Cyclopedia: Styles of Handlebars

There are many types of handlebars but each has its use and advantage, whether it be a cruiser bar, a road-style drop bar, a flat bar, aero bar, or a riser. Here’s what those terms mean:

Cruiser bars. The wide, curved cruiser bar is built for relaxed handling and a supremely comfortable, low-stress hand position.

Riser bars. The riser bar is a flat bar with a bit of a rise built in and it provides the rider with a more relaxed riding position. Found on many mountain bikes, the riser bar is also perfect for your more technical trip into the backcountry.

Flat bars. A classic mountain bike bar, the flat bar is loved by your performance-oriented mountain-biker as well as being featured on many fitness and performance-oriented hybrids.

Road “drop” bars. The easily recognized road drop bar (think back to your first 10-speed bike) is the ideal bar for extended periods of time on the road. With multiple hand positions and the option of lower, more aerodynamic riding positions, the drop bar gives the performance oriented road rider the comfort and performance that they need.

Aero-bars. Lastly, the aero-bar is the choice of riders specializing in triathlons and time trials. These very specialized bars allow riders in these disciplines to assume the most aerodynamic of riding positions. These bars do not provide the safest grip and therefore are outlawed in general pack-style racing.

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  1. Dave Barkdoll

    Pictures would be nice to illustrate the various handlebar types.

  2. Great idea Dave. We’ll add that.

  3. Daniel

    What are the benefits, if any, of bar ends or handle bar extensions on mountain and hybrid bikes?

  4. Bar ends were invented as a climbing aid. They aid climbing by opening up your upper body while climbing out of the saddle. They also help to weight the front wheel to help keep it on the ground while climbing steep terrain.

    They also have the benefit of improving comfort by offering multiple hand positions. This is the reason most people put bar ends on, currently.