There is growing popularity in the world of cycling for the gravel bike sport. With that trend comes a desire to have only the best drop bars fitted on the bikes. These bar components are gaining newfound features such as flare, not to mention a variety of options flooding the market.
Why do gravel bikes have drop bars? The most compelling reason for a gravel bike to have drop bars is primarily for stability and control. These bars are boasted as being wider with flared drops, providing the rider natural positioning. While keeping your hands in the drops, you’re able to maneuver through any type of harsh terrain with greater control and do so with better leverage on climbs and descents.
Over the last several years, there has been a windfall of options to hit the market for drop bars with dozens to choose from and many innovations and various nuances being added regularly. This is exciting for those who engage in the sport on a regular basis and find the handlebars to be an integral part of that sport.
Drop Bars Are Widening By Leaps And Bounds
The various parts of gravel bikes must meet the growing demands of those serious to the off-pavement sport and drop bars don’t disappoint.
Drop handlebars also referred to as gravel bars or dirt drops or flared drop bars, are among the bike components ever-evolving to suit the needs of the gravel bike enthusiasts. One characteristic that has undergone innovation and tweaks is their width.
Drop bars have been growing wider for quite some time – much to the pleasure of their audience. Wider bars mean you have greater control and more leverage when riding. This is especially important with the fast pace of gravel riding.
There are added advantages in the way of space for packing and mounting necessary accessories. With the standard bars, the space was extremely limited. The word on the market is that a measurement of 440 mm is essential with 460 mm becoming standard and sightings of an ultra-wide at 500 mm being spotted.
Choosing The Right Handlebars for Your Gravel Bike
In the cycling world, there are three elements to the gravel bike that is key when riding, including the comfort of the saddle, the durability of the pedals, and the stability of the handlebars. Most who ride will due diligence investing large amounts of time and effort into the pedals and the seat but oftentimes, the handlebars get neglected. This is changing dramatically.
Traditionally, a rider would use their shoulder width as a means to determine the width of their handlebars. This is no longer the determination. In today’s world, a narrow bar is typically warranted for better aerodynamics and those with added width enhance comfort and control for riders on gravel bikes.
Manufacturers of bikes don’t correlate how the bike is going to be used with the handles that they fit on the bikes. Their method for fitting handles is to put a narrow handle on the small bikes and wider on the larger ones. It’s up to you when you purchase the bike to do the necessary upgrades to make the bike suited for your specific purposes
What The Drop in “Drop Bar’ Means
How much the bars drop from the top down to the bottom is a critical measurement and will make a significant impact on the riding experience. The rider will have the ability to dip lower and have the advantage of a longer head-tube with a drop bar that is deeper. While the rider is given height and comfort through the use of a shallow bar.
The Significance of The Reach
The reach is the distance from the flat tops to the furthest point of the bend. Someone with a long torso and arms will opt for bars that offer more reach. You can attain greater aggression on the hoods with longer reach while still having tops that are comfortable.
How Do You Pick a Handlebar Size
The bars come in sizes from 36 cm up to 46 cm. If you choose to buy your bars online, it’s important to research carefully and understand specifically how the manufacturer is determining their measurements so that you get the correct size for your bike.
Deciding On The Ideal Shape
Bar shape comes down to your personal choice and how you ride. Before you do any upgrades to your bike, you should try out various bars through friends to see how they feel to you. This will allow you to make an educated decision for your bike.
Make sure that the ‘tops’ position is the most comfortable if you are more of a casual rider who rarely uses the drops. But if you find that you ride the drops, these should be a priority.
The shape of the tops is again very personal. You can opt for flatter aero tops, which can give a comfortable grip or the round traditional.
The Best Drop Bars for a Beginner
It is suggested that you opt for more compact bars that offer a longer stem, which will provide simpler control access and better handling of the bike, good posture, not to mention brake lever access. You should try to get a bar that has a greater width than your shoulders if you are a novice and then progress to the narrow choices as you improve over time.
The Material of Your Handlebars
Ultimately the shape and the size are going to be the crucial factors in determining what handlebars are ideal for your sport. The materials they are comprised of will either be aluminum or carbon.
- Carbon – Typically, if you have any type of fall or the bike gets bumped, you’ll want to check a carbon bar over for any kind of damage. These are lighter and don’t necessarily take abuse as well as their counterpart. They do have the ability to decrease vibration.
- Aluminum – There is more to the aluminum bars. They are touted as being much more robust, and they can handle their share of abuse. But they are a bit heavier. There are also many more options for styles and shapes with this material.
Why Do Handlebars Matter So Much?
- The handlebars you choose are going to determine how your bike handles and the amount of stability and control that you have.
- It is one of the key contact points that you have with your bike, so having the right one is essential.
- Swapping out the standard bars for an upgrade can make a huge impact in the way the bike feels, not just for your hand, but the whole upper body.
- Handlebars greatly influence riding position. If your handlebar hood arrangement is precisely adjusted, you will be given a comfortable ride every time. Get it wrong and you can develop a slew of orthopedic issues that will stay with you.
Ultimately, when you’re choosing which drop bars are best for your gravel bike, it’s going to come down to your riding style. You’ll need bars that are going to coincide with this style and make you comfortable while you ride.
Everyone is different and no two bikes are going to be fitted with the same bars. There is a certain amount of control, stability, and leverage that everyone hopes to have with their experience. Depending on the shape, size, and style of bar and how you maneuver with it will determine the level of these core benefits.
Other articles of interest:
Why are Gravel Bikes so Heavy?
Are Gravel Bikes Worth It? Here’s What You Need to Know