Recently I went down from 42cm handlebars to 40cm ones, but I've been getting really tight/sore triceps whilst on the bike. I've read that usually the symptom of running bars that are too narrow is usually that you have breathing difficulties, but that aspect is fine for me. After about 20 minutes or so, my triceps start getting really sore, towards the elbow end of the muscle. Is this a sign that the bars are too narrow?

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    It seems highly unlikely that a 2cm change in width is apt to cause such distinct and rapid symptom. More likely the curve of the bar is different, or you have the brake levers positioned differently from the old bar. Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 11:17
  • Did you adjust any other geometry on the bike besides the bars?
    – D.Salo
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 22:45
  • I didn't adjust anything else (have changed a few things slightly since, but this was after the tricep pain occurred). I didn't think such a small change in width would cause such a distinctive symptom either, might just have to go back to 42cms to find out for sure.
    – suskie
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 10:31

2 Answers 2


I went from 42cm to 40cm bars on a road bike and experienced the same symptoms. The switch to narrower bars can definitely cause tricep pain at the elbow. So, yes, tricep pain can be a symptom of narrow bars (it could be from other things too). Whether it is a temporary or a permanent symptom can be gleaned by how you feel after you've had some time to adjust to your new setup.

It sounds trivial, but make sure when you are riding in this new cockpit, that you keep your elbows bent and use your arms as suspension/dampening/etc. If you aren't able to ride comfortably with your elbows not locked out, this is a problem. If this is the case, I'd first add some rise to the stem to bring the bars up a bit. If you still can't get a comfortable position, then I'd recommend getting another set of 42's and riding what you know is comfortable and works for you.

  • I tried riding on a trainer with a mirror on my side to make sure I wasn't locking out my elbows but the pain still eventually comes on. Will give it some time and if it still persists, I'll just get some 42cm bars again.
    – suskie
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 10:34

If you have problem only with your triceps you probably put too much weight on handlebars. In my case rising nose of the saddle helped, in theory saddle should be horizontal ;-)

leveled saddle

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