Bars and Stems
Bars / Stems
Handlebars for Road cycles are commonly referred to as Drop Handlebars. This is a reference to the shape of them; the flat centre of the bars dropping down to give a variety of riding positions. They are held onto the bicycle by a Stem, with many different sizing options available, as well as a plethora of materials. The following overview will help shed some light on things, but it is important to know what sizes you need. Bars and stems come in 2 different diameters. These can vary slightly between manufacturers so we would recommend buying bars and a stem that are made by the same manufacturer to guarantee a perfect fit. Basic beginner's bicycles will come with alloy handlebars and stems. These are more than adequate for general use and will last for many years.
As you go up the manufacturer ranges, materials gradually change and the products get lighter. At the top of most manufacturers ranges are handlebars and stems made out of carbon fibre. These are very light and strong, although may not be the best choice if there is the chance that they will get knocked or damaged. Just below these are generally alloy bars or stems with a carbon or fibre glass coating. This is mainly for aesthetic reasons, although it does add to the strength. Next we have various different types of alloy used. The lighter the equipment the more expensive it is, but in most cases it will also be strong. Each manufacturer also produces specific equipment for use in extreme situations (such as track sprinting), normally made of steel for strength and durability rather than weight.
Handlebars, as with almost every other contact point on a bike are available in a variety of different sizes, materials and price ranges. There are several different shapes of bars available; there is no right or wrong choice and it's entirely down to personal taste, so it's worth taking the time to research the best option. Widths range from around 38cm to 46cm. Some manufacturers measure from centre to centre and some from middle to middle. We will make this obvious in our component listings. Handlebars are most commonly available in alloy, although carbon and carbon / alloy are now available. Although both light and strong, carbon bars will not be as forgiving to mistreatment and / or crash damage as alloy ones. If you intend to do a lot of travelling or flying with your bicycle, we recommend you stick with alloy. If you really want carbon for the weight saving, we recommend that they are checked after any knocks or impact as a failure could be very painful.
As mentioned previously, handlebars are commonly available in a choice of widths. We recommend bars that are approximately the same width as your shoulders, although comfort is the over-riding factor here. You should sit on a bike and try the different hand positions available to ensure that the bars are suitable.
Time Trial Handlebar Extensions
Rather than have time trial handlebars permanently fixed onto the bike, most manufacturers offer 'clip on' handlebars that can be installed easily when needed. These usually fit in the centre of the handlebars near to the stem and offer an aerodynamic position, without the need for a specific bicycle. Alternatively, should you want to fit a dedicated time trial bar, we offer these as well. These replace the entire handlebar and are for time trials / triathlons only. They generally have bull horn style handlebar grips with a built in aero extension. We recommend these for a time trial specific bike or dedicated triathlon cycle due to the difficulty of quick installation.
The handlebar stem is the component that attaches the handlebar to the bike. Stems are available in different lengths to ensure a comfortable fit onto the bike. Again, these are available in different materials and size to ensure the bike fits properly.
Much like saddles, handlebar tape is very much a personal choice. From basic plasticised tape that will last some time to more comfortable but delicate cork tape, it will be possible to get the right kind to suit your needs. It is also a good way to personalise your bike. It is important to ensure your bar tape doesn't clash with the bike or saddle colour!