How to Choose a Handlebar for your Bicycle

You are in contact with your bicycle via 3 main points: saddle, pedals and handlebars. Many individuals devote a great amount of time and precision into choosing the first two, where handlebars are often overlooked. It is important to have the perfect handlebar since it affects your performance, weight distribution, versatility, your positioning, angle of spine, leverage, control, while cycling and comfort. There are so many types of handlebars available where each of them has its respective pros and cons that can either make or break your biking practice. Handlebars are directly proportionate to influencing the overall handling, stability and reliability of your bike, so picking the right type for your biking style is essential.

The article is going to discuss two main criteria of handlebars- First, where we discuss the factors to keep in mind while choosing a handlebar, and second, where we discuss types of handlebars and what leverage do they have over others.

Factors on which choice of handlebar depends:

  • Shape and drop/curve: There are 2 said shapes available- curved and compact. The curved creates a deep drop, putting the rider in a low position with a hunch that allows him to drop excess weight forwards, hence increasing speed. Compact handlebars are the more popular ones. They showcase a straighter shape, which implies the lower segment of the drop is higher up. In the center of it are ergonomic bars which are rounder than conventional bars, yet have a level area in the middle which is perfect for hand positioning. Choosing the best handlebar shape narrows down to your riding style and personal preference. If you prefer relaxed endurance rides, go for compact. If you tend to grip close to the lower level for the fall, choose traditionally.
  • Diameter: Basic diameter of handlebars measures up to 25.4mm which alludes to the center point. This is where the stem will connect. Even so, many brands are deciding to squeeze them up to 31.8mm for enhanced stiffness. In such cases, you will need a stem of a coordinating clamp size.
  • Width: The width of your bike handlebar should always be equal to that of your shoulder otherwise it will lead to uncalled straining as well as cramping of the neck, arms and shoulders making the ride uncomfortable. Getting handlebars altered according to your shoulder length is the perfect way because everybody’s width varies- females have narrower shoulders where most of the brands do not produce small-width handlebars.
  • Drop depth: The drop shape and profundity will drastically affect the range lying between the handlebar and switch. Though most switches can be balanced, hence it is ideal to pick a shape you like and afterwards modify the switches to suit you. Handlebars likewise have an effect upon the reach from seat to bar. However, if the new bars have an impact here you can alter your stem length to locate the correct fit.

Common types of handlebars with their advantages & disadvantages:

  1. Flat Bars: These are the most common type of handlebars. They are entirely flat, with a minor dent in the center towards the rider. They are highly flexible and handy which makes them perfect for rides like cross-country. Due to their straight feature, they are balanced and trusted for carrying heavy-weight too.




Not ideal for dicey courses and routes.

One can easily attach auxiliary biking tools (like lights, brakes etc.).

Not well suited for performing tricks.

They make leaning forward easier.

Do not contribute for a good speed.

Flat bars are typically narrow. This makes getting them through doors and corridors easier.


Lighter and cheaper



  1. Riser Bars: These are comparatively wider than flat bars. They have a bump on the center clip area. They are mainly preferred for trail bike rides since they allow the rider to be more uptight and have a straight and erect spine. 



Better control over the bike.


Gives you good leverage making turning easier hence taking less energy.

Heavier than flat bars.

Comfortable grip due to back sweep.

Wide handlebars; making narrow pathways unfavorable

Less weight to be distributed to the front thus good for wrists.

High & heavy feature makes it a bad choice for climbing.

Perfect for trail and off-roading.

Difficult to tuck; bad aerodynamics.


  1. Cruiser Bars: these are the most casual bars, preferred for light and calm rides. They are also famous by the name of ‘Upright Bars’ or ‘North Road’. They are accountable for an extreme sweep which in turn allows the rider to have a perfect erect spine, hence the name.



Extremely comfortable and casual.

These handlebars encourage a more upright position, where automatically weight will be transferred to the bike seat, hence looking for a better-padded saddle.

Pretty and cute. Perfect for elderly people due to its ease of access and comfort.

Bad choice for climbing.

Room for additional tools and equipment in the front.


Steady, stable and heavy to carry baskets attached to it.


Equally distributed weight.



  1. Bullhorns: These are handlebars that curve up as well as forward. A pursuit handlebar is a slight variation to the typical bullhorn bar. A typical bullhorn curves forward and upwards while a pursuit bullhorn bar curves forward, dropping down slightly in the center and then curving back up again.



They are essentially flat bars that allow one to get lower when facing headwinds or going at fast speeds. This makes it better than flat bars and risers for speed-oriented biking results in giving great aerodynamics.

They are shorter than flat bars due to the spacing needed for the forward curve.

Perfect for climbing since the horns allow you to move further up and forward when climbing, thus giving the rider the best possible leverage when climbing uphill.

Low flexibility when taking sharp turns.


  1. Aero Bars: Also called marathon bars, these are essentially utilized for time-preliminary cycling where the rider contends alone with time as the opponent. Utilizing two stretched out bars near one another with armrest cushions to rest the lower arms, these bars put the rider into a restricted forward tuck position to additionally diminish air drag.



As the name suggests, it provides great aerodynamics because of the forward tuck position it holds.

They put the rider in an extremely dangerous position to react to unexpected turns and road obstacles.

Comfortable for hands due to the lower arm support provided.

They draw the hands away from the brakes. Due to this, it is illegal in most group racing events.

The rider position when using aero bars makes it harder to apply power when pedaling, hence it is not recommended for climbing.


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