My Road Handlebars Over 28 Years
Looking at the photos of all my road bikes since 1992, one very noticeable change is the handlebar and in particular the position of hoods. On my early bikes the hoods were extremely low on the bars. Thinking about wrist and arm alignment particularly on that photo of my black Trek 5200, I wonder how it could have been comfortable. Well, I was a whole lot younger and rode just fine with that setup. The last couple of years I’ve standardized my handlebar on all my drop bar bikes and used a 44 cm wide Thomson KFC-One carbon handlebar. Before that I ran 42 cm and even narrow 40 cm bars.
Historically the most frequently used method of determining the handlebar’s rotation was putting the bottom of the drop parallel to the ground. That’s how I used to do it on my early road bikes. These days however, I have the upper part of the bar and the hoods as a straight extension parallel or slightly upwards to the ground. The hoods have moved upwards a lot without pointing upwards. They are the place where my hands sit most of the time. I do most of the climbing out of the saddle and when I’m not in the drops on the flats or while descending, my hands generally grab the hoods. I place my hands on top of the bars only when climbing seated. With age I imagine that my stems are going to grow shorter, they may come up and sit on spacers and the bars will probably rotate upwards further. As always, I’ll let comfort be my guide. For a good guide about the subject check Handlebar Adjustments and Hand Position in Bike Fitting.