Integration has become a hallmark of aerodynamic bicycle design, from brakes to ports to seat posts. It is one of the major leading edges of a bicycle, integrated handlebar or stem unit provides aerodynamic gains by eliminating cylinder shapes, which yield 10 times the drag of aero shapes of the same size.
While the one-piece designs are less adjustable than individual components, they increase front-end stiffness for a more confident riding experience.
There are various widths you can choose from, different reach and drop measurements, a choice of shapes, and varying degrees of flare and back-sweep to consider. You also need to ensure you have the correct clamping diameter for your stem, your bike might use integrated cables, and there are some one-piece bar/stem combo you may want to consider too.
Choosing the best handlebars for your bike can feel like a big step into the unknown, thus, we’ll share with you some of the best-integrated handlebars to make it easier for you to choose what suits your bike best and help you have a more comfortable riding experience.
Best Integrated Handlebars
- The Ritchey WCS Carbon Streem II handlebars are aerodynamically shaped carbon-fibre handlebars designed to reduce your aerodynamic drag and weight. These aero bars have a very simple cockpit design with minimal logos/branding and a very smart unidirectional carbon-fibre finish, plus an internal cable routing to eliminate the need of bar tape to keep them in place.
- It is available in 40, 42, 44 centimeter widths with a 124, 126, 126 millimeters drop for each, respectively. And 70 millimeter reach through all widths
- This carbon handlebar is compatible with Shimano EW-RS910 junction box/end plug + internal routing and a 31.8 millimeter center section.
- Well made
- Stiff for an aero bar
- Competitively priced
- Room for a Garmin mount
- Easy to route internally
- Good as road bike handlebar, gravel bike and cyclocross bicycle handlebar
- Good for rough terrain
- No 38cm width option
FSA Omega Compact Road Handlebar
- The FSA Omega Compact Road Handlebar is one of the standard molds of modern road racing bikes. It has good grooves for cable routing and to eliminate handlebar tape that keeps the cables in place. It is made of carbon fiber which is lighter in weight when compared to aluminum alloy. It is also stronger in pressure resistance, has property elasticity and anti-shock properties.
- It is available in 380, 400, 420, 440 millimeters handlebar width, with a 127 millimeters drop and 104 millimeters reach.
- The handlebar’s diameter is 31.8 millimeters, thus it is compatible with 31.8 caliber stem, and should not be used with a 31.8 aluminum alloy as it can cause the handlebar to rupture.
- Compact Drop Design
- Lightweight, Good grip
- Ergonomically-friendly position for a cyclist
- Comfortable compact measurements
- Not compatible with alloy stem
Jessica Acekit Aluminum Alloy Handlebar
- Made of aluminum alloy 7005, the Jessica Acekit handlebar will provide better performance than that of a traditional handlebar. It has a lightweight design but can provide strength and tenacity.
- It is available in 720 and 760 millimeters stem length, with a 28.3 and 29.9 inch riser bar, respectively. The diameter of the bar ends is 22.2 millimeters and the diameter of the clamp area is 31.8 millimeters.
- These aluminum handlebars are suitable for XC/AM/FR mountain bike and road bike, and have integrated molding and reasonable angle with high cycling efficiency.
- Good value for money
- Supportive enough
- Less stiffness, resulting in too much flex
Profile Designs Legacy II Aerobar
- The Profile Designs Legacy II Aerobar is made of forged 6061 aluminum and offers a greater range of positions to accommodate your particular build. The arm pads can also be set in three different positions, so you should have no problem setting them up nicely.
- It has a clamp diameter of 31.8 millimeters, a 58-millimeter rise, -50 millimeters reach and center to center bar width of 80, 63 and 45 millimeters.
- The Legacy II aero handlebar will give you a reasonable aerodynamic profile but without compromising control or requiring me to bend beyond what my physique allows. It is suitable for beginners and can fit either regular or oversized handlebars.
- Offers a greater range of positions
- Good entry level clip-on tri bars
- Easy set-up
- Good for beginner rider
- Arm pads are not removable
Upanbike Aluminum Alloy Handlebar
- This aluminum handlebar is made of 6061 T6 aluminum alloy, which is durable and has been treated to provide maximum precipitation hardening for maximum yield strength.It may not be the best-selling model in the market, but it’s such a well-built accessory that will give you the right body positioning on your bike.
- It is available in a clamp diameter model of 25.4 millimeters with a drop bar tube diameter of 22.2 millimeters and in a 31.8 millimeters model with a drop bar end tube outer diameter of 23.7 millimeters. Its handlebar width is 420 millimeters.
- These flat bars are a versatile model and since it’s flexible in design, they can fit any mountain bike.
- Lightweight aluminum bars
- Cheap but well-made
- Good for beginners
- Good as mountain bike handlebar
- May be too narrow for an average-size body build
Factors to Consider when Choosing Integrated Handlebars
Traditionally, handlebar width has been determined based on the width of your shoulders, and the general rule of thumb in finding the correct size bars is to measure the distance between your AC joints or the bone that sticks out of the top of your shoulder
However, this is just a starting point, and from there, you’ll need to take into account what you’re looking to achieve with this new set of bars.
Narrow bars will help you tuck your elbows in for a more aero position, but they will also quicken the handling characteristics of your bike. On the other hand, wider bars will offer more stability and may even open up your chest a bit to help you breathe.
Of course, everything in moderation, if your shoulders measure 40mm, a 48mm bar or a 32mm bar will probably leave you uncomfortable, but a couple of centimeters either way likely won’t leave you in pain.
When in doubt, consult a bike fitter for advice.
Reach and Drop
Reach is the distance from the horizontal part of the handlebar to the furthest edge of the drops and determines how far away the levers will be placed. Bigger riders will need a more extended reach while shorter riders will be more comfortable with a smaller figure.
Drop refers to the distance from your tops to your drops. Most people are better suited to a shorter drop because it doesn’t require quite as much flexibility, but a lower front end should theoretically result in a smaller frontal area, which in turn requires fewer watts for faster speeds.
All in moderation though, as saving 10 aero watts won’t benefit you if you lose 20 due to discomfort.
The shape of the drops varies from brand to brand, but they are roughly divided into three categories. Compact, traditional, and ergo.
Traditional bars are what you expect to see on old-school road bikes with a long gentle curve that creates a deep drop and a low position.
Compact bars are a bit straighter and put the hoods flatly inline with the tops; the bend into the drops is tighter, meaning it’s also higher. Ergo bars seem to fall somewhere in the middle and feature a flat spot part of the way down the drop.
Bar shape is highly personal, and you want to look for bars that create the least amount of bend in your wrist when you grab the drops. Additionally, how you like to position your hoods will also come into play.
The age-old question when it comes to bike components is alloy or carbon. Carbon bars are typically lighter, dampen more vibration than alloy, and can be molded into an aero or ergonomic shape.
However, they are seen to be more fragile – they don’t bend or dent before they break, and are susceptible to being crushed by over-tightened stem bolts.
Alloy bars are typically a bit heavier and will provide a harsher feel than carbon bars, but don’t see any less performance. In fact, you will find alloy bars widely used in the pro peloton thanks to their durability and impact resistance.
The clamping diameter references the diameter of the bar at the center, where the stem clamps it in place. Nowadays, most road handlebars come with an ‘oversized’ diameter, which is widely accepted as 31.8mm.
Older bikes (up to circa late ’90s) will usually come with 25.4mm width.
The only thing you need to do here is to ensure your stem and handlebars use the same clamping diameter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are aero handlebars worth it?
Aero road bikes are becoming increasingly popular, and the handlebar setup plays a huge role in decreasing drag.
These handlebars are worth it because they improve aerodynamics and will often present a smaller surface area at the front, flattening out to create a longer surface area on the top. This means they slice through the air more efficiently, and also have the added bonus of being comfortable to hold on to a long climb.
Is it worth getting carbon handlebars?
The reduction in weight, range of shapes, safety levels, comfort, and performance merits of a carbon bar are all appealing and make them worth getting or buying.
However, for most of us the durability, quality, and low cost of aluminum will count for more. Thus, if you want to build the leanest and lightest bike possible and you are not on a budget, carbon handlebars are worth it.
Can I put flat handlebars on a road bike?
There are plenty of hybrid road bikes to choose from that come with flat bars, and some of them are pretty lightweight and fast.
Drop-style handlebars do provide a lot of advantages if you want to go on longer rides or ride with a group of other roadies later.
But it’s still perfectly ok to ride a road bike that has flat handlebars as you’ll get the advantages of a bar that gives you a steady grip like a mountain bike, which can help give beginner cyclists more confidence.
But there are also plenty of riders who are not beginners who just prefer the typically more upright position of a flat bar road bike.
Is carbon more comfortable than Aluminium?
Carbon handlebars drop the weight of the bike and they’re often 20 to 40 percent lighter than aluminum.
Carbon also tends to dampen vibration better than aluminum, simply because of its material properties adding to the comfort aspect. Carbon may be more comfortable, however, the material is only one, a small part of overall comfort on a bike.
Aluminum, on the other hand, can be a little more forgiving. It is often popular for cycling disciplines like crit racing, downhill and freerides mountain biking where there is a high likelihood of taking a tumble due to the nature of the racing.
Finding the best-integrated handlebars for your bike can make a huge difference in your comfort. By changing the width, you can improve your bike fit while also having a significant effect on the handling characteristics and stability of your bike.
Upgrading bike components can yield improvements in aerodynamics, reduced weight, and depending on your preferences, can either dampen more vibration before it makes its way to your hands or increase stiffness to maximize the precision of your handling.
Even the best road bikes will benefit from an upgraded cockpit or handlebar. Thus, it is important that you know all the factors you have to consider to be able to choose one that will suit your bike best.