I rode traditional drop bars for decades before spending the past couple of years experimenting with various alternatives such as Moustache, flat/porteur, and North Road/Albatross style bars. I think my stint on recumbents awoke my interest in alternatives to the traditional drop bar riding position, and a year on an upright English roadster probably sealed the deal. The last bike I owned with drops was a custom frame that was a spot-on fit, but still, I never re-acclimated to the reach and drop to the ramps.
Of course, it’s possible to set-up drop bars so that the ramps are at saddle height or above. Rivendell and others have done much to promote this set-up. Getting drop bars up into this position is one of the strong arguments for traditional frame sizing. I haven’t completely written off drops, and I may try to set-up my Hillborne this way at some point. In the meantime though, I’m happy on moustache, flat, or riser bars with a relatively short forward reach, some sweep, and a grip area at about saddle height or slightly above. For me, this riding position provides the most secure feeling for city riding. It’s also the easiest on my neck, back, and wrists. For sure, this is highly personal, and opinions are going to be quite varied on this subject.
We ran a poll last year asking what kind of bars our readers are running. Here are the results:
- Drop Bar (34%, 225 Votes)
- Fully Swept Upright Bar (Albatross/North Road, etc.) (27%, 181 Votes)
- Moustache Bar (11%, 75 Votes)
- Partially Swept Upright Bar (On One Mary, etc.) (11%, 72 Votes)
- Flat Bar (8%, 55 Votes)
- Trekking Bar (3%, 21 Votes)
- Bullhorn Bar (3%, 19 Votes)
- Other (explain below) (3%, 13 Votes)
I was surprised that the drop bar fared so well. Undoubtedly, it’s still the most versatile handlebar, and it’s also the most familiar among experienced bicyclists. But still, I’d assumed flat or North Road type bars might be more popular among our commuting/city-centric crowd. I’m going to run this poll again to see if tastes have changed at all in a year.