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I went for a ride this morning and my handlebars were loose. I now realize that it is unsafe to ride like that but my average speed was dramatically lower. Do you think it is because of my loose handlebars?

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    I would imagine that if you know your handlebar is loose you will not place as much force on it and hence will not cycle as fast. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 26 '14 at 11:48
  • It would certainly slow you down if you had hit even the tiniest bump or had to make any sudden manoeuvres - it's hard to go quickly when laying on the road asking what the hell just happened to your handlebars! ;) Always make sure to do some quick checks (brakes, steering, tyre pressure...bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/2161/pre-ride-checks) of the bike before a ride – rg255 Aug 26 '14 at 12:15
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With loose handlebars, the primary thing which you should be worrying about is your face - its a great way to lead to a nasty crash. Don't ride with loose parts on your bike. Speed is the last thing you should be worrying about.

You likely went slower due to less control of the bike with loose handlebars making your brain hold you back on speed. Other factors such as environment or tired-ness may have come into play, but loose handlebars would make most people ride slowly and carefully [or better yet, walk the bike], avoiding any bumps until they could tighten down the handlebars if they weren't carrying the appropriate tools with them.

When you're riding intensely, you actually end up pulling up on your handlebars, which you can't do with loose handlebars so you can't ride as hard, so you can lose speed at the top end with loose handlebars.

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