You’ve probably seen most of the different types of handlebars on a bike. However, the two most common types that stand out from the rest of the handlebars are Flat Bar and Drop Bar. In this article, we’ll compare the differences of the Flat Bar vs Drop Bar and find out which is better and why.
If you are new with bicycles, then choosing between drop bar vs flat bar can be extremely difficult. Having used both types of handlebars, I can personally say I love both styles equally. But they are very different from each other in performance and function, yet they are still absolutely fantastic in their respective fields.
Nevertheless, you’ll still need to know how to strike a balance between comfort while commuting to work or elsewhere, speed, agility, and how easy it is to ride.
So let’s jump into it:
Flat Bar vs Drop Bar Comparison
It is not hard to spot a flat bar or a drop bar handlebar. So, most persons would be able to differentiate between the two easily. The flat bar has a more basic flat design compared to a drop bar. Whereas, the drop bar has a more sophisticated design having three different ways of grabbing them.
What is a Flat Bar?
As the name suggests, Flat Bar is a bike handlebar that has a flat design. A flat-bar does not bend towards any direction; however, it can have a tiny amount of angle for a more comfortable grip for the rider. A bike with a flat bar is excellent for riding in towns and cities. It is also great if you want to ride a short distance for fun. Overall, the flat bar is one of the most comfortable handlebars out there, and you will never go wrong by getting one.
What is a Drop Bar?
Drop bar has one of the most sophisticated designs among bike handlebars. This drop down handlebar is more suitable for high speed on roads and tracks. A typical drop handlebar has a flat section in the center. Attached at the edge of each side is a curvy design that bends forward and down first and then back to the rider’s position.
Now let’s look at their features and make a comparison.
The difference in hand position
One of the first things that you will notice between the flat bar and the drop bars bicycle is the difference in hand positions. The drop-bar offers three different hand positions - hoods, drops, and tops. Each of these positions is meant for different purposes. On the other hand, the flat bar provides only one position.
Difference in posture
The other thing that you will notice is the difference in posture. The flat bar puts you in a more upright position, which is more comfortable. This position requires less flexibility and is more suitable for carrying a backpack.
On the other hand, a drop-bar will let you lean forward, which puts in a more horizontal position. This offers more aerodynamics allowing you to ride the bike at faster speeds. The drop-bar requires more flexibility and is suitable for an experienced rider. The horizontal position also lowers the center of gravity and helps in cornering at fast speed.
It is clear by now that drop bars more suitable for riding at higher speeds compared to straight flat bars. This is because the drop allows you to go much lower, and such, it increases the aerodynamics. If you are looking for a bike to ride at high speeds on the highway, then the drop bar is the clear winner here.
The drop bar bike offers more versatility with those three hand positions. When your arms get tired after riding for a long time, you can change the hand position. This provides the rider with some relief. Whereas, a flat bar offers less versatility as it has only one hand position. It is suitable for short urban rides.
When it comes to maneuverability, the drop bar is excellent for cornering at high speeds. However, at lower speeds, the flat bar is easier to control and maneuver around obstacles. Both the bars are good at their respective area, but the flat bar wins here. With a flat bar bike, you’ll typically find it easier to weave through traffic or urban areas easier than you would with a drop-bar bike.
Stability and Balance
The flat bar is much more stable than the drop bar. This is because of the wide handle of the flat bar. It is easier to balance the flat bar on bumpy roads. Because of this reason, you’ll always find bikes such as mountain bikes or electric bikes with a flat bar as they require higher stability, balance, and maneuverability.
However, the drop bar does provide great stability when it comes to high speed. When you’re descending, the drop bar also provides a more secure grip.
Now let’s, look at the pros and cons of both the two handlebars.
What we liked about Flat Bars:
- The flat bar provides better control since they are wider. They are easy to steer. Flat bars are great for off-road.
- The components of a flat bar are cheaper and easily available.
- Changing the cables of a flat bar is much easier since it has a simple construction.
- The flat bar provides easy accessibility to brake levers.
- A flat-bar has more space to mount your stuff, mirror, harness, light, and cycling computer.
- The upright position of the flat bar is more comfortable.
- The upright position also provides better visibility of what’s ahead.
- The flat bar has long-lasting grips.
- Flat bars are great for new riders.
What we don’t like about Flat Bar bikes:
- The flat bars provide the riders with only one hand position.
- Flat bars do not provide aerodynamics.
- It is harder to pass through small gaps since flat bars are wider.
- Flat bars are not very efficient since the upright position creates a lot of drag.
- Flat bars do not allow you to travel at high speeds.
What we like about Drop Bars:
- Flat bars provide multiple hand position for comfort and versatility.
- Drop bars give you more aerodynamics.
- Drop bars can fit in tight spaces allowing you to squeeze between traffics.
- It allows you to ride fast with less energy.
- Drop bars provide more speed and distance coverage.
What we don’t like about Drop Bar:
- The parts of a drop bar are more expensive.
- It is hard to access the brake levers in a drop bar.
- It takes a lot of effort to control a drop bar.
- The components of a drop bar are often more fragile than ones found on a flat-bar bike.
- The parts of drop bars are harder to find.
- Changing the shift and brake cables of a drop bar is more difficult.
- A drop bar has less space to mount other accessories on the handle.
- Drop bars do not provide great visibility.
- This type of handlebars is not suitable for riding off-road.
- Drop bar bikes are not suitable for all types of clothing.
What are the main differences between Flat Bar vs Drop Bar?
A drop bar and flat bar has several differences between them. One of the main differences is with the hand position. The drop-bar has three hand positions while the flat bar has only one. The drop-bar also lets you ride the bike at higher speeds since it puts you in a more aerodynamic posture. However, the flat bar provides more comfort and stability. The flat bar is also easier to control.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What type of cyclist should go for drop bars?
A cyclist who prefers going on long-distance rides on the highway should go for drop bars. The multiple hand positions offer comfort when cyclists ride for a long duration. They are also good for a cyclist that maintains high average speed.
What type of cyclist should go for flat bars?
Cyclist that prefers a more upright position and comfort should go for flat bars. Flat bars are also perfect for cyclists who like to take their bikes on an off-road adventure.
Which handlebar is more comfortable between a flat bar and drop bar?
The flat bar provides much more comfort compared to the drop bar since it allows the rider to sit at an upright position. A flat-bar requires less flexibility from the rider and is also suitable for almost all clothing types.
What is the main purpose of a drop bar?
The main purpose of a drop bar is to provide more aerodynamics to increase the speed. When a rider leans forward and goes lower on a drop bar, there is less resistance, and hence it allows the rider to go much faster with less effort.
Both the drop bar and flat bar are an excellent choice if you are looking to get a new bike. However, they serve different purposes. If you want to get a bike for casual riding, then a flat bar would be the best option. It is also great if you are looking to do some off-road riding. Drop bars can be a little intimidating if you are new. So beginners should consider flat bars.
However, if you want to get a bike for high-speed riding and long distances, you should get the drop bar bike. It is specially designed for covering large distances in a short amount of time. Hence, it is up to you now to decide which drop bar you should get. Hopefully, this comparison can help you make that choice.