20th September 2017

What is a flat bar road bike?


Raleigh Strada 1 2018 | Flat Bar Road Bike
The Raleigh Strada 1, one of our best buy flat bar road bike.

A flat bar road bike is like a normal road bike (or “racer” as they’re sometimes called,) but instead of having drop handlebars (that curve down), it has flat handlebars.

If you want to enjoy the fun and exhilaration of riding a fast, lightweight bicycle but you don’t fancy drop bars, the flat bar road bike was made for you.

What are the Flat Bar Road Bike’s defining features?

Frame & Fork

  • The frame and fork will be lightweight – usually aluminium, perhaps steel – same as a similar priced road bike
  • The frame geometry will also mimic the road bike’s for quick-steering agility
  • Flat bar road bikes from around £800 might even come with sharper-steering, lighter weight, shock-damping carbon forks

Keeping the frame and fork lightweight helps the bike overcome gravity so it can climb like a road bike – that is: considerably easier than a more utilitarian hybrid bike.

flat bar road bikes

Fast Wheels

  • Like the frame, a flat bar road bikes’ wheels are barely distinguishable from a similarly priced drop bar road bikes’
  • Its smooth 700c tyres will be 25 to 35mm wide to offer a perfect balance of speed matched with reassuring grip

Fast wheels with smooth treads reduce rolling resistance – again to help you go faster with less effort (like riding a regular road bike).

Whyte Stirling 2020 | Flat bar road bike

The Whyte Stirling 2020, another great flat bar road bike

Mountain Bike Controls & Brakes

  • As you’ll have guessed from the description, ‘flat bar road bike’, it comes with flat or riser bars like a mountain bike
  • The easy-reach brake and gear levers are also like a mountain bike’s
  • Flat bar road bikes up to £500 usually come with V-brakes
  • Spend over £500, the bike may well be upgraded with the most effective stoppers in the history of cycling – hydraulic disc brakes

A flat bar road bike’s major attraction is that many riders find the handlebars more comfortable and easier to get on with. Equally significantly, you might find the Rapidfire trigger gear shifters and larger MTB-style brake levers easier to reach and operated than drop bar brake and gear levers.

Sensible Gearing

  • Flat bar road bikes boa’ a wide range of gears that help make near-any road in Britain more rideable
  • Generally speaking, its easiest gear will be lower than a road bike’s to make hill climbs easier
  • Similarly, its top gear will be higher than a mountain bike’s so you’re less likely to ‘spin out’ when you pick up speed

You’re therefore more likely to be in the right gear on a flat bar road bikes wherever you ride.

Whyte Shoreditch 2020 | Flat bar road bike

Whyte Shoreditch 2020: a flat bar road bike part of Whyte’s fast/urban commuter bike range

Flat Bar Road Bikes are Practical

  • Near every flat bar road bike we stock takes full mudguards to banish nasty road splash
  • It will also take a pannier rack
  • If you need anything fitted to a new bicycle from us, order it with the bike and we’ll fit it for free

A bike that can be equipped to make it more practical is more likely to be a bike you’ll use more often.

flat bar road bike

Any caveats?

With so much going for these lightweight, practical bicycles, why doesn’t everyone ride a flat bar road bike?

Whilst a lightweight flat bar bike with efficient tyres addresses two issues – gravity and rolling resistance – it’s less effective against the third factor that most slows your progress on a bike – wind resistance. That’s where drop bars win hands down when it comes to enabling you to change your riding position and duck out of headwinds. That’s why drop bars have remained the first choice of many riders for over 100 years.

specialized sirrus disc 2020 | flat bar road bike

The Specialized Sirrus Disc 2020 is designed to be fast like a road bike, but with flat handlebars instead of classic drop handlebars.

Having said that, if you don’t get on with drops for any reason, you’ll be pleased to learn that we can cater for your need for speed with a superb selection of flat bar road bikes from Whyte and Specialized, which deliver around 90% of the performance of their drop bar stablemates.

flat bar road bikes

2 comments on “What is a flat bar road bike?

  1. Nick Hayes on

    Y’know, following a link to “shop flat bar road bikes” would’ve been handier if it did just that, instead of linking to the entire hybrid/commuter section!

    • Web Master on

      Hi Nick, we agree with you 100%. Unfortunately it’s a technical issue, and we’re working to resolve it so that we can group bikes in new categories. Thanks for your patience.


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