How to Choose the Right Handlebars on a Touring Bicycle

About Handlebar Options on Touring Bikes

»The way we hold onto our bike is more of an issue when we ride several days in a row and for hours at a time. Being able to change position, especially the part of your hands you are resting on, and the angle of your back, makes a big difference.

»Choice of handlebars is subjective. We all need to feel happy on our own bike. There are three choices offered on VWR bikes; broadly drop and sit-up styles. But there is no right or wrong. Our hands become familiar with where everything is within a few days.

»The impetus for the drop bar user to change position is sometimes to be lower, to have more power, more body control and less wind resistance. But the trekking or riser bar rider can not get as low, so thinks less in terms of speed, possibly more about the scenery. Something to talk about over dinner.

»VWR bikes supplied for the sit-up position come with both trekking and riser bars. They are shipped with the trekking bars already on the bike. The riser bars, 31.8mm bore stem, hand grips and mirror-insertion are in a separate inner package. Changing the set-up is not a big job.

Drop Bars

»Drop bars were originally developed to get our bodies a little lower, or at least to give us the option of being lower. This would reduce wind resistance. But for touring bikes, that get ridden for long periods, they (drop bars) offer the added benefit of being able to change our back-angle.

»You can position your drop bars up high if you want, providing your forks have a long steerer tube. You still get the advantage of drop bars in being able to adjust your back-angle. So drop bars don’t necessarily mean low riding positions. But it is still possible to get your body down low as you’d sometimes like to do when going down hills fast, going through faster corners or riding in traffic.

»A unique thing about drop bars is the way you can pull against them in the drop position.

»The brake lever hoods give you a whole extra place to put your hands. You now have a stretched-out position option.

»There are many different drop handlebars and many of them make no special concession to tourers who spend more hours on their bikes. One good idea is to have a little bit of backward “sweep” on the tops as seen on Nitto Noodle bars.

»Differences between shoulder widths and heights are catered for in drop handlebars. Widths vary (on VWRs) from 40 to 46 cm and drops from 95 to 120mm. As frame sizes go from small to large so do the ‘reach’,‘drop’ and width.

Bikes Featuring Drop Bars

Trekking Bars

»A style developed in Germany, adopting the name used there to describe the hugely popular summer pastime of cycling on the great network of bike paths in the German countryside.

»They offer the option of having even higher positions that might be chosen when you care less about wind resistance (or have a tailwind). They also offer a stretched out position.

»On very long trips they are also a popular choice. They are both efficient and comfortable. Mark Beaumont, the 2008 round-the-world record holder used them, as have many other super-long-distance riders.

»It would be nice to see these bars made with a choice of widths but that is not the case. However you can hold onto them at wider or narrower positions.

»Most trekking bars have to have the gear and brake control levers mounted near the bar ends. This means riders need shorter frames or shorter stems. The Humbert trekking bar used by Vivente has a neat way around this so that the reach forward is the same as with drop or riser bars.

Bikes Featuring Trekking Bars

Riser Bars

»Riser bars are similar to many earlier sit-up-position bars. The mountain biking sport refined a few things. Now, because of their use in some specialist ‘disciplines’ we can get high quality, lightweight bars with different sweep angles and widths.

»The addition of modern anatomic bar-ends goes a long way to giving you the hand adjustment positions you want to have. These are a personal choice so Vivente just supplies normal grips, leaving the choice of bar-ends to you to make.

»These bars are stiffer because they are shorter and have a larger tubing diameter in the centre. They are 31.8mm thick whereas trekking bars are only 25.4mm.

»Some riser bars are almost dead straight to give the highest maneuverability for negotiating tight turns on narrow tracks. But for touring and longer periods in the saddle, 9° of backward ‘sweep’ is ideal.

»There is not much ‘real estate’ for attaching things on riser bars. But there are plenty of available neat solutions including “accessory bars”.

Bikes Featuring Riser Bars

Vivente Flags

Contact Us

PH: +61 2 7900 6734  
PO Box 156, Summer Hill, NSW 2130, Australia

Vivente Bikes is a venture of Gemini Bicycle Centres Pty Ltd, ABN 32 003 102 538

Address: 1/201 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville, NSW, 2204, Australia

Designed by Joshua McFarlane

Back to Top