Question: Compared to my shoulder width, how wide should my handlebar be? I have a fairly wide bar on my road bike but would like to get more aero. Would a narrow bar help? –Baxter K.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Many roadies prefer a handlebar slightly wider than their shoulders, because a wide bar opens the chest. Some people say they breathe better because of it. A wide bar also provides more leverage for steering. It can make a twitchy bike more stable.
The aero advantage of a handlebar that’s a couple of centimeters narrower seems negligible to me, especially on long rides when you’re up on the brake hoods most of the time. The upper body creates a lot more wind resistance than arms do.
I remember a comment from a pro rider a few years back. He said his switch from a 42-cm bar to a 44-cm was like going from night to day. He loved the way the wider bar felt to his body and his bike handling.