A town bike is a bicycle designed for comfort and utility rather than speed. As well as being the main point of control between rider and bike, the handlebars on any bicycle play a large role in determining the stance and therefore comfort of the rider. On a town bike, it is normal to have handlebars that are relatively upright, affording the writer a relaxed riding stance. However, there are various options available, and deciding which handlebars to go with requires careful thought.
Before buying handlebars for a town bike, it pays to conduct sufficient research so as to make an informed purchasing decision. The buyer should start the decision making process by examining the reason why she wants to change the handlebars on her bicycle. Is she hoping for a more comfortable bike commute or is she looking to reconfigure her town bike as a racer? Comfort and greater control over the bike are the primary reasons behind a cyclist's decision to change their handlebars. The purpose behind the change informs the choice of handlebars and materials.
The Significance of Bike Handlebars
The relationship between handlebars and control over the bike illustrates the fact that handlebars are more than just a neutral mechanism for the rider to hold on to, or even just for steering the bike. As one of the main points of contact between bike and rider, handlebars are essential for controlling the bike in several ways, including operating the brakes and gears. The type of handlebars dictates the riding stance the rider assumes. Therefore, changing the handlebars fundamentally changes the posture of the rider while seated on the town bike.
Unlike racers or other specialised bikes, town bikes are built for convenience. They are allrounders, and town bikes are at home on city streets, where they are ridden by people of all shapes, sizes, and levels of fitness and experience.
Handlebars for a Town Bike
Handlebars for a town bike are typically set fairly high and swept back towards the body, thereby allowing a cyclist to maintain normal, upright posture. This stance ensures that the rider is visible to other road users, which is an important safety consideration. The upright posture also affords older riders, who may be less able or otherwise unsuited to maintain a lower riding stance, greater comfort while riding their town bikes.
The Types of Handlebars
With bikes being so popular and so numerous these days, it is only inevitable that many different styles of handlebar have evolved out of the basic design of a century ago. Each type of handlebars has subtle variations in shape and configuration, affecting the handling of the bicycle. The different types of handlebars for bikes include flat handlebars, drop handlebars, butterfly, and upright handlebars.
As their name suggests, flat handlebars in their classic form are flat, straight metal bars. Sometimes these handlebars have a slight lift, and a variant of flat handlebars, known as 'riser bars', do come with a more pronounced rise, which raises the grips a little. The significance of both flat and riser handlebars is that their uncomplicated shape allows the riders to exert considerable leverage on the bike, helping to maximise the cyclist's control over their bike. For this reason, flat handlebars and riser handlebars are found not only on town bikes, but also on mountain bikes. The downside to flat handlebars is that they can tire out the cyclist, as the uniform shape does not allow the rider to shift his or her grip on the bars. On the other hand, messenger bike riders often appreciate the narrowness of flat bars, and the greater degree of control they afford the rider, both of which help the bicycle messenger to negotiate tightly packed city traffic.
Drop bars are often seen on road bikes, touring bikes, and commuting bikes. These handlebars have a distinctive form, with an almost 'C'-shaped piece of metal attached to the horizontal bar. The 'C' shape can vary, either being more open or other times more elongated. Often the front of the 'C' points down and forward, with the bottom lip of the 'C' pointing back towards the rider. The popularity of drop bars stems from their versatility. Riders are able to adopt a whole range of different holds. Not only does this allow the rider to change their grip to suit the prevailing circumstances, the bars also maximise control and leverage as required. This configuration also allows the rider to rest tired muscles, because the rider is able shift his grip and so his weight as required. However, drop bars encourage a hunched forward, leaning-over riding position and this stance may not suit all town bike riders, especially those prone to tight shoulders and sore lower backs.
These handlebars bear many similarities to drop handlebars, but there are also several differences that make butterfly handlebars more suitable for the town bike rider. The butterfly handlebar shares the curved shape of the drop handlebar. Therefore, like drop bars, butterfly handlebars allow the rider to vary their hand holds. However, in the case of the butterfly handlebars, unlike drop bars, the 'C' shape is flattened into an elongated, almost closed 'U' shape, and the bars are mounted parallel to the ground. When viewed as a pair, butterfly handlebars are vaguely reminiscent of a butterfly's wings, hence the name. A particular benefit for town bike riders is that butterfly handlebars allow the rider to maintain an more upright riding posture when compared to drop bars. This makes butterfly handlebars suitable for a wider range of riders, hence, butterfly handlebars are amongst the most popular bike handlebars on the market.
Upright handlebars curve forward before sweeping back, whilst rising to form a sort of hilltop shape. As they permit an upright posture, they are very popular with town bike riders. Some cyclists like to mount them upside down for a more aggressive appearance.
Factors to Consider when Changing Handlebars
Changing the handlebars on a bike is not in itself an expensive operation, but it often requires the changing of the brake and gear control mechanisms too, and possibly the stem. Changing handlebars may also require that the cyclist invest in new grips. The reason why new handlebars often require such comprehensive changes, is simply because the gear and braking mechanisms are both operated via, and often attached to, the handlebars. Therefore, along with the handlebars themselves, the additional parts required might include some or all of the brake levers, brake cables and brake housing, as well as gear housing, gear shifters and cables, and cable stops.
For a knowledgeable cycle mechanic with experience in such matters, this is all straightforward. But for those without much experience when it comes to upgrading parts on a bicycle, it may prove to be a fair amount of work and additional research is required. Before changing the handlebars on her bike, a cyclist needs to consider the reasons why she is making this change, the choice of materials, and where to buy a new set of handlebars.
The Purpose for the Change
The first thing to consider before beginning a search for a new pair of handlebars for a town bike, is to examine the reasons for changing the handlebars and what benefits one expects from this change. Many cyclists choose to change their handlebars in an effort to improve riding comfort, especially for long bike commutes to and from work. The cyclist may also be trying to achieve a more upright riding posture. Conversely, there are those cyclists who want to reconfigure their town bike so that it becomes something more akin to a racer. In this case they are trying to achieve a lower riding stance. If the cyclists is looking for greater control, then the choice of materials becomes an important one. Handlebars made from a durable, yet lightweight materials are more responsive to the cyclist when compared to handlebars manufactured from heavier materials.
The Choice of Materials
When selecting a type of handlebars, it is best to experiment with as many varieties as possible, including varieties of materials. Although different materials are available, when looking for comfort it is unlikely to make a great deal of difference whether the bars are alloy,, aluminium,, steel or carbon. If changing to a racing configuration, where greater control is required, then the cyclist should consider carbon or a strong but lightweight metal.
Where to Buy the Handlebars
A local cycle shop may not be the best place to look for the best deals on replacement handlebars for a town bike, especially if the buyer is planning to fit the parts at home. The space and trouble involved in stocking and selling low value items like handlebars and grips, means that bicycle shops are inevitably going to have a small range and comparatively high prices. A much wider range and keener prices are likely to be found online, where Internet markets such as eBay offer a good selection of handlebars for a town bike.
Searching for Handlebars for a Town Bike on eBay
Looking for bicycle handlebars on eBay is quite easy. All you need to do is type in a search phrase into the the eBay home page that describe what you are looking for. A good choice in this case would be something fairly generic like 'handlebars town bike&'. The results for this search will include new and used handlebars, and handlebars from specific named manufacturers.
You can narrow these listings down by filtering the search results and specifying the characteristics that are important to you. For example, if you are looking for a set of carbon fibre handlebars, perhaps for converting your bike into something sleeker, you can specify the material and the search engine will only display those listings that match your search criteria.
If you should need to contact the seller to ask for more information, perhaps to check size or compatibility issues, you can do that by contacting the seller through their profile page. While on the seller's profile page, check their feedback score and read the feedback left by former customers. The sellers with the best feedback are called 'Top-rated Sellers'.
Changing the handlebars on a town bike is not in itself difficult or expensive, but it can lead to a significant alteration to the characteristics of the bike, and in particular to the seating stance. It can also necessitate changing other components that are attached to or operated via the handlebars, including the brake and gear mechanisms. For these reasons, changing the handlebars needs to be planned carefully, and the replacement handlebars need to be chosen with some thought.
There are four types of handlebars: flat, drop, butterfly, and upright handlebars. The choice of handlebars depends on the cyclist's preferred riding posture. While some handlebars promote a more upright riding stance, others force the cyclist into a racing stance, which is lower. The cyclist also needs to consider what degree of control they require over the bike, as this informs the choice of materials.
Cyclists looking to replace or upgrade their handlebars often turn to eBay for its wide range of cycling accessories and bike components, available at very sensible prices.