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I recently rode a road bike where the brake levers had a slight outward tilt. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask what kind of handlebar it was, but I found it very comfortable. It had a slope like the Ritchey WCS Evomax handlebars but with a flat support for the upper handlebar grip.

My question, are these types of handlebars common in road cycling? I have seen these handlebars in the gravel sector for years, but I had never seen them on a racy road bike before. In any case, I really liked it. Maybe someone here knows which handlebar it could be?

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Let's discuss some terminology first.

You mentioned you want something like the Ritchey WCS Evomax,

but with a flat support for the upper handlebar grip.

I think you are alluding to the fact that this handlebar has 10mm of rise. MTB handlebars come in flat or riser versions, so this is common on MTBs. I think it's rare on road bikes, although the Specialized Hover bar also has/had rise. For the most part, I don't think the rise changes much about the way our hands interact with the handlebar, so it's probably unnecessary provided the stem height was set correctly. Rise on MTB handlebars might change your hand angle to the grips.

Now, you are looking for these characteristics:

I recently rode a road bike where the brake levers had a slight outward tilt... It had a slope like the Ritchey WCS Evomax handlebars but ...

First of all, current generation brake levers are built with a slight outward flare. Even Campagnolo, the most traditional of the three companies, does this. This helps you reach the levers when you're in the drops. It makes it easier to shift. I assume you aren't talking about this, but people should realize that it's part of the ergonomic improvements that companies have made over time.

Second, I am guessing you looking for a handlebar where the drops are flared outward. In this answer, I discuss some of the terminology involved. Note that sweep (for the drops) is different than flare; some bars are flared but not swept, and some have both. You can also add backsweep to the tops, which changes the effective reach of the system. The EVO Max reports that the tops have 4.6 degrees of backsweep, and that the drops are swept out by 3 degrees. Their drops are flared 12 degrees. You can use trigonometry to calculate the width in the drops, using the fact that the drop is 128mm. I get

tan(12 deg) = added width to the drops / 128mm
added width in drops = tan(12 deg) * 128mm = 27.2mm (each side)

Hence, a 40cm bar would be 45.4cm in the drops. I currently ride 40s. Anyway, you can express the flare in degrees, or you can straight up state the width at the drops. For example, the 40cm Rene Herse Randonneur handlebar has a version that's 37cm at the hoods, and 40cm in the drops.

To my knowledge, flared drops are rare on performance road handlebars. I don't follow touring bikes, but I believe that this feature may be or have been fairly common on touring bikes, judging by the Rene Herse bar and some Nitto bars. On gravel bikes, as you observe, it's fashionable, but not all riders may find it necessary. Additionally, I think that the amount of flare usually found on gravel bikes is a bit much for performance road bikes. That said, depending on your size, you might be fine with the dimensions offered.

The Enve SES All Road handlebar is an aero topped flared road handlebar, but the flare adds 5cm total width. That's a bit much for me. I might try a 36cm version (width at the drops should be 41cm), but they don't make such a version. Some flared aero road handlebars are geared very much to performance cyclists and have very narrow hoods - for example, the Aerocoach Ornix is 375mm in the drops and 325mm (!) in the hoods. Those are typically very narrow, and maybe your average cyclist shouldn't consider them.

When you say "racy road bike", readers should keep in mind that there's a division between endurance and performance (i.e. racing) road bikes. I believe that most average fit adults should still probably default to an endurance road bike, as they will be more comfortable and most people don't have the flexibility. If you want flared bars, you could consider the selection of gravel handlebars. Touring bars might seriously also be worth considering, although many of them may be made for 26.0 or 25.4mm stems, and/or they may also have rise (plus the tops may be angled, rather than parallel to the ground).

Last, also keep in mind that the bar may or may not be angled at the hoods. If you look at the drawing of the Enve SES AR, it is not angled at the hoods. Thus, if you were looking for your hoods to be tilted outwards, that's not your handlebar. Of the other drop bars, I think many of them have tilt at the hoods, e.g. the Salsa Cowbell, Cowchipper, and Woodchipper (listed in ascending order of the amount of flare). Tilt at the hoods may or may not be desirable to everyone! It sounds like the OP wants tilt at the hoods. On my cyclocross bike, I was indifferent to the slight tilt on a Salsa Cowbell; I have a feeling that I would not want tilt on a road bike.

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  • Thank you for your grat answer! I ask toda the friend with the bike and it was indeed the enve handlebar. Sep 15, 2023 at 21:46
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Cinelli Swamp?

Microtech AR?

Deda something?

Nearly every handlebar manufacturer has something similar now.

Also if SRAM levers were installed, the design accentuates the flair (the lever blades themselves flare out slightly)

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My question, are these types of handlebars common in road cycling?

I'm not sure if the current spread in the road market already qualifies as common but there are quite some riders in the pro peloton using flared bars, in many instances together with going narrower on the bar width, a well-known cyclist YT channel (I think it was GC Performance) recently talked about this and he thinks, hardly anybody on the World Tour is even riding 40 cm bars, anymore.

As every trend propelled by the pros, this is very likely to be seen in the enthusiast market, so hardly anybody building a modern race bike will be riding standard 42 centimeter bars or wieder and it may as well be that bike brands will pick up this trend for full bike builds. That being said, on stock bikes, normal 42 cm bars are still very present (in the common sizes - but manufacturers often go narrower or wider on the frame size).

The reasons why are obvious: aero gains. You just slim down your aerodynamic profile when your hands are effectively at your shoulder's width or even below. With the flared layout, you have the drops further out and more control than on narrow traditional road bars (like 2-3 cm difference per side).

It seems that still most of the products are offered as "gravel" product but imo there is no reason why you can't fit a gravel-specific product on a road bike if this is what you want. I only did a quick research but at least Enve has some flared "road" products but I'm sure there are many more (and even more to come).

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