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What different kinds of bike handle bars are there? All kinds welcome, the common and the nameless.

If possible include the pros and cons of the bar

One bar per post

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Similar to this entry in one of the reference threads: Duplicates, or not? The linked question didn't go into the kind of detail this thread is trying to. – Neil Fein Sep 25 '10 at 16:51
@neilfein, I think we can have both quesions as there ansers don't overlap much. 322 could just say what a handlerbar is and provide a link to this quesion. – Ian Sep 25 '10 at 17:05
@Ian - Done. I put the three types in the old entry here, we still need pros and cons of the handlebar types, and some pretty CC pictures. – Neil Fein Sep 25 '10 at 17:14
In a search for strange handlebar types, I've found this site: – Neil Fein Sep 26 '10 at 3:47
You now what is nice, not having the stackoverflow folks kill this useful list question because its not in Q&A format. – studgeek Jan 1 '14 at 1:35

13 Answers 13

Flat bars

The simplest kind of handlebar, these are a straight bar with grips on the end. Flat bars were traditionally only used by cross-country riders but now you see them in more general application.

alt text

Flat bars (image credit)

alt text

Flat bars offer more space to mount lights and computers than drop bars. These bars have bar ends attached for additional hand positions. (image credit)

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Awesome! I use mag lights on my bike too. – sixtyfootersdude Sep 26 '10 at 1:01

Drop bars

Usually seen on road bikes. Designed to give the rider multiple hand positions, as well as the ability to "tuck" forward, decreasing wind drag. These can be fitted with aerobars for additional aerodynamic advantage.

Drop bars are generally narrower than fat bars, and don't offer quite as much detailed control over the bike on uneven surfaces. Drops are often the bars of choice for longer bike rides.

Drop bars

Drop bars on a touring bike (image credit)

Also see entry Variations on Drop Bars.

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Butterfly Bars - also known as touring or trekking bars alt text

Pros: Lots of different positions available

Cons: Not very light.

Often used for long distance touring bikes where comfort through being able to use different riding positions is essential.

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alt text

(or aerobars) originating from triathlon, but now seen in almost any time trial situation where the racer is alone and not able to ride in a group.

The pros of the design are to promote a static, streamlined position, where the rider cannot easily move but will remain in a aerodynamically advantageous position, thus resulting in a faster ride.

The cons are that this design is often uncomfortable for extended periods. When used on a bike that is then ridden in a group, it can be dangerous, as coming off the bars to use the brakes takes time, and some designs present what is effectively a couple of spikes to the front, which could make a collision with a softer target a worse outcome.

Tri-bars can be 'standalone' bars or installed as an add-on to normal bars. Gear shifters can also be added to allow riders to remain in position while changing gear. Triathletes will often use the space between the hands to place a bottle with a straw to allow for hydration with minimum movement.

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One of the more interesting bars I've tried is the Titec H-Bar (there are also other brands of H-Bar, as I recall). Insane amount of hand positions. Can be hard to find a good spot for levers and shifters, though.

Titec H-Bar

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Bullhorn Handlebars (Sheldon Brown calls the Cowhorn bars, although I've never heard that term elsewhere. AKA combination bars.)

bullhorn handlebars

These can sometimes be found at the local bike dump cheaply. Some find them quite comfortable, and they allow a lot of different positions.

Although purpose-made handlebars are generally better, it's possible to make a set of bullhorns by cutting drop handlebars and flipping them over.

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Whoa -- that steering column needs to be cut short before someone gets impaled on it! – darkcanuck Sep 26 '10 at 5:22

Cruiser bars

Allow the rider to sit upright on a bike while holding the bars. Also known as upright or North Road handlebars, these are common on cruiser bikes and some comfort bikes. They sweep back towards the rider, with grips that point more towards the back than to the sides.

Cruiser bars

Cruiser bike with handlebars (Photo credit)

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Riser-bars place the rider in a more upright position than completely flat bars and might be better for mountain-bike technical maneuvers such as slow drops to flat (hucking) and just generally lifting the front wheel to clear trail obstacles. (They are still flat handlebars, but are raised at the ends.)

Handlebar width is also important and the trend for mountain bikes seem like they are getting wider. Wider bars give more stability during hairy technical descents, but the downside is that trail side tree clearance is reduced.

alt text

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Oh ok I was thinking MTB style risers. Huge rise on this BMX :-) – helloworlder Oct 2 '10 at 23:44
Here's the type I had in mind: In practice, they are still flat bars. – helloworlder Oct 2 '10 at 23:49

Here are rebar bars on a rebar bike. alt text

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I love that name. – Neil Fein Sep 30 '10 at 6:26
I see someone chiseled all the concrete away for less weight. – Kaz Mar 30 at 23:31

Variations in Drop Bars

Another important distinction in a drop bar is the shape of the drop. There are ergo bars that look like this: alt text There are conventional curved bars that look like this: alt text

Note that the links are just representative of the style, not the actual cost. There should be negligible price difference between the bars.

In my case, the ergo bar pushes the palm of my hand away from the levers. This makes it much more difficult to reach the levers (mostly for shifting, although it is at the limit of comfort for braking as well). You could fix this problem one of two ways: buying a set of levers which have an adjustable reach option, or swapping out the handlebars. I'm doing the latter.

There is also the randonneur bar, a drop bar where the middle bar arcs upward slightly at each end, the drops angle outward, and the drop is less severe than the standard design. Designed to be more comfortable for long rides.

enter image description here

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Thinking about this, this entry should probably be merged with the drop bar entry. Any objections? – Neil Fein Sep 30 '10 at 6:20
Not at all. I would have done this myself, but I had no idea how to do this! – John Lam Oct 1 '10 at 16:50
I think the "conventional curve" example is actually a variable radius design, which is a sort of compromise between traditional curve and ergo. The randonneur example has the more traditional curve shape (but flared). Look carefully at the forward-most part of the curve; conventional fixed-radius curve puts that point halfway between top and bottom, the various variable-radius curve designs have that point higher. – freiheit Apr 6 '12 at 5:01

Unnamed Bars(?)

A bull horn setup with an add on so that the rider can ride in a more upright position when on the flats. This seems like a good setup when speed is desired some times but the rider also wants to be able to smell the flowers. You can brake from the top by pulling on the rod.

alt text

From: Bike snob NYC

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never saw that before, pretty cool though I'd never put them on my bike. – curtismchale Sep 25 '10 at 1:32
What are these called? As per the original question, what are the advantage/disadvantages? – Neil Fein Sep 25 '10 at 18:57
These remind me of a road "drop" style handlebar that took this shape natively. It was called Scott Drop-in handlebars. Basically, they are road bars with a lower horizontal grip area, parallel to the top. – PositiveK Mar 20 '14 at 21:29

BMX Handlebars

BMX Handlebars 1 BMX Handlebars 2

  • Used mainly on BMX / 'Cruiser' BMX Bikes and other dirt track use, with 20" and 24" wheels, respectively.

  • Frequently accommodate padding on the stem and top bar for when you go over them, and hit precious body parts on the way over.

  • Very strong, designed to take lots of abuse.

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  1. Moustache Bar
  2. Bull Horn Bar
  3. Butterfly bar - Ex see novara safari
  4. Flat Bar
  5. Drop bar - All racing bikes
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protected by Gary.Ray Aug 20 '13 at 12:43

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