QUESTION: Are drop bars better? I want to start riding again, but I’m thinking about buying a flat bar hybrid bike instead because it seems easier and more comfortable. What do you think? – Thomas P
ANSWER: Flat bar hybrid road bikes can be very appealing to riders who are just starting out or coming back to riding a bicycle after a long time away. You generally get a more upright position, and it’s very straightforward to just hold the handlebars where the grips are, putting your hands right next to the brake levers, which feels very stable. So there’s nothing wrong with flat bars.
Even so, there’s a reason why road bikes (and most gravel bikes) tend to have drop bars. And some of it is directly related to comfort, which you mention. Where a flat bar only gives you that one position with your hand on the grips, a drop bar gives you many potential positions. You can ride with your hands on the tops of the handlebars, resting on the brake hoods, or down in the drops. On longer rides, having the option to alternate between different positions is often more comfortable than being stuck in a single hand position as with flat bars.
Riding drop bars can give you an aerodynamic benefit as well, particularly in the drops or with your hands on the brake hoods. So if you’re riding with others, it might be easier to keep up. And if you’re riding alone and want to keep a faster average speed, drop bars will help you there too.
If you plan to ride more than 20 miles at a time, then you should at least consider drop bars.
I suggest test riding both types of bikes at your local bike shop before you make a final decision.