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Carbon fiber construction is durable and shock-absorbent. Ultra-lightweight. Simple, yet elegant finishing. Bar is easy to hold with ideal hand positioning.
Flared drop bar is lightweight and easy to hold. Steep 24-degree flare is great for stability on long rides or for going up steep hills. 3-year manufacturer warranty included.
Isn't as comfortable as the premium-priced handlebars on the market.
More narrow than traditional race-oriented handlebars. Provides a comfortable, ergonomically designed drop bar handle for longer rides and tours.
No place to properly route cables.
Very lightweight. Provides a comfortable ride. Shallow setting makes it easy for riders to reach brake and shift levers.
Some reported inconsistent sizing.
Anticordal aluminum blends make for a lightweight and durable handlebar. Steep horns allow for several different hand positions for almost any situation.
Some users had problems with slow shipping.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Fine-tuning your road bike should involve all of its components. This includes the handlebar, which is the center of your cockpit and should be comfortable and lightweight while improving your control.
Road bike handlebars allow for three different riding positions: You can put your hands on the bar itself, on the hoods, or on the drops. This allows you to shift positions and stay comfortable on long rides or adapt for a long climb or descent. The reach, width, drop, and bend of the handlebars can all vary and will result in a different feel or a different amount of control. These factors as well as your individual body size are important when considering handlebars. Drop handlebars—the ones with the curved part—are the standard, but there are a few less conventional choices available.
Like many other aspects of road bikes, there is no single “best” option when it comes to handlebars. You should find a pair that suits your preferences and your cycling style. Continue reading to learn more about the types of road bike handlebars available and their features.
Just about every part of road bike handlebars has a name, but we’ll focus on the most crucial parts that impact your cycling experience and that should inform your decision.
These are the parts of the bar that point straight ahead and are closest to the brakes and shifters. This is where your hands will rest most of the time. Hoods are sold separately from handlebars.
The lower parts of the handlebar that point backward are called the drops. This is where you will place your hands during descents.
This is the bent part of the bar where you will occasionally rest your hands. The shape of the bend will vary from one pair of handlebars to the next.
This is the straight part of the bar closest to the stem.
The tube of metal that attaches your handlebars to the rest of your bike is called the stem. Different length stems can affect how far away from the seat the handlebars are. Stems must be purchased separately.
Finding the best pair of handlebars for you means considering your riding style and your size. A triathlon cyclist may want different style handlebars than someone who cycles for exercise on city or country roads.
Road bike handlebars come in a few different shapes, each of which vastly alter your cycling experience.
Drop bar: This is the oldest style of road bike handlebars, and there’s a reason it is still the most popular. A straight bar curves into two drops, allowing for different riding positions. Modern drop bars typically have hoods attached, which provide a resting place for the hands and easy access to the brakes and shifter.
The drop (as in the measurement, not the part of the bar) is the vertical difference between the bar top and the lowest part of the bar. This is usually in the range of 10 to 150 cm. The deeper the drop, the more of your weight will be on the handlebars and the more you will have to crane your neck to see. There’s no right answer here—it comes down to preference and comfort.
This is the distance from the center of the top bar to the furthest part of the bend. This should range from 7 to 9 cm. Stem length can also impact how far you have to reach when gripping the bars. The reach should feel comfortable and appropriate for your frame.
This is the overall width of the bars, which should correspond with the width of your shoulders so that your arms are roughly parallel.
While this aspect is less important for comfort, it is critical for finding handlebars that fit your clamp — the part where the stem attaches to your bike. The standard diameter is 25.4mm.
Many more expensive road bike handlebars have molded ergonomic shapes designed to comfortably accommodate for the shape of your hands in different positions. Less expensive handlebars are simply the same diameter throughout the entire bar. This does not accommodate for the different grips cyclists use and may result in numbness in your hands if you don’t change positions frequently.
Once you know what type of road bike handlebar is right for you and what measurements are comfortable for you, you should consider additional factors such as the materials of the bar and handlebar tape.
Less expensive handlebars are typically made of aluminum alloy, which is lightweight and very strong. Carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum alloy and is the choice of most professional cyclists. It also helps to muffle vibration. However, it is considerably more expensive and more brittle, making it prone to breaking in the event of a crash.
This part is easy—road bike handlebars don’t have grips! You will need to purchase handlebar tape separately. It is usually made of synthetic materials with a foam core to cushion your hands and reduce vibration. Wrapping your handlebars in handlebar tape requires a bit of technique, so you may want to consider having it done at the bike shop.
Handlebars in this category cost from $20 to $50 and are usually made of aluminum alloy. In this range, most handlebars have fairly basic shapes that do not taper to accommodate for your grip.
For $50 to $150, you’ll find high-quality aluminum and carbon fiber drop bars. They may be molded to allow for more comfortable grips and tend to be fairly lightweight in design.
Road bike handlebars for $150 and above are almost always made of carbon fiber and may be aero bars. If you bike casually, there is little reason to opt for bars in this price range.
There are five popular positions, each of which has a name corresponding to the part of the handlebar where your hands rest.
Tops is used primarily when biking slowly or during uphill ascents. This is because it gives you no access to the brakes or shifters. Avoid putting your hands on the bar tops when you are moving quickly, especially if you are descending.
Hoods is the most common position, as it is fairly neutral and allows you to easily reach the brakes and shifters (depending on your shifter setup). It can be used for cycling at any speed, uphill or downhill.
Ramps is similarly to hoods but somewhat more relaxed. In this position, your hands rest right where the hoods begin to curve into the hooks. You have to shift your hands slightly to access the brakes in this position.
Hooks is a more aerodynamic position that puts your hands at the forwardmost point on the handlebars. This is one of two options for descending positions.
Drops is the common position used when descending, as it lowers your center of gravity and improves your grip on the road. In addition, you still have access to the brakes, and the increased weight on the handlebars gives you more control.
A. No, these are separate components. However, it does make shopping easier, as you can find brakes and shifters that fit your preferences.
A. The drop of the bars should be angled just slightly forward so that your wrists are comfortable when you are riding downhill.
A. First, make sure that you have your seat adjusted properly. Handlebars may be above or below the seat height, but positioning them a couple of inches below the seat height is the most common option. In general, higher handlebars are more comfortable and put less strain on your neck and back, while lower handlebars lead to better aerodynamics. Don’t forget to consider the various positions on the handlebar when determining the proper height.
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