Riding a fixed gear or single speed bike is a unique experience that combines simplicity with a deep connection to the road. One crucial aspect of this experience is the choice of handlebars, which can significantly affect your comfort, control, and overall riding style. Let's dive into the most popular types of handlebars suitable for fixed gear riding: drop bars (includes classic drop bars, compact drop bars and track bars), bullhorn/pursuit bars, straight bars, riser bars and miscellaneous bars, discussing their characteristics and ideal use cases. We've shown these setups with brakes, but the are still relevant when riding brakeless.
A class of bars that featured a curved drop that allows the rider to assume a "dropped" aero position on the bars. Includes classic drop bars, compact drop bars and track/keirin bars.
Classic Drop Bars
- Design: Traditional, curved shape with a lower 'drop' area.
- Best For: Longer rides, racing, and speed-focused cycling.
- Multiple hand positions for comfort and aerodynamics.
- Lower position reduces wind resistance, ideal for speed.
- Not ideal for city commuting; lower posture can limit visibility.
- Can be less comfortable for casual or upright riding.
Classic drop bar hand positions - on the hoods, on the straight bar and in the drops.
Compact Drop Bars
- Design: Similar to classic drop bars but with a shorter reach and shallower drop.
- Best For: Riders who want versatility with a more upright position.
- More accessible and comfortable than classic drop bars.
- Suitable for both long rides and urban environments.
- Less aerodynamic than classic drop bars.
- May not be comfortable for riders preferring a very upright posture.
- Design: Specific to track racing with a steep curve where most of the riding is in the drops.
- Best For: Riders who want a classic Keirin look and ride on the flat bar or drops only
- Classic design aesthetic.
- Allows low aero position.
- Doesn't allow top of drops hand position (or drop elver brakes).
- May not be comfortable for everyday riding.
- Design: Straight bars that curve up and forward, resembling the horns of a bull. Pursuit variation drops slightly that the horns portion.
- Best For: Urban riding, sprinting, and climbing.
- Offers a forward-leaning position, great for power and speed.
- Streamlined look and good for aggressive riding styles.
- Limited hand positions compared to drop bars.
- Not the best for long-distance comfort.
Hand positions - Bullhorn bars with bar end brakes
- Design: Flat, horizontal bars typically seen on mountain bikes.
- Best For: Urban commuting and casual riding.
- Upright riding position for better control and visibility.
- Ideal for quick maneuvering in city traffic.
- Fewer hand positions can lead to discomfort over long rides.
- Not suitable for speed-focused riding due to lack of aerodynamics.
Hand position -Straight bars
- Design: Similar to straight bars but with an upward angle for a more raised position.
- Best For: Comfort-focused city commuting and leisure riding.
- Comfortable and relaxed riding posture.
- Good shock absorption for uneven roads.
- Not suitable for racing or speed due to upright position.
- Limited hand positions.
Hand position - Riser bars
There are also a number of other bars out there with various shapes and sizes such as touring bars, BMX bars, cruiser bars and moustache bars. Many of them are not ideal for fixed gear riding, but some riders may prefer them. It is a matter of your personal preference (but just not covered here).
Making the Right Choice
When deciding which handlebar to use for your fixed gear bike, consider the following factors:
- Riding Style: Are you riding primarily in the city, racing, or going on long-distance rides?
- Comfort Level: Do you prefer an upright, relaxed posture or a more aggressive, aerodynam ic position?
- Hand Position Variety: Do you need multiple hand positions for comfort on longer rides?
- Visibility and Control: How important is visibility and quick maneuverability in your typical riding environment?
Fixed gear and single speed cycling is as much about personal expression as it is about transportation or exercise. The handlebar you choose can significantly influence your riding experience. Whether you're weaving through city streets, cruising along beach paths, or participating in endurance rides, there’s a handlebar type that fits your needs. Remember, the best choice is one that aligns with your riding style and comfort preferences.