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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just replaced my 42c-c Zipp bars with some FSA K-Force Compact bars. The FSAs are designated as 42, as printed on the bar graphics. However, that 42 is at the end of the drops. At the hoods, they are 40. I have K-Force Compact on my wife's bike too, 40c-c that are 38 at the hoods. I am 5'7", wife is 5'4", both of us are average build.

My wife got the bars first, switching from a 40c-c Deda. She didn't complain about the narrower hoods, but she isn't as perceptive. She does complain about upper back and shoulder pain. I love the compact shape in the drops, but I am noticing that they do feel pretty narrow at the hoods. They feel funny climbing with my hands on the hoods, like there isn't enough leverage on the bike.

I dunno, maybe I wouldn't have noticed anything if I hadn't measured them first. But, is there a pretty dramatic difference in practical application between a bar that's 40 and 42 at the hoods? What would/should I notice? I do feel a little tighness on the outsides of my shoulders when riding, and above my shoulder blades when done.
 

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Agree.

As the last two posts show, feel is the most important thing when picking handlebars. There are all sorts of theories people bring up when it comes to bar width, but how they feel to the rider trumps those theories every time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I know that theories and analytics can get in the way of comfort. In my wife's case, I don't think she could immediately feel anything in the bike handling or body position, but her back and shoulders would tell her later in a way that she wouldn't relate to a bar change.

Rats! It looks like I may end up buying some 44's for me, give her my 42's, and eBay her 40's. But then the drops will probably feel too wide for me. I never, ever rode in the drops with my conventional Zipps, but I do 90% of the time with the FSAs. It's very comfortable with them.
 

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easton...

I tried the FSA compact when it first came out and had the same problem. I bought 40's and noticed the hood spacing was too narrow. I put up with it for one season and sold them. I bought Easton EC90-SLX3 bars the next year, in the 40cm size. These also place the hoods closer together than the ends, but only 1cm. With Campy levers, the reach to the brake levers from the hooks is also much shorter. I got my bars from Beyond Bikes for $175.
 

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One more thought.

Not saying that's the cause for her discomfort, but keep in mind that reach affects neck and shoulder comfort as well. Handlebars of identical width can have different reach, so it's something to keep in mind. I mention this only because reach is defined sometimes as tip-of-saddle to handlebar tops, ignoring the fact that most people ride with their hands on or near the brake shifter hoods most of the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The compacts have a very short reach, that's why I bought them for her. Plus, their shape allows the transition from the curve out to the hoods and onto the hoods to be flat. That aspect of the bars is pretty cool. Reach is something I have really worked on with her Orbea Diva, including a zero offset Thomson Masterpiece post (adjusted for proper knee/pedal alignment) and 90mm 17degree stem flipped up. That Diva has a crazy short head tube.
 

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gibbons said:
I know that theories and analytics can get in the way of comfort. In my wife's case, I don't think she could immediately feel anything in the bike handling or body position, but her back and shoulders would tell her later in a way that she wouldn't relate to a bar change.

Rats! It looks like I may end up buying some 44's for me, give her my 42's, and eBay her 40's. But then the drops will probably feel too wide for me. I never, ever rode in the drops with my conventional Zipps, but I do 90% of the time with the FSAs. It's very comfortable with them.
Well not to turn this into a hey, buy my stuff post but hey I have nice pair of 44's that I will sell you, no scratches, crashes, etc.
 

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I was in the same boat as above. I bought 42cm (I would love to have 43cm) and found the hoods too narrow and pinching. Last week I purchased a used set of 44cm and found the love I wanted. The drops are 42.5 and only reach 44 at the very end.

FYI, the SL-K and K-Force have slightly different shape. The reach, drop, and flares are the same, but the SL-K drop portion is flatten until the last 2cm where it becomes round. Also, the K-Force appears to be lugged around the clamp area and may impede someone's grip. I actually prefer the SL-K to the K-Force for these reasons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hmmmm...... I haven't seen anyone say, "yeah, they were narrower, but I got used to it and like it now".

gh1- PM sent.
 

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gibbons said:
Hmmmm...... I haven't seen anyone say, "yeah, they were narrower, but I got used to it and like it now".

gh1- PM sent.
I can't speak for others, but I sold mine and replaced them 9 months later. But everyone is different.
 

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Everything has a different shape...

ahumblecycler said:
I was in the same boat as above. I bought 42cm (I would love to have 43cm) and found the hoods too narrow and pinching. Last week I purchased a used set of 44cm and found the love I wanted. The drops are 42.5 and only reach 44 at the very end.

FYI, the SL-K and K-Force have slightly different shape. The reach, drop, and flares are the same, but the SL-K drop portion is flatten until the last 2cm where it becomes round. Also, the K-Force appears to be lugged around the clamp area and may impede someone's grip. I actually prefer the SL-K to the K-Force for these reasons.
...it might have been Bicycling or one of the other roadie magazines that recently did an article on bars, and there were huge differences not just in reach and drop but in tube shapes and configurations. For example, some drops are right under the correspond top section, some are angled in, some, like the K-Force Compact, flare out. I normally ride a 42, when I built up my two Titus Oseos last year at Colorado Cyclist, they did all kinds of measuring and we came up with 44 cm. for my K-Force Compact bars...they work like a charm for me...
 
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