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Why Are Road Bike Handlebars So Low?

The handlebar is one of the most crucial parts of a road bike. It is one of the three key contact points combined with the saddle and pedals, and it governs the steering and handling of the bike. But why are road bike handlebars so low? 

Bike handlebars are positioned low so that riders can lean forward. This aerodynamic stance will make you a far more efficient cyclist. This position is so effective because your arms and legs experience the least amount of wind resistance in this position.

Bikes have dynamic designs that impact the placement of handlebars. Keep reading to find more insightful information surrounding handlebars and their importance.

road bike handlebars

The Perks Of A Lower Handlebar

The following are some advantages of having a lower handlebar on your road bike. 

Easier To Navigate Obstacles

Because of the low center of gravity, bikes with low handlebars allow riders to be closer to the ground, making it easier to navigate obstacles. Paired with lighter frames, it improves agility, stability, and control on various terrain (even those covered with mud).

Safety

Another significant advantage is safety. Bicyclists must dodge several potholes, sidewalks, and other obstacles on their trips. Most bikers would agree that this lower stance helps balance due to more control.

Easier To Ride

Additionally, riding and turning aggressively on a bicycle with low handlebars is easier. More and more manufacturers are producing bikes with low handlebars and other modifications, like bigger tires and lighter frames, making them suitable for various riders.

The Cons Of A Lower Handlebar

The following are some disadvantages of having a lower handlebar on your road bike and its impact on your riding experience. 

Reduced Mobility

The most significant disadvantage of low handlebars is that they restrict the upper-body mobility of the cyclist. Low handlebars make it harder to look up at traffic signals or turn one’s head from side to side.

Discomfort

The lower you position yourself on the handlebars, the more likely you are to strain your back and other body parts. This is because your weight is distributed more toward the front of the bike with a lower handlebar position. 

With a corresponding reduction in weight on the rear wheel once it is focused on our rear. This alteration in weight distribution might reduce your pedaling power and the overall comfort of your ride.

Neck Problems

Low bike handlebars also force cyclists to face downward rather than upward, which could cause neck problems if they ride daily. This issue also forces riders to clutch the rear of their seats while riding to look ahead.

Other Issues

Lowering the cyclist’s upright stance can cause various problems with excessively low handlebars. Common issues associated with lower handlebars include neck and back pain, decreased power production, and injuries resulting from poor body alignment.

Here’s an informative video about handlebar height for you to watch while you read:

Should A Road Bike Seat Be Higher Than Handlebars? 

The handlebar’s top should be as high as (or higher than) the saddle unless you are a sporty rider seeking to ride quickly. 

Try touching your elbow to the nose of the saddle while extending your hand towards the handlebar as a test.

How Do I Raise The Bars On My Road Bike?

Changing headset spacers is the first and most straightforward way to modify handlebar height. 

Headset spacers rest on the fork’s steerer tube and aid in the adjustment process by preloading the headset bearings. 

Typically, most bicycles include 20 to 30-mm free-moving headset spacers above or below the stem.  

How Does Handlebar Height Affect Handling?

A taller handlebar provides greater control and comfort on steeper terrain and a more relaxed head-up position on flatter terrain. However, disadvantages include reduced grip on steep ascents and a lighter front wheel load on flatter trails.

How High Should Bar Be On A Road Bike?

For a recreational road bike position, the handlebar’s top should be level with the midpoint of the saddle or a couple of centimeters below. 5. For a cross-country MTB position, the grip should not be above the midpoint of the saddle.

Can You Put Flat Handlebars on a Road Bike?

Cyclists frequently install flat handlebars on their road bikes, which is entirely okay. However, it is not as simple as removing and replacing old handlebars with new ones. You must pay close attention to a few simple but effective things.

Will Flat Handlebars Change How I Ride My Bike?

Flat handlebars influence bicycle riding in two fundamental ways. First, you will experience reduced stress in your upper body due to the ergonomic benefits of sitting upright. 

Secondly, an upright seating position affects speed and performance. Some of the characteristics of flat handlebars are: 

Better Steering Control

Since flat bars are wide, they provide more leverage for steering control. They also facilitate precise maneuvers. This is especially important while traveling at moderate speeds or traversing rugged, off-road terrain. You can better direct your bicycle in the desired direction.

Brake Levers Are More Accessible

The brake levers are more accessible: In an emergency, the brake levers are within easy reach. It is unnecessary to move your hands. The location of the brake lever is especially advantageous for riding in the city because it involves frequent stopping.

Better Visibility

Because flat handlebars place you in a much more upright riding position, you are constantly looking forward rather than looking down or craning your neck. Keeping your eyes on the road ahead increases your safety when driving upright.

More Space For Mounting

On flat handlebars, it is simple to mount a headlight, mirrors, GPS, phone, and bell, among other accessories. There is insufficient space on drop bars for all of this.

Conclusion

When determining handlebar height, most bikers consider their riding style and the sort of bicycle they ride. For a bike capable of traversing various terrain, riders may opt for lower handlebars. 

However, many riders prefer higher handlebars on long-distance dual-sport or trail bikes.

Sources:

https://www.marinbikes.com/news-reviews/should-you-go-flat-bar-or-drop-bar-on-your-next-marin-bike

https://www.cyclinguk.org/guide/make-bike-fit