How to choose handlebars for road bike (infographics)

If you’re buying bike accessories for the first time and you’re not sure what size to choose, we are here to help. The right handlebars can make your ride more comfortable, stable, and efficient. Luckily, they are fairly easy to choose. Here are some general guidelines to help you make the right decision.

Find your position

How to choose handlebars for road bicycle

Handlebar geometry affects a bike’s performance characteristics and it comes in a wide variety of forms. Different handlebar styles will affect your riding enjoyment and ability, and with an explosion of newer shapes and sizes in the past 10 years means there are more options than ever to fit your bike perfectly.

You can find a handlebar that fits you perfectly which will help you ride longer and more comfortably. These are several things to consider when buying a handlebar. 

Handlebars sizing

How to choose handlebars for road bicycle


When you sit in the saddle your elbows should not be locked but slightly bent. The distance is measured from the center of the tip of the handlebar where the brake hoods are mounted to the center of the furthest extension in which you can comfortably bend your wrist. A reach of less than 80mm is considered short; 80-85mm is medium, and 85mm or more is long.


Handlebars’ width is measured between the center of each drop. Bar Sizes that are most common include 38, 40, 42, and 44cm.

Choosing a Handlebar: basic tips

How to choose handlebars for road bicycle

Wider or narrower?

One option is a wider bar, which may give you more control and leverage just like a mountain bike’s handlebars do. This may open up your chest for easier breathing.

The other option is a slightly narrower bar, which may release your arms and strained back and neck muscles. This is the best option if you tend to have a lot of pain in your muscles and headache after each ride.

Material and type

You may be able to find different size handlebars, but in most cases these systems are fully integrated so you can’t swap to another brand of a handlebar.

Drop and reach

A comfortable position is relatively low on the saddle with a slight forward lean and a slight rotation of the hips. The handlebar is a simple but very effective way to make small changes in your pedaling style.

When you have a drop that’s too short it causes your head to tilt downward which leads to neck strain over time. Higher-priced bikes usually have taller head tubes so you don’t have to tilt your head down. You can experiment with various configurations – shortening reach is one of the things that works well with drop pedaling.


How to choose handlebars for road bicycle
This method is simple. You determine the required handlebar width by two actions:
  1. Take a measurement across your chest at the point where you’d like to position the handlebar. It’s the peaks of the bony protrusions.
  2. Add 2cm to this number and gauge this as your minimum acceptable bar.


Fitting road bike handlebars is like going to the tailor.  Getting it right is what makes the bike riding experience perfect.

The handlebar you need will depend on the type of bike you have, your height, shape and riding style. When you find the right one, you’ll feel like it was tailored just for you. 


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    Karyna Halinska is a writer and blogger for Riquen. Karyna researches the cycling lifestyle and writes articles on the topics related to road bikes and Riquen bicycle parts, which are produced for professional and amateur cyclists.

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