As a cyclist, you know that there are many different types of bike handlebars available on the market. But which one is best for you? In this post, we’ll take a look at the common bicycle handlebars and their benefits. So whether you’re new to cycling or just looking to switch up your ride, this is for you!
Types of Bike Handlebars
1. Bike Drop Handlebars
Being a cyclist has many advantages. You have more daily exercise than the average person, and of course, you are helping out the environment by producing minimal CO2 emissions. The downside? Riding a bike doesn’t exactly keep your arms toned. So, if you’re a cyclist who wants to tone their arms, an easy way to do this is by riding a drop handlebar bike.
What are bike drop handlebars? They are the handlebars found on racing bikes and road bikes. The drop handlebars are designed to allow for easier access to the brake levers. The shape of the drops (the part of the bars that go down) also provides for a more aerodynamic position than what you would get with forwarding handlebars.
Why ride a drop handlebar road bike?
- The main advantage of the bicycle with drop bars is that it allows you to change your hand because it is easier to bend your back and stay in a certain position. The drop position allows switching between high and low positions, which changes the pressure on your joints, muscles, tendons, etc., by using various types of handlebars.
- Leaning forward helps to leverage pedaling power so a cyclist with drop handlebars can more easily apply power while riding.
- It provides an aerodynamic advantage and faster cycling. The forward-leaning reduces air resistance and drag.
- First of all, it is more difficult to use drop handlebars if the cyclist is not tall because this type of bicycle does not have a high or low frame. Also, people who are just learning how to ride should start with other types of bikes in order to avoid injuries. Furthermore, it is difficult to change the position of your hands on drop handlebars while cycling in traffic.
- The drop-handlebar is not suitable for people who want to slow ride as it as it isn’t always easy to control at low speed. It takes more effort compared to other types of bicycles in order to steer and handle. Also, if you ride on bumpy roads, it can be difficult to maneuver a road bike with drop bars because if the front wheel hits an uneven surface the whole bicycle tends to move sideways.
Ultimately, even though there are disadvantages of owning a road bike with drop bars, these types of bicycles provide many benefits and cycling enthusiasts should consider investing in one, especially if they like to ride long distances.
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2. Flat Handlebar Bike
A bicycle with flat handlebars is used for casual fitness and commuting as the rider can sit upright.
Flat handlebar bicycles date to as early as 1869, when the term safety bicycle was first coined. In the 1890s they were also known as “ordinary bicycles,” or “high-wheelers.” In contrast, upright bicycles with narrow seats and high, curved handlebars [like a cruiser or mountain bike] were called “ordinary” or “penny farthings.”
The modern flat handlebar bicycle with coaster brake, such as the Schwinn Stingray, was not common until the 1970s. Prior to this time they were mostly custom-made or used for racing.
The flat handlebars on a modern bike provide numerous benefits over standard drop handlebars:
- With less hand and arm movement, riding with flat bar handlebars reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Flat handlebar bikes are easier to ride for people with neck or back pain. They also allow riders to sit more upright where air can circulate better in hot weather. This can result in increased endurance and less sweating.
- The rider’s center of gravity is lower on a flat handlebars bike, which makes it more stable on the road. It also forces the rider to lean forward on climbs or when accelerating, contributing to an athletic riding position. This can be less stressful for joints than sitting upright all of the time.
- Flat bar bikes are more affordable than other types of bicycles.
- Flat handlebar bicycles are more suitable for casual, short commutes than bicycles with curved handlebars and high seat.
- The wider flat-bar road bike handlebars provide better handling on rough roads and off-road trails. It can also accommodate wide tires and fenders for commuting in all weather conditions.
- It is more difficult to ride uphill with the flat handlebars due to the upright position which does not allow for weight shift to the front and lack of extra pedaling power.
- The flat handlebar is not suitable for riding at high speeds for long like cyclists with drop bars on road bicycles are less aerodynamic.
3. Riser Handlebars
Riser handlebars are an important style of mountain bicycle handlebars. With the rise in popularity of the mountain bike, riser bars started to become more popular as a way to provide a more upright riding position for better control on bumpy trails. Risers may also help reduce strain on a rider’s wrists and improve comfort on longer rides or tours.
Riser bars are usually made of aluminum alloy and come in either a 25mm (1″) diameter or a 31.8 mm (1-1/4″) diameter. For the more serious mountain biker, oversized riser handlebars with a 35mm or even 40mm (1 3/8″ and 1 5/8″) diameter are also available from aftermarket manufacturers. Oversized bars have a greater surface area, allowing the rider to grip the handlebars more securely with less hand pressure.
Bicycle handlebar risers can be found on all types of mountain bikes, from cross country and trail bikes to downhill rigs that need a wide range of hand placements for control.
They give the rider more options in terms of the position of their hands on the bar than a flat handlebar. With mountain bikes, having your hands too close or too far from the steering axis can cause problems when making tight turns or climbing over rocks and logs. Risers give you more flexibility in adjusting your hand positioning for a more comfortable ride.
Riders who spend long hours riding in the same position often complain of neck and shoulder pain from the upright position. Because of the high bar position, riders with back problems may find riser bars painful when looking straight down at the trail while riding.
The solution to this is to consider riser handlebars with built-in bar ends. Bar ends are an excellent way to give your hands a rest while climbing uphill or taking on tough terrain. They can also be used for more precise steering control under harder cornering conditions.
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4. Bullhorn Handlebars
Bullhorn handlebars are bar ends with a slight curve. They are usually installed on the drops of handlebars. Bullhorns were originally designed in the mid-1960s by the Santana Bicycle Company for road-racing bicycles. The intention was to create a gripping position that would allow riders to breathe more easily when climbing hills, but at the same time not fatigue riders on long, straight roads.
The classic bullhorn handlebars are usually made of Chromoly steel, which is much lighter than other steel alloys.
Unlike traditional drop handlebars for bicycles on which the brake levers are affixed to the front of the bar, bullhorns have their levers mounted below and to either side of the stem, along with gear shifters on small extensions coming off the main front section. Thus they provide room for a forward-facing third “brake” lever, for a total of nine possible braking positions.
Recently a number of bicycle manufacturers have begun to offer variations on the original design. Such modifications include shortening the rear half of the bar or leaving off one or both brake levers. This makes it possible to mount mirrors and computers where traditional bars would get in the way. It also allows for more mobility and comfort while riding on the tops, hoods, or ramps of the bars.
- On bullhorns, your hands rest in front of the steering axis instead of behind it. This alleviates pressure that is put on the hands by the handlebars, and also allows you to pull up on the handlebar as well as push down. This increased flexibility reduces fatigue and strain on the arms and shoulders.
- Bullhorn bars can be useful for those who enjoy riding long distances or doing lots of climbing because they provide a wider variety of hand positions that target different muscle groups.
- Bullhorn handlebars for bicycles are also helpful in preventing hand numbness when riding on rough terrain, bumpy roads, or at high speeds. Instead of just one gripping position, the hands can be rotated along the curve of the bar to find spots where they feel best supported and most comfortable.
- Loss of some steering control and an increased feeling of instability. Because the hands are positioned further from the axis, you give up a bit of leverage when changing direction or making fine adjustments, such as keeping your handlebars steady as you ride over undulating terrain or go around corners. It is possible to switch the bullhorns for traditional bar ends and get more leverage and a feeling of control back. But, you lose the ability to pull up on the bars.
- Using bullhorns may make it harder to control your bike when hitting bumps in the road or moving through tight spaces at slow speeds. When riding over pavement cracks or other obstacles, you have to mentally adjust for the fact that the bars are further away.
- Bullhorn handlebars can also interfere with shifting and braking on bikes that have integrated brake/shift levers.
5. Cruiser Handlebars
Cruiser handlebars are often regarded as the standard for all types of bicycling. Universally designed with high hand positions, these bars are made to make riding more comfortable. They also allow riders to benefit from multiple hand positions during long rides.
Cruisers are designed around comfort, so it would be to your advantage to choose these handlebars that allow for multiple hand positions. Ergo bars are great for this purpose. They have a traditional bar in the middle with an “ergo” section in the front where you can place your hands when you’re riding straight up or just coasting.
Cruiser bike handlebars are low-rise, which is what makes them perfect for cruising. This is an ergonomic style, so your body weight will rest on the saddle and the part of the frame where it attaches to the crank. Your hands won’t get tired as quickly as they would on a drop handlebar because you’ll have even distribution across the region. The position of your hands is more relaxed because you won’t have to be holding on for dear life as you take a turn at high speeds.
6. BMX Handlebars
BMX bike handlebars are the components of a bicycle that allow control over steering, braking, and shifting.
The classic “bullhorns” were used by many pros in the 90s, but now almost everyone uses BMX bike handlebars that are very similar to cross-country mountain bike bars- flat top, backswept
Depending on the kind of riding you do and your personal choice you would like “flat” or “riser” handlebars – flat ones (like classic bullhorns) will give you more control, but a bit less speed and lower stability. Riser handlebars will give you a lot more speed and stability, but it’s also harder to change your direction quickly- so they are better for “speed” riders.
In modern BMX freestyle bikes, flat bars are most commonly used, however, riser bars have been gaining popularity in recent years. In addition to having a different geometry, flat and riser bars have a different feel when riding.
Flat bars are usually preferred for dirt jumping because they allow the rider to position their hands further forward than riser bars, which is believed to provide better balance during landing.
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7. Aero Handlebars Bike
Aero handlebars are identified by their flat top part, targeted to the drops of the bike. That section is used for aerodynamic reasons, or more precisely to reduce air resistance at high speeds.
This type of handlebar is most often found in time trials, triathlons, and some street bikes built for speed. The latter is usually characterized by very narrow tires, to get the least possible air resistance.
The aero bar has also another useful function: it provides a good grip for the rider’s hands while he is riding in an aerodynamic position (where his torso is close to upright). This kind of handlebar reduces stress on wrists and arms, especially when gripping the bar above or below the aerodynamic bar pads.
Eddy Merckx is said to have preferred this type of handlebar for time trials, after having tried every other kind available at the time. The big advantage he saw in it was his ability to improve his position on the bike while still being able to pedal efficiently because of the high stability offered by this new type of handlebar.
The new orientation the rider’s arms and legs had to take made him adopt a more efficient position on his bike, which is why he was able to get such amazing results at such high speeds.
Conclusion – Bike Handlebar Types
We hope you found this article helpful in learning about the different types of bike handlebars. This information should be useful if you are looking to buy a new bike or upgrade your current one, as well as for anyone who bikes on occasion and wants to know more about their options. The next time someone asks what type of handlebar they need, don’t hesitate to recommend checking out our blog post!