Your road, cyclocross, or gravel bike’s drop bars function as your bike’s command center. Steering and control is the No. 1 function, but drop bars are also where key cockpit controls such as brake-shift levers and GPS head units are mounted.
The unique shape of drop bars provides multiple hand positions. Reach for the drops when sprinting or to gain maximum aero efficiency. Rest your hands on the tops for climbing or casual cruising when you don’t need immediate access to brake-shift levers. Or grip the hoods when accelerating uphill or when you need to be able to brake or shift at a moment’s notice. These various hand placement options can also help enhance comfort, as just a small change in hand position may alleviate back, neck, or hand pain or numbness.
Picking the right drop bars involves sifting through a host of factors, including construction material, width, drop, reach, and flare. Correct fit means you can support your upper body without straining your back, neck, or shoulders. JensonUSA carries a wide array of options from companies like Zipp, 3T, FSA, ENVE, Ritchie, Easton, and Salsa.
The majority of drop bars are made from either aluminum or carbon, with the latter typically being lighter but also more expensive. Width can range from 36cm to 44cm, the general rule being that your drop bars width should be approximately equal to the width of your shoulders.
Drop, which is the distance from the center of the bar’s top to the center of the lowest part of the drops, is typically a matter of personal preference, with some riders opting for a shallower set-up, with others preferring standard drop. Shallow or compact drop is in the 125mm-128mm range, and can be a good choice for riders with smaller hands or less flexibility, allowing you to still comfortably reach the brake levers.
Reach is the distance from the center of the drop bars top to the center of the furthest point of the bend. Generally, 85mm is considered a long reach, 80mm-85mm is medium, and less than 80mm is short.
Finally, flare is the degrees that a drop bars’ drops protrude outward. This distance is usually minimal (around 6 degrees), except on drop bars designed for gravel or singletrack use where a wider profile (up to 24 degrees) enhances control, stability, and leverage. If you have any question about drop bars, make sure to call one of JensonUSA.com’s Gear Advisors today at 888-880-3811.