Hybrid bikes, whether they’re regular bikes or electric bikes, tend to have riser or flat handlebars. These are a very comfortable type of handlebar, but they do have a number of limitations. If you’ve seen road bikes with drop handlebars, then you may be wondering if you could swap the existing handlebars on your hybrid bike with these. Let’s take a look at the answer.
Short answer: Yes but no but yes
The short answer is this:
Yes, you can swap the flat or riser handlebars on your hybrid bike with drop bars. It’s actually not that tricky to do, assuming that the bar diameter of both is the same – just unscrew the handlebar clamp on the bike stem, swap the bars over, and re-fit the clamp.
But the trouble with this is that the existing gear shifters and brake levers that you have on your hybrid aren’t compatible with drop bars – there isn’t space for them and they may also be in the wrong orientation.
(Don’t worry – there’s a great workaround for this)
So, why can’t you just swap to drop bars? Hybrid gear shifters and brake levers are all horizontal, whereas on drop bars these are all vertical. Not only that, but the gear shifters and brake levers that are used on drop bars are a single unit, rather than the separate levers that you have on a hybrid bike.
Another difficulty with swapping to drop bars, is that swapping the gear shifters and brake levers to road bar compatible ones, will likely mean that other components will also need to be changed: cabling, front and rear derailleurs, rear cassette, front chain rings, and front/rear brakes.
As you can imagine, the costs of this are significant.
That’s a shame, because there are a couple of disadvantages with flat or riser handlebars where drop bars can actually be a major advantage:
Flat or riser handlebars can only be used with a single hand position, causing fatigue on long rides and pain for weak or arthritic joints.
Road bars which can be used with multiple hand positions.
Flat or riser handlebars are one of the least aerodynamic types of handlebars – so headwinds are more challenging and you can’t get into an aero ‘tuck’ position for faster speeds on downhills.
Road bars where your hands and arms are held close to the body for minimum wind resistance and ‘getting into the drops’ – the curved lower section of the bars – gives the opportunity for fast acceleration on descents.
What if there was a work-around?
A solution that gave all the benefits of using the existing flat/riser bars on your hybrid bike PLUS all the benefits of drop bars?
And at a fraction of the cost of replacing your existing flat bars with drop bars?
Luckily, there is. Let’s see what it is.
Workaround: How to easily add drop bars to existing hybrid bike bars
We’ve seen that replacing the flat or riser handlebars on a hybrid bike or electric hybrid bike with drop bars can be very costly.
Not only do you have the cost of replacing the handlebar, but you also will have to replace the brake levers, gear shifters and a host of other expensive components.
However, there’s an easy solution to this conundrum that:
- Gives all the benefits of flat/riser bars (comfortable, upright riding position with plenty of space for bike lights, bike computer, etc)
- Also gives the benefits of drop bars (letting you tuck into an aerodynamic riding position whenever you want to)
- And is very cost-effective (a small handful of $ vs huge fistfuls of $$$)
So, what’s the easy solution?
Drop bar attachments on a hybrid bike
Drop bar attachments are the perfect solution to this challenge.
These are a pair of curved bars, mimicking the drop section of road bike drop bars.
They are easy to attach – just use an allen wrench (hex key) to tighten the nut which secures them onto your existing flat or riser handlebar.
Drop bar attachments are much more flexible too in that they can be installed either at the bar ends, or on the inside of the existing handlebar grips.
Pro Tip: get some bar tape to cover them with for comfortable and secure grip even when things get sweaty or soggy.
- Best of both worlds – flat bar comfort with drop bar aerodynamics
- No need to replace any of your bike’s existing setup (brake levers, gear shifters, etc)
- Very cost effective
- Simple to fit
- Adds weight to the bike (but not very much as the bar end attachments are normally made from light alloys)