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

  • Similar to this entry in one of the reference threads: http://bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/244/terminology-index/322#322. Duplicates, or not? The linked question didn't go into the kind of detail this thread is trying to. Sep 25 '10 at 16:51
  • 2
    @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. Sep 25 '10 at 17:14
  • 1
    In a search for strange handlebar types, I've found this site: BikeHacks.com. Sep 26 '10 at 3:47
  • 2
    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)

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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)

  • 1
    Awesome! I use mag lights on my bike too. 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 flat 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.


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)


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.



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.


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.

(source: bikepro.com)

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

  • 9
    Whoa -- that steering column needs to be cut short before someone gets impaled on it!
    – darkcanuck
    Sep 26 '10 at 5:22

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

  • 1
    Could you show this mounted on a bike? it's not clear from the photo which way is front.
    – RoboKaren
    Feb 16 '19 at 20:05
  • @RoboKaren I updated the link to go to Bikeman’s review. Their pictures are pretty good.
    – Jack M.
    Feb 22 '19 at 18:56

Here are rebar bars on a rebar bike. alt text

  • 1
    I love that name. Sep 30 '10 at 6:26
  • 7
    I see someone chiseled all the concrete away for less weight.
    – Kaz
    Mar 30 '16 at 23:31
  • I'd be worried about the stresses at the toptube/downtube/headtube mount.
    – Criggie
    Feb 16 '19 at 22:40

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


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

  • 1
    Thinking about this, this entry should probably be merged with the drop bar entry. Any objections? 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

BMX Handlebars

enter image description here enter image description here

  • 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.

  • @glorfindel an image for you to fix XD
    – Swifty
    Feb 16 '19 at 14:36
  • @Swifty who needs him? Just use edit link :)
    – Criggie
    Feb 16 '19 at 22:43

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

  • never saw that before, pretty cool though I'd never put them on my bike. Sep 25 '10 at 1:32
  • What are these called? As per the original question, what are the advantage/disadvantages? 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
  • 2
    #bodge. not sure I would trust these
    – Swifty
    Feb 16 '19 at 14:40

Pursuit Bars

Primarily used for racing, these blur the line between bullhorns and tri-bars/aerobars.

First used in 1984 by Francesco Moser's World Hour Record ride.

enter image description here

3T pursuit bars.

enter image description here

Lowered bullhorn bars - add aerobars to these and they become pursuit bars.


  • They're quite aerodynamic, encouraging a good position for speed.
  • Tend to be made of carbon fibre and therefore quite light.
  • The wider handgrips are generally really strong and appeal to sprinters, who use leverage through the bars to add explosive acceleration power.
  • Aggressive look - make you feel faster or appear faster even when stationary.


  • Eyewateringly expensive
  • Much variation in connections between bars and aerobars so getting spare parts is hard/pricy.
  • Absolutely stealable - your bike could not be left outside the local shops because it would be a thief magnet.
  • Risk of being marked down as a parts rider, if you can't ride at a speed that would justify these.
  • Not many places to mount controls - you might have brake levers on the lower grips and gear shifters on the tips of the aero bar. Though with wireless gears the small buttons can be duplicated and in more places.
  • Less good if course has tight/slow technical turns due to less leverage.

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