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, 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 drop bars. 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.
Best Flat Bars We Recommend
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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.
Best Drop Bars We Recommend
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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, drop bars will let you lean forward, which puts you 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 bar allows you to go much lower, and such, it increases the aerodynamics. If you are looking for a bike to ride at high speeds, then the drop bar is the clear winner here.
The drop-bar bike also offers more versatility as it allows you to hold the handlebars with 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. The hand position of a flat bar makes it is suitable for short urban rides and mountain biking.
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. You'll typically find it easier to weave through traffic or urban areas with a flat bar bike 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.
Pros & Cons
Now let's, look at the pros and cons of both the two handlebars.
PROS OF Flat bars
CONS OF flat bars
Pros of Drop bars
Cons of Drop Bars
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 holding 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
What type of cyclist should go for drop bars?
A cyclist who prefers going on long-distance rides 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 than 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.
What are the benefits of drop bars on a bike?
Drop bars offer a more aerodynamic riding position and allow for multiple hand positions, which can be helpful on longer rides. They also allow for more precise steering and can be found on higher-end road bikes and touring bikes.
Do flat bar bikes offer a more upright riding position?
Yes, flat bar bikes typically offer a more upright riding position, which can be more comfortable for some riders. They are also generally better for shorter rides or rides on rough terrain.
Can flat bar grips be used on drop bar bikes?
Yes, flat bar grips can be used on drop bar bikes. However, it is important to make sure that the brake levers are compatible with the grip size and shape.
How do you wrap bar tape on flat handlebars?
To wrap bar tape on flat handlebars, start by removing any old tape and cleaning the handlebars. Then, apply adhesive to the handlebars and begin wrapping the tape, starting at the end of the handlebars and working your way towards the stem. Make sure to leave some extra tape at the end to wrap around the stem.
Are drop handlebars more aerodynamic than flat handlebars?
In general, drop handlebars are more aerodynamic than flat handlebars because they allow the rider to get into a lower and more streamlined position. However, this can vary depending on the specific design of the handlebars and the rider's body position.
Can flat bar gravel bikes be converted to drop bar bikes?
It is possible to convert a flat bar gravel bike to a drop bar bike, but it may require replacing the stem, handlebars, and brake levers. Before making the conversion, it is important to ensure that the frame is compatible with drop bars.
Is it better to have the brake lever position higher or lower on flat bar bikes?
On flat bar bikes, it is generally better to have the brake lever positioned higher for easier access. This can help you brake more quickly and with less effort.
Is a flat bar road bike slower than a drop bar road bike?
Drop bar road bikes are generally faster than flat bar road bikes because the drop bar allows for a more aerodynamic riding position. However, this can vary depending on the specific design of the bike and the rider's body position.
Is a flat bar or drop bar bike better for commuting?
It depends on the specific needs and preferences of the rider. Flat bar bikes are generally more comfortable and easier to maneuver in stop-and-go traffic, but drop bar bikes may be faster on longer commutes.
Can a drop bar bike be used for bikepacking?
Yes, drop bar bikes can be used for bikepacking. However, they may not be as comfortable or versatile as flat bar bikes on rough terrain or on longer rides with a heavy load.
Are drop bars more comfortable than flat bars?
It depends on the rider's body and the specific design of the handlebars. Some riders may find drop bars more comfortable because they offer multiple hand positions, while others may prefer the upright riding position offered by flat bars.
Is a flat bar or drop bar bike better for longer rides?
Again, it depends on the rider's body and preferences. Drop bars may be more comfortable on longer rides because they allow for multiple hand positions and a more aerodynamic riding position. However, flat bars may be more comfortable for some riders and are generally better for shorter rides or rough terrain.
Are flat bar bikes better for mountain biking?
Flat bar bikes are generally better for mountain biking because they offer a more upright and comfortable riding position and better maneuverability on rough terrain.
Is a flat bar or drop bar bike better for a more relaxed riding position?
Flat bar bikes typically offer a more upright and relaxed riding position, while drop bar bikes tend to put the rider in a more aerodynamic and stretched-out position.
Can bar ends be added to flat bar bikes?
Yes, bar ends can be added to flat bar bikes. However, it is important to ensure that the bar ends are compatible with the handlebar diameter and design.
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.
Last Updated on October 14, 2023 by Daniel White