I have replaced the original 44cm handlebar of the Canyon Grizl with a wider, 46cm Salsa Woodchipper Deluxe handlebars. While I'm very pleased with the added control the wider handlebars offer (especially when riding the hooks on technical terrain, being the torso low and the arms wide), I am a bit frustrated by the "in the drops" position I very frequently use on my road bike. My problem is that the flare applied to the handlebar aids the "hooks" while I find it to be counterproductive in the drops (my arms being very far apart, not very comfortable and certainly not aerodynamic).

1.Based on the introduction, I find that flare applied to the hooks is desirable as it widens the grip on the handlebar, creating more leverage for control on technical features. Is there any use to flare applied to the drops (I cannot find any reason, especially not to flare+outsweep models)? 2.Are there any handlebars models with flared hooks but narrower drops (if that makes any sense)?

4 Answers 4


Let's settle some terminology first.

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I think that in practice, a lot of people say "the drops" to mean the entire curved section of the handlebar below the brake levers. I think that the OP is using drops and hooks as shown in the picture.

Also, when we say "flared drops" about handlebars, we do usually mean that the drops and hooks are flared outward. It is possible to have the hooks have zero flare, and the drops have positive flare - the Enve SES All Road handlebar has this feature, which means that on the hoods, your hands are at a neutral angle like on usual road bikes, but the drops are flared out.

Now, there is flare and outsweep. Flare means that the drops + hooks are moved out to the side of the bike. Outsweep is what you see with the Salsa Woodchipper bar in airace3's answer. The drops + hooks (and sometimes the ramps) are angled outward so that they aren't parallel. In contrast, the Acros and Thomson bars have flare but no outsweep.

Now, MTBs have wide handlebars. I don't MTB, but I think I've heard that this is to help with rough terrain - they help stabilize the front wheel, which helps offset the really short stems that are common today, and if your wheel gets bumped off course, you have more leverage to turn it back to neutral. I am actually not sure why wide and flared bars are getting more common in gravel. Gravel can encompass a wide range of terrain. I have a feeling that the wide flared bars help in technical terrain for the same reason that MTBs have wide handlebars. However, on dirt roads and smooth gravel, I don't perceive an advantage for flared bars for me. Naturally, personal preferences differ. But that's probably why some bars have flare. Why would someone add outsweep? I'm not 100% sure, but it may give you a better wrist angle with very wide flare.

As someone else already said, if you are on a gravel bike and you need to get aerodynamic, you can be better off on the hoods, particularly if you use the aero hoods position. That would be an alternative if the drops are too wide for you. You might even consider aero bars, since you're probably solo and not under UCI regulations. You could select a bar with flare but no outsweep as well.

The last line asks if there are any models with wider hooks but narrower drops. By definition, any flared handlebar will have the drops wider than the hoods. There are definitely no bars with the drops narrower than the hooks (implying a positive flare at the hooks, transitioning to a negative flare in the drops).

On the off chance that the OP meant if there are handlebars with narrow hoods or hooks but flared drops, the answer is yes. The Enve SES AR bar above is one example. The 38cm model is 38cm at the hoods, 43cm at the drops. That is actually a lot of flare, when you think about it. Even 12 degrees of flare, which is on the low end, can add 50mm or more of total width. I usually ride 40cm bars, and I would consider 38cm, but I would not want the bars to be 43cm at the drops for a road bike. Some of the extreme aero road handlebars have absurdly narrow hoods and narrow drops due to flare - the AeroCoach Ornix is 375mm at the drops and 325mm (!) at the hoods. The aerodynamic gains if you can control your bicycle with 325mm hoods can be pretty significant - some drag tests are posted on AeroCoach's site. It should be obvious that crashing will offset the gains and also impair relationships with surrounding riders.

  • Love the very detailed answer, especially that you establish vocabulary first.
    – arne
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 11:51
  • 1
    Very clear and thorough answer. Indeed I used the meaning of the concepts as presented in the screenshot you've attached. I find perfect use in flared HOOKS, it is in the flared drops that I find no value. I have played with the idea of sawing off a few centimeters of the drops since they are worthless to me. Good point about the actual distance between the hoods once they are pointing inwards: it actually aids my concept of having the more aero benefit while riding hoods and leveraging the hooks (+2 to 3 cm) for the technical parts (with the added benefit of lowering my center of gravity) Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 12:25

Handlebars are all about personal preference. They have to feel good to you. The Woodchipper has an flare of 25° but at the drops it reaches 38°. This is comparable to the backsweep of dutch bike handlebares, some people find them comfortable. Also handlebar width is measured from the middle of the hooks. Because of this wide flare, the Woodchippers are even wider then 46cm at the drops for more stability.

After a quick comparison in bike shops, it looks like most 25° flare handlebars go back to nearly 0° flare at the drops:

For example:

Name Image
  • Yup that's also what I tried to address with my answer: Wide bars for comfortable hoods paired with the extreme drop angle just meant that he is probably out at 50+ centimeters effectively which is too wide for him. Would be fine with zero-degree drops.
    – DoNuT
    Commented Aug 22, 2023 at 13:24

I'm not a fitting expert but some common conceptions about flared bars (in a road bike context) are that riding on the hoods is more aerodynamic and the flare brings your arms in beyond the bar's total width. Wider drops are meant to give you better control on descents, so that compensates the reduced width that is often seen with flared bars these days: tucked in and aero in the hoods, stable handling in the (wide) drops.

I just found a video by Salsa themselves and the 46 cm Woodchipper is by the widest you can get with their lineup:

Perhaps, going with relatively wide 46 cm bars and lots of flare and drop angle is just too wide for your natural body position? I didn't do the math but couldn't it be that wide bars with flare just gave you approximately the same hood position as on 42/44 non-flare bar while the extreme drops are just too wide for your taste and you would be better off with something less extreme, like a smaller version of the same bar or something with less flare and/or drop angle? Salsa apparently offers a Cowchipper with less drop angle but pretty much the same flare (24/25°). This means, the 46 cm bar gives you the same width on the hoods but the drops are not as wide out.

On my road bike, I'm not on the hoods when it gets technical, so maybe you should also adjust your riding style a bit and the stability you look for on the hoods is better to be found in the drops? So, having a comfortable drop width is more important than wide hoods, they just need to be wide enough to match your shoulder width...


It sounds like you're describing the Scott Drop-In bars.

  • 1
    I did actually think about the Scott Drop In. However, it's a vintage item, that style never really caught on, and there were good reasons it didn't. Plus it was a road racing thing, and gravel was not a thing when it existed. Anyway, some info here: bicycles.stackexchange.com/a/82986/38270
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Aug 22, 2023 at 22:50
  • That was not my point but the Scott Drop-In bars are a very interesting find Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 12:30
  • @WeiwenNg I agree it's a silly design but doesn't the fact that it's road racing design and the question was about gravel bikes mean that this time it's different?
    – ojs
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 17:26
  • I was more thinking that the position on the extensions might be a bit precarious for gravel. Unless it's a really smooth dirt road.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 20:43
  • @WeiwenNg the idea would be to have wide grip for difficult sections and low narrow hand position for smooth roads. Sometimes you just can't arrange for switching bikes every time the road type changes.
    – ojs
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 5:32

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