I'm about to cut my handlebar to 620mm or 640mm

I have 620mm handlebar with minivelo and I'm very much tailored to the size.

However, I've read wider handlebar is better for controlling..

Mike hall (below) seems to be riding with slightly over-sized handlebar to me.. I'm not sure though

  • edit - mike hall is the current record holder for tour divide.

enter image description here

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    What you can try this week is to move your brakes and shifters more central on the bar, and avoid holding the ends. If you find your hands drifting back to the ends, then don't cut your bars. – Criggie Nov 1 '20 at 6:37
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    I think this could also depend on ground surface and if you carry luggage on the handlebars/fork. You can see that he has two bottles and a sleeping bag (?) attached, so at least 2kg of mass. Keep in mind that wide handlebars are generally less aerodynamic. – Michael Nov 1 '20 at 6:40
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    What riding are you doing, what style bike is it on? Bar width is a big part of a bike fit, asking about bar width ignoring stem length, top tube length, rider flexibility, ability and preferences won't get to a useful answer. – mattnz Nov 1 '20 at 7:17
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    @VladimirF definitely not a poll - those are considered off topic. The question is about bar length specifically relating to bike packing (which I take as loaded touring) Good answers might mention handing when the bars are loaded, or the forks have extra weight on them from paniers/front rack/bottles. Hand positions might get a mention, aero too, as is all-day/week comfort for OP. – Criggie Nov 1 '20 at 13:22
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    @Criggie re. moving things inboard - the brake and/or shifter housing can provide another hand position (even if not the most comfortable or grippy, still useful on road/smooth gravel) too if set up nicely, more so if far enough inboard that the wrists are at a different angle to on the grips. If found this very beneficial on a recent century on my hardtail (mixed-surface, very little technical MTB in the end as I had to walk those bits) – Chris H Nov 2 '20 at 9:10

The tour divide is a long event riding 10-20 hours a day for over two weeks.

Your biggest priority should be comfort, your bars should be set to a width that is most comfortable for you. Any small amount of discomfort with the position after a 1 day ride will be much worse by 15 hours into day 3.

If you are fortunate enough that your body will tolerate and/or adapt to a wide range of positions, you should then think about how your bar width is going to interact with the rest of your kit. For example some bar bag designs interfere with your brake levers if your bar is narrow. And what about other accessories you may want bar space for (gps, power bank, tri bars, feed bags)?

Once you answered these questions you will have your answer. And as is the nature with bike packing you may only find out what is going to work well for you after you've experimented in training.

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    The roll-end bar bags are particularly prone to getting in the way if not rolled enough. They save on weight compared to bracketed rigid-ish designs and have decent capacity but there are trade-offs. Another is interference with bar-mounted gadgets – Chris H Nov 2 '20 at 9:26
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    There are plenty of gadget mounting solutions of you run out of space on the bars. It should not be a major consideration. – mattnz Nov 2 '20 at 19:02

However, I've read wider handlebar is better for controlling..

True, but then again wide handlebars feel unnatural like a huge steering wheel in a car would. I think you'll find that most road riders prefer a drop handlebar about the same width as their shoulders (usually around 40 cm). Then the arms don't have to extend sideways.

So this argument for better control applies only when you absolutely need the control. Such as when mountain biking. Also, if riding on the road during snowy winter, then you might also want to use a mountain bike style wide straight handlerbar on the road. You need very precise control on uneven snow modified by pedestrians that have walked over it.

In the picture you linked, the handlebar style is suboptimal. For roads, you should be using a drop handlebar about 40cm wide.

A wider handlebar allows easier mounting of lots of accessories (reflectors, bell, speedometer, GPS computer, smartphone holder, headlight, electric bike computer for changing assist level, etc). Road bike drop handlebars have little possibility for mounting lots of accessories because the handlebar tape takes so much area that you need for keeping your hands on it. So I can understand if one selects a drop handlebar 5 cm wider than shoulders. But anything more would be excessively wide.

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    Why do you even mention drop bars when the OP clearly wants to use a flatbar bike in Tour Divide? It is an offroad event. And there is normally no handlebar tape on these handlebar, MTB handlebars use grips. Why do you mention what one should use on the road (but even there flat bars are perfectly fine for those what want them) when the question is about mountain biking? – Vladimir F Nov 1 '20 at 13:19
  • @VladimirF to be fair, not everyone knows that the Tour Divide is an off-road event, and the OP didn't specify. That said, you're correct, it is definitely off road, and the bikes I'm seeing include both flat bar and drop bar ones. That said, drop bar bikes in this race are likely to use wide bars. Wide drop bars are starting to become a niche thing, e.g. the Curve Walmer is available in widths of 460-600mm. – Weiwen Ng Nov 2 '20 at 3:18
  • @WeiwenNg I am preparing for some similar event and I wil use a drop bar bike. But I am pretty sure the OP is not thinking about cutting their drop bars shorter. – Vladimir F Nov 2 '20 at 8:53
  • @VladimirF true, and actually there’s a nice picture of one of the racers on a flat bar, so... – Weiwen Ng Nov 2 '20 at 18:53

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