One way to get an idea of what width handlebars works best is to measure the distance between your shoulder blades. Have someone hold a yardstick against your back to take a reading.
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Drop handlebars come in sizes ranging from about 38-cm to 44-cm wide and you select by matching the width of your shoulders. So, if the distance between your shoulder blades is 42-cm, that's what the handlebar width should be, measured from the center of the other end. Some manufacturer's measure from outside-to-outside, so check with us if you're not sure.
Improve Breathing and Control
The right bar width will provide comfort and increased efficiency because you'll be able to breathe better. It's especially noticeable if you've been using too-narrow a drop handlebar and you climb frequently. You'll appreciate additional leverage too, whenever you stand.
Adjusting Flat Bars
For flat handlebars, width has more to do with riding preferences. The cool thing is, we can cut down handlebars that are too wide, meaning you won't have to replace yours if they don't feel right.
Try Bar Ends
Remember that you can change the feel of a flat handlebar and give yourself some room to stretch out by installing bar ends. These are also excellent for climbing because they give you a great pulling position and move your body weight forward (when you're gripping the bar ends), which helps keep the front end down on the steep stuff.
Try Higher Bars
Riser bars are also available, which are models that slope upwards on the ends to provide less bend in your back when you lean forward to grab the grips. Many off-roaders find that risers are just the ticket for a more comfortable position. THey're also typically a bit wider than flat bars to provide additional leverage, which is helpful on technical terrain.
Try "High-Rise" Handlebars
There are also handlebars designed for more leisurely riding, which you'll find on cruisers and city bikes. These are sometimes called "sweep," "high rise," "comfort" or "cruiser" bars, and they'll raise your riding position the most.
Usually, riders who enjoy demanding, technical trails appreciate a little additional width (24 to 27 inches), especially if they're using dual-suspension frames. All-round riders prefer a more standard width of about 22 inches.