Deciding upon the right handlebars for your bike can experience like navigating a winding highway. Are you torn amongst flat bars vs drop bars for your street or gravel bicycle?

Search no even further! This information is your roadmap to knowing the important distinctions and rewards of every. 

Irrespective of whether you are cruising by way of town streets, exploring rugged bikepacking trails, or dashing around gravel, we have received you protected.

We’ll delve into the consolation and manage of flat handlebars and the aerodynamics and versatility of drop bars, aiding you obtain your great match.

Plus, for these taking into consideration a switch, we contain a handy manual on changing your handlebars.

Let us dive in!

© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

The Rewards of Flat Bars for Street & Gravel Bikes

Flat bars are straight or slightly bent handlebars normally observed on mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, and some highway bikes.

The major advantages of flat bars include things like:

#1. Comfort and ease

Their style and design will allow for a much more upright riding posture, appreciably lowering pressure on your neck, shoulders, and again.

This upright place is not just less complicated on your entire body it also will make the handlebars more available and at ease to keep. Not like the narrower grip of drop bars, flat bars can be outfitted with ergonomic grips that put your hands in a organic, comfortable situation.

This is particularly helpful for beginner riders or people with wrist or hand discomfort.

The additional upright posture also affords a clearer look at of what is in advance, enhancing protection and building the bicycle experience more intuitive and much easier to experience.

Riding with fall bars typically forces your body into a much more intense, forward-leaning placement. Whilst this is fantastic for aerodynamics, it can direct to a downward tilt of the head, decreasing visibility. Searching up from this posture can strain your neck.

Driving with palms on the leading of the handlebars can mitigate this challenge fairly by offering a more upright place, but it even now tends to be a lot more ahead-leaning in contrast to a flat bar setup.

Flat handlebars on a gravel bike on a trail.

#2. Command

The wider style and design (usually about 22-25 inches, in contrast to 15-18 inches for drop bars) delivers more stability and management, earning steering much more precise and responsive.

This management is especially important when navigating by restricted turns or off-road trails, and can supply far more self-confidence for inexperienced cyclists using in the town.

If you have to have tight management in your riding, specifically at lessen speeds, flat bars may possibly be a improved solution.

You can also obtain quite slender flat bars created precisely for using in towns so you can navigate involving tight spaces in stopped traffic, despite the fact that this negates the gains to management delivered by wider handlebars.

#3. Greater Entry To Brakes

This is essential for metropolis using, in which repeated stopping and beginning are the norms. The brake lever’s position on flat bars is functional and intuitive, making certain security and ease in quit-and-go eventualities.

The placement of brake levers on fall bars can be a lot less easy in particular cases.

In an unexpected emergency, you could possibly need to immediately move your fingers to a unique place on the handlebars to activate the brakes.

The wider bars also necessarily mean there’s more house to attach gizmos like lights, bells, mirrors, cycle computer systems, GPS units, or cellphone mounts. In addition, for bikepacking, the added width permits for larger sized handlebar bags, permitting you carry far more gear upfront.

#4. Routine maintenance And Availability

You can use conventional MTB parts, which are normally uncovered and normally significantly less highly-priced than expert road bike elements. This helps make both of those setting up and sustaining a flat bar bicycle a lot more budget-pleasant.

Contemporary fall bar bikes typically involve unique shifters and brake levers (sometimes referred to as brifters), which are typically additional high priced than all those utilised on flat bar bikes.

Additionally, in the function of a breakdown or the need to have for a replacement element, locating suitable cables, brake levers, shifters, and derailleurs is much easier, as these areas are standard in bike retailers globally.

The uncovered wires and cable housings also simplify repairs and replacements, eradicating the problem of dealing with bar tape.

Drop handlebars on a white gravel bike.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

The Gains of Fall Handlebars

Drop bars are a kind of handlebar commonly made use of on street bikes, touring bikes, and several gravel bikes.

They are easily recognizable by their unique curved condition, which extends ahead and then curves back toward the rider, forming a “drop” form.

The key pros of drop bars involve:

#1. Added Hand Positions

You can hold them on the hoods, the bars, or in the drops, each furnishing a different using practical experience.

This selection is specifically advantageous on for a longer period rides, as it allows you to change your grip and posture, as a result lowering the threat of exhaustion in your fingers, arms, and shoulders.

Observe that it’s probable to include “bullhorn” bar ends to flat bars to offer more hand positions way too.

#2. Aerodynamics

Drop bars are the extra aerodynamic solution. Aerodynamics performs a very important job in biking, especially once you exceed speeds of about 10 mph, where air resistance turns into a big opposing force.

The capability to tuck into a lessen, more streamlined situation with drop bars considerably decreases drag. Aero bars get this principle even even more, but are generally far too impractical to be utilized on everything in addition to time demo or triathlon bikes.

This is particularly beneficial, on extensive flat stretches, descents, or versus a headwind. In these kinds of positions, your system offers a lot less of an obstruction to airflow, enabling you to ride more quickly devoid of expending added energy.

Flat bars are much less aerodynamic because of to the additional upright using placement they enforce. This posture basically turns your upper body into a parachute, rising wind resistance and drag, especially at bigger speeds. As you journey quicker, this drag noticeably hampers your pace.

When it’s attainable to lean ahead on flat bars to attain undertake a slightly far more aerodynamic position, protecting this crouched position is complicated and uncomfortable over prolonged rides.

#3. Far better Body weight Distribution On Climbs

Leaning ahead and holding onto the brake hoods permits you to shift your fat ahead, making it simpler to climb steep slopes.

This forward position also improves your leverage on the pedals, enabling you to implement extra pressure with just about every stroke, earning climbs far more economical.

Hybrid bike in the city with flat handlebars.

Flat Bars Vs Drop Bars For Commuting

When selecting among flat bars and fall bars for your commuting bike, numerous critical factors occur into participate in. These consist of the nature of your usual route, traffic disorders, highway quality, and the common speed and length of your commute.

Flat Bars For Commuting

Flat bars are normally the go-to selection for commuters prioritizing consolation and simplicity of manage. The wider grip and upright physique placement afforded by flat bars present enhanced steadiness and improved maneuverability in visitors.

Though this width gives improved control and leverage, it can be a downside in very narrow spaces or crowded bicycle lanes.

Flat bars are consumer-helpful and intuitive, creating them a preferred alternative for much less expert riders or all those navigating fast paced metropolis streets.

Fall Bars For Commuting

Fall bars are a stable preference if your commute is on the lengthier aspect and you are eager on protecting a faster pace.

The selection of various hand positions is useful for adapting to various phases of your commute, regardless of whether you are cruising on open roadways or navigating busier sections.

Even though drop bars supply pace and efficiency, they could possibly supply a lot less steadiness than flat bars. 

Furthermore, using in the drops can be unpleasant for some, in particular in excess of rougher terrain or throughout prolonged periods.

Bikepacking with flat bars vs drop bars in England and Chile.
© Robbie Ferri/Jack Gazeley/BikeTips

Flat Bars Vs Fall Bars For Bikepacking

When it will come to deciding upon between flat bars and fall bars for bikepacking, the proper choice generally is dependent on the distinct needs of your journey and personal convenience choices.

In the end, the essential is to make sure your bicycle is properly-fitted to your system. Regardless of whether you select flat bars or fall bars, appropriate bike in good shape is necessary for a at ease and pleasurable bikepacking working experience.

Flat Bars For Bikepacking

If you’re drawn to singletrack trails or the roughest off-streets, flat bars may possibly be your greatest guess.

They provide remarkable command and maneuverability in specialized terrain, serving to you navigate by tough sections much more properly.

This can be particularly useful on multi-working day excursions in which exhaustion can accumulate.

Drop Bars For Bikepacking

If your bikepacking adventures entail assorted terrain, like very long stretches of open street, fall bars could be the extra acceptable alternative.

Several bikepacking bikes are outfitted with broad flared fall bars developed to optimize convenience and management.

As you get expertise in bikepacking, really don’t be reluctant to experiment with distinctive bar setups to come across what works best for you.

Quite a few uncover that butterfly handlebars are ideal for bikepacking, as they deliver the consolation and steadiness of flat bars although nonetheless enabling for various hand positions.

Riding a gravel bike with drop handlebars.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

Flat Bars Vs Drop Bars For Gravel Bikes

Gravel riding, with its special blend of mixed terrain and varying situations, calls for a handlebar set up that can handle everything from extensive, sleek stretches to specialized, tough sections. The two flat bars and drop bars have their merits in this context.

Flat Bar Gravel Bicycle

When fewer common than drop bars in gravel driving, a flat bar gravel bicycle is an fantastic preference for people who value comfort and regulate more than speed.

Flat bar gravel bikes can commence to resemble people employed by endurance mountain bikers, featuring a extra upright place and easier dealing with on complex terrain.

Fall Bar Gravel Bike

Drop bars are a well-known solution on gravel bikes, especially for those people changing from road bikes.

They are specially adept at supporting extended-distance and larger-velocity driving, two essential aspects of traditional gravel cycling.

They permit for successful driving on open stretches whilst also delivering selections to change positions for comfort and ease and manage during various segments of your experience.

Ultimately, the style of handlebars you opt for for gravel riding really should align with what will make your riding practical experience most enjoyable, irrespective of how it suits into classic types.

Really should You Decide on Flat Bars Or Drop Bars?

Now that we’ve delved into the advantages of both equally flat and fall bars, let’s sum it up to aid you make the ideal preference for your driving design and style.

Acquiring tested each types in unique predicaments these as commuting, mountain biking, highway cycling, and cyclocross, below is my conclusion:

Decide on flat bars if:

  • Your day by day commute is a brief city dash.
  • You are venturing into the wilds with your bikepacking equipment, with rough terrain most of the way.
  • You’re getting a leisurely, lower-velocity journey across gravel trails.

Choose for drop bars if:

  • You are embarking on extended-distance commutes exactly where just about every minute counts.
  • Your bikepacking adventures lead you onto open up, sweeping streets.
  • You’re aiming for superior-velocity exhilaration on gravel paths.
Removing flat bars from a road bike.
© Tom Fortune/BikeTips

5 Vital Criteria In Swapping Your Fall Bars For Flat Bars (And Vice Versa)

Alright, now that you have figured out which handlebar is the finest for your biking requirements, you could be questioning, “What if I’m at this time riding with the other sort?” No worries – we have received you coated on how to switch from a single design to the other.

The course of action of changing a drop bar bike to a flat bar set up is not just a make any difference of swapping out the handlebars. It entails quite a few vital adjustments to accommodate the distinctive ergonomics and mechanics.

On flat bar bikes, equipment shifters and brake levers are generally independent components, which may well share a mount for space performance. In contrast, fall bar bikes typically have these controls put together into a solitary unit.

The structure of drop bar brakes and shifters is considerably diverse due to their vertical positioning. This suggests that if you are switching to a flat bar, you are going to require brakes and shifters that are appropriate with this set up.

The Conversion Procedure

  1. Handlebars: The first stage is to substitute the fall bar with a flat bar. This will quickly alter the bike’s ergonomics and managing traits.
  2. Controls: You will will need new brake levers and equipment shifters appropriate with flat bars. This is very important since the mechanics and ergonomics of flat bar controls are diverse from people on fall bars.
  3. Brake and Derailleur Compatibility: It’s vital to contemplate the compatibility of your bike’s brake calipers and derailleurs with the new handlebar controls. Road and mountain bikes typically use distinctive leverage ratios and cable pulls for cable-operated brakes and gears. If these are mismatched, you might encounter functional issues. In the situation of disc brakes, unique levers and calipers may not be appropriate, or they may perhaps even require diverse styles of hydraulic fluid.
  4. Further Elements: Be ready to commit in new cables, grips, or handlebar tape to full the conversion. These factors are vital to ensure that the new set up functions correctly and is comfortable to use.
  5. Modifying Suit: When the handlebar and controls are in area, you are going to very likely have to have to adjust the stem and potentially the seat to fit the new riding place. This is important for protecting comfort and ease and performance on the bike.

It is critical to be conscious that this conversion can be quite highly-priced. The have to have for new controls, potentially new brake calipers or derailleurs, and extra elements like cables and grips can incorporate up.

And there you have it! At the time you have accomplished your handlebar conversion, it’s time to hit the street and put this bar to the check.

Sense the variation in your journey, and when you are back, share your tale with us in the reviews below!

Which variety reworked your trip? Did you obtain a new most loved, or do you see the deserves in the two? Your knowledge could be priceless to fellow cyclists pondering the identical preference!