Wednesday, March 31

Everything you need to know about (my) bar width

My friend Kevin once asked me, "Why do you always gotta be fucking with shit?"

Honestly, I do not know.

I futilely seek an unachievable perfection.  I want things just so.  I find it hard to watch my TV because it looks like it's hanging crooked on the wall, but that's more because nothing in my seventy year old house is level (or without a crack in it).   My t-shirts are sorted into summer thin, winter thick, and sleeveless.  My flannel shirts and jackets need to be hung with zippers/buttons/snaps facing right.  I'm still looking for the fastest/most efficient way to put a stretchy kit on a plastic coat hanger... obvs zippers facing right.


I've messed with the fit on the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 a few times.  Pretty sure I started with a 70mm stem and 680mm bars.  I'm currently on a 50mm stem with 780mm bars.  I started riding on wider bars when I had the Bronson, and it felt molar betterer.  I think this is fine.  Just fine.  The internet basically says I'm wrong tho.

According to bike expert person Lee McCormack, I'm way wrong.

Here's the theoretical issues I'm forcing myself to deal with:

• You lose range of motion so you can’t ride down steep hills or make tight turns. (I thought fear and lack of skills were what was holding me back there)

• You lose pushing strength so you can’t handle impacts at your best. (I thought that was my stupid rigid crabon frok)

• You lose pulling strength so you can’t pump terrain at your best. (Pump terrain?  Strength?  What are these things?)

• You rely on the small muscles in your arms and shoulders, and they get tired. (Being that the "small muscles" on my arms and shoulders are extra small, I figured that was the issue... also, I'm 51... I live "tired")

• You can damage your shoulders. This I know. (I've got one bad shoulder from carrying a messenger bag for twenty plus years.  I've always said, when you get old enough, any body part you have two of, you'll have a "good one" and a "bad one")

So, I wanted to see if I was all wrong.  Not willing to cut down a perfectly good crabon handlebar, I just scooted everything in 20mm, effectively making my 780mm bars into 740mm bars (3mm narrower than Lee's formula based on height times a number spit out).  I stuck a slightly longer stem on there for good measure because why not?

It only took about four miles of riding for me to swap back to a 50mm stem in order to save my life.

Two days ago, I headed over to Steve's Place (I refuse to call it Rocky River Trail) because if any place local is gonna give me everything, it's Steve's.  The hardest climbs, the chunkiest descents, the steepest (legal) steeps... just all the good good packed into 14+ miles and 1,700+ feet of elevation gain.

I swear I tried to make it work.

Jeebus.  What an awful ride.  I was getting beat to death on the descents. I couldn't get the leverage I needed on the strenuous Gorge, No Name, and Stairway climbs.  I fumbled in the technical sections.  Everything just felt wrong.  I found my hands wanting to scoot out to the ends of the bar.

I came to some conclusions.

A rigid single speed mountain bike is not a normal mountain bike.

A person trying to ride a rigid single speed as fast as possible is not a normal person.

I am not a normal person.

I know I have long legs for a short man.  Google says my inseam should be 27".  Mine is 31."  I've never considered my wingspan...

Some googling and whaddaya know?  Arm span should be close to one's height... and I just laid down on the floor and did a quick measure and...

I have the arm span of someone who is 5' 10" or so.


Right back to where I started then.

Nothing ventured.  Nothing gained... except the knowledge that I'm probably fine.  Just fine.

Stupid internet.

Speaking of e-bikes, I rode one the other day.   Hlrs.

6 Hours of Warrior Creek this weekend.  Race reports and whatnot forthcoming.


edgarbikes said...

865mm is what they want me to have for handlebars...that’s not gonna work.

gewilli said...

860mm bars for me?

can I even get any that wide?

that guy... i mean he might be a jumpy pump track expert but he's probably not ridden a singlespeed much or had to pedal uphill for long

Unknown said...

Did you say “zippers/buttons/snaps facing right”?!? Are you insane, man?!? They go to the LEFT, sir!!!

But your handlebars and stem are perfect.

hellbelly said...

I actually did a course with Mr McCormack about a dozen years ago. I gleaned some solid tips, but his bar calculations are nonsense. I'm a towering 5'7" and ride 800 bars and have done so for the last 7+ years. They are the correct bowl of porridge for me.

NordieBoy said...

820mm bars? Feckoff!
740-750mm is my sweet spot.