Flat bar vs. drop bar, which is the best brand that suits your needs? Each brand is ideal for commuting and exercise, but which one is the best among the two?
There are many differences between these bikes. Most of them come from the comfort they offer and other building components.
Riders have their personal preferences when it comes to the selection and riding of these bikes. Deciding on the best bike between the two can be challenging.
In the article, we will look at the two types of bikes, their differences, and what each model offers. In the end, we will try and decide on the best model.
Read through for more information.
Flat bar vs. drop bar
Choosing the right type of bike and comfort involves selecting the most appropriate handlebar. The flat and the dropped handlebars are the most common ones, but which is better? Let us have a look.
The hand positions
Drop bars have more hand positions than flat models, meaning that it gives superior palm comfort. You can grab the handlebar in several positions, and this helps minimize the pain on the hands, especially on long rides. They also offer a better aerodynamic advantage than flat bars.
Flat bars, on the other hand, are easier to handle and maneuver, especially for beginners. They have a more comfortable and upright riding position.
The two bikes do not have the same riding speeds. If you ride slower at a speed of 15 to 16mph, the aerodynamic drag will not be enough to move you faster. Nevertheless, flat bars are faster than drop-bar models.
Pros of a drop bar
- Multiple hand positions
They offer multiple hand positions when riding. You can hold the bars, the drops, or the hoods. When riding on the hoods or the handlebar, your arms are most likely to be in a natural position.
Changing between them will provide relief to the hands when on longer rides.
- Fit for narrow spots
Some roads are narrower, and they get worse when there is a lot of traffic. Drop bars have a width of between 40 to 46cm. In contrast, flat bars measure 58 to 60cm in width. Usually, drop bars are narrower than flat bars by about 20cm.
The difference helps much when maneuvering through tight traffic, which is common in a busy city. You can always ride through areas and roads that a typical flat bar would not.
- The aerodynamic advantage
They offer the best solution for energy use and speed when cycling. It has been proven by previous research that air resistance or drag acts against the rider when the speed reaches 14.5km/h. However, when one makes 25km/h, aerodynamics comes into play. The rule is: the faster you cycle, the more and better the aerodynamics come into force.
It is possible to reduce the drag by crouching down on a drop bar. Such a position enhances speed and efficiency when riding. You will encounter these efficiencies better when descending downhill, riding toward the wind, and on a long flat section.
- More efficient
They are efficient when riding through headwinds, speed, and downhill. There is also an option to crouch down and become more aerodynamic.
- It is fast
You spend less energy while riding but end up with fast rides. With drop bikes, that is possible because of their aerodynamic nature. When on long rides, the energy saving becomes more intense.
- Better when climbing hills
When riding uphill, shifting your body and weight forward makes climbing easier and faster. The brake hoods give the bike an excellent grip as an extra advantage. Leaning forward while riding will give you more advantage while pedaling.
They have a cool and classic look, but it all boils down to personal preference. These bikes are more appealing to the eyes.
Cons of a drop bar
- Expensive spare parts
They use different brakes and shifters than that flat bar. These components cost more in comparison to those of other bikes, and in some instances, the price of gears is thrice the usual amount.
- The brake levers are not accessible easily
During times of emergency, it may not be possible to stop quickly because the brake levers are not easily accessible. You may need to move the hands to a different position on the handlebar to access and use the brakes.
- Not much control
Unlike flat bars, drop bars do not offer much control. They are narrower, meaning that control is minimum as there is not much room for maneuvering.
There is also much weight on the drop bars when riding, making control difficult.
Pros of flat bars
- Better control
They are wider and provide better leverage than drop bars, and allow for easy and accurate steering, especially at slow speeds. Navigate your bike easily to where you want to go.
- Easy change of cable
The cable and its housing are exposed, making the change quite easy. There are no bar tapes to work on.
- Easy accessibility to brake levers
The brake levers are always on the fingertips, and they come in handy during times of emergency. There is no need to change the hand positions to locate the brakes.
- Plenty of space on the handlebars.
The handlebars provide bigger space to mount other accessories like handlebar harness, cycling computer, light, and mirror.
Flat bars have more comfort than drop bars. They allow you to cycle in a more upright position, meaning less stress on your back.
- Better visibility
Because of the upright riding position, the flat bars offer more visibility than the drop bars. Sitting in this position allows you to see ahead at all times, hence keeping your eyes on traffic while on the go.
Cons of flat bars
- One-hand position
There is one hand position on flat bars. The rider has limited options. In the case of long rides, you are likely to experience hand pains.
- Less aerodynamic
Sitting in a straight position for long causes the rider to experience a lot of air drag and can slow you down.
It creates a lot of wind resistance because when riding, one sits in a straight position, especially if driving in the direction of the wind.
- Not ideal for climbing hills
That is because you cannot shift your weight forward with flat bars, unlike the drop bikes, which you can do so.
It is much slower than the drop bars, even when you spend the same energy while riding. That is because of the aerodynamic disadvantage.
Flat bar vs. drop bar can be one of the challenging tasks to understand. To many, a bike is just a product without many differences and uses. However, there is more to that.
These bikes have diverse and unique differences ranging from appearance and use.
When selecting a bike to buy between the two, consider factors such as speed, hand positions, the type of handlebar, and the sitting position.