Handlebars for Touring Bikes

touring bikes

You have already noticed the variety of handlebars used in touring bikes, that is, for bicycles designed or modified for cycling of best bike us. Functional, elegant, strange, anyway … In the face of so many options, which is the best handlebars for you? This question must be answered using some criteria.


Number of available footprints

When pedaling, it is interesting to change the position of the hands with some regularity to reduce tiredness and avoid problems in the wrists, especially on very long trips. It is also important to keep in mind that the grip on the handlebar when in flat terrain is different from when you are climbing a steep slope, carrying several kilos of luggage or doing a rough maneuver.


Pilot position

It is necessary to adapt the riding position to the characteristics of the place and the situation of the trip. If you are facing the opposite wind for several miles, a more upright position will hold you, making you evolve slowly and tire fast. You can try to take a more aerodynamic position, but if your handlebar is not suitable, you can put a lot of weight on your hands, wrists, and back, making each kilometer more painful than the other.



For each handlebar, there is a type of shift lever and brakes, which may or may not be compatible with the frame you are using. The MTB and Speed brakes are very different and almost always incompatible with each other. You have to take into account the cost of any change.

Based on these criteria, it is possible to cite the most used handlebars in cyclotourism. Handlebars for touring bikes and the cycle ecotourism

Straight handlebar

They equip MTBs and are great for rough terrain, ie dirt roads, and trails, but have a unique position for hands. To help, you can put a pair of Bar Ends, giving one or two more options for the footprint. Pedaling with the wind back, you will not be able to take an aerodynamic position without feeling back pain after a while, so I do not consider it a good option for long distances.

But if you are going to travel on rough terrain, the agility that this handlebar offers makes it the best bike us option. It is also very nimble on climbs when equipped with the End Bar, since you can be touring bikes pedal standing, and your arms are wide open horizontally, allowing you to breathe better.

As it is used in MTBs, the issue of brake and shift levers are not a big problem as there are a wide variety of models compatible with each other and with your frame.


Handlebar rise

They also equip MTBs, but they have two footprint positions and can increase the number of positions using the Bar End. Just like the straight handlebars, the long-distance riding posture is quite precarious, but it is very interesting for those who use the bike on a day-to-day basis or a short-distance traveler.

This model of handlebar has a small drawback, which is the smallest area for headlights, cycling computers, and other gadgets, but nothing that will mess up much. Incompatibility, it maintains the same characteristics of the straight handlebar, being easy to marry the transmission and brakes.


Drop handlebar

Used in lesser quantities here in Brazil, but very common in “gringas”, it usually provides four footprints: on the top of the handlebars, on the sides, “on the hoods”, which is on the brake lever, and on the drop, which is the bottom of the handlebar.



To face the contrary wind, holding the drop puts you in the proper position without tiring your back and wrist too much. On climbs, the footprint on the hoods is perfect for pedaling standing or sitting. On long straight, the top or side footprint keeps you safe and comfortable.

The only caveat is that the handlebar is not a good deal on rough terrain, due to the width (46 cm maximum) and position of the brake lever.



In terms of compatibility, the question involves a number of variables. If you use a road kit with integrated gearshift and brake levers, such as STI Shimano, Ergopower Campagnolo or DoubleTap Sram, the brakes must be of the Caliper (Horseshoe) or Cantilever type. V-brakes do not give good braking and if you use disc brakes, you need tweezers compatible with these levers. To be able to use V-brakes, you have to use compatible brake levers, but these do not shift gears, so you’ll need to use Bar End Shifters, Triathlon and counter-clockwise, or DownTube Shifter, those built into DownTube.


Butterfly or Trekking Handlebar

Most common in Europe and almost impossible to find at a good price here in touring bikes, they offer four different footprints. Three of these are for those who prefer a more moderate pace, where much of the bike us pedal is done in an upright position. But it is also possible to assume a hemodynamic position to overcome the contrary wind.

Because it is of great extension and completely surrounded with foam, this handlebar guarantees small variations of the four available footprints, which makes it an excellent choice for long trips. Usually, this handlebar is equipped with brake and shift levers for MTBs, so the issue of compatibility is well resolved.

The only drawback is the difficulty of finding it and, for some, the fact that it is not so “elegant”.



There are also other models of handlebars, such as Mustache, which resembles Butterfly and Bullhorn, both of which are rarely used for cycling in the Tupiniquins – which does not mean that you’ll never see one of those out there.

With this variety of options, remember to take into consideration the frame, transmission, and breaks your bike uses before changing the handlebars. Also, think about your pedal style.

Although they are the least versatile in footprints, straight and riser handlebars are the most compatible and take advantage of difficult terrain. If you do not like pedaling on the asphalt, you prefer trail and mud, they are the best option.



The drop handle is the most elegant option when it comes to the number of footprints and is best suited for those who are more fans of asphalt or, at most, dirt floor. But you have to be careful with the compatibility of the components you have or will buy, so that “the sauce does not cost more than the fish.”

The butterfly seems to me to be the middle ground between the previous two, with the advantage of compatibility with MTB parts, although not the most beautiful of all.

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