Get A Handle On The Types of Bike Handlebars
January 10, 2023
There are many types of bike handlebars on the market, and each of them offers riders their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the biking experience. After all, your comfort is essential every time you ride. That’s why the right type of handlebars will add comfort, stability and overall handling for you and your bicycle. It’s important to remember this when picking handlebars for your specific style of riding, whether you’re on a mountain bike, road bike, or ebike.
So how do you choose which bicycle handlebars are going to be best for you? It all depends, really. And hopefully this in-depth overview of the handlebar world will enlighten and illuminate your decision next time you’re shopping for bike handlebars.
Flat Handlebars, as opposed to drop handlebars, run perpendicular from the stem of the bike and offer riders a more upright riding posture with a slight forward lean and elevated gaze so as to stay alert and see what’s up ahead. They are generally the type of handlebars that come stock with most bikes for the everyday rider, granted they’re not performance cycling bikes. The flat handlebar is overall versatile and comfortable, typically used by cross-country riders because of its accessory friendly design.
The simplicity of flat handlebars provides prime real estate for attachments such as lights, bags, phone holders, brake levers and other sorts of accessories, such as bar ends. Bar ends are accessories that are equipped to the ends of the handlebars. They allow riders to change riding positions while riding and provide comfort and the use of different muscles. There are many different types of bar ends that can be equipped to flat handlebars, relieving certain muscles and making a ride more comfortable.
Riser handlebars are flat handlebars that rise slightly from the center and are usually wider than most traditional flat bars. They’re generally used for trail riding because of the upright position similar to the flat handlebars, they provide and control over the ride, allowing riders to turn easily and use less energy. This upright position also allows riders to sit in a more comfortable position, relieving tension in the wrists and back. The control from this style of handlebar increases versatility for terrain, providing confidence in every ride.
The bullhorn handlebars are all about business. Unlike the straightness of a flat or riser handlebar, the bullhorn juts forward at both ends then slightly curves upward, giving the rider an opportunity to embrace a forward leaning position and a more aerodynamic experience. These type of bike handles are used mostly in track racing and are great for climbing and flying down. They might not be the greatest handlebars for frequent turns, but when you’ve got the bull by the horns you might as well just take the road straight on and ride the way that works best for these handlebars.
Drop handlebars are the cycling enthusiasts go-to handlebars for design for balance and versatility. They are your typical road bike handlebars and have a straight bar across the middle section then curl down and inward like ram horns. There are several types of drop bars:
- Classic: Long reaching with a deep drop.
- Compact: Short reach with a shallow drop.
- Ergo / Anatomic: Designed with hand comfort in mind with different shaped drops.
- Track: Large curves that encourage riders to use the inner part of the drop. Widely used for track racing.
- Randonneur: Shallow rise from the middle. Used for longer rides.
- Drop-in: Drop bars that curve back into itself.
While drop handlebars are generally used for racing, or long-distance endurance riding, they are great everyday use to get a great amount of exercise. The aerodynamic designs and versatility allow riders to lean into the pedaling and get the most out of their bodies and their bicycle.
Also known as “triathlon bars”, an aero handlebars back is used for speed cycling and time trials. The padded extensions allow the rider to tuck into a narrow position to become more aerodynamic, creating less drag and promoting top speeds. Although the aero handlebars work wonders when it comes to going as fast as possible, they can pose a challenge when it comes to braking. Aero handlebars are typically a safe option for seasoned riders.
Designed with cruising in mind, cruiser handlebars have a swept back style that promotes an upright posture and control over the riding experience. Built for comfort and not for speed, they allow the rider’s wrists to relax in a natural position. Ride these around town with ease and add a basket and a bell for aesthetics and flair.
Designed for a myriad of hand positions, the butterfly handlebars were made for touring. With plenty of room for quick access to items such as phone, bags, or mirrors makes these the best when it comes to versatility on long rides. Also, these handlebars are great for shifters. Their unique design allows shifters to be positioned right where your hands want them to be. The only downside to this style is the weight which could cause drag but overall great for multiple hand holds and adjusting as you go the distance.
That’s A Wrap
Bike handlebar types can make all the difference in the way you experience the two-wheeled world. There are bicycle handlebars for comfort, cycle bars that have utility when it comes to aerodynamics, and there are others that have space for everything you need access to while you’re riding. Some important questions you should ask yourself before you go out and buy a new pair of bicycle handlebars that fit your best use case scenario: Do they provide comfort? Will I use them to go fast? Will I be able to fit them in my car or on a rack? Do I want to put mirrors on them or a bag? There’s a set of handlebars out there for every kind of rider, and that includes you, too!