Yes— you can put a flat bar on pretty much any road bike, providing you have the right tools, equipment, and a whole lot of patience.
If your bike is pre-fitted with a drop bar, then you need to keep in mind that the bike itself is not designed for flat bars. While this isn’t always a problem, it can affect how your weight is distributed while riding, which can affect the entire experience.
This doesn’t mean that you should rule out making the switch to a flat bar, though.
There are so many benefits of doing so. For example, a flat bar provides the rider with added control and maneuverability.
This is essential for those who prefer urban riding and find themselves having to weave in and out of traffic.
Most flat handlebars are higher than drop bars, which means that you are sitting more upright in the saddle.
There is more weight on your rear end and less weight on your hands. All of this means that your overall riding comfort is improved.
They’re also perfect for first-time riders due to the greater control, more comfortable position, and the brake levers are easier to reach.
What you should consider before making the change:
- New bars aren’t always cheap, especially if you’re looking for a particular brand. You’ll also need certain tools to be able to carry out the switch, which can be costly if you don’t own them already.
- You may need to use a shim for your existing stem, or even replace the stem entirely. Most road bikes are fitted with larger stems and a larger clamp, so you’ll need a smaller one for a flat bar to work.
- It can be a time-consuming process but for a true cyclist, the efforts might be worth the investment.
- Most riders advise that it isn’t wise to change your handlebars but rather to invest in the right bike/handlebars in the first place, to eliminate the need for repairs altogether.
- You'll almost certainly need new brakes! For those wanting to convert their road bike to a drop bar you'll need to find something that suits your wheel and brake mount combo. This isn’t always easy.
- Your old brake lines will most likely be too short for drop bars, so you'll need new brake cables and housings as well. This means you'll almost certainly need to replace all four wires, as well as the cable housing parts that reach the bars.
Is it worth putting a flat bar on a road bike?
This depends on what you want from your bike. If you’re new to cycling, you may find it easier to learn on a bike with a flat bar.
Another advantage is that riding uphill is easier with these handlebars because they are simpler to lean into. This increases the front-end weight distribution and road grip.
They're also lightweight handlebars that may be fitted to a variety of bikes.
However, flat bars may not be suitable daredevils. You'll need something more modern and capable of keeping up with your fast-paced lifestyle.
These aren't the fastest bars, but they're pretty versatile.
Examine the Fit
Do you suffer from back and neck pain after riding for a while?
It's possible that the fit of your road bike, rather than the type of the handlebars, is to blame for your discomfort.
Drop bars take a little getting used to because they require more core engagement than flat bars, but you shouldn't be straining to utilise them; your arms should be slightly bent.
Get a proper bike fit if you haven't done so already. Make sure your handlebars and saddle are the proper height for you, and that the bike you're riding is the correct size.
Consider the Price
Converting your handlebars might be expensive, mainly because you're having to change not only the handlebars, but also the brakes, brake levers, and shifters.
While it’s entirely possible to do, and there are plenty of helpful tutorials out there to help you do it on a budget- you still need to think about the expense and how easy it will be to make the adjustments before getting started.
Should you convert your handlebars?
Drop bars suit some of us better than flat bars, and vice versa. However, you should evaluate why you're wanting to make the switch, as there are other components of the bike to take into account.
If you’re wanting to switch from a flat bar to a drop bar to improve efficiency, you’ll need to remember that the tires of road bikes tend to be thin and the frame doesn’t weigh very much.
So, you shouldn’t expect a huge increase in speed.
Similarly, if you're switching from drop bars to a flat bar to improve your comfort, you should also think about other ergonomic components of your bike, such as the saddle.
It’s possible that you may find it more beneficial to buy a whole new road or mountain bike rather than seeking out just the handlebars.
Alternatively, if you want the speed of a road bike but the stability and upright riding position of a mountain bike, a hybrid bike is likely to be your best option, as it combines the finest features of both.
While replacing the drop bar on your road bike to a flat bar isn’t always easy, if you manage to pull it off, it could be worthwhile in the long run.
This is because it can help to improve your comfort, maneuverability and confidence as you ride.
However, you’ll also need to consider how expensive making the switch is going to be and check whether it may be more cost-effective to just buy a new bike that has a flat bar pre-fitted.