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Bicycle Helmets

Cycling Handlebars
Cycling of various forms suggests different designs

There are basically 3 types of material that are used in the construction of cycling handlebars. Cycling, especially if your passion is for offroad, can exert significant stress on your bars. Thus when choosing between steel, aluminum, titanium or carbon fibre bike handle bars it may be worth doing a little extra research to make sure you make the correct choice for your temperment and style of riding... but first here are a few basics on what style might be best for you, before you actually get into the specifics of its material composition:

Design Options:

Riser Handle Bars:
There are basically 3 different designs (Risers, Flats and Drop) of handlebars. Cycling off road would suggest using a riser design that bends the handle bars 1-2" up higher than the stem clamp. This puts the rider in a more upright position and forces your weight to the back of the bike for more effective handling on down hill runs. As with all good things this has a negative effective as well. It obviously takes the weight off the front wheel and in aggressive climbs makes for poor steerage. You must compensate by consciously leaning forward in a more prone position.

This bar is also often used by the casual street rider that choses a more upright style. They are not interest in racing and time trials thus less concerned about the aero dynamic benefits of a dropped handlebar.

Flats: Bike handle bars that are perfectly straight with no upward bend at the stem clamp are generally referred to as
"flats". They are somewhat of a middle of the road compromise between the more upright riser design and the aerodynamic "drop" cycling handlebar.

Both the flats and the riser style tend to be designed a few inches longer for more stable stargaze. This is great on relatively open terrain but can be somewhat of an issue if your riding passion is through forest trails and the extra width of the bike bar can cause hang-ups and tangles on a narrow single track. Good thing is that a hack saw can be used to trim the width if this becomes an issue.

Mountain bike handle bars, riser or flat, come in a wide range of prices but the riser style does tend to cost more money and weigh more than the flat mountain bike handlebar... I guess just because of the added manufacturing complexity and greater wall thickness at the bend, to assure strength consistency over its entire length.

Drop Cycling Handlebars: Designed for the cycling enthusiast that is passionate about road racing where aerodynamics is the name of the game. These handle bars typically dropped 140-152 mm below the level of the stem clamp (A) and 85-100 mm of reach (B). Length tends to run between 40 and 46 cm to match approximately your shoulder width. Remember that these lengths can not be adjust after the fact like a flat or riser bar. Your body size and proportions will determine what is the most comfortable for your riding style, so best to shop at your local bike shop so that you can find a bar that fits.

The more expensive bars will have a smooth curvature from top to bottom to allow for numerous hand and brake mounting positions.

Aero Handlebars: bike aero bars (often referred to as clip-on aero bars) are an add-on to the typical handle bar that allows you to ride in an even more aerodynamic position with your arms out in front of you in a triangular, more streamlined position, rather than with your hands dropped below the stem clamp. If you intend to use this type of cycling handlebar be sure that your original bars will accept an aero clip-on bar BEFORE you purchase.

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copyright Jan. 2007