Jan 27, 2011

Bar Fight!

A small sample of the various city handlebars we stock.

Ah, the lowly handlebar, how we often overlook thee.  Too often we forget about you and under estimate the power you wield over our comfort.  An afterthought for many - not surprising when so many people are always proselytizing about this gearing system, that frame material, or what brand of bike you are attached too.  Pfft! - how important is that stuff anyway (kidding of course but trying to make a small point)!

All of which is a shame because you - the unheralded handlebar - can enable both a blissful or heinous cycling experience depending on your shape, sweep, and rise.

K - enough of that :)

Seriously now, the choice of handlebar is critical for a comfortable bike ride and a pleasant cycling experience.  Unfortunately, most MTB type bikes and traditional hybrid bikes come with traditional riser style MTB bars or worse yet, straight bars.  While these styles of handlebars are great for the demands of offroad or aggressive riding, they leave much to be desired  in the realm of comfort.  Sure, they'll work just fine for many people but if you are not comfortable on your current bicycle, changing your handlebar can be a quick, easy, and inexpensive fix. 

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, neck pain, or wrist pains, you might be a candidate for a different style of handlebar - the traditional swept back city handlebar.  There are multitudes of options in city bars with various sweep angles, rise heights, and grip area lengths - too many to get deep into here, but all helpful in offering more relaxed shoulder, neck, and wrist angles which can help reduce the pain associated with the more aggressive positions on most MTB and hybrid bikes.

There is no perfect city handlebar that will work for everyone so, if you are considering changing it up, the best thing to do is to bring your bike to the shop and we'll have a look at you on your bike and help you decide on the right handlebar upgrade.  Also, make sure you click through to EcoVelo's assorted articles on city handlebars as they get quite in depth into the various designs on the market - most of which we stock.

Only 6 more weeks till spring!


Kim G. said...

I love my North Road handlebars on my Raleigh city bike - it's a 1985 5-speed :-) Definitely much easier on the wrists than the straight mountain bike bars!

Any thoughts on touring style bars? I have traditional drops on my commuting/distance bike, but I'd like to look at some of the other styles I have heard about (moustache bars, "noodle" style, etc). I want to try randonneuring so I need something that will allow more hand positions than the current bars; after about six hours in the saddle, it's not my legs or lungs that give out, it's my hands and shoulders!

aprillikesbikes said...

Kim G, hello from Oregon, USA!

I've been riding my touring (and everywhere) bike with mustache bars on a nice tall stem and brake levers at the ends.

I love them for around town, I'm almost upright and I love the wide stance for braking.

But, they hurt on rides longer than thirty miles or so.

This might be unique to me: I have shoulder problems to start with, and I recently realized that I usually ride with my elbows locked, which is no good.

So, your mileage may vary, as they say.

Anonymous said...

drop bars are invariably the most comfortable for the longest rides. That's why they were invented! If your hands and shoulders are gettin' to you, try shortening your stem, maybe raising them a bit too. Sometimes you just gotta keep tweaking the fit... good luck.

Anonymous said...

I love my randonneuring bars. I use the bike for daily commuting and long distance touring.


BRP said...

Just have a look at your wrist angle on straight bars and the ones above start to make a lot of sense. I like to change positions so am happy with my shallow drops. I use the drops more now.

BikeBike said...

@Kim - a very common (in Europe) handlebar for touring is the "trekking bar" - here is a pic - http://bit.ly/e3EfeF

Although similar to a riser/MTB type bar, the trekking bar is unique in its design allowing multiple hand positions and a more upright position than a drop bar.

This style might be just the ticket!