Drop Bars Vs Flat Bars: My Pros and Cons List

by wheretheroadforks

When it comes to bicycle handlebars, you have two main choices. This list outlines all of the pros and cons of drop bars vs flat bars to help you decide which style to go with for your next bike. I’ll also outline a few other popular handlebar options and accessories. 

I also made this short video to outline the main points.

Pros of Drop Bars

  • More hand positions- Drop bars offer 3 distinct hand positions: on the hoods, on the bars, and in the drops. When going for a long ride or riding day after day while touring, you will want multiple places to grip the bars for comfort and variety. Riding on the hoods and bars give you a very natural hand position.
  • Drops offer an aerodynamic advantage- Aerodynamics play a major role in your speed and energy use while cycling. In fact, according to this article on Aerodynamics from Bicycling.com, air resistance becomes the main force acting against you once you reach 9 mph (around 14.5 km/h). 15.5 mph (around 25 km/h) seems to be the sweet spot when aerodynamics really make a difference. The faster you cycle, the more aerodynamics comes into play. Drop bars allow you to crouch down and reduce drag. This position can greatly increase your speed and efficiency. This comes in handy when you’re descending a hill, riding a long flat section, or riding into the wind. For more technical info, check out this guide on aerodynamics and cycling. 
  •  Better for climbing hills- When riding up a steep hill, you want to shift your body weight as far forward as possible. This makes climbing easier. The brake hoods offer a firm place to grip the bike. As an added benefit, while leaning forward you give yourself more leverage for pedaling. This allows you to apply more power to your pedals on every stroke. 
  • Drops can fit through more narrow spots in traffic- Standard drop bars measure around 40-46 cm in width. Typical flat bars measure 58-60 cm wide. On average, drop bars are around 20 cm narrower than flat bars. This difference comes in handy if you spend a lot of time weaving through tight traffic while commuting in a busy city. You can fit through gaps that you couldn’t with flat bars. 
  • Drops are more efficient- While riding through a headwind, downhill, or at speed, you have the option to crouch down in the drops to become more aerodynamic. Riding in this position is energy efficient. You aren’t wasting as much energy fighting against wind resistance. While sitting in an upright position, like you are on a flat bar bike, your chest acts like a sail and slows you down.
  • You can cover more ground faster- With drops, you can ride faster while spending the same amount of energy as you would on a  flat bar bike. This is possible due to the aerodynamic advantage that you gain. Over long distances, the energy-savings adds up. For example, maybe you can ride an extra 1 mile per hour on average with drops. Over the course of a one month bicycle tour you may be able to travel 200 miles further than you would with flat bars. This is significant.
  • Drop bars look cool- This is just a personal preference, but I think drop bars have a really classic and iconic look. After all, curves are sexy. 

a top view of drop bars

Cons of Drop Bars

  • Parts are more expensive- Drop bar bike use different shifters and brakes than flat bar bikes. Generally, drop bar brake levers and shifters cost more than flat bar components. In some cases, gear will cost up to three times more. I don’t know why this is. My best guess would be because drop bar bikes tend to be higher-end so companies may charge a premium for components. 
  • The brake levers are not as easily accessible- If you need to stop quickly in an emergency, you may need to move your hands to a different handlebar position in order to use the brakes. For example, if you are riding with your hands on the top of the bars and a car pulls out in front of you, you will need to quickly slide your hands down the bars to grab your brakes. This is an extra motion that would not be necessary with flat bars. Every moment is valuable in an emergency situation. Also, some riders simply find the brake position on drop bars to be uncomfortable. There are solutions to this problem. For example, you can mount brake levers on the flat part of the bars. You can also buy dual brake levers or brake lever extenders.
  • Drop bars don’t offer as much control as flat bars- Because drop bars are so narrow you just can’t get the leverage to quickly or accurately turn them like you can with flat bars. Another problem is that you put more of your weight on your hands when riding drop bars. This makes you less maneuverable. Particularly at slow speeds. Drop bars aren’t great for those who need to make slow and precise turns. 
  • Drop bar components are generally more fragile- Especially if you are using integrated or STI levers. Modern gear is pretty reliable but I have had more problems with drop bar components. 
  • Drop bar parts are slightly harder to come by- If you tour in remote regions outside of the developed world, you will have a harder time finding replacement parts if something breaks. The reason is that most of the components you find at department stores and small bikes shops in the developing world are made for flat bar mountain bikes. Drop bar bikes use mostly road components. These are a bit harder to come by. Examples of some components that will not be compatible are brake levers, some front derailleurs, and shifters. Of course, with globalization these days it is becoming easier and easier to find any parts that you may need. You can usually have parts shipped in if they are not available locally.
  • Changing brake or shifter cables can be more difficult- When you need to replace a cable on a drop bar bike, you may need to remove the bar tape to replace it. When this happens, you will need to apply new tape after replacing the cable. This is a hassle and an additional expense that you wouldn’t have with a flat bar bike. Having said this, usually, you can just slide a new cable through the old housing without removing the bar tape. 
  • There is less capacity to mount items to the handle bars- Many cyclists like to mount a light, GPS, bell, cycling computer, phone, bags, harnesses, and more to their handlebars. There just isn’t space for all of this stuff on narrow drop bars. One solution is to use a handlebar extender to mount additional accessories. For example, this Yizhet Handlebar Extender would work well.
  • Visibility can be poor with drop bars- Drop bars tend to force your body into an aggressive position where you’re leaning on the bars. While this is great for aerodynamics, it isn’t great for visibility because your head is angled down. You can look up but that puts your neck in an unnatural position. The solution is to ride with your hands on the top of the bars. This gives you the most upright possible position. Even then, you’re still leaning further forward than you would be with flat bars. The solution to this is to raise your handlebars up. You can do this with some spacers or a riser stem. This will cost you some aerodynamic advantage though. 
  • Drop bars are not good for off road riding- Because you cannot as quickly or accurately turn narrow drop bars, it is more difficult to avoid a stump or hole in your path when riding off-road. Drop bars with flared drops are available to make them a bit better for off road riding but they will never be as good as flat bars for this purpose.
  • Not ideal for riding in some types of clothing- Drop bars force you to stretch your arms out a bit further than flat bars. Some clothing doesn’t allow for this. Particularly formal clothing. If you have to commute to work in a dress shirt, drop bars might not be the best choice. 
  • You have to tape the bars periodically- This is a maintenance thing that takes a bit of time and money that you don’t have to deal with if using flat bars.

A full suspension mountain bike with flat bars.

Flat Bar Pros

  • Flat bars give you much better control- Because flat bars are wider, they give you better leverage. They also allow you to steer more easily and accurately. This is particularly important while traveling at slow speeds or navigating technical terrain off-road. You can precisely steer your bike where you want to go. 
  • Flat bar components are cheaper- You can run whatever low end mountain bike components are available. These are generally cheaper than road components.
  • Parts availability is great- No matter where you are in the world, you can find parts compatible with flat bars. Every bike shop will carry compatible cables, brake levers, shifters, derailleurs, etc. While these parts may not be of the best quality, they will keep you on the road and save you from the expense of having new parts shipped in from abroad. In some places it is not even possible to have parts shipped in due to customs and importation laws.
  • Changing cables is easy- The cables and cable housings are all exposed. There is no bar tape to deal with. 
  • The brake levers are easily accessible- In case of an emergency, the brake levers are right at your fingertips at all times. No need to move your hands. The brake lever position is also more convenient for stop-and-go city riding where you’ll need to brake often. 
  • There is plenty of space to mount everything you want to your handlebars- On my last tour, I mounted a light, mirror, cycling computer, and handlebar harness. The harness held my tent and a dry bag filled with all of my clothes. There was space to mount a GPS, bell, my phone, etc. This wouldn’t be possible with drop bars. 
  • Flat bars are more comfortable- Flat bars allow you to ride in a more upright position which puts less stress on your back, arms, and neck. They are also more comfortable for the hands to grip. You can fit comfortable ergonomic grips which put your hands in a more natural position than thin drop bars wrapped in bar tape. I like the Ergon GP1 grips.
  • Visibility is better- Because flat bars put you in a more upright riding position, you are looking ahead of you at all times rather than looking at the ground or bending your neck to look ahead. This allows you to keep your eyes on traffic and the road ahead of you at all times, improving safety. 
  • Grips last forever- You very rarely have to replace flat bar grips. Drop bars require tape that needs replacing periodically. For more info, check out my guide to grips and tape and my guide to lock on vs slip on grips.
  • They are better for non-cyclists and new riders- Many people find flat bar bikes easier to ride due to the riding position, easy handlebar control, and excellent visibility. 

a touring bike with flat bars

Flat Bar Cons

  • Flat bars offer only one hand position- This is the biggest drawback to flat bars. If you commute further than10 or so miles or ride long distances or touring, you could experience numbness in your hands or pain in your wrists after keeping your hands in the same position for too long. The best way to solve this issue is to install bar ends. I like these Profile Designs Boxer Bar Ends. They are easy to install and weigh just 170 grams. Pay close attention to your hands. If you feel them going numb, take a break and let them regain sensation. Upon returning home from my last tour, I had some numbness in one of my fingers that lasted for a few days. I have heard of people losing some of the feeling in their fingers for weeks or even permanently after ignoring numbness. Be careful with this.
  • Flat bars are less aerodynamic- Flat bars put you in an upright riding position. In this position, your chest acts like a parachute and creates a lot of drag. This can slow you down significantly when coasting down hills and riding fast. At slow speeds, the resistance isn’t really noticeable. Once you reach 15-20 mph, the drag slows you down significantly. You can crouch down on flat bars to get a bit more aerodynamic but this position is hard to maintain. 
  • Flat bars require a wider gap to pass through- The widest part of most bikes is the handlebars. The average flat bars measure around 200 mm wider than drop bars. If you are commuting in a city with heavy traffic, you won’t be able to squeeze through as tight of gaps as you can with a bike with drop bars. One solution is to hack off a few centimeters from each end of your bars. This will cost you some control and you will lose real estate for mounting accessories.
  • Flat bars are inefficient- Flat bars put you in a riding position which creates a lot of wind resistance. If you’re traveling at speed or into a headwind, much of your energy is going toward fighting wind resistance rather than pushing you forward. This is inefficient. You can crouch down into an aero position but after a few minutes your arms, neck, and shoulders will tire out and you’ll have to go back to your upright position. 
  • You can’t cover as much ground as quickly- With flat bars, you travel at a slower average speed than you would with drop bars but you spend the same amount of energy. The reason is that you are facing an aerodynamic disadvantage. Over long distances, the inefficiency adds up. For example, maybe you travel, on average, 1 mile per hour slower with flat bars. Over the course of a full day of riding, you might cover 6-8 miles less than you could with drop bars. 
  • Not as good for climbing hills- You can’t shift your weight as far forward with flat bars. You also can’t quite get the same leverage on the pedals in an upright riding position. This makes climbing long steep hills a bit harder. 
  • Not as cool- This is a personal preference but I don’t think flat bars look as good as drop bars. 

More Cycling Pros and Cons Analyses from Where the Road Forks

a guy riding a drop bar road bike

What Kind of Cyclist Should Choose Drop Bars?

Drop bars are ideal for long-distance on-road riding where you don’t have to turn or brake often. Riders who maintain an average speed of over 15-20 miles per hour or those who often face headwinds will benefit most from the aerodynamic advantages that drop bars offer. They are also great for those who ride for more than an hour or so at a time and need multiple hand positions. 

One thing to keep in mind is that not all drop bars are the same. Not all drop bar bikes are aggressively designed road bikes. For example, touring bikes and gravel bikes often come with drop bars with relaxed geometries. These designs put you in a more upright position. You have a lot of options to choose from.

Drop bars are defined by three measurements:

  1. Reach- This measures is how far forward the bar curves.
  2. Drop- This measures how far below the top bar the drop is.
  3. Width- This measures the distance between the drops. 

What Kind of Cyclist Should Choose Flat Bars

Flat bars are great for cyclists who want a more upright riding position. This is generally considered to be more comfortable. Flat bars are also ideal for those who ride off-road, through a lot of stop-and-go traffic, or through areas that require frequent tight turns. Flat bars offer great control and are very nimble. 

Just like drop bars, not all flat bars are the same. Some offer a more aggressive geometry which puts you in a forward leaning position. This is the case with flat bar road bikes. Some flat bars, like riser bars, put you in a very upright riding position. 

Other Bicycle Handlebar Options

Drop bars and flat bars are the two most popular handlebar options. In fact, pretty much every bike comes from the shop with one of those two installed. To make your decision even harder, I’ll outline a few other popular handlebar options below. I’ll also outline a few handlebar accessories that can help you overcome some of the drawbacks of drop bars and flat bars.

For even more on handlebars, check out my guide: 17 types of bicycle handlebars.

Clip-on Aero Bars

These attach to either drop bars or flat bars as an accessory. They allow you to lean over your handlebars and tuck into the most aerodynamic position possible. With aero bars, you grip them with your hands out in front of you and rest your elbows on the built-in rests.

The main benefit of aero bars is in aerodynamics. They also allow you to rest your hands and wrists. If you’re traveling straight, you don’t need to grip the bar. Just lean on your elbows. I like these Profile Design Legacy II Aerobars.

Trekking or Butterfly Bars

These unique bars are kind of a variation of flat bars. The biggest benefit of trekking bars is the multitude of hand positions that they offer with their unique figure 8 pattern. They also offer plenty of space to install all of the lights and bags and accessories that you could ever want in your cockpit. They use the same shifters and brakes as flat bars.

The main drawback to trekking bars is that they are heavier than other handlebar types. The reason is that they simply use more material to make. Some riders also complain that they look a bit goofy.

Bullhorn Bars

These are basically drop bars with the drop part cut off before it curves down. Some varieties of bullhorns curve up at the end. They use the same shifters and brake levers as flat bars. Bar-end shifters are also compatible.

The biggest benefit of bullhorn handlebars is aerodynamics. They allow you to tuck down into the wind. They are also great for climbing. You can get excellent leverage by gripping the horns while powering up a steep hill. They really allow you to manhandle the bike. They also simply look cool. 

The drawback is that they aren’t great for frequent or tight turns. These narrow bars don’t give you much leverage to accurately steer with. 

Cruiser Handlebars

A bamboo bike with cruiser handlebars

These are basically flat bars that curve up and back from the stem. Cruiser bars are designed for comfort. They allow you to sit completely upright. All of your weight is on your butt and off of your wrists and hands. If you experience wrist pain or hand numbness, cruiser bars are a good option. These bars use the same shifters and brakes as flat bars. These are popular on beach cruisers like my OP Roller.

The biggest drawback to cruiser bars is that they put you in an inefficient riding position. Your chest is facing straight out like a sail and your arms are spread wide. If your seat isn’t soft enough, your butt may tire out quickly while riding cruiser bars. 

Bar Ends

These attach to your flat handlebars add extra hand positions. Most riders attach them to the ends of the bars angled up and away from the bars but you can get creative with these to suit your preference. For example, you can install them toward the center of the bars to give yourself a more aero position. Angle them straight up to give yourself a cruiser like riding position. Wrap them with bar tape for added comfort. 

I like the Profile Designs Boxer Bar Ends. They are made of durable aluminum and weigh just 170 grams. They measure around 6 inches long so they have plenty of space to grip. 

H Bars

These are kind of a mix between flat and cruiser bars. The H  bar is a popular choice among bicycle tourists and bikepackers. They include an extra bar that can provide both extra hand positions as well as extra space for mounting accessories like GPS, lights, and luggage. You can also use the loop in the bars for storage. These bars use the same shifters and brakes as flat bars.

My Handlebar Choice: Drop Bars Vs Flat Bars

After writing this list, I can conclude that I prefer flat bars. The pros outweigh the cons for me. My choice is partially because I grew up riding flat bars so I’m just not as comfortable on drops. It’s really a personal preference kind of thing.

Another big factor for me is cost. My budget is fairly tight at this tie. The fact that replacement parts are cheaper, easier to come by, and more likely to be compatible with my setup is a nice bonus.

In the past, I have owned 2 drop bar bikes. I had a 2017 Fuji Touring bike. Before that, I had a Centurion Ironman Dave Scott from the 80s that I rode to school. Over the years, I have owned many flat bar bikes. I grew up riding mountain bikes and BMX bikes. Currently, I ride a Schwinn High Sierra from the 80s that I converted into a touring bike.

My Schwinn High Sierra Loaded for a Tour

Final Thoughts: Drop Bars Vs Flat Bars

Handlebars play a major role in the comfort and handling of your bike. The choice between flat bars and drop bars comes down to your riding style, where you ride, and personal preference. You have an endless number of handlebar variations to choose from. Hopefully, this guide helps make the choice just a little bit easier. 

Where do you stand on the drop bar vs flat bar debate? Comment below to share your preference and experience!

More from Where the Road Forks

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Nick January 28, 2019 - 5:22 pm

Hell yea. Thx for the flat bar inspo! I also grew up on bmx and after my first year of dedicated drop riding I’m still not digging it! Going touring bike wth flat and bar ends. My first non bmx was a mtn bike with ends and I felt way better.

wheretheroadforks January 28, 2019 - 5:35 pm

Yeah man, I just never feel like I have as much control with drop bars. The only time I wish I had drops is in a heavy headwind. Other than that, I much prefer flat bars.

Richard February 10, 2019 - 6:56 am

Thanks for the info. I am on the verge of buying a new gravel bike, but can’t seem to pull the trip on the purchase. It’s the handlebars. I’ve never had drop bars before. At 64, it’s not too old to change, but maybe best to stick with what I’ve used.

wheretheroadforks February 10, 2019 - 11:05 am

I feel the same way. After growing up riding flat bars, I just can’t get the feel for drops. They are better in certain circumstances though. Which bike are you looking at?

Richard February 10, 2019 - 2:26 pm

I was looking at the Trek Checkpoint. Right now I’m at a reset and will start looking again. I don’t think I fit regular profiles. I’d like to end with Shimano 105 group set, but also want to have attach points for gear. I don’t worry about weight. Rather have drinks, food and emergency supplies. So use a rear rack bag.

Any suggestions?

Thanks for your input

wheretheroadforks February 10, 2019 - 4:53 pm

The Checkpoint looks pretty nice. I’ve been looking at Surly bikes. They have some nice flat bar off-road touring bikes that look interesting. I like that they have plenty of mounting points on the forks for water bottle cages and gear.

Michael March 11, 2019 - 4:53 am

I grew up with flat bars, but converted to drop bars when I got my first touring bike, the Specialized Awol Evo several years ago. Now I find it difficult to go back to my mountain bike, which seems unwieldy and cumbersome. I prefer the feeling of intimacy with the bike that the drop bar gives me, closer and tighter with the bike. At 74 it is easier on my back, as my weight is moved from directly on my lumbar spine to a more spread out distribution. And in wind there is a substantial difference. Less drag, less effort to maintain speed. And the difference in numbness in the hands is very welcome.

wheretheroadforks March 11, 2019 - 12:16 pm

I hadn’t considered that drop bars are easier on the back. That’s a good point. It makes sense because your arms take some of the weight. I agree about riding in wind. When I hit a headwind on my flat bar bike, my chest is a sail. With drops I can cut through. It’s much more efficient.

GGDD May 1, 2019 - 9:24 pm

Your information is actually incorrect. drop bars are not more aerodynamic than flat bars. quite the opposite, since drop bars present more frontal area to the wind, they have a lot more drag than a flat bar. Time trial Champion and CGN presenter did a video on this.. where she shows you ride faster just with simple clip on time trial aero bars vs. drop bars.
Search for this video: Aero Bars Vs Drops – Which Is Fastest? | GCN Does Science
The Global Mountain Network also did a video where they show that holding your hands together in the stem of a flat bar is the fastest position as tested in the wind tunnel. Specialized has also a video about this: The Win Tunnel: Are Aero Bars Worth It? Drops suck, they are inefficient and horrible for braking.

wheretheroadforks May 1, 2019 - 10:43 pm

Interesting info. I’m not surprised that aero bars are more efficient than drops or flats. I’d like to see a direct comparison between drop bars and flat bars though. I suppose if you hold your hands near the stem, you could tuck your elbows into a position that could be more aero. I can’t see flat bars being more efficient in a normal riding position though. They put your body in such a position that your chest, shoulders, and arms catch a lot of wind. Drops allow you to more easily tuck into an aero position.

Flatbar dude July 1, 2019 - 5:41 pm

Unless you are riding comp, I can’t imagine that flat bars are a big deal. I ride flat bars 30 – 40 miles at a time, and it’s very comfortable. I’m currently looking at a fitness bike- composite frame, Shimano 105 gear set and flat bars. with end grips, I suspect I will be just as fast as I would be riding drop bars. I just prefer a more upright riding position. Maybe I’m not the fastest, but at 62 y.o. comfort and safety is much more important than speed. Besides, I have a MTB hardtail, and riding flat bars is just second nature….

wheretheroadforks July 2, 2019 - 4:48 pm

Yeah, for recreational riding, it really doesn’t matter. I prefer flat bars for the same reasons. I grew up riding them so they just feel more natural to me. Drops do seem to give you an edge if you’re concerned with speed though.

Michael Ridenhour July 2, 2019 - 3:55 am

I doubt your response. As a researcher for 50 years I soon discovered opinion bias in testing. Clearly, drop bars are far more aerodynamic, witness the Tour de France, for instance. But you ride what you like, just don’t try to kid a kidder with nonsensical “studies”.

Mikko Järvinen August 17, 2019 - 1:07 pm

You see drop bars Tour de France because triathlon/time trial style aero bars are banned for safety reasons about all race series and competitions involving group riding.

wheretheroadforks August 17, 2019 - 2:03 pm

That’s interesting. Thanks for the info.

Michawl August 17, 2019 - 2:09 pm


Mikko Järvinen August 18, 2019 - 1:45 pm

But some points:

– Like already said, more upright is not always more comfortable, your mileage may vary. On the other hand more aerodynamic is not faster until a certain point, you need to comfortable on the saddle to function well.
– Flat bars make you more upright than drops – given that frame, stem, spacers and everything is the same – but should they be? Especially the stem is trivial to change.
– Some of your points are not that important IMO, if you are touring you probably have a front rack and that should solve a lot of mounting problems for lights and such, speedometer goes on the stem and bell can be mounted on a spacer and so on. And you can definitely just replace a brake cable just if you don’t need to replace the housing, without removing the tape (but I admit I am not sure if it works with shifters).

I think that drops. riding on the hoods, with bar set up rather high, is a good compromise on aerodynamics, comfort and control, but it kinda boils down to which positions you like to have your arms and hands.

If you look at this years Transcontinental Race, the ubiquitous setup seems to be aero clip-ons on drop bars, and they have basically no rules beyond “commercially available upright bicycle with reasonable personal modifications”.

wheretheroadforks August 19, 2019 - 9:49 am

Yeah, handlebars are really more of a personal preference decision than anything else. I recognize that some of the points don’t matter all that much. Most of the problems with either type of handlebar can be solved with minor adjustments or different gear. Having said that, it’s nice to consider everything before making a decision.

Peter Hollingsworth September 30, 2019 - 6:18 pm

I just mounted flat bars with bar ends on my new (to me) Jamis road bike and I have absolutely no regrets. Better braking, faster shifting, and easier maneuvering. I don’t know why the world is so into drop bars!

wheretheroadforks September 30, 2019 - 6:48 pm

That’s awesome man. I love flat bar road bikes. I understand the appeal of drop bars but I just never feel as comfortable or confident with them.

rich January 6, 2020 - 8:15 am

I have touring bikes with both drops and flat and to me it depends on the riding conditions and such . I like them both and don;t seem to have any preference. Have not tried any butterfly bars yet but they look interesting .

wheretheroadforks January 7, 2020 - 12:57 pm

I agree about the riding conditions. Under ideal conditions, I’d probably prefer to have drop bars. For off-road touring, I prefer flat bars. I would also like to give butterfly bars a try.

richard williams February 23, 2020 - 1:47 pm

I like Alee Denham’s take on all this. His solution was to design – and then market – his own preference: the Koga Denham bar.
My cheapskate version is a light alloy porteur bar with home-made options for either short aero stubs, or the full Decathlon aero setup for long flat tours.
At 70 I have wrist/hand aches more than back/bum problems. Your Anatomy May Vary! But this works for me I’m happy to carry odd bits of bars around strapped to the back – because I know that when I hit a long long strettch of flat (eg French canal-side riding) then I can spend a pleasant hour tinkering with the bar set-up in order to give me days of different and comfortable body positions.
When you are young, you can be a masochist bent double over drops. When you are older . . . slow down and look around. You don’t have so many years left to take in the wonder!
Incidentally – nobody nowhere talks about walking and pushing the bike. With a heavy old French 10-speed Randonneuse, this is quite common for me. I pull out the phone and pretend I’m answering a call. Meanwhile circulation is returning to important parts.
And a 10 minute walk up a hill reminds me – at the top – just what a brilliant bit of kit a bike is;

wheretheroadforks February 25, 2020 - 4:40 pm

I wasn’t aware of the Denham bar. It looks like a good design. The only thing I miss when using flat bars is an aero position. It’s nice being able to tuck into a headwind. I can only crouch down on flat bars for so long before my arms tire out. Your version sounds like a good budget option.

Treat Simply March 21, 2020 - 9:03 am

On the plus side, adding bar ends gives you more hand positions to choose from (similar to using drop bars). This is very important on long rides (e.g. touring) since your hands can go numb and possibly suffer nerve damage if you keep them in one position for too long. Some people find the hand position on bar ends more comfortable too. Papuass has been injured by a bar end in a crash. My experience is the opposite: the bar end protected my hand from sliding along the pavement at high speed, saving me a fair amount of skin. So it can go both ways.

Daysis April 23, 2020 - 5:57 pm

 A comfortable and confident rider automatically looks cool. That said, there s a particular look to a drop bar road bike that just can t be replicated with flat bars. Most drop bars conceal the brake and shifter cables underneath the handlebar tape. This means you have to unwrap the bars every time you need to do maintenance that involves replacing or repositioning a cable. It s a hassle if you do your own repairs, and it adds to the cost of paying someone else to do it.

Michael E August 4, 2020 - 10:45 am

After years of sporadic riding, I decided to get into cycling this year – initially on my own hardtail mountain bike, then (since much of my riding was on-road) testing my father’s hybrid with narrower tires. Both bikes had flat bars, and as my ride lengths increased, I often found myself leaning forward slightly, elbows bent – wishing for a narrower, lower handlebar position that just wasn’t there. I was also starting to get hand numbness as soon as my rides reached a still-modest 25 km.

A month ago (and less than 2 months into regular riding) I bought a gravel bike with drop bars – and haven’t looked back. I saw an instant 3.5 km/h cruising speed increase over my mountain bike, and the varied hand positions are more comfortable on long rides (I alternate between the drops and hoods all the time). Flat bars are certainly better for mountain biking, but now that I’m used to drop bars, flats feel wide and inefficient on-road.

wheretheroadforks August 5, 2020 - 5:07 pm

Great observations. For some riders, drop bars are the better choice. That speed increase is great. Actually, I think efficiency is the biggest benefit of drop bars. If I only road on the road, I would prefer them as well.

Al Green September 23, 2020 - 2:32 am

I’ll object to only two things… that drop bard force you into uncomfortable positions compared to flat bars…. It depends on your setup. I have my drop bars so that the typical(on the hoods) position be as comfortable as possible and i vastly prefer that to flat bars at their comfiest.

Another one is sccessibility of breaking. In 2 out of 3 positions breaks are just as accessible as on flat bars. And you’d have to be mad to ride in traffic on the flat portion anyway not only due to breaks but leverage on sharper turning. So the potential lag in breaking doesn’t come to play in traffic at all.

Personally i prefer drop bars as i mainly ride road and not that challenging terrain.

And biggest benefit for me is not the less resistance/better efficiency but simply how comfortable they can be.

wheretheroadforks September 27, 2020 - 10:49 pm

Good points. I’ve come around to drop bars over the past couple of years. I still don’t feel quite as comfortable as I do on flat bars but I do appreciate the on the hoods position. Drop bars can be comfortable. As far as braking goes, I still feel like it is a bit of a disadvantage having to move your hands to break in some cases. It’s rarely an issue though. I agree that the efficiency of drop bars is a major advantage.

AM March 20, 2021 - 6:20 pm

I think it’s a misconception that flat bars are more ‘upright’, because you can set up either drop or flat bars to whatever height you like via stem length and angle, or handlebar rise, plus flat bar bikes often have longer top tubes to compensate. People with flat bars tend to ride less aggressively, but there’s nothing stopping you from setting up a flat bar bike for an aggressive forward crouch. And vice versa for drop bars.

Add in the fact that most road riders actually rarely use drops (probably a good thing in the face of car traffic), much of the benefits of drops disappear.

wheretheroadforks March 29, 2021 - 12:16 am

Yeah, I agree you can set up either type of bar to be as upright or aggressive as you like by changing the stem. That said, bikes that are designed for drop bars tend to have a more aggressive riding position.


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