Bicycle Handlebar Features
Clamp Diameter: Typical bike handle bars are either 25.4mm,
26mm or over sized at 31.8mm (although there are a few other oddballs
out there). The 25.4 (1" ISO standard) is the old standby.
It does not fit into the 26mm stem without special shims, so beware.
The 26mm diameter is an Italian road racing standard. As part
distribution becomes more global we see alot more of the 26mm
for sale. In the high end bike handle bar market it is becoming
the standard, particularly for racing road bikes.
The oversized 31.8mm, is relatively new. It is designed to give
the rider a more rigid bar and firmer steerage, particularly for
a mountain bike handlebar. The most important issue is to make
sure that the bar you buy fits the bike clamp. You can destroy
or distort the bar tube or get inadequate clamping pressure and
have your bars shift at the most inopportune moment it they are
not correctly matched.
On more expensive bars the area where the brakes mount and where
the bike clamp grabs, are textured for better clamping power.
Length: can vary anywhere from 37-46" Note that a
flat or riser handle bar length can be cut somewhat to customize
to your needs, but the drop (or road) handle bar cannot be adjusted,
thus you must buy the right length to start off with.
Cable Routing: Some bicycle handle bars have a recessed
channel for running brake and shifter cables. Other have choosen
to predrill holes in the bar for internal cable routing. Both
methods work and provide both a cleaner and more aerodynamic design.
Aero Clip-ons: if you think that you may want to use aero
handlebars, make sure that the bar design allows for this.
Weight: This can vary significantly with both design and
material used. A dropped handlebar is typically the heaviest
and a flat tube the lightest, ranging from as little as
170 grams for a Easton aluminum or carbon fibre handlebar to our
childhood steel special at something over 360grams. If you have
a heavy bike to start off with, it is a waste of time to spend
big money on a super light handle bar.. it will have little impact
on the overall rideability of the bike. Pick a bar that is in
line with the quality of the original bike frame... unless of
course your plan is to upgrade slowly (in which case plan for
your perfect frame first).
Composition: The original handlebar was made from rolled
steel, but slowing corrosion has always been a challenge. For
years the traditional handle bar was chromed but as we have become
more aware of the environmental issues involved in using chromium,
the industry has been drawn towards newer models fabricated out
of aluminum. The wall thickness has had to be increased
to offer the same strength, but yet aluminum handle bars
still comes in at a lower weight than the traditional steel bar,
with nicer looks especially if it has been annodized to create
a protective finish. The next generation bars are being fabricated
from carbon fiber sometimes reinforced with fiberglass or kevlar.
Carbon fiber handlebars do require some care and attention
Warranty: Warranty can vary significantly from nothing
to a lifetime for a high end Kestral Carbon/Aramid composite handle
bar. The warranty should give you some idea on the faith the manufacturer
has in its product... just make sure you file the documentation
if it has a long term warranty, so you'll be able to find it if
All bicycle handle bars come with information related to appropriate
usage, including their life expenctancy and generally some dicussion
on how often you should inspect your bar for defects. Both aluminum
and carbon fibre particularly should be inspected after spills
for fractures, that can significantly weaken the overall structure.
I know only too well.. hit a slick ice spot the other day and
in the process of a pull out put a lot of weight on one side of
my carbon fibre handle bars and they snapped right at the end
of the handle grip! It was not pleasant and definitely added to
my build up of scar tissue.
design thoughts for road vs mountain biking
to Invest In
Aluminum Bike Handlebars
Other Articles of Interest:
All About Materials Used in Bicycle Handle bar Construction