This article first appeared on BikeRadar.
At 194cm / 6ft 4in, Jan-Willem van Schip isn’t a small man, but his handlebars are tiny. Measuring a mere 32cm center-to-center, van Schip’s bars exemplify the ‘narrow is aero’ mentality to the extreme.
Van Schip's aero bars first caught the eye when he was in the break of the day at Gent-Wevelgem and then still managed to finish 12th in the sprint won by Peter Sagan.
While a few riders historically have used the event as a last chance to race-test cobbles equipment ahead of Roubaix, other teams who aren’t racing the Hell of the North come with full aero equipment to contest the dead-flat, often-windy Scheldeprijs.
While Boogerd declined to specify the bars — they certainly are not team-sponsor Ritchey product — they appear to be a Nitto randonneur model.
“People think the bar is something new and special, but it’s just an old bar from a touring bike,” Boogerd said.
For contrast, this is the 38cm bar of Kenny Dehaes (WB Aqua Protect VeranClassic). And this bar is narrower than most riders use
Most riders had aero wheels and aero bikes, and a few, like Kenny Dehaes of WB Aqua Protect VeranClassic, had relatively narrow bars of 38cm. Adam Hansen of Lotto Soudal has been using narrow bars for a few years. But 32cm? That’s pretty much unheard of for road racers.
If you measure van Schip's alloy bars at the apex of the bend on the tops, they are only 30cm wide.
Measured at the apex, the Japanese alloy bars are even skinnier
The drops flare out quite a bit. But even then, the ends of the drops are only 38cm center-to-center.
“He’s from the track,” said team director Michael Boogerd, a longtime elite rider himself. “He says it’s not more comfortable, but it’s more aero.”
Jan-Willem van Schip stands 194cm / 6ft 4in, but his bars measure 32cm center-to-center at the hoods
For reference, a stock bike that fits the tall Van Schip would come with at least a 44cm-wide handlebar. Some sprinters like Dehaes often use narrower bars, but in the 38-40cm range. Most riders have 40-42cm bars in the pro peloton.
Van Schip is a track rider who is racing on the road for Roompot