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Different Handlebar Types

To those not part of the ever-growing cycling culture, handlebars might seem like a small and insignificant detail. But you and I know better.

Choosing the right handlebars for your bike is a crucial decision. No matter what type of bike you have, you’ll need to be aware of the different types of handlebars and their uses, so you can make an informed decision based on your cycling lifestyle.

So let’s go through some of the main kinds, shall we?

DROPBARS

These are the types of handlebars which curve down towards the rider at the ends. Much like Bullhorns, Dropbars offer great aerodynamic capabilities – so they stand as a solid choice for those with a need for speed.

They’re also useful in different riding scenarios – such as track riding, for the city folk who like to hit get a bit wild on the weekends. Keep in mind, though, that if your trail is likely to get particularly bumpy, dropbars might not be the ideal choice due to the strain they can put on the wrists.

*Dropbar Handlebars Picture

AEROBARS

As the name indicates, Aerobars are king when it comes to – yep, you guessed it, aerodynamics. The shape of these handlebars encourages the rider to sit forward and in a compact position, which offers even more speed capabilities.

Despite how awkward riders who use Aerobars can look, most actually find the riding stance to be pretty comfortable. The bars also allow you to rest your forearms while riding, for when the journey starts to drag on a bit.

However, as you might imagine, this tucked-in position that one assumes when using Aerobars isn’t great for climbing hills and inclines. So, again, it’s always best to make your decisions based on your personal needs.

*Aerobars Handlebars Picture

BULLHORN BARS

Let’s face it, Bullhorn handlebars look cool. They just do. Bullhorns stand out, even to those with little knowledge of cycling. They curve upwards and forwards – not unlike, say, the horns of a bull. But they also have other advantages than just making you look like a badass on wheels.

Firstly, they’re great for speed – their aerodynamic shape won’t hold you back when you sleep through your alarm and you need to set a new record for your morning commute to work. They also offer good mobility for posture, allowing you to tackle those inclines more comfortably.

But Bullhorns do come with their downsides. Their curved shape can make turning a bit difficult, especially on those tight corners. Also, for you city-riders, be careful that your Bullhorns don’t get snagged on poles and other inconvenient obstacles. That definitely won’t look cool, and will probably hurt.

*Bullhorn Handlebars Picture

Image Credit Flickr Creative Commons – Mission bicycle company

FLATBARS

Here’s where we come to the common classic. Flatbars come as a default for the majority of bikes, due to their simplicity and their status as all-rounders.

Flatbars are flat, of course, and thus are especially popular for urban riders who might want to attach bells, lights, mile counters, phone holsters, or whatever crazy customization they can think of.

As we said, this type of handlebar is an all-rounder, meaning they offer good turning and climbing capabilities, and won’t put any undue strain on your body whilst riding. This is especially useful for cyclists who may have some back or muscular problems, and want to ride smoothly and comfortably.

If you’re looking to get as much speed as possible out of your bike, though, Flatbars probably aren’t for you.

*Flatbar Handlebars Picture

CRUISER BARS

This one’s for all you laidback riders out there. You know who you are. The cyclists who like to maintain a comfortable, upright sitting position without sacrificing control of the bike.

Cruiser bars also give a unique shape to your bike, resulting in an aesthetic which does the name justice. The style isn’t for everyone, but for those who like to make relatively short trips to pick up some groceries or run some errands, these handlebars will treat you very well.

*Crusier Handlebars Picture

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Look, whilst you may meet many a bike snob who will insist that they know best – the cycling life is all about finding out what fits you, your style and your needs.

And your options for handlebars by no means ends with our list! There are also variants such as Mustache bars, bike-specific bars like Whatton bars and Recumbent bars, and old-school classics such as Condorino bars.

Such a wide range can make your head spin at first, especially if you’re new to cycling culture, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with opting for the simpler choices at first. We find that learning as you go is usually the best way to do things.

Bio: Hi, I’m Mike. And I’m currently cycling around SE Asia. When I’m not weaving through traffic I’m running my bike blog Pinch-Flat. Check it out!