Best Bike Handlebars – Customizing for Different Purposes

Biking has been a passion of mine since I was in my 20s. It seems regardless of the kind of biking — from mountain biking to casual strolls around the block — it would stick with me for a while. Nowadays, I can’t do the sort of athletic things I was once able to do (like actually going on dirt bike trails, etc). But I still love being around bikes and I teach my eldest son some of the activities I used to do at his age, as well as going on regular bike rides at the park with the daughters. You will find that the more you spend with bikes, just like cars, the more you want to change things up to personalize it. This happens with practically anything I take up as a hobby.

One way to customize it is to actually remove the handlebars and replace them with something that is more suitable for how you ride. For casual riders, I do not think this will be necessary, though a switch to a more cruiser-based handlebar may be worth it if all you do is ride along the park. But for more advanced bikers, such as those going on long riding trails or those that wish to do tricks on them, changing up parts of your bicycle will only enhance the ride to suit your needs. I have included some bars that I found useful for different needs.

Best bike handlebar #1: Wald 803BL Mid-Rise Handlebar

This is more of a replacement handlebar for pre-built bikes. Despite this, I still think it is a top-of-the-line bicycle bar that feels way more comfortable than any standard installed handlebar. The handles are angled slightly closer to your body, which makes it more comfortable on casual park rides. It is pretty accessible as well, installing easily and allowing all sorts of attachments, like bells or baskets, to be placed.

Best bike handlebar #2: Retrospec Bull Horn Style

These bull-horn style handlebars are designed for a much different purpose than traditional bars. First, you’ll notice how the bars end up practically parallel with your arms, instead of perpendicular. Research backs that as the most efficient position when road biking, where you are focused entirely on getting from point A to point B (limited amount of turns taken). Retrospec made these the ideal road biking handlebars since they are not strictly bull-horn; they have a small crevice between the actual handles and the core which allow you to put your hands on them a la normal bicycle bars if you get tired of the bull-horn position.

Best bike handlebar #3: Sunlite MTB Handlebar

The Sunlite bar is very similar to the mid-rise bar from Wald (#1 on the list), but this one is almost completely straight, which allows for more versatility in the type of bicycle you choose to attach it to. The name suggests it be used for mountain biking specifically, and rightfully so. I put it together with my trusty all-terrain fat bike and it held up pretty well on one of our bicycle trail completions at the Rocky Point Mountain Bike Trail while we were visiting in New York State. There were lots of debris such as small branches in the forest area, with room for tiny drops in the trail where force is applied around the steel of the bike. The Sunlite MTB bar flexed a little during some of the drops, but nothing was bent permanently, so I knew Sunlite’s product had to be durable.

Wrap up

If you were to buy just one of these handlebars for your bicycle without telling me exactly what purpose you need it for, I would suggest the Sunlite MTB bar. It clearly has the most versatility as a straight edge handle and it is quite sturdy as well. The mid-rise Wald works just fine for mountain biking as well. The Retrospec is strictly for straight-line biking and would not at all be suitable for bike trail hikes, so keep that in mind.

With all that said, make sure to read product descriptions and reviews clearly. Most bicycle handlebars should install easily on any bike, but I like to read the Q&A sections of the product pages just to be sure before I spend $20 or so on a new part.

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  1. juan

    I’ve considered a few handlebars just to learn how to customize mine a bit, but still not sure how to do it.

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