Bullhorn Vs Drop Bar Handles Side-By-Side Comparison

Categorized as How to, Review, Road Bikes

If you’re searching for an aerodynamic advantage, bicycle bullhorns and drop handlebars can provide that to some degree. But bullhorn vs drop bar handles, which one should you pick? Take a look at the pros, cons, and more of these handlebar varieties!

Drop bars are good for many things. More specifically, they’re very comfortable and also ergonomic. One may say that drop bars provide you with more handlebar positions and greater aerodynamic advantage in addition to descending power and sprinting ability. Conversely, Bullhorns excel at road visibility and out-of-seat climbing power.

Other differences between bullhorn vs drop bar handles include accessories compatibility, shifters installation, and the brake setup. Although bullhorn and drop-bar handlebars have their differences, they also have a lot in common – especially when it comes down to the biking community’s preference towards these handlebars.

Not only that they are both excellent options but they also serve their particular purposes well. If you’re not sure which one between a bullhorn vs drop bar is right for your bike, here’s how the two compare:

Bullhorn Vs Drop Bar Handles Side-By-Side Comparison

Bullhorn Vs Drop Bar Compared

Drops bars and bullhorns help in staying aerodynamic while riding on the road. This reduces the amount of energy needed to push against the headwinds on a daily basis, making it easier for cyclists to meet their goals without feeling drained by the effort.

This is because the bars’ aerodynamic advantage keeps your head and upper body forward so you are less likely to hunch over, allowing you to use more of your legs. This means not only a greater resistance to lateral forces but more force on the pedals while maintaining a more comfortable position. But between a bullhorn vs drop bar, how do these variants differ? Let’s delve into that:

Hand Positions

Most bullhorns come with 3 main hand positions: top, sides/drops, and horns. Secondary positions are the curves between tops, the sides, and then the curvatures close to the horns.

Meanwhile, road bikes are equipped with drop bars that offer a total of 6 hand positions. Though they might not seem like much when compared to all the other types of bike handlebars which often come equipped with from 1 to 3 dozen positions per bar, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get a good grip on your ground bike’s drop bars no matter what type of riding you do.

In fact, the three main handles – the hoods, top, and drops – allow you to change your body position through the course of your ride. The secondary positions include sides between the hoods and tops, under the hoods (the area below the hoods), curves between tops and sides, and most importantly, on or over the drops themselves.

This way wherever you find yourself on your bicycle call tour or commuting ride, you will always have full control over all aspects of your biking experience without having to put out much extra effort at all.

The handlebars placed on drop bars can also be considered the main position. It’s a matter of opinion, but it could be considered true since these positions essentially cover the ones offered by bullhorns with one more extra main position (the drops) and a few secondary positions between the tops and hoods.

So between bullhorn vs drop bar handles, if you want more hand positions available when riding for long periods of time and minimize joint stress caused by having your hands in the same position all day, drop bars win this contest.

Descending

Riding on the drops could be your best bet in a race because it lets you get low and avoid being punctured by wind resistance. Dropping down also puts your hands near the hoods or brakes, so avoiding obstacles will be easier as you’ll have better leverage with your middle and index fingers than your ring finger like when riding on flat handlebars.

In addition, the most common way a drop bar is activated is via the ends that are closer to its bottom side. The power transfer between hands and bicycles through this activation method is much stronger than it would be if, for example, a bullhorn was used.

So between bullhorn vs drop bar handles, it doesn’t mean that bullhorns are universally bad during descents, but they don’t offer as much as they do on flat or uphill terrain where their design can be put to greater use. Drop bars offer better control than other options when working your way down a hill and they tend to be very comfortable in those situations.

Aerodynamics

Now when it comes to aerodynamics between bullhorn vs drop bar handles, you might have noticed that drop handlebars give riders the opportunity to sit lower than they normally would when riding on bullhorns. This allows them to become more aerodynamic, flatten their back, and have better control over the bike. UPANBIKE Fixed Gear Drop Bar offers these drop-bar benefits.

UPANBIKE Drop Handlebar

UPANBIKE Fixed Gear Drop Bar - Bullhorn Vs Drop Bar

This UCANBIKE Fixed Gear Drop Bar is well constructed and adequately lightweight. It has a limited-slip cable chain management system and degree measurements at the stem. This is a good economical bar for your training bicycle.

However, one drawback of drop bars is that they don’t allow riders to fully stretch out as much as you can do with a bullhorn-style handlebar. It might be surprising but there is actually one exception when it comes to a handlebar that provides users with such an option: Pursuit handlebars are ideal for everyday riding, but even their drops aren’t as low as those seen on casual road bikes.

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Fyxation Rodeo Pursuit Bullhorn

Fyxation Rodeo Pursuit Bullhorn - Bullhorn Vs Drop Bar

The Fyxation Rodeo Pursuit Bullhorn boasts a number of features to ensure comfort and versatility. It offers versatile handgrips and great visibility. The slight bend in the top portion is thoughtfully designed for better posture, and it can actually reduce wrist strain, too. Despite its lightweight construction, this bar feels durable enough to stand up against almost any beating you throw at it. It also offers a unique look that cyclists will love.

Now, let’s discuss how aerodynamics works with drop bars. On average, the drop bar position feels like having a middle-of-the-road kind of ride between drops and hoods. You feel stable down there, but you’re also able to twist and turn your body as you would in the hoods.

The bullhorn bars give you that classic time trial-esque shape, which allows you to bend down and tuck your elbows in for a streamlined fit. And though riding in the bullhorns for long periods of time isn’t super comfortable, it’s a great way to warm up before heading into longer rides with the group.

​​Using drops can allow you to transition more quickly from the tops to the hoods of your handlebars, which is an important part of being aerodynamic. For this reason, drop bars make sense if your goal race bike is on a flat or rolling course where maneuverability matters.

The only exception is time trial bikes where bullhorns actually combine with aero bars for faster speed due to the more aerodynamic position on these bikes. Beyond this, the people who are on the fence about what to get between bullhorn vs drop bar handles are unlikely to be taking a detailed look at their relationship with time trial bikes.

Climbing

The horns of a bullhorn handlebar provide cyclists with an added leverage when climbing in the saddle. This means that the rider can generate more power from the lower body and arms to climb steeper hills.

Single-speed and fixed-gear riders will find this characteristic to be especially useful as they usually lack multiple gears and low ranges on their derailleur in order to easily ride up steep climbs like those seen on cobblestone roads.

If the bike you’re riding has sufficient gearing for climbs and you don’t have to get out of your saddle as much, then perhaps bullhorns aren’t that necessary. They might feel less comfortable because of their shape and thickness, but if you feel like it makes a difference when getting up those hills, use them to your advantage or just see how they feel over time.

Bullhorns are useful when it comes to climbing out of the saddle without feeling like there is any unnecessary friction or pressure in between your legs. That’s why some sometimes prefer using bullhorns even on drop bars because they give you the leverage you need when going uphill.

SENQI Bullhorn Handlebar

SENQI Bullhorn Handlebar - Bullhorn Vs Drop Bar

Senqi offers a sleek bullhorn handlebar that emits an air of sophistication while providing you with the safety and security of an orthodox-style design.

Although its specialized alloy may appear to be light and delicate at 340 grams, rest assured that the strength of its material offers maximum stability, ensuring absolute power transfer as you push or pull through your physical challenges.

The Senqi bullhorn handlebar is designed to promote a more aerodynamic posture that puts you in an ideal position to ride as fast as possible. This specialized shape looks great and feels even better when you’re pedaling through corners on your next long ride.

The slightly curved arched handlebars make cruising around town a lot more comfortable on your wrists and let you stop at traffic lights without blocking the view of people behind you. It’s made of aluminum and you can choose between silver or black to fit in with your bike’s color palette (or personal needs if you’re going for more visibility!).

Visibility

The visibility of the road ahead, however, is an area where bullhorn handlebars rate higher than drop bars. The low-lying posture that drop bars require pushes your eyes downward rather than ahead, diminishing your ability to glance at the road surface.  

Even so, many avid cyclists consider a bendy bar set up as one of their best options when they don’t want to forfeit the aerodynamic advantage of a bullhorn, and that’s because they offer nearly everything else you gain from a straight key and without compromising on control.

If you prefer to ride drop bars, but don’t want to compromise your road vision and are a more experienced cyclist, then the ORIGIN8 Bullhorn Handlebar is a great option for you. The bullhorn handlebars from ORIGIN8 ensure that riders will still have good visibility while they’re on the road – unlike with conventional drop bars.

ORIGIN8 Bullhorn Handlebar

ORIGIN8 Bullhorn Handlebar - Bullhorn Vs Drop Bar

ORIGIN8’s Bullhorn Handlebar is designed to keep your body in a straight line between the bottom bracket and the handlebars, providing you with better control over the steering.

This sturdy bit of body positioning equipment keeps arms close to the middle of your body so that there is less strain on your shoulders. The ORIGIN8 Bullhorn Handlebar also enables riders to feel more stable while remaining in their seats while they turn their bikes.

Since this is a hollow handlebar, you have open handlebar ends that won’t come with caps for the holes. But if you’ve got a bunch of spare caps from past handlebars lying around, you’ll be lucky! Or if not, though, you may just want to buy a few new ones so that your handlebars can look their best.

Sprinting

How about when sprinting, between bullhorn vs drop bar handles, which is superior?

While drop bars are more aerodynamic and have a low center of gravity, they make it easier to sprint than bullhorns. At the same time, they aren’t great on downhill sections because you can overheat your fingers when trying to hold onto them during hard braking or off-camber turns.

This is evident in the fact that bullhorns are better for climbing mountains. To be fair, drop bars are geared towards sprinters, by contrast, bullhorns allow riders to endure climbs while remaining comfortable up top.

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Omega Compact Drop Handlebar by FSA

FSA Omega Compact Drop Handlebar - Bullhorn Vs Drop Bar

With a width of 38cm, the Omega Compact Drop Handlebar is one of the best options for a track (although it might be a little narrow for a road bike). The shape of the bar keeps your wrists comfortable when you are riding. This also helps with sprinting because you won’t hit your wrists on the stem or handlebars as you do so. These bars are specifically designed to be lightweight and strong, which makes them ideal for cycling track events like sprints.

Shifting

Now let’s talk about shifters between bullhorn vs drop bar handles.

Drop bars are the perfect option for people who want to add shifting or have a need for brake levers that aren’t mounted on the tops of their handlebars. Moving your hands further down on the handlebars will allow you to navigate certain terrain without having to worry about losing grip.

On the other hand, bullhorn handlebars are more limited in terms of their versatility. Although it allows down tube, bar-end shifters, and even top-mount shifters, its compatibility is more limited than other types of handlebars.

One thing they do have over drop bars is better compatibility with inferior shifters. When comparing the concept between these two bars, while both fit brake (brake; drop bar; shift) it’s true that bullhorn bars are more compatible with inferior shifters rather than superior ones.

If you’re looking for some nice brake levers for your drop bars, consider getting the SHIMANO BL-R400 Road Drop Brake Levers Set.

BL-R400 Drop Brake Levers by SHIMANO

SHIMANO BL-R400 Road Drop Brake Levers Set - Bullhorn Vs Drop Bar

The SHIMANO BL-R400 Lever Brake is a totally vintage-returns-to-the-present bar end shifter that has to be one of the most useful cycling components you could imagine.

Nowadays brake systems have become bulky, which is especially troubling on bikes that use drop handlebars. These brakes are a good choice for those who find themselves in this predicament. Their size means they don’t catch the wind as much as the bigger ones do, and although they lack the power of their larger counterparts, they still stop a bike effectively.

Installing them is easy because of the quick release feature and even with your average Allen wrench, you’ll be trekking along with like Lance Armstrong in no time at all!

Braking

Between bullhorn vs drop bar handles, there is a clear distinction in the lever position when used. In the case of standard drop bars, the levers are fitted onto the hoods. On the other hand, bull horns can either come with levers on top (or on the horns).

Having access to your brakes while riding is a great benefit, especially when you need to stop quickly. In terms of the brake lever placement on each type of handlebar, bullhorn bars require inline levers because the short arms on bullhorns are not very easy to reach.

By comparison, drop bars work better with a flat bar-end or center bar-end lever simply because these types of levers have a better reach. Things also change if you switch from one system to another so it’s best that you note which setup works best for you and your bike before making any final decisions about your bike’s adjustments ahead of an upcoming ride.

Weight

Between bullhorn vs drop bar handle in terms of weight, it’s difficult to say which horn weighs less as some bars are made out of heavier or lighter materials. There’s an even match here because handlebar weight depends on the material used, so it is hard to claim that one type of bar is lighter than the other.

Rearview Mirror

So between bullhorn vs drop bar handles, which bar types are ideal to pair with a rear mirror? Well, drop bars have a few different options for mounting a rearview lock. You can choose to put the mirror on the bar-ends, on the drops, near the hoods… etc. A great thing about drop bars is that you can find plenty of placements for mirrors if you want one.

Drop Bar Rear Mirror by Sprintech

Sprintech Drop Bar Rearview Mirror - Bullhorn Vs Drop Bar

The sleek and stylish appearance of the Sprintech Drop Bar Rearview Mirror makes it seem like a part both cultivated by and for your beloved bicycle.

Typically, drop-bar setups possess designs not so well engineered but that pleasantry will no longer be a problem for a road rider like you using this product because it integrates seamlessly into your setup, rewarding you with its excellent craftsmanship and quality made from aerospace-grade materials.

It would be a wise choice to never use this Sprintech Drop-Down Bar Rearview Mirror in place of turning your head to check for oncoming traffic and whatnot, but rather as a useful secondary viewing augmenter.

You might think that with the power and ease of having a drop-down mirror in your bike’s landscape, you won’t have to turn around or strain yourself to check if anything’s coming up behind you every time you change lanes.

But it’s better not to rely solely on these types of mirrors during an emergency maneuver like changing lanes (for example), as it could prove disastrous if something distracted you while driving. And yet all things being said, this type of mirror is great at maintaining overall monitoring of the space behind you when used appropriately.

Now, how about some rearview mirrors for bullhorns?

Bullhorns are more limited because the position directly in front of you doesn’t allow room to attach an extra piece without interfering with your ability to hold onto your handlebars during use. There is some chance that your body may block any other type of attachment while riding so they’re not as versatile in this instance as a drop bar which is why drop bars make it easier to mount a mirror.

Front Rack Compatibility

Between bullhorn vs drop bar handles, how do these two bars work in terms of front rack compatibility?

Drop handlebars are not ideal for front rack use because they have a limited cargo capacity. At the same time, bullhorn handlebars aren’t great with front racks either because they also offer a similar cargo capacity or might interfere with tall and bulky items.

Ultimately, bullhorns do have an advantage specifically when it comes to cargo clearance just because of the way in which their horns extend. Flat or townie mounted handlebars, on the other hand, offer a more intuitive array of options for carrying cargo.

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Skidding

Between bullhorn vs drop bar handlles, generally speaking, bullhorn or drop handlebars are equally viable for use in skidding. One reason some people prefer bullhorn handlebars is because they possess more leverage and grip security than drop bars do.

Uses

When Should You Opt for a Drop Bar?

Drop bars are ideal if you want to take part in fast-paced activities such as road racing or dirt jumping. In fact, they are known for providing a perfect combination of aerodynamic advantage and hand positions.

Because of this, they’re also great for long-distance cycling tours. This variety benefits the rider with a little extra lift when they need it most, especially on hills and during sprints. Trekking and touring bikes work well with drop bars.

When Should You Opt for a Bullhorn Bar?

Whether you’re riding your road bike, fixie, single-speed, or commuter bike, bullhorn bars just might be the answer to making enjoying your ride a little better.

When out in the wind blowing against you, bullhorns let you go faster. Plus when climbing hills, bullhorns give you more hand positions. They are aerodynamic like drop bars and allow for multiple hand positions essential to long-distance riding so that your body doesn’t feel as sore at the end of your trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Best Place to Put the Brakes on Bullhorn Handlebars?

The stem is the best place to install brakes on a bullhorn. These are best attached to the middle portion of the stem, but make sure that, whether or not you’re adjusting the brakes all the way up to the top or down towards the bottom of your stem, you keep some space in between your brake pads and fork. This will help ensure equal pressure and not affect how well your brakes work.

Is Using a Bullhorn Handlebar Good?

Bullhorn handlebars are aerodynamic and let you change your hand positions a lot, making them fantastic bars for road, fixed-gear, commuter, and track bikes. They also give you more leverage when sprinting or climbing – which is very helpful on flat terrain but also great for hills.

Would Drop Bars Be Good for Commuting?

Drop bars are not just for professional cyclists and triathletes. Most of us see them as a favorite on exclusive sportbikes, but have you heard of commuter drop handlebars?

Drop bars are great for commuting because of the following reasons:

Firstly, in comparison to flat bars, they’re not so bulky which makes them more suitable for high-traffic, tight spaces such as rush hour traffic and narrow bike paths.

Secondly, they allow riders to be less affected by wind drag which is key when trying to shatter previous personal cycling records.

Lastly and most importantly, the better leverage provided by drop bars makes it easier and more efficient when climbing up hills or trying to get over a finishing line.

Is Using a Bullhorn Handlebar Not Safe?

Drop bars and bullhorn handlebars serve the same purpose—to help you ride in an aerodynamic position. But with bullhorn handlebars, however, whether you gain an advantage from riding such handlebars depends on how fast you will be pedaling, which terrain you’ll be riding on, and how many sharp curves will take place in your course. But once you get used to them, it’s easier to keep your eyes ahead of time and not look at the ground as much. This makes the ride safer.

Is Using a Drop Bar Not Safe?

Drop bars allow riders to take a more aerodynamic position, and so you are able to keep your eyes fixed firmly on the road ahead. The downside, however, is that this position can feel awkward when you first get used to it and you might fall off of your track bike because as your awareness of riding is lowered, road hazards become harder to spot.

Will I Go Faster with Drop Bars?

On the subject of performance between bullhorn vs drop bar handle, remember that both inherently offer an aerodynamic advantage. Drop bars, in particular, offer you more pedaling leverages to use in your favor enabling you to pedal with much power and speed. Drop bars may take a little getting used to but they truly can help anyone from being able to go faster.

Would I Benefit From A Bicycle With a Drop Bar?

Between bullhorn vs drop bar handle, drop bars are ideal for those who have neck or back problems. With these bike types, you don’t have to force your neck or spine into one type of posture.

You aren’t forced to constantly keep your body bent in one way, which is ideal if you want to avoid back problems and issues later on down the line like aches and pains etc. However, when riding a drop bar bicycle, you risk damaging your skin by putting more pressure on it.

Are Bullhorn Handlebars wider than regular handlebars?

The majority of bullhorn handlebars measure approximately 38 to 42 centimeters from one end to the other which makes them conducive to maneuvering around tight turns.

Is It Worth Getting Drop Bars than Flat Bars?

Drop bars provide a number of hand positions, which results in superior palm comfort and they offer an aerodynamic advantage over flat bars, while flat bars offer a more comfortable, upright riding position. For beginners, flat bars are easier to grasp.

Conclusion

Generally, the matchup between bullhorn vs drop bar handlles can be difficult to choose if you don’t know the factors that separate them. But hopefully, after reading through how these two compare to each above, you should now be armed with everything you need to choose between bullhorn vs drop bar handlles. Just follow this handy guide and get to grips with the anatomy of the two.

So go on, give it a try!

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By Jacob

When I was a child, one of my favorite things to do was a cycle. One day while looking around at all the people who didn't know how their bikes worked or where they should go if something broke on them - many were getting ripped off by shady mechanics charging too much for repairs that really weren’t necessary- it became clear what needed to be done! So here at VolataCycles, I help you to keep your bike in great condition, and to show you that cycling can be fun, practical, and affordable - all at the same time!