Enjoying a ride depends a lot on the comfort that you have on your two-wheeled machine. The peddles, breaks, and handlebars all play a huge role in determining the kind of adventure and fun you will experience during your ride and your safety too.
Different manufacturers make different bikes with different shapes, sizes, styles, and design of handlebars. Some manufactures produce bikes with wider handlebars, while others produce narrower handlebars. Some have straight handlebars, while other designs come with curved handlebars. When it comes to what handlebar suits you the most, that is a decision that you can make the best after considering your preference, riding terrain, height, and safety. You should also be safe while riding, so you need to attach a bell to alert other road users while you are riding.
Here is all you need to know that will guide you on how to measure handlebar diameter to fit a bell and for the comfort of your hands.
What is a handlebar?
Mountain bikes, road bikes, single-speed bikes all have handlebars that come in different types. Each handlebar has its unique pros and cons that will greatly determine the experience you have on your bike. Handlebars determine your stability, the bike’s reliability, and the overall handling of your bike there. It would be best if you chose the right type.
Aside from personal interest, various other issues determine the quality of handlebars.
- Comfort– This refers to how the handlebars can keep your hands and your entire body comfortable.
- Leverage– it’s the amount of power that you can transfer to the pedals. Good bicycle handlers will enable you to transfer as much energy to the pedals.
- Versatility– refers to the ability of the handlers to enable you to ride in different positions.
- Control– This is the lift and turn ability that the handlers can provide to you.
- Aerodynamics– this is the ability of the bicycle handlers to reduce wind drag.
Types of handlebars
- Flat Bars
Flat handlebars are the standard type of handlebars. They mostly have a flat surface, although most of them also have a slight bend facing the rider. Cross-country riders popularly use these handlebars because of their versatility. These handlebars can carry many things like a water bottle. The simplicity makes the steering easy to predict.
- Riser bars
Riser bars are flat bars that rise beginning at the center clamp area. Riders are wider as compare to flat bars. These handlebars are common in trail biking since it allows the rider to ride in a more upright position.
The bullhorn handlebars curve up and forward. A bullhorn bar resembles a pursuit handlebar that curves forward, then down and then it again curves up.
- Trekking bars
Trekking bars are also referred to as butterfly bars. These types of bars are designed to allow for different handling positions so you can change positions when taking a long ride. These handlebars also have a lot of space to place your itinerary like phones, mirrors, bags, and maps.
- Cruiser bars
Cruiser bars are the types of bars you would love to use when you go to the candy shop. They are also referred to as Upright handlebars or North Road handlebars. Cruiser bars have an extreme sweep that allows the rider to maneuver the bike while sitting in a completely upright position.
- Triathlon bars
Triathlon bars, also aero bars, are mainly used during time-trial cycling where the rider needs to compete against the clock. With these bars, the rider can wrest their forearms on the extended bars to achieve a streamlined forward tuck position that decreases air drag and, in turn, increases speed.
- Drop bars
Bike enthusiasts commonly use drop bars because of the balance they provide, the beauty, and versatility. Basic drop handlebars are straight in the middle section, but the ends curve downwards, facing the rider.
Drop bars come in different variations depending on how far the curve curves forward (reach), how low the bar goes (drop) and how wide the bar is (width).
Classic drop bars are characterized by a steep drop and a long reach.
Compacts have a shallow drop and a short reach. Anatomic drop bars enable you to vary the shape of the drop, adding to your comfort.
Rondoneur bars have a small rise from the mid-section, and its drop flares out.
Drop-in bars curve back until it reaches the head tube located at the bottom of the drop.
How to Measure Bike’s Handlebar Diameter
Knowing the size of your bike’s handlebar helps you choose a handlebar that will offer maximum comfort for your hands and your general riding comfort. Knowing the diameter of your handlebars also enables you to choose the right bell for your bike.
Most of the handlebars come in the sizes of 31.8, 25.4, or 22.2mm. Most Road Bike handlebars have a clamp size of 26mm, although the newer ones have a clamp size of 31.8mm. The area of attaching the bell measures 25.4mm or 31.8mm.
On the other hand, cruiser bikes have a standard handlebar diameter of 31.8mm or 25.4 mm. some may have slightly different sizes because they come in varied styles and designs.
Mountain bikes generally have a clamp size of 25.4mm or 31.8mm for the recent mountain bikes. Some mountain bikes have handlebars that bulge in the middle while they thin out when nearing the brake levers. When you choose to attach your bell near the brake levers, ensure that you measure its diameter since you will have to choose a small-sized bell.
BMX bicycles always have a standard size of 22.2mm.
If you have a handlebar that exceeds 22.2, you should go for a larger bell size with shims that will enable you to attach the bell to bars of a 23.8, 25.4 and 26mm diameter.
If your handlebar’s mid-section looked to have the normal standard size, it is likely to be having a diameter of 25.4mm.
If your handler appears to be big at the centre, then it probably measures 31.8mm.
How to measure your handlebar Diameter
The simplest way to measure the handlebars is by using vernier scale callipers.
However, if you don’t have calipers, you can use a tape measure. All you need to do is wrap it around the point of the bar that you want to attach the bell to determine its circumference. Once you find the circumference, divide it by pi (in mm) to determine its diameter (circumference/ 𝜋).
If you don’t have a tape measure, you can still determine your handlebar’s circumference using a string or a piece of paper. Just like above, wrap the string around the handlebar point, then mark the place where the string intersects and measure the length on a ruler to get the circumference. After getting the circumference, divide it by pi to get the diameter.
What to consider when choosing a bike’s handlebar diameter
Selecting the best handlebar shape and size depends on you since it depends on your riding needs and your riding style. It would help if you also considered the following factors
The shape of the drop and its depth will determine the reach between the lever and the handlebar. However, most levers are flexible since they can be adjusted. You can choose a shape that you prefer and adjust the levers to suit your needs.
Many cyclists become confused when choosing the material of the handlebars they should choose from. Carbon handlebars have a lightweight than alloy handlebars. You can also mould carbon handlebars into a shape that you prefer to suit your preference. You can also fine-turn the carbon layup to achieve great strength, compliance, and lightweight. Sounds perfect, right?
However, carbon bar handlebars are much more costly and quite fragile. Carbon handlebars also need to be handled with a lot of care when stored since they easily crack if you use the wrong torque settings.
Handlebars that have good aerodynamics reduce drag since they have a small surface area and flatten out, creating a more extended surface area.
Drop is the distance between the top of the handlebar and the bottom of the handlebar. A handlebar with a shorter drop is more likely to help you have a smooth transition when moving from riding using the brake hoods to the drops without stretching your back, shoulders, and hips too much.
Handlebars that have a steeper drop would typically require more movement. When choosing the drop, ensure that you keep your height in mind since it matters a lot.
Most people prefer handlebars that have a smaller drop. A handlebar with a long drop will normally have 150m, while those with a medium drop have measured up to around 135mm. A compact handlebar, on the other hand, comes at about 120mm.
Being comfortable and being safe relies a lot on the type of handlebar that you have chosen. If you are satisfied, you will achieve more control over your bike, so you need handlebars with the right size, shape, and design. You also need a bell that will help you to have a safe ride. Ensure that your bell is well-installed, something you can only achieve if you know your handlebars’ diameter.