A mountain bike, gravel bike, or something in the middle? Flat bar gravel bikes obscure the lines, offering riders more command and ease. Here’s how to determine if a flat bar gravel bike is suitable for you.
You exit your house and steer dynamic city streets to the edge of the townlet. After, you leave the pavement behind to climb 2,000 feet of glorious champagne gravel. At the summit, you escape into the woods to drop secret downhill back to town. When you get home, you have a massive smile on your face and not a hint of discomfort in your hands or back. What are you riding, per se?
For some people, the answer is a drop-bar gravel bike. For others, it’s a hardtail peak bike. Still, what if you could have the best of both worlds? Here’s a fantastic theory: Place flat bars on a gravel bike. Not that wild after all?
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Flat-Bar Gravel Bike – The Pros and Cons
Cyclists have been riding hard-surfaced routes for as long as bicycles have lived on this planet. Though as its category, gravel is relatively new. That indicates the “laws” that clarify gravel bikes are not well founded.
This has offered riders and bike developers the freedom to set up bikes to suit various topography and riding styles. A gravel bike already separates the distinction between road and mountain bikes.
Yet, substituting standard drop handlebars with flat handlebars will prompt a gravel bike closer to the mountain bike side of the scope.
Tip: Try never to use a bike helmet for rock climbing! Why is that? Well, this practice can be quite dangerous!
Flat-Bar Gravel Bike Benefits
- More command
- More certainty
- More comfort
- Chilly and special
There’s a fair explanation mountain bikes arrive with flat (or riser) handlebars. A broad and flat handlebar maximizes your power over the front wheel.
When riding technical or rough off-road topography, this enhances your power and confidence. On gnarly stone or singletrack, flat bars can help you ride quicker, stay safer, and investigate further.
For some people, flat handlebars are truly more comfortable than drop handlebars. It may feel more natural to sit more upright and keep your bars in an overhand position, mainly if you have lower back issues, or numbness.
Ultimately, flat-bar gravel bikes are just different, and oftentimes different is cool. Not everyone wishes for their gravel bike to blend. This goes without saying.
Tip: Notably, did you know that there is an evident discrepancy between skateboarding and biking helmets?
Flat-Bar Gravel Bike Drawbacks
- More infrequent hand positions
- Slight aerodynamic
- Transformations can be tough
With classic drop handlebars, you have the usual hand position on the shifter/brake hoods. Also, there is a more upright position on the bar tops and a lower one in the drops. This is useful on long rides and varied terrain because it gives you more options to modify and stay relaxed.
Furthermore, since drop handlebars are slimmer and deliver a lower riding position, they make you more aerodynamic. This helps you go quicker. You won’t see any skilled gravel racers on flat bars.
Eventually, most gravel bikes come classic with drop bars, so flipping to a flat-bar set-up is a bit more complex than just switching handlebars. You’ll have to purchase some new features (more on that in a bit).
Why a Flat Bar Gravel Bike?
Switching twirly for flat bars will alter the purpose of your gravel bike, per se. You’ll instinctively be more vertical. No more bending over to catch the drops. Anticipate an entirely different ride quality, by all means.
With flat bars, you’ll have better command on the declines. This is true, especially when riding singletrack, and with better power on steep climbs. Also, with flat bars, it’s effortless to count a mountain bike back derailleur and cassette to achieve an even ampler gear range.
Do you like to go on adventures that mix walkways with a ton of singletracks and rugged off-road landscapes? Or do you plan on carrying lots of bike packing reserves over multiple days? Perhaps you should think of placing flat bars on your gravel bike.
Note: Did you know that cyclists have relatively skinny arms? Learn why cyclists have skinny arms. This is an interesting fact!
How to Convert to a Flat-Bar Gravel Bike?
Any drop-bar gravel bike can be transformed into a flat-bar cycle. Here’s what you require for this:
- Flat handlebars
- Holds or rips
- Mountain bike brake levers
- Bike shifters
- Rear Derailleur
- Bike cassette
- Bike chain
- New threads and housing (if necessary)
Notably, altering a drop-bar gravel bike to run flat bars isn’t as easy as switching the bars. Shifters and brake levers are prepared either for drop or flat handlebars. So, swapping bars indicates changing shifters and brake levers too.
Contemporary hydraulic disc brakes get tough since most gravel bikes use road-style flat calipers and mountain bikes utilize post-mount calipers.
Unless you get an MTB brake with flat-mount calipers, you will require to install new MTB levers on your current route/gravel calipers. With current 10, 11, and 12-speed drivetrains, you’ll likely need an identical mountain bike derailleur and chain to work with your latest shifter.
This isn’t always the case, and there are a ton of variables out there, so be certain to study the compatibility between various elements if you want to try and save cash. Whereas if you want rarer headaches, it’s often more comforting to just switch to a full mountain bike drivetrain.
If you’re really into mountain biking, and If MTB is your main priority, you’ll find that BMX is a fantastic addition too. Correspondingly, take into consideration that mountain biking helps running as well!
There Is More to It
If you have an electronic drivetrain, yet, you may require fewer elements. SRAM AXS MTB shifters are suitable with AXS road and stone derailleurs so you’ll only require the shifter and brakes.
Shimano Di2 suitability can be a bit more tricky so it’s best to check with Shimano about mixing specific shifters and derailleurs. Also, don’t forget that flat bars will adjust your place on the bike, which may need a new stem to balance.
One thing to contemplate when switching out your drop bars for a flat bar is to adjust for the loss of reach with a lengthier stem. Often, an extra 2-3cm is sufficient. Or if you’re looking at purchasing another bike to make into a flat-bar bike, think of sizing up one size.
Tip: We all know how beautiful and trendy BMX bikes are. You may be wondering if it is too late to learn BMX. Guess what? Age is just a number and you may want to start as soon as possible!
The Best Gravel Bikes With Flat Bars for Every Budget
Don’t want to rush around with altering a drop-bar gravel bike? Here are some amazing flat-bar gravel bikes that are ready to jump right out of the box.
Tip: Are you a fan of skateboarding? If yes, and you are a newbie, you should get skate wheels for beginners. This frankly goes without saying!
#1 Specialized Diverge E5 EVO
Specialized’s EVO line is about testing limits and with the Diverge EVO, Specialized rapidly expanded the frame reach to match the flat-bar set-up. The Future Shock headset immerses bumps. Also, the dropper seat gets the tackle out of the way when it’s time to get sandy.
#2 Radavist x Mosaic GT-2X
This is the forenamed John Watson’s noteworthy model. It’s got a handcrafted titanium structure, custom steel fork, paint, chubby tires, and a 12-speed MTB drivetrain.
Speaking of handlebars, Wason went all out with custom 880mm quite expansive DOOM titanium bars.
#3 Evil Chamois Hagar
#4 Bomtrack Arise
#5 All-City Gorilla Monsoon
All-City’s Gorilla Monsoon experience rig is made even more daredevil with flat bars and a Shimano MTB drivetrain. It also has Santa Cruz Reserve 25 carbon wheels, a derailleur cage, and American-made brakes.
There is one thing to remember though! This special model here is for true risk-takers only!