Ask RIDE…What size handlebars do I need?

I am a big guy and wondering if wider bars will give me more leverage when I’m in the drops? Is wider better for sprinting or is there a strict rule for selecting the correct width?

Greg, WA

Hi Greg,

Great question, and hoping to not come up against you in a gallop. The key to safe sprinting, and to riding in general, is that a stable platform will allow you to attain maximal performance. There are some rough guidelines when it comes to the optimal width which are based around an approximate correlation of shoulder girdle and distance between hands when held directly in front of you. However, the correct bar for you is the one which is wide enough to provide a stable platform for controlling the bike – in your case at warp speed in the kick – whilst not causing excessive shoulder and arm muscle fatigue caused by reaching the controls or drops. There is no point in working on increasing your leverage at the bars because if you are fatigued from holding your arms too far apart you will be unable to contest said battle.

The best advice is to test ride some different width and shape handlebars. You should be able to feel if they are too narrow (less control) or too wide (too much effort to hold the bars). The most comfortable bar width will provide the necessary leverage and control.


Blair Martin, Physiotherapist, specialises in cycling, running and triathlon related injury prevention and rehabilitation. He runs his own popular practise in Sydney called The Body Mechanic.

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