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BikeDynamics - Bike Fitting Specialists

Bike Fitting Guidelines - Handlebars

? Once the saddle position has been defined, the body contact points on the handlebars can be set. Last but not least, the bar position is key to rider aerodynamics, bike handling and numerous comfort issues such as the wrists, neck and lower back.

The angle of the torso to the horizontal will vary from the almost flat, aggressive, time trial position to the upright 'sit up and beg'. A good starting point is around 40° to 45°, which when combined with an upper arm to torso angle of 80° to 90° will give an ideal weight distribution and a good compromise between comfort and aerodynamics. Going lower will improve aerodynamics but will be dependant upon hamstring flexibility, hip joint flexibility and core strength.

Ideally you will spend most of your riding time on the brake hoods, with frequent forays onto the drops and bar tops giving an aggressive or relaxed position respectively. If you spend most of your time on the bars and rarely get onto the drops your stem is too long or too low!

Our wrists have evolved to offer their most effective shock absorption when straight ahead (thought to be down to coping with falling over and thumping each other) so this should be the default position when on the bars and hoods.
Setting the position of the levers and the bar rotation is a question of keeping the wrists as straight as possible whilst maximising the accessibility of the controls. Optimising for all hand positions is recommended to encourage the rider to keep changing position.

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Suitable handlebar width is often defined by the width of your shoulders. Shoulder width is described as the distance between the bony lumps at the end of your clavicles (approx 50mm in from the shoulder extremity). An indicator the bars are too wide for you is if the arms are parallel and the wrists flex outwards to hold the bar bends or hoods.

Although triathlon bars appear very different to dropped handlebars the basic rules still apply. The upper arm to torso angle will open a few degrees i.e. 90°-100° and you need to ensure the elbow pads don't bash against your knees when out of the saddle. The forearms should be horizontal and wrists straight, which will require bar extensions with one upward bend. 'S'bend or straight extensions look cooler but put a lot of strain on the wrists and should only be used for for shorter events. The big difference is the angle at the elbow which tightens to approx 90°.

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