Can You Put Drop Handlebars on a Mountain Bike and Why You Should Do It

Mountain biking is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. And, if you're looking for a way to make your mountain bike rides more comfortable, and maybe a little faster, you can simply change your handlebars. In fact, that is exactly why many mountain bikers choose to put drop handlebars on a mountain bike.

Yes, it is possible to put drop handlebars on a mountain bike. Buy a new stem and brake cables so that they will be compatible with the mountain bike drop bars. Drop handlebars provide more hand positions, reduce aerodynamic drag during downhill runs, and make hill climbs easier.

​​Keep reading to learn more about why you should or shouldn't put drop bars on a mountain bike as well as different factors that may sway your decision. 

Why You Should Put Drop Bars on a Mountain Bike

Drop bars are those handlebars that enable you to either rest your hands on the top part of your handlebars or underneath the bar itself so you’re closer to the stem and head tube. For anyone who loves going on off-road adventures, gravel roads, or two-track and dirt trails, drop bars should be an option to consider.  There are numerous benefits to putting drop bars on a mountain bike. If you will be putting drop bars onto your bike yourself, then you should check out our ultimate list of tools needed for mountain bike maintenance as you will be needing some of those for this DIY project. 

Putting drop bars on a mountain bike provides more options when cycling up hills. Drops help reduce drag force due to the induced aerodynamic effects, allowing for faster riding due to leaning forward, riding for longer distances, and providing multiple gripping positions. 

When you add drop bars to your mountain bike, you’re giving yourself a faster, more intense ride that’s perfect for any speed demons or people who want to conserve energy as much as possible on long rides.

Reason 1. Drop Bars Give You More Options When Climbing Up Hills

When you’re out of breath and tired, sometimes you need to be in different positions on your bike to maximize your ride. Placing your hands in the drops is technically the most aerodynamic, however, it can be difficult to use your full lung capacity in this position. If you’re really out of breath, you’ll want to sit with your spine straight and your hands on the bar tops so you can get a good breath.

But if you want a more controlled ride when going uphill and more power with your brakes, then keep your hands in the drops. That way, it’s easy to grab the brakes with your index fingers when needed. However, you will feel a decrease in power because you cannot inhale as deeply. 

Reason 2. Helps Reduce Your Drag Force Due to the Induced Aerodynamic Effects

Road cyclists used drop bars first because they wanted to improve their speed and use less energy, but according to this article by the Science of Cycling, the human body is actually the thing that slows riders down the most. Body positioning is crucial. Drop bars reduce the amount of area that your body takes up in the front, which makes the rider more aerodynamically efficient and reduces the amount of wind resistance the rider creates during their ride. When your body is closer to the frame of the bike, it makes the rider mold to the shape of the bike and use less energy. 

That means that the same could be applied to mountain biking. If you’re on a mountain trail that’s pretty exposed, you won’t have trees around you to cut off that wind resistance. So if you have drop bars, you can ride on the hooks rather than the top and be more aerodynamic. This reduces air pressure drag and direct friction so that you have a smoother ride.

Reason 3. The Drops Help You to Ride Faster 

When you put drops on your mountain bike, it makes it easier to ride faster because you can lean forward more. Leaning forward allows you to push down on the pedals with your quadriceps for more force, which means you can use your legs to maximize the direct propulsion force onto the pedals.

Leaning forward puts most of your weight over the handlebars, which distributes pressure between the two wheels. However, this position is not stable because your weight is not as evenly distributed on the bike, so be careful when you’re doing this on a mountain bike. You’ll have less control maneuvering your bike and may not be able to make last-minute changes as easily.

Reason 4. Drop Bars Help You to Cover Longer Distances 

If you’re a cyclist who rides fast for long periods of time, you know how important it is to be able to change body position in order to sustain your energy on trips with high mileage. When you want to go fast downhill, you can move your hands to the drops to be more aerodynamic and move faster. But if your back starts to get tight and you need to stretch it out, you can rest your hands on the tops and stretch your back out. 

With drop bars, you have the flexibility to move into the position you need for maximum comfort or aerodynamics to push through to the end of your long ride.

Reason 5. Drop Handlebars Offer Multiple Handling Positions

When you ride for long distances, drop handlebars are convenient because they offer multiple handling positions. If you leave your hands on the tops of the handlebars for the whole ride, they’ll start to feel stiff. But if you leave your hands in the drops for the whole ride, your back might start to hurt because you’re so hunched over. 

So, for maximum power for the whole length of your ride, here are some of the most popular handling positions and when you should use them.

Riding Position 1. Hoods

When you ride on the “hoods,” these are the rubbery tops of your brakes. This is the standard position you will be in while riding because it feels pretty neutral and you have easy access to your brakes. If your hoods feel too far forward, you need to adjust your handlebar slightly so that they feel easy to reach. If your back is feeling tired at all or you need to take bigger breaths during your ride, take hold of your hoods for easier riding.

If you put drop bars on your mountain bike you will probably find riding on the hood like this to be the most neutral and comfortable position to maintain.
Riding on the hoods is the most natural position that most people use for the majority of their rides. Source:

Riding Position 2. Drops

The “drops” are the bottom of the curvature in your drop handlebars. This is an aggressive riding position and can feel a little scary when you first start out. Make sure you are comfortable riding your bike before attempting a decline to the drops. It’s worth practicing riding in the drops because this position is the most aerodynamic, and you can still use your index and middle fingers to reach the brakes. But be careful, because the brakes are much easier to use for a sudden stop in this position. Don’t stop too quickly and fly over the front of your bike!

If you would like to adopt the most aerodynamic position when cycling then you can put drop handlebars on your mountain bike and ride in “the drops” like these cyclists.
Riding in the drops is the most aerodynamic position and should only be used downhill for experienced riders. Source: Cycling News.

Riding Position 3. Tops

The tops of the bars are the very front of the drop handlebar that goes flat in front of you. It’s easy for beginners to want to use this position because it feels similar to flat handlebars, but be careful. You cannot reach the brakes from the tops, so you could end up hurting yourself if you need to make a sudden stop and cannot. But, the tops are great if you are in a safe area and need to slow down for a break. Riding with your hands on the tops takes the pressure of your weight off your hands. So if your hands are feeling sore, stiff, or numb during your ride, it may help to ride with them on the tops for a little bit. That is, as long as it is safe to do so! If you find that you experience discomfort in your hands then our tips & tricks for choosing a mountain bike grip for numbness could be of some help to you.

Ascending steep inclines “on the tops” could be beneficial as this position allows you to open up your chest so you can take those big breaths needed to finish the climb, but only try this if you are a seasoned and confident rider.

When riding up steep inclines riding on the tops could help you to open your chest to take big breaths of air while you exert yourself.
Riding on the tops gives you a chance to catch your breath during a long ride. Source: Bicycling Magazine.

Riding Position 4. Hooks

The hooks are the curved section of your drop handlebars. This is still an aggressive riding position and more aerodynamic than the hoods or the tops, but not quite as intimidating as riding in the drops. This can be a great position to start in if you want to practice riding faster downhills but aren’t ready for the drops. Again, just be careful when braking in this position because you will come to a stop much faster than when you’re braking while riding on the hoods.

Putting drop handlebars on your mountain bike will allow you to place your hands in different positions including in the hooks like this. This position is not quite as aerodynamic as riding in the drops but is still quite aggressive.
Be careful because you can brake much faster while riding in the hooks. Source: Wenzel Coaching.

You may also find interest in learning how to choose between mountain bike drop bars vs. flat bars to determine which is best for your bike. If so, be sure to read our related article for more details. Similarly, you may want to learn more about the mountain bike reach calculator before making a decision. Be sure to take a look at that article as well for more information.

Reasons Not To Add a Drop Bar For A Mountain Bike

Even though there are tons of great reasons to add a drop bar to your mountain bike, it’s certainly not for everyone. And after all, drop bars are more commonly used in road bikes because it’s easier to ride your bike on a road. When you ride in the mountains, it’s typically on dirt trails, so you’re paying more attention to the trail ahead of you for stones or barriers.

Reasons not to add a drop bar for a mountain bike are that it’s challenging to find compatible drop-bar replacement parts, it’s costly to replace some drop-bar parts, crouching down in the drops sometimes creates vision issues, drop bars have limited space for other accessories, and drop bars work best for experienced riders, not beginners. 

Reason 1. Sometimes Challenging to Find Compatible Drop Bar Replacement parts

If you live in a larger city, then you shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding compatible drop-bar replacement parts. However, if you live in an area that’s more rural or outside of the developed world, it will be difficult. That’s because lots of small bike shops in smaller towns carry mostly flat bar components. However, you can find pretty much anything online including mountain bike accessories, it just may take a few weeks to replace the part on your bike due to shipping delays. Check out our guide to mountain bike armor pieces to see how these accessories can ensure your safety on your rides.

Reason 2. It's Costly to Replace Some Drop Bar Parts

Certain parts of your drop bar are more expensive than on flat bars. If your brake levers or shifters like these on your drop bars break, they will be more expensive to fix. This is because drop bars are usually made by higher-end companies than flat bars, so they cost more.  

Also, unless you do the replacements yourself, the labor is a bit more involved in working with drop bars, so that will cost you a bit more too.

Reason 3. Crouching Down Sometimes Results in Vision Issues

When you’re riding in the mountains, it’s really important to maintain the full vision of your surroundings because the trail is not smooth to ride on like a road is. When you’re riding in the drops, your head tends to be angled down so you lose some visibility. And while you can look up, this puts strain on your neck so you can’t do it for your whole ride. 

The solution is to not ride in the drops if you’re in an area that’s particularly rocky or narrow. Ride on the tops or hoods instead so you have a clearer picture of the trail ahead. We also discuss accessories to aid in protecting your eyes so that your vision is always clear, in our mountain bike armor designs guide.

Reason 4. Drop Bars Have Limited Space for Other Accessories

If you like to have a lot of gadgets on your bike, like a bar end bike bell like this, GPS, phone, light, etc., then drop bars may not be best for you. The only space you have to put on gadgets is the tops, and you really only have room for one or two at the most. And when you put accessories on your tops, that means you can no longer use that as a riding position. 

Reason 5. Drop Bars Work Best For Experienced Riders, Not Beginners

Riding in the drops with a drop bar like this, is lots of fun because you can go so much faster and use less energy, but it’s also more difficult to handle your bike in this position. You brake so easily that unless you really know what you’re doing, you could fly over the front. And the drops are really aerodynamic, so you can ride much faster than you intend to. And the faster you’re riding, the more dangerous a fall is.

If you are a beginner biker, especially a beginner mountain biker, use flat bars first until you have six months to a year of riding experience under your belt. And should you then be ready to upgrade your mountain bike you will need to check out our in-depth guide to what mountain bike you should buy.

Make sure to also read our tips on choosing the best mountain bike handlebar sweep for more tips and tricks.

Factors That Determine Whether to Put Drop Handlebars on a Mountain Bike 

Even though there are reasons you may or may not want to put drop handlebars on a mountain, bike there are many factors to consider. Every rider is different, so even if drop bars are faster, you may not want to go fast on your ride - you might rather want to be able to look around and focus on the view in front of you.

When determining whether to put drop handlebars on a mountain bike first consider the stem size,  calculate the drop bar conversion cost, look around to find the parts available for a drop handlebar, and think about personal preferences while riding. 

1. Consider Stem Size

Mountain bike stems like these are typically 50-80mm long, while road bike stems start at 80mm and can go all the way up to 120mm (or longer). The stem is one of the main things that control a bicycle’s handling. Mountain bikes come with shorter stems because that helps you make quick changes on the bike. Longer stems are for slower, more predictable handling.

Also, a shorter stem makes it easier to reach your handlebars, so this is a good option if you feel like you’re stretched out over your frame. On the other hand,  adding a longer stem may help if you’re feeling like you don’t have enough room to move your body around on the bike. 

However, the most important aspect of choosing your stem is that it makes your ride more comfortable. While you may want to try and pick the cheapest stem out there, you need to make sure that your bike is measured for the proper fit. It’s much more important to keep your body safe while your ride. If you pick a stem that’s too short and you have to stretch super far out on your bike, this will affect your handling and cause more neck and back pain over time. For relief from this type of discomfort we actually provide great advice on where to hold mountain bike grips to maintain proper posture in our guide.

There are two diameters to look at when picking out a stem: the steerer tube and then your handlebars themselves. For mountain bikes, the steerer tube diameter is typically 1 ⅛ inch, but sometimes it comes in a 1 ¼ inch diameter as well. And this is confusing, but the diameter of your handlebar is always measured in millimeters, not inches like the steerer tube.

So in mountain bikes, the handlebar diameter is typically 31.8mm, but sometimes bars are 35mm as well. This is no problem if you’re taking a drop handlebar that was meant for a newer road bike since those diameters are typically 31.8mm as well. But if the drop handlebars you’re looking at are from an older bike, beware that they might not fit because road bike handlebar diameters used to be 25.4mm.

2. Calculate The Drop Bar Conversion Cost

When considering drop bars for your mountain bike, it’s always good to think about the cost. Because you’re not just purchasing the drop bars, you also may have to purchase a new stem, handlebar shifter, brake lever, universal brake cable, and the potential cost of labor if you’re not doing this yourself. 

The good thing about bringing your mountain bike into a shop like an REI shop is that they can tell you exactly how many of these items you need to replace. The bad thing is that labor costs can vary depending on where you live.

To aid in your decision, look at the table below for a rough estimate of your drop bar conversion cost. But again, this could vary based on the parts that you will actually need to get and how much the shop you use charges for labor if you use a shop at all.

 Here we show the costs that adding drop handlebars on a mountain bike could amount to:

New Drop Bar Parts Example  Cost
Drop handlebar RXL SL Carbon Handlebar ~$55
Stem Fomtor 25.4 stem ~$20
Handlebar shifter Micro Shift 3X7 ~$15
Brake lever Timoo Bike Brake Levers ~$10
Universal brake cable Yakamoz 2-in-1 Universal Bike Shift Derailleur Cable & Brake Cable ~$15
Labor cost (1 hour) Rei Shops ~$30 (varies greatly by your location)
Approximate Total Cost   $131.00

3. Availability of Compatible Drop Handlebar Parts

Since most drop handlebars are made for road bikes, you may have a tougher time finding all the compatible parts you need for your mountain bike. The good news is that MTB handlebars and road bike handlebars are often made with the same diameter now, 31.8mm, so it shouldn’t be too hard to go from flat handlebars to drop handlebars. However, this is only the case if you have a bike made fairly recently. Always measure the diameter first to double-check.

The other thing is that local stores may not carry the right drop handlebar for you. However, if you are able to buy parts on a website, like Amazon or another online bike shop, you will be able to find the drop handlebar parts that you need. But if you order the parts online, you may have to pay extra for the shipping costs. And think about if any of the parts break while you’re riding or if you crash and need to replace something, it may take some time to get the new parts in.

Basically, if you have a flat handlebar that works pretty well already, you have to consider if it’s worth the hassle to change to a drop handlebar.

4. Personal Preferences

At the end of the day, it’s up to you as the mountain biker to decide what type of ride you want to have. If comfort is your first preference and you’ve ridden with flat handlebars your whole life, then it may not be worth it to try something new. However, if you want to be able to descend faster and change your hand position on the ride so they don’t become so fatigued at the end, then drop handlebars might be an excellent option for you to try. 

You are the only person who will know what is best for you. And if you have never tried drop handlebars before, it might be best to see if you could try them out on a bike at a local shop, or borrow a bike from a friend in a local biking group to try it out for a test ride. There is a huge difference in the feel of a flat vs drop handlebar, so you want to make sure that you really like it before going through all the effort and cost of installing drop handlebars on your mountain bike.

Who Should Use Mountain Bike Drop Bars vs. Flat Bars

Mountain biking is a great way to get out and explore the trails. But what if you want to go further and faster? Adding drop handlebars to your mountain bike can help you do just that. However, there will be other scenarios where you don’t want to go fastest but slower and more controlled. 

For downhill mountain biking, cross country biking, enduro, or mountain bike trails, use flat bars. For bike-packing, mountain bike touring, or mountain bike commuting, use drop handlebars. For recreational mountain biking, use either based on a cyclist’s personal preference.

Flat bars can help you control your movements precisely, which you need when riding downhill to avoid holes in the trail at the last minute. If you’re not sure what type of biker you are, check out this article by the experts at REI that discusses in detail how to choose bike handlebars.

Ultimately, whether you choose to use mountain bike drop bars vs. flat bars will be determined by the type of rider that you are. There is the matter of personal preference, but also certain handlebars just work better for different types of bikes. And while you might think some of these types of biking are just for the pros, that’s not true! Anyone who enjoys mountain biking can sign up for a race in a specific discipline.

Keep reading for the different types of mountain biking and why you should use that type of handlebar.

Type 1. Downhill Mountain Biking - Flat Bars

If you’ve never done downhill mountain biking before, it might seem impossible to you. But it’s not just literally riding a bike downhill, it’s a type of competitive mountain biking where the cyclist rides on a trail that covers steep, rough terrain and along the way may encounter obstacles including jumps, drops, and rock formations. In order to start the course, a ski lift or automobile will take the rider up to the top. Then, it’s up to the rider to maneuver their way down the fastest to win.

Now, with this type of cycling, you need to have as much control of your bike as possible. When you compete with downhill mountain biking, make sure you use flat bars that are as wide as possible so that way you can have the most control of the bike. You’ll never be riding so fast that aerodynamics are more important than control of the bike. Also, look for the widest flat handlebars available, 31.5 inches or 800 mm.

If you are a downhill mountain biking enthusiast you will need more control of your bike so flat bars will be better for you.
Flat bars help the cyclist maneuver over and around obstacles to reach the end the fastest. Source: Bike Perfect.

Type 2. Cross Country Biking - Flat Bars

Cross country biking is a specific discipline of mountain biking, and it even became an Olympic sport in 1996. When you compete in cross-country biking, you’re mostly focusing on the type of terrain that you are riding on. For example, a course might take you through a forest or down a fire road, it just depends on where the race is taking place.

For cross-country biking, you’ll want sturdy handling. Use a flat handlebar so you can maneuver your bike easily. Also, a flat handlebar distributes your weight correctly. It will keep your weight over the front, which is a better position for climbing. Look for a narrower handlebar of around 600-780mm, like this Race Face Aeffect 35 Handlebar.

And if you think you’ll be doing a lot of cross-country biking in cold weather, check out our article on how to choose mountain bike grip heaters that are typically made for flat bars.

Type 3. Bikepacking - Drop Bars

When you’re out bike-packing, you’re riding your bike for the long haul. This is basically multi-day mountain biking, so you want to carry as little weight as possible with you so that you don’t tire out too early from all the extra luggage. You can use almost any mountain bike, but a lighter bike with lighter equipment will make your trip easier.

For bike-packing, do yourself a favor and use drop bars. On any given day, you might ride on a road or ascend a trail, and you need to use different hand positions to maximize your ride. A drop handlebar lets you drop into the hooks to go fast, or to stay on the tops when your back needs a rest. Plus, you’ll want your drop handlebar to be as light as possible since you’ll be carrying other necessary items, like items for sleeping and bike repair tools. For a full list of what to bring when bike-packing, check out this article from the experts at REI.

You can put drop handlebars on your mountain bike if you enjoy bike-packing as they will allow you to change hand positions regularly affording you a more comfortable ride over long distances.
Drop bars allow you to adjust your hand positions while bike-packing for maximum comfort. Source: Campfire Cycling.

Type 4. Recreational Mountain Biking - Use Drop or Flat Bars

If you’re just going out on your mountain bike to have a good time, it’s a matter of personal preference. If you’re a recreational mountain biker, you should use flat bars if you want to have ample control over your bike for the whole ride, or if you’re a beginner and don’t want to go fast. 

Use drop bars if you want to be able to be more aerodynamic and fly downhills, or if you want the option to change up your hand position during long rides.

If you are not sure what type of handlebar to get and you already have a flat one on your bike, try these drop bar ends so that your flat handlebars become drop bars. That way, if you decide you don’t like it, you can easily remove them.

Type 5. Enduro - Flat

Enduro is a specific type of mountain bike race where you need to get to the top of the mountain and back in as little time as possible. Enduro combines different disciplines of mountain biking as this article by Liv Cycling explains. You need to be as physically and mentally fit as a cross-country racer but you need the same bike handling skills as people who navigate technical singletracks.

While enduro used to refer to just the race, it can also refer to types of products that used to be used exclusively for that kind of racing. And it’s not just for professionals. If you are a fit mountain biker, there are amateur races that anyone can sign up for to have a good time, but because you’ll need to be able to maneuver quickly, just like people who participate in downhill mountain biking, use a flat bar which is the type most commonly seen in Enduro races.

Because you move fast and quickly in enduro races, you want a handlebar like this that’s made of sturdy material like carbon so that if you do fall, it can withstand impact at high speeds.

Type 6. Mountain Bike Touring - Drop handlebars

The best way to explain bike touring is that it’s a mix of bike riding and backpacking as this article by REI explains, but you may not spend every night on the trail as you do with bike-packing. You don’t have to carry all of your food with you, you may stay at a hotel every night and eat out. You can treat it just like a road trip, but instead of taking a car from place to place, you are taking your bicycle. Also, bike touring is usually associated with a road bike, but you can use a gravel bike or mountain bike if you expect to take dirt roads or ride on the side of the road in the dirt.

For mountain bike touring, try out some drop handlebars so that you can change up your hand position. Plus, you’ll want the handlebars to still be wide so that you can have better control over long periods. And just like with bike-packing, lighter means that you won’t tire as fast and you can cover more miles per day. However, if you’re not in a rush, then just pick what’s most comfortable for you and go with the flow!

Type 7. Mountain Bike Commuting - Drop handlebars

If you’re looking to save money on gas, you may wonder if you can commute with a mountain bike. The answer is yes! Mountain bikes like these make great commuting bikes because they are more comfortable and have shock absorption that will keep your ride smooth. Plus, if the way to your work is bumpy, you’ll feel it less with a mountain bike. 

Generally, mountain bikes are heavier than road bikes because they are built to last on tough terrain, so the weight of your bike can slow you down. To make up for the difference, use drop handlebars so that your ride becomes more aerodynamic. But not all drop bars are created equal so look for ergonomic drop bars to keep your neck and shoulders comfortable so that you still feel good when it is time to sit at your desk.

If you know you’ll be mountain bike commuting before you buy your bike, check our guide that compares carbon mountain bikes vs. aluminum mountain bikes so you can pick the frame that’s suitable for you.

Type 8. Mountain Bike Trials - Flat handlebars

The absolute craziest out of all mountain biking disciplines, mountain bike trials, involve a course where the mountain biker’s goal is to never hit the ground. They have to overcome all sorts of obstacles, both natural and man-made, to get to the finish line first.

Because this type of biking demands immense focus and controls, you should only use flat handlebars. You need to be able to steer your bike left or right at a moment’s notice, plus you’ll use the momentum from pulling up on your flat bars to overcome obstacles. 

What kind of riding do you do on your mountain bike? Which are better, MTB Drop Bars or Flat Bars? Why? What features to look for in this bar Example bars for this riding style Cost of Bars
Downhill mountain biking only Flat bars  Control of the bike is more important than aerodynamics Look for the widest available, 31.5-inches or 800mm Race Face Altas 35 Handlebar ~$90
Cross country biking Flat bars For easy handling and to keep the rider’s weight over the front of the bike which is better for climbing. Tend to be narrower at 600-780 mm, and usually have limited rise and sweep Race Face Aeffect 35 Handlebar ~$50
Bikepacking Drop bars Usually involves lots of different terrains so you need to be able to use a variety of hand positions Look for something lightweight to keep your weight low FSA K-Wing AGX Handlebar  ~$315
Recreational mountain biking Either Flat if you want more control, drop if you want to go faster Look for low-priced handlebars so that you don’t break the bank for something that’s just a hobby Vincita Bicycle Drop Bar Ends ~$30
Enduro Flat bars Involves riding on a single track, so you need as much control as possible. Look for a sturdy carbon bar that can withstand falls at high speeds Deity Components Speedway 35 Carbon Riser ~$180
Mountain Bike Touring Drop bars You’ll want to change up your hand position over long rides Look for wide handlebars that you can drop into but that also provide control  Funn G-Wide Gravel Handlebar ~$75
Mountain bike commuting Drop bars You will need to pick up speed even though your mountain bike is heavier than a road bike Look for ergonomic drop bars specifically so you can feel good for work after your commute. Zipp Service Course 80 A2 Ergo Handlebar ~$60
Mountain bike trials Flat Bar Flat bars give you the most control over your bike. Look for carbon bars to withstand falls and heavy impact Tarty Bikes Clean Combo ~$480

You might also find some interest in our guide to mountain bike handlebar width. Be sure to check out that article for more information.

How to Put Drop Bars on a Mountain Bike

So, if you’ve decided that drop bars are for you and you have gone out and bought the perfect ones, they will now have to be installed. If your budget is not a problem, it’s easier to just take your bike to a local shop and have them take care of it for you. But if this is not the case then just follow these instructions and you’ll be riding with your drop bars in no time at all.

To put drop bars on a mountain bike, gather all the tools needed, cut the wires, and detach the old plugs, shifters, and brakes. Then, remove the old handlebars. Then, apply a thread locker or grease to the faceplate bolt threads, attach the new drop bars, and wrap them with tape.

This video tutorial by RJ The Bike Guy shows you exactly how to convert your handlebar to a drop bar including any tools and equipment that you may need.

Step 1. Make Sure You Have All the Tools You Need

Before you get started, the first thing you want to make sure of is that you have all the tools for the job. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting started on a project, and only once you’re hands are covered in bike grease do you realize you forgot something. 

To install your new drop handlebars, make sure you have a ruler, angle gauge, knife, scissors, wrench, torque driver, grease, and assembly compound all on hand. Even if you don’t use all of it, it’s better to have each of these items ready just in case you do.

Step 2. Detach Old Plugs, Shifters, And Brakes

Before you take off your new handlebar, you need to make sure that all of the components attached are disconnected so that the handlebar comes off. So, make sure you have detached the old plugs, shifters, and brakes from the flat handlebar.

Step 3. Cut the Wires, Then Remove the Old Handlebars and Faceplate

Since you’ll need to measure your new wires anyway, you can just cut the old ones at any angle to remove them from the bike. Then you can loosen the stem bolts to take off the handlebar and old stem. Since mountain bike stems tend to be short, you’ll need to have a long road bike stem to put in with your mountain bike drop bars so that you can reach the hooks comfortably (enough) when riding.

Step 4. Apply A Grease or Thread Locker to Faceplate Bolt Threads

You must secure a tight fit with your new drop bars. That’s why you need to apply a grease or thread locker to your faceplate bolt threads. This prevents your drop bars from rotating when you are riding, and you can find this medium-strength bicycle thread locker from Park Tool online.

If you’ve purchased a carbon drop bar, use an assembly compound like this where the bar meets the stem instead.

Do not skip this step as your drop bars must be secured correctly onto your bicycle for your safety. Moreover, loose handlebars will cause lots of vibration on your bike, leading to numb fingers and losing control of your bike easily. 

Step 5. Attach Your New Drop Bars

Before you attach your new drop handlebars, slide on the levers and place your handlebars on the ground. This way you can see if your levers are centered. First, attach the stem and then add the drop bars on, tightening them as you go. Then you’ll need to attach your new plugs, shifters, and brakes before wrapping your handlebars.

Step 6. Wrap Your New Handlebars

The last step is to wrap your handlebars with special bike handlebar tape like this. Wrapping them ensures that you have a firm grip on your bike while riding, and keeps all your wires safely secured out of your way so that you don’t get your wires tangled up and fall. You can learn more about mountain bike grip taping techniques and different types of tape from our article.

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