Handlebars – Explained!

Handlebars – So many choices!

Which choice is right for you though? Not only are there different models from a range of manufacturers, there are very different shapes of bars. Consider them as almost entirely different as each is specialised towards helping you achieve a different goal. So we’ll go through the various styles and hopefully help steer you towards the one you need.

Aero Bars

Ribble Cycles Aero Bars

Aero bars are designed to maximise the aerodynamic profile, and they achieve this through flattening out the top bars into an almost wing like shape. The aerodynamic gains are offset by a slightly less comfortable experience when riding on the tops. Aero bars are available in traditional, ergo and compact shapes form most manufacturers.

Ergo Bars

Ribble Cycles Ergo Bars

Ergo(nomic) bars are the best matched to a riders hands and hand positions. By utilising bends and flattened sections, they mirror the natural grip positions of the riders hands. They are of particular use in maintaining straight wrists when you are riding in the drops – a big advantage if you spend a lot of time here!

Compact Bars

Ribble Cycles Compact Bars

These bars drop a little bit less than the others (particularly the Traditional bars) so you’ll find the drop is usually less than 135mm.  The generous sweep back allows the rider to adopt a more relaxed, less aggressive riding position. This is particularly useful for riders who a little less flexible. They are rapidly becoming the standard spec, so that might be an indication of where the market is heading.

Wing Bars

Ribble Cycles Wing Bars

Like Aero bars, wing bars are shaped like wings, although the main difference is the inclusion of ergonomic flattened section just before the drops. This allows a more comfortable holding position than the aeros, but obviously does sacrifice a little aerodynamic advantage. Wing bars are often raised from the clamping area, aiding a more upright and relaxed riding position. Like the aero bars, they are available in traditional, ergo and compact shapes from most maunfacturers.

Traditional Bars

Ribble Cycles Traditional Bars

Where it all began, the bars that all the others are based loosely on, but by no means old fashioned! Typically they maintain the same tube diameter throughout, except for oversize bars that have a bulge at the clamp points, they have a drop of at least 135mm and they curve down through 180o with a generous portion of bar for gripping at the bottom. Traditional bars afford the rider an aggressive, low riding position.

Time Trial Bars

Ribble Cycles Time Trial Bars

Time Trial bars are specifically designed to improve aerodynamic performance, with very aggressive styling, low down and forward – they incorporate extensions allowing a ride to maximise their wind resistance and create airflow around them that other bars cannot achieve. Not the most comfortable, but comfort is very much a secondary consideration with these performance focused bars.

Track Bars

Ribble Cycles Track Bars

Like Time Trial bars, these are a little more specialist, and shouldn’t be used outside of their intended target use. They feature BIG drops – Over 170mm, making you as low as possible without sacrificing power, Big reaches – Over 100mm and they’re generally pretty robust – Allowing you transfer more power from your upper body.

So there you have a brief synopsis of the various shapes of handlebars available to you. Which best suits your needs? All of our handlebars can found here on Ribble Cycles.

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