods) but I angle the hoods in and they measure 36cm. I can hold this position for ages without elbows going out as I have narrow shoulders (38cm).. should I be going narrower?
That's exciting! Please enter the AeroCoach road bike champs on May 15th :D

Wheel depths are set by the organiser, I've been suggesting 90mm to all organisers for the AeroCoach road bike series just because it removes the issue of having to measure it on the start line. No one is going to turn up with a 100mm front wheel and 80mm and 90mm wheels are still road race legal. CTT have copied most of our rules but chosen 65mm for their wheel depth, so if you're doing one of the 6 classic series events then it'll be 65mm, but outside of that it'll depend on the organiser really.

With your bars if you can handle the position then yes I'd go narrower, maybe 35cm/40cm hoods/drops and then angle the levers in a touch to get 34cm? What frame are you going to be using?
Hi Xav, Tom Sturdy is building me something special.. if you DM me a number (can't find one on your website) I'd love to discuss... however it won't be finished for Mid May, but your road bike series was one of the main reasons for the commission!
Allegra- Steel Lugs TBC
Alya- Ti Climbing TBC
Bertha- TT 9.8kg
Matilda - Ti/Carbon Race TBC
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Verity- Ti Aero 8.2kg


All weights with pedals,cages & garmin mount

maxim809
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by maxim809

xav wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:44 am
Thanks! Currently high 0.23s if I hold a proper aero hoods position with those wheels (~40mm), but I'd expect <0.23 with deeper/more aero wheels on, but I can't hold the aero hoods position for eternity. In the UK the regulations for road bike TTs haven't quite homologated yet, so some events have restrictions on how deep they can be.

Aero testing is great for helping solidify things and get answers, but you do often then get more questions that need answering later :D . I think I might be able to get this bike in the tunnel next week as I'd be interested to see what it's like bike only (I suspect pretty good, I got rid of the front brake cable which should help).
Wow, 0.23~.24's is amazing on road.

I can hold 0.25~0.26 "forever uncomfortably" on flat roads, but dipping below begins hurting exponentially. I'm only on 38cm's so there's opportunity for bigger reductions if I took the plunge.

IME where I ride in the west coast of US, the road scene is not as open yet to taking advantage of aero gains via 'major' positional changes. Some topics like narrow bars or even raising stack height (high & long as opposed to low & long) have an air of controversy to them when brought up for discussion. Short cranks are catching on (again) but most are doing it for the comfort or trendiness, and less for the aero gains.

Granted, there are always people who are experimenting, but my observation is that we haven't reached a "critical mass" yet. :) My only rational for this is that we are pretty hilly here. There is a preference for all-round bike fittings. And also, I believe the local terrain chooses the rider types that become the majority. It would be interesting to see what the 'aero' culture looks like if I went to far flatter but still very competitive regions of the US.

FlatlandClimber
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by FlatlandClimber

New super narrow handle bars from wattshop. What do you make of these?
https://cyclingtips.com/2021/04/new-uci ... andlebars/

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eins4eins
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by eins4eins

I'm using 36cm Enves but can't imagine that even more narrow bars would give any benefit worth the disadvantages in everyday usability and bike handling

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ms6073
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by ms6073

Also agree that going narrower than 36cm would seem to be more of a hindrance. I do like the clean lines of the WattShop prototype and would be interested if there was a version that was slightly wider at the hoods with less flare, you know, like the current Enve SES Aero road bars. :lol:
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