Want to know more about purchasing a bike with the best pair of handlebars? Owning a bike has so many benefits. Aside from it being one of the most flexible means of transportation that you can use pretty much anywhere any time given the versatility bike manufacturers offer us. It is also the healthiest one as well. Simple commuting can be a good enough physical activity for the day even if you don’t hit the gym.
Some other benefits owning a bike includes are the facts that one, it’s so much more affordable than the least expensive car; It’s easier to store and take care of and it needs less maintenance. The latter has to be guaranteed by the quality of the bike. Otherwise it doesn’t work out that way. You don’t want your bike breaking down in the middle of the road or its part randomly falling off and getting damaged after a small bump.
A bike has three major parts that make the owner operate it comfortably.
These parts include: firstly pedals, secondly a saddle, and finally, the handlebars. Everything is important in it’s own way and bike cannot roll if any of these are missing. Seats are also important as well as the frame and the rim. However, handlebars are one of THE most important parts. This is why it’s one out of the three major parts of a bike.
This article is for you if you are looking for the best handlebars for your bike but have no idea where to start. The ultimate guide to bike handlebars will provide you with the essential information you need to know about handlebar selection, types, tips and suggestions.
Why Bike Handlebars?
To put it simply: you cannot steer a bike without handlebars. Can you operate the car without steering wheel? Maybe the ultra modern models that will break your bank. But most normal cars (luxury and super expensive sports cars included) cannot go on without the wheel. The bike handlebars has the same function. The mobility of the handlebars is one of the most important aspects of choosing a bike to buy.
Do you want it to be entirely fixed or completely free to rotate 360 degrees? Maybe you prefer the ones that can rotate but not fully? These all also depends on your level and experience riding a bike. Professional and advanced riders can handle pretty much anything. But if you are buying a bike for your child or yourself and you have no previous experience with owning a bike, there are some things (listed below) you need to be aware of.
One thing you can guess ahead is that there are different types of handlebars that match different types of bikes. However, there are general requirements that any handlebar has to fulfil. Such as, for instance, comfortability, sturdiness, quality material in it’s built, correct sizing and height and so on. Let us now look into these details.
How To Choose Bike Handlebars
There are various types of handlebars available in the market. The only challenge is how to pick one that will satisfy your needs and preferences. Below are some factors to consider when you want to buy a bike handlebar for your bike.
When you are riding your bike, you will be holding the handlebar for the whole trip. That, therefore, makes comfort a critical factor to look at when choosing a bike handlebar. You will not hold something you are uncomfortable with for a long time.
Bikes are of different types depending on where it is being used. Road bikes are used on roads, and mountain bikes are used in mountainous places. Each of these has its handlebar modification to offer maximum comfort to the user. Therefore, when choosing a handlebar, you need to first do a test with it to ensure you are comfortable with it even on long distances. This will enable you to enjoy using your bike.
A large lever can always move or lift heavy loads. When it comes to bikes, your handlebars are your leverage when steering. The wider the handlebar, the more leverage you have and vice versa. A lever will only perform when there is a stable base for pushing or pulling the lever. When you lean over your handlebars, your hands should always be at shoulder width. Therefore, it should not be more than two inches. Always ensure your handlebar has the required leverage before you purchase it.
This does not affect the road bikes because the roads are usually flat and do not require much lift. When it comes to mountain bikes, the lift is one of the critical factors for excellent handling. Remember, in the mountains, you will be riding on irregularly raised grounds. Therefore, the center of a mountain bike is placed further back to allow you to lift the front of your bike over obstacles or when moving to a more raised ground. This makes it easy to use the bike. Riders use a raiser bar on downhill bikes, which places the weight further back.
Whenever you want to buy something, you will always choose one with high strength because you would like it to last long. The same applies to selecting a bike handlebar. It is essential to check the power of the handlebar you have chosen to estimate the period it can last.
Replacing a handlebar is expensive and time-consuming because you have to choose the best. When talking about strength, what you have to look at is the handlebar’s material. Different handlebars are made of other materials which have different strengths. Most handlebars are now made of aluminum and carbon fibers with tapers, flares, and buttons to save weight and increase strength.
Weight is also an essential factor to look at in a bike handlebar. It also goes together with the cost. Carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum and is more expensive. Therefore try to balance between price and weight to make the best choice.
Types Of Road Bike Handlebars
There are several types of road bike handlebar options available. The one you will pick for your bike will depend on the different factors, some of which have been mentioned above. Below are the general types.
- Flat road bike handlebars
These road bike handlebars are primarily suitable for beginner cyclists or those who cycle for fun. They allow for greater control, which is why they are typical for a wide range of bikes. The reason why it is for beginners is because of the greater power it provides. Therefore, it is not recommended for someone who wants to experience actual riding on the road.
- Drop Handlebars
They are also standard on road bikes. They provide various hand options, which are not available in flat handlebars. Additionally, they also allow the rider to shift their weight towards the front to enhance greater control of the bike.
- Fixie drop handlebar
TheThe handlebars are primarily helpful for those who value aerodynamics without going all out and opting for an aero bar. These handlebars will enable you to handle the types of riding experience that you will encounter.
Types Of Mountain Bike Handlebars
They are also of different types: drop handlebars, butterfly handlebars, and flat mountain handlebars.
- Flat mountain bike handlebars
They are usually wider than standard bars. This allows the rider to have various hand positions for maximum comfort. The rider can change these hand positions depending on the terrain.
- Butterfly handlebars
These handlebars are majorly designed to provide maximum grip and the availability of various hand resting positions. These handlebars are the best choice for a mountain bike because of the different obstacles and terrain you will face.
- Drop bars mountain bike
They are similar to drop bars on road bikes and also allow for greater control on your bike for different terrains that you will encounter.
Bike Handlebar Accessories
Many bike handlebar accessories must be put together to perform their work effectively. These include handlebar extensions, handlebar tapes, and grips. You can also put reflective stickers on your handlebars or extensions for night riding and extra safety. Handlebar extensions are mainly used for putting your bag or a carrier on it to carry things with you while riding. Extensions are useful for all types of bikes. Definitely get them if you use your bike for commuting.
Although extensions may not be needed if your bike frame has lots of attachments to it’s frame where you can hang or store your things. But having the bag at the front is quite comfortable so decide what you prefer and go with it.
Tapes are necessary so your hands won’t get damaged. Especially those that ride their bike aggressively for some reason. All pros and advanced riders put tapes on their handlebars due to the amount of time they spend gripping them. Speaking of which grips, speaks for themselves. It’s simply just for better gripping. Very important especially in bad weather.
How To Measure Handlebars
Again, before you decide to do so, you have to take into consideration what type of bike you are purchasing. One good thing about measuring handlebars is that most bikes come with a User’s Guide where you can most definitely find the already sized exact measurements.
So why bother? Well, for once, if you have had the previous experience, you’d know as well. A lot of customers keep complaining that when purchasing a bike from Amazon, it never comes with the guide. Despite the store indicating that the item should come with the user’s guide, they almost never ship it. So you might need to measure handlebars after all.
You can do this by following your geometry. You can apply this when measuring length width and height. Of course you can get professional help from your local bike mechanic. But if you plan on doing it yourself, here’s what you have to do:
Measure The Reach
As you know handlebars are bent (at least the majority are). Reach is what is referred to as the length from the center to the bend. This is important as it determines the uphold of your body while riding. And all this done without touching the rest of the body positioning. The universal range of the reach (for most road bikes) should be anywhere between 80-85mm. One thing you should know is that the reach of the bike depends on it’s frame size.
Measure How Wide The Handlebars Are
One trick here is to select the bike with the handlebars as wide as your own AC joints. You measure how wide handlebars are from the center to its drop. You need to consider not only bike build, but more importantly your own body build. If you have narrow shoulders you are going to have a hard time riding on a bike with wide handlebars. And the other way around.
One thing here is that wide handlebars are more mobile and you can steer your bike with more ease. This is especially important if you happen to ride on tough terrains or with faster speed. On the other hand, if the handlebars are too wide, it will just tire your shoulder muscles out super fast and you will likely not be able to pick up the speed or go on riding at all. You can even get sore neck or arms and even develop an injury so take the width of handlebars seriously.
Measuring The Drops
When we are talking about drops we usually don’t consider mountain bikes. This is because although drops can be put on any mountain bike, you shouldn’t try it. Mountain bikes have higher reach so they are not fit for drop handlebars.
As for the rest of the types, you should again select the center of the top and measure the drops all the way to the lowest part of the drop, which should be at the center of the handlebar as well. Narrow drops allows your upper body to move less, while with deeper drops your body is more mobile.
Type Of Drops
Again, mountain bikes are not considered. WE are focusing on road bikes or other type of bikes. Drops make or break not only the general looks of the bike but also the riding experience. While selecting the type of drops for your bike, what you should consider first and foremost is the length of your biking trips. As well as your own riding style. If you ride fast and on tough terrains then you will be spending considerably more time riding in the drop than if your road is smooth and you ride at a moderate pace.
Perhaps choose an ergonomic drop if you just want to use your bike for recreational strolls or commuting. There are also universal drops that have a round fit to it and many riders are comfortable with them. This is because they allow the variety of handling positions.
As a cyclist or someone interested in joining it, I know you may have several questions about bike handlebars. By keenly reading the guide above, you will get most if not all answers to your questions.