Comprehensive Guide to Mountain Bike Drop Weight & How it Affects Steering & Handling
There are two main types of bike handlebars: flat handlebars and drop bars. Each type has its own pros and cons. Handlebars affect sitting position, the weight of your bike, and ease of handling. Your decision on which handlebars to use should be made after carefully considering the differences between the two types and how mountain bike drop weight affects your biking experience.
Mountain bike drops weigh between 200 and 250 grams. Drop bar weight depends on the size of the bar, the materials it is made of, and added accessories.
Many bikers find it important to minimize the weight of their bike as it affects speed and the ability to handle the bike. A study conducted by the National Library of Medicine showed that a 95kg rider was 3.3% slower when going uphill using a bicycle that was 21% heavier. Drop bars weigh more than flat handlebars and if you choose a mountain bike tool bag that locks to fit onto your drop bar as shown in our article, it would also add to the weight. The question then is whether the pros of using drop bars make up for the extra weight.
What’s the Standard Weight of a Drop Bar?
The two most common materials used to make drop bars are aluminum and copper. Copper handlebars are lighter than aluminum handlebars, but aluminum handlebars are more durable and cost less.
The average weight of a pair of mountain bike drops is between 200 and 250grams. Copper drop bars are lighter, less durable, and more expensive than aluminum drop bars.
To use a drop handlebar, you can either buy a complete one like this FSA Non-Series Handlebar or you can add drops like these to your flat handlebars. This video tutorial from the Global Cycling Network shows the difference between using flat bars and adding drop bars. To use drop bars you will also need drop-bar wraps. These add to the weight of the handlebar although their weight is negligible. The size of handlebars and the material they are made of has the largest impact on their weight.
Mountain Bike Drops Weight Chart
The following are some examples of drops and their weight.
|Example of Drops and Drop Bars||Description||Weight|
|Venzo Road Bicycle||Aluminum drop bar ends||196g|
|Profile Designs Drop Handles||Time-tested aluminum drop bar handle||230g|
|Vincita Drop Handles||Light-weight metal drop handles|| |
|Origin8 Drop Bar||Alloy drop bar handles in black|| |
|Ritchey Neo-Classic Drop Bar||Double-butted alloy drop bar in high polish silver finish|| |
|Zoom M Wave Handlebar||400mm wide aluminum drop bar|| |
|Easton EC70 AX Handlebar||Carbon drop bar with a 120mm drop|| |
|Whisky Drop Handlebar||Aluminum drop bar in matte black|| |
|The Coast Gravel Handlebar||Black drop bar with a shallow drop|| |
|PRO Vibe Superlight Handlebar||Carbon Fiber drop bar in black|| |
|Average Weight of Mountain bike drops||247.3g|
You may also be wondering if you can put drop handlebars on a mountain bike and why you should do it. If so, be sure to read our related article for more information. Similarly, learning how to choose between mountain bike drop bars vs. flat bars can also be useful. Be sure to read that article too for more details.
Does Drop Bar Weight on Handlebars Affect Steering or Handling?
Having good steering control is essential when it comes to riding a mountain bike. A benefit of drop bars is that, unlike straight handlebars, they allow for more than one hand position. This is especially useful for long bike rides when keeping your hands in the same position can become uncomfortable. During such trips, being able to change your hand position can improve your steering control.
Mountain bike drop bar weight does not affect steering or handling even with extra accessories mounted onto the drops such as speed lever shifters and end cups. However, leaning forward when using drop bars makes steering slightly more difficult. It is important to note that this has to do with the weight of the rider being shifted onto the handlebar and not with the weight of the handlebar itself.
Another reason why drop bars are used is that they allow for a more aerodynamic posture than when using straight handlebars. A drop bar allows the rider to stoop lower and lean forward. This makes it easier for the rider to gain and hold speed. Some riders claim they feel the bar weight when steering. Objectively this is not true. What they could be experiencing is that they find it harder to steer because their weight is spread out more than when using flat handlebars. For better steering, use lighter drop bars like these.
And if you would like to try drop bars we explain the simple steps for adding drop bards to a mountain bike.
How to Reduce Mountain Bike Drop Weight
If you have switched to drop bars for their aerodynamic advantage but leaning forward makes it difficult to maneuver, you might want to make sure that the handlebar is as light as possible. You can do this by using drops made of copper or carbon fiber instead of aluminum, and by using light accessories.
To reduce mountain bike drop weight, use extra light handlebar wraps when wrapping the drops, install light and sturdy speed and brake levers, and use plastic drop end cups instead of aluminum.
1. Wrap Drop Bars with Extra Light Handlebar Wraps
Handlebar wraps are made from materials such as cork, leather, silicone, and synthetic material like nylon and plastic. While leather wraps can look classy, they are heavier than the other options and more expensive. Both cork and synthetic handlebar wraps are lighter in weight and cheaper than leather wraps. These Emoly handlebar tapes are an example of lightweight synthetic wraps. Another good lightweight option is this cork wrap with adhesive tape on the back. Both these wraps are easy to use and come in different colors.
2. Install Handlebar Ends with Light Plastic Cups
Drop bars without handlebar ends can be dangerous. In the event of an accident, having ends can save you from injury. Moreover, handlebar ends reduce handlebar vibration. Some handlebar ends have small mirrors or lights. Both the cheaper and more expensive models tend to be made from metal or plastic.
Although aluminum bar ends are more sturdy, plastic cups are lighter in weight. Moreover, most plastic cups are easier to install than aluminum bar ends as they are made of compressible material which can simply be squeezed in. These AB Tools end cups are an example of push-in plastic end cups and weigh only 10g. These Cuticate end plugs are even lighter, weighing only 6g. Then there are aluminum bar ends like these, which are sturdier but heavier, weighing 45 grams.
3. Use Combined Brake and Gear Lever
Using a combined brake and gear lever instead of separate pods is a good way to minimize mountain bike drop bar weight. However, the only drawback is that if either the brake or the gear is damaged you will have to replace the whole lever instead of just replacing the damaged component. Despite that one issue, there are many mountain bike models that come with a combined brake and gear lever. An example of a combined brake and gear lever is this Combo 21 by Kako which only weighs 340 grams. Using a combined brake and gear lever simplifies the installation process as you do not have to attach the brake and gear levers separately. And you can check out our ultimate list of tools needed for mountain bike maintenance so that you can do this type of installation yourself.
Why Drops have Different Weights
A heavier drop bar is not necessarily worse than a lighter one because, for example, the heavier one might be more durable. However, you should know the factors that influence the weight of your drops so that you assess a product's quality.
The weight of drops is determined by their materials, drop bar length, and drop accessories like locking bar end cups and handlebar tape wraps. The type of drop grips used also affect the weight.
Here we list the reasons for drops having different weights:
1. Mountain Bike Drops with Large Drop Sizes are Heavier
The size of the drop refers to the vertical distance from the top of the handlebar to the drop handles. The bigger the drop, the heavier it will be. The diameter and the thickness also contribute to the weight of the drops.
2. Copper and Carbon Fiber Drops are Lighter than Aluminum or Steel Drop Bars
Out of the materials used to make handlebar drops steel is the heaviest, followed by titanium, aluminum, and carbon fiber respectively. Titanium is heavier than aluminum but has a longer fatigue life as this article by Roost Bike explains. If having light-weight drops is your main priority then carbon fiber which is strong but lightweight, as this article by ICE Engineering explains, is the material to go for. Aluminum ones tend to be heavier but are also more durable.
If you would like to know more about these and other materials used in bike manufacturing then check out our guide on carbon mountain bikes vs. aluminum bikes.
3. Accessories Such As Bar Ends and Heavy Grip Tapes Increase Weight
Accessories make drops heavier. An example of an accessory is bar end plugs, which are plugs or cups designed to fit into the end of the drop’s pipe. Bar-end plugs like these are a crucial safety item as open-ended bars can puncture the body in a crash. They also serve to protect the bike from impact damage. Some manufacturers also sell bar ends like these as a solution for handlebar vibrations. The bar ends most commonly used are push-in nylon bar ends and hard-wearing aluminum bar ends that are attached to the drops using pinch bolts. The nylon bar ends are made of compressible plastic that is designed to accommodate a variety of handlebar sizes and is cheaper as well as lighter in weight than aluminum bar ends.
Handlebar wraps or tape will also add weight. Handlebar tape covers the drops to provide a more comfortable grip for the rider. Traditionally tape was made using materials such as cork, and perforated leather. However, nowadays tape is mostly made from synthetic materials that are lighter in weight. These materials include silicone, nylon, and polyurethane. For cushioning purposes, these tapes often have a foam or a gel core. As a matter of interest find out more about using tape and other knick-knacks in our article that discusses mountain bike fender accessories.
4. Plastic Brake Levers are Lighter Than Aluminum Brake Levers
On mountain bikes with drop handlebars the brake levers are attached to the drops so that they are easier to reach. Brake levers tend to be made of aluminum with the top cover often being plastic or rubber. Brake levers come with a strap mount that can be adjusted, and the lever is attached using a mounting bolt. Aluminum brake levers provide a good balance between weight and durability. However, the lightest options are plastic brake levers.