Drop Bars vs Flat Bars: Which Handlebar is Best?

Drop bars vs flat bars? A few weeks ago, we asked our readers which they preferred for long dirt tours and big multi-day bikepacking rides on mixed surface routes. With nearly 3,000 respondents, we reveal the results in our latest video. Additionally, Neil unpacks all you need to know about the differences between the two, particularly their effect on comfort and components. Watch it here.

Which is best suited for mixed terrain riding, drop bars or flat bars? This debate has heated up in recent years with the evolution of bikes, bar options, and the proliferation of the gravel category. And as you’re probably thinking, there’s no right answer. Your decision on which to ride will likely depend on the terrain you plan on cycling and personal preferences. However, there are some significant differences between the two, particularly their effect on comfort and components. Plus, we just wanted to know which people would choose, if required to pick only one for general mixed-terrain bikepacking. We all have our own personal preferences and some of us are more fixated than others. In this video, Neil contrasts the two, reveals the results of the survey, and points out few of our favorite bars here at bikepacking.com.

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  • Gravel Bars
  • Oddity Razor handlebars bikepacking
  • Jones SG Loop H-bar, bikepacking
  • Bags X Bird Teardrop, BXB
  • Tumbleweed Persuader Bar, handlebar

Our Favorite Handlebars

Putting aside the drop bars vs flat bars debate, we here at bikepacking.com each have a few bars we’d consider favorites. Here’s a few that made the list as well as each of our preferences in the survey:

Logan (flat bars)

I really like the feel of carbon handlebars, but prefer aluminum bars if going on a big trip. For flat bars, a 15/16° sweep works best for me and I like them wide. A couple of my favorites are the carbon Whisky Milhouse (825mm) and the aluminum Hunter Smooth Move bars. As far as drop bars, I’ve found the most comfort with the carbon ENVE G-series bars and the Crust Shaka (520mm).

Neil (flat bars)

For flat bars, Neil likes the carbon Salsa Rustler (11° backsweep, 800mm). For drops, he goes with the Ritchey VentureMax XL (520mm width).

Virginia (flat bars)

Virginia has tried a lot of handlebars. After having carpal tunnel surgery a couple years ago, she’s settled on the SQ Labs 30×16, which come in 780mm with a nice 16° backsweep.

Cass (flat bars)

Cass is a fan of Jones’ H-bars, especially on his Jones bike. Elsewhere, he loves his Oddity ti Razorbar (800mm), which he custom specced with 25 degrees of backsweep and a generous rise. And if he’s reviewing a trail bike, he also likes SQ Labs’ 30×16 – enough to sweep to add comfort without radically changing its feel. Whilst he hasn’t tried Tumbleweed’s Persuader bar, he reckons he’d get on with that too.

Joe (flat bars)

Joe isn’t too picky about handlebars but likes the Zipp Service Course SL-70 XPLR drop bar and the Seven titanium flat bar.

Miles (flat bars)

Miles likes the Canada-made We Are One Da Bar/Package which is 800mm wide with an 8° backsweep.

Lucas (drop bars)

Lucas prefers drops and likes the Ritchey VentureMax XL (520mm width).

More on Drop Bars vs Flat Bars

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