Best handlebars for gravel bikes: flared bars, ergonomic and even flat bar gravel bars

Choosing the best handlebars for gravel riding just got more exciting, with many new models entering the market. Here's a few of our favourites from modest designs to some really exciting new concepts.

Included in this guide:

Best gravel handlebars
(Image credit: Kevin Fickling)

Are there really any differences between the best handlebars for gravel riding and for road cycling?

Flared handlebars have become the norm on new gravel bikes recently, where the drops give a wider position than on the hoods. If you're looking to upgrade to flared bars for your off-road endeavours or something a little different, we've got a few suggestions for you.

Our pick of the best handlebars for gravel riding

Here’s our pick of the best handlebars for gravel riding that are on the market right now. Read on to the end for more tips on what to look for when choosing the best handlebars for you, including notes on flared bars and why you might want to consider them.

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Best Gravel Bars: Zipp SL-70 XPLR

(Image credit: Zipp/SRAM)
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Best Gravel Bars: Zipp SL-70 XPLR

(Image credit: Zipp/SRAM)

Best gravel bars for all-day comfort

Specifications
Weight: 260g (42cm)
Sizes: 40, 42, 44, 46cm
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Drop: 115mm
Reach: 70mm
Flare: 11 degrees
Reasons to buy
+Supremely comfortable across a range of hand positions+Degree of flare well-suited to on and off-road riding+Lightweight at 260g
Reasons to avoid
-Fairly expensive compared to rival alloy bars - RRP £115.00 / US$112.00

Zipp's SL-70 XPLR bars are ideally suited for both gravel and all-road riding. They feature the classic combination of 'short and shallow' to create a bar that's comfortable and stable across varying terrain. The ergo tops with their subtle backsweep really add to the comfort too. 

The 11 degree outsweep also increases their versatility - it's just enough to provide extra control when riding off-road yet not so severe to promote an extreme hood position. If you're used to riding regular road drops the transition to the Zipp SL-70 XPLR bars is an easy one. On test we found them them to be some of the very best gravel and all-road bars we've ridden.

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Best gravel bars: Ritchey WCS Butano

(Image credit: Ritchey)
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Best gravel bars: Ritchey WCS Butano

(Image credit: Ritchey)

Best gravel bars for mixed terrain riding

Specifications
Weight: 275g (42cm)
Sizes: 40,42,44,46cm
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Drop: 118mm
Reach: 73mm
Flare: 12 degrees
Reasons to buy
+Ideal for both on and off-road use+Neutral lever position+Pretty lightweight at 275g
Reasons to avoid
-No recessed area to hide cables

Ritchey offer a range of gravel and all-road handlebars, with the WCS Butano sitting at the more conservative end when it comes to degree of flare. The 12 degrees of outsweep provides a good amount of additional control over more technical terrain without creating an aggressive angle for the hoods. The ergo tops make for a stable and comfy platform, while the short drop and reach allow you to switch hand positions with ease. The result is bar that excels over varied surfaces. On test we found them to be a great choice for mixed-routes as well as long road rides where comfort is key. 

Best handlebars for gravel bike: Specialized Hover alloy bars

(Image credit: Specialized )

Best gravel bars for range of fit

Specifications
Sizes: 38, 40, 42, 44, 46mm
Clamp diam:: 31.8mm
Drop: 103mm
Reach: 70mm
Flare: 12° flare and 15mm rise
Reasons to buy
+Very comfortable, easy to reach the drops+Great value - current RRP £55+Extended fit options
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly odd-looking

Their looks might divide opinion, but these hover bars from Specialized certainly impressed on long term review. Besides their excellent value, thanks to the 15mm rise they offer a great range of fit, among other benefits.The rise gives you more space on the bars for your hands when running a handlebar bag, and for smaller riders this extra 15mm above the tyre can make a big difference to handlebar bag compatibility.There's a subtle 12 degree flare on the drops too, so you'll find yourself in a sturdier position for descending and techy riding than traditional road bars.

Best handlebars for gravel bikes: PRO Discover flared handlebars

(Image credit: PRO)

PRO Discover Flared Bars

Best lightweight gravel bars for those on a budget

Specifications
Sizes: 40,42,44mm (12°), 42 or 44mm (30°)
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Drop: 115mm (12°) or 110mm (30°)
Reach: 65mm (12°) or 73mm (30°)
Flare: 12° or 30°
Reasons to buy
+Good value - RRP of £44.99+Lightweight for alloy - 265g for 40cm+Integration for Di2+Shallow drop easy to reach
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of abrasive element on bars to stop the levers from slipping 

Shimano's component brand PRO have released a whole suite of gravel-centric finishing kit to complement the GRX groupset and wheels in their Discover range, designed for gravel, adventure and bikepacking. The Discover bars are available in medium flare and big flare, at 12 and 30 degrees, respectively.These bars are sleek, simple and reasonably priced. There's a slight widening across the tops of the bars too to make them more ergonomic, perfect for long gravel rides.

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EASTON EA70 AX FLARED HANDLEBARS

(Image credit: EASTON)
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EASTON EA70 AX FLARED HANDLEBARS

(Image credit: EASTON)

Best gravel bars for those used to traditional shaped drops

Specifications
Weight: 290g (42cm)
Sizes: 40, 42, 44, 46cm
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Drop: 120mm
Reach: 80mm
Flare: 16°
Reasons to buy
+Enables hoods to sit neutrally+Traditional round tubing provides classic look and feel+Degree of flare is well-balanced and provides plenty of control+Easy to set up thanks to clear alignment marks
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of ergo top might not suit all-Not the lightest at 290g

The EA70 AX bars from American brand Easton are one of two flared options in our list, with the EC70 AX referring to the carbon fibre equivalent (RRP £180). These feature a moderate flare of 16 degrees, meaning you'll benefit from a sturdier descending position, while retaining the same position for your shifters up top. In the drops, this level of flare adds an extra 68mm. These bars also feature some handy measurement marks which help you to fit the shifters equally and get the bars central on the stem clamp. On test we found them to be well-balanced bar that should suit riders used to traditional road drops.

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Best gravel bars: Ritchey WCS Beacon

(Image credit: Ritchey)
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Best gravel bars: Ritchey WCS Beacon

(Image credit: Ritchey)

Best gravel bars for bikepacking adventures

Specifications
Weight: 270g (42cm)
Sizes: 40, 42, 44, 46cm
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Drop: 80mm
Reach: 65mm
Flare: 36 degrees
Reasons to buy
+Wide flare provides bags of stability and control+Multiple hand positions well-suited to bikepacking and touring  +Lightweight at 270g
Reasons to avoid
-Extreme flare creates an extreme hood position that might not suit everyone

Ritchey's Beacon bars combine an extremely short reach and shallow drop with a super-wide 36 degree flare to create a bar that designed with comfort and stability in mind. On test we found that the numbers added up. The flare adds plenty of additional width at the drops, which in turn provides bags of control. It's just what's needed on technical trails or when weighed down with bikepacking bags. The multiple hand positions allow for greater comfort over longer distances, again making them well-suited to multi-day, multi-surface touring. In short, a practical flared handlebar geared up for bikepacking and gravel adventures.

Best handlebars for gravel bikes: Salsa Cowchipper

(Image credit: Salsa)

Salsa Cowchipper Flared Bars

Best gravel bars for range of sizes

Specifications
Sizes: 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52mm
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Drop: 116mm
Reach: 68mm
Flare: 24°
Reasons to buy
+Wide range of sizes - up to 52cm+Degree of flare aids off-road control
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy at 322g (42cm)-Hood angle may not suit all

One of the first players in the flared bars game, Salsa's Cowchipper bars are somewhat of an icon in gravel riding circles. These feature a 'radical' 24 degree flare that alters not only the drop width, but also the angle of the shifters up top. For a really extreme position, or range of hand positions, opt for the mega 52cm width option.

Best handlebars for gravel bikes: FSA Adventure Compact

(Image credit: FSA)

FSA Adventure Compact Road Bar

Best gravel bars for outstanding value

Specifications
Sizes: 38, 40, 42,44, 46cm
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Drop: 125mm
Reach: 80mm
Flare: 12°
Reasons to buy
+Great value at £40 / US$38+Moderate flare well-suited to those new to gravel bars
Reasons to avoid
-Not the lightest at over 300g

Retailing at a really reasonable £40 and often available at even less, the Adventure Compact Road Bar is a great budget choice from FSA. This alloy bar is available in a wide range of sizes from 38-46cm and with a moderate flare of 12 degrees it's a great starting point for anyone who's curious to try flared drop bars, without having to commit too much cash.

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Best handlebars for gravel bikes: FARR Aero

(Image credit: FARR)
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Best handlebars for gravel bikes: FARR Aero

(Image credit: FARR)

The best gravel bar for long distance excursions

Specifications
Sizes: 42, 44, 46cm
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Drop: 124mm
Reach: 80mm
Flare: 25°
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable companion for long distance cruising on and off road+Wide flare provides excellent off-road control+Aero extension actually works
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy - 510g (46cm)-Stiffer than usual

With a wide 25 degree flare and an out-front extension, these Aero Gravel Alloy bars from Australian endurance specialists Farr are one of a kind. After seeing how popular their aero bolt-on device was with gravel riders and racers, they made this integrated alloy bar to allow more hand position options - incredibly useful when it comes to long distance riding. Besides the aero bar out front, these bars also have a hefty 25 degree flare, which makes fitting a larger handlebar bag that bit easier.

Best handlebars for gravel bikes: Spank Flare 25 bars

(Image credit: Spank)

Spank Flare 25 Vibrocore Drop Bar

Best gravel bars for rough roads and rugged trails

Specifications
Sizes: 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52cm
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Drop: 110mm
Reach: 65mm
Flare: 25°
Reasons to buy
+Helps to dampen road and trail buzz+Wide range of sizes - up to 52cm
Reasons to avoid
-A tad heavy at 340g

With a mighty 25 degree flare, the 25 Vibrocore bars from Spank are a popular choice for riders that like their bars served wide. They even go up to a 52cm size, so there'll be a huge amount of space for a handlebar bag and a really wide, stable position for riders that err on the MTB side of gravel bike terrain. A Vibrocore foam insert is claimed to help reduce vibrations from rough terrain and to strengthen the handlebars.

Best gravel bars: Coefficient AR bars

(Image credit: Coefficient)

Coefficient Cycling AR Carbon Bar

Best gravel bars for multiple hand positions

Specifications
Sizes: 38, 40, 42, 44cm
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Drop: 120mm
Reach: 77mm
Flare:
Reasons to buy
+Offers multiple hand positions+Grip diameter syncs with bar width
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive - over £300-Distinctive looks won't be to everyone's tastes

Developed in the USA, the Coefficient Cycling AR (All Road) bar is probably the strangest looking handlebar you've ever seen. Also referred to as the wave bar, this carbon fibre design has been optimised with multiple hand positions and comfort in mind for road, cyclocross and gravel riding. A combination of slope and sweep across the tops of the bars gives them their unique shape that permits a more a neutral alignment for your shoulders and wrists. The thumb notches on the drops give strong anchoring points for descending, riding over rough terrain and sprinting.

Best handlebars for gravel riding: LAUF Smoothie

(Image credit: LAUF)

Lauf Smoothie Carbon Bars

Specifications
Sizes: 40, 42, 44cm
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Drop: 125mm
Reach: 80mm
Flare: 16°
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight - 250g+Carbon design helps to dampen vibrations
Reasons to avoid
-Pretty expensive - £195 / US$220-Lack of sizes - three width options only

The carbon Smoothie bars from Icelandic brand Lauf were the choice of senior Tech writer James Bracey for his Dream Gravel Build. Constructed of a moderate flare at 16 degrees - so with a 44cm bar - they measure 51cm in the drops .These carbon fibre bars - like other products in Lauf's portfolio - have been designed to take the harshest feedback of gravel riding out of the ride. The carbon fibre is mixed with glass fibre to give varying stiffness and flex in different regions of the bars to optimise comfort. There's also a three degree backsweep across the top of the bar. At around 250g, they're certainly a lightweight option, although that does come with a larger price tag.

Best handlebars for gravel bikes: Stooge Moto

(Image credit: Stooge)

Stooge Moto Bars

Best gravel bars for mountain bikers

Specifications
Sizes: 800mm wide
Clamp diam: 31.8mm
Sweep: 17°
Rise: 38mm
Reasons to buy
+Well-suited for those wishing to obtain an upright riding position
Reasons to avoid
-Somewhat limiting in their appeal

Yes, really: flat bars for gravel riding are a thing! The key here isn't flare, but sweep; i.e. how much the bars bend back towards the rider to put the wrists in a more neutral position. With a generous 17 degrees of sweep, these are a great choice for gravel riders that prefer flat bars to drops. A more upright position is a natural consequence thanks to a 38mm rise from the stem, a feature that also gives and can give greater clearance over the front tyre for smaller riders. Stooge is better know for its incredible MTB frames, but in this case, they're on to a winner with these bars.

Best Handlebars for Gravel Bikes Buyers Guide

Why flared bars for gravel riding?

There's no denying that flared bars are all the rage for off-road drop bar biking, aka gravel riding. But why are they so popular? If you're anything like us, and are a bit cynical about this quite subtle change, let us tell you: seeing really is believing when it comes to trying out some flared handlebars for yourself.

Ranging from mild flares in the low teens to 25 degrees and more, these bars all alter your position when you're in the drops. This position tends to be more stable for descending off-road, widening your stance and giving you more control. As an added bonus, with more space between the drops, there's also a bit more room for handlebar bags if you're going bikepacking or endurance racing.

Most of the mild flares up to around 15 degrees won't alter the position of your hands when you're on the hoods, but beyond this you'll find that the shifters also change position. This can be supremely comfortable for some and simply uncomfortable for others. We'd recommend starting with a mild flare at first, and then if you're still curious, moving up to these more extreme bar shapes.

Best Gravel Bars: Ritchey WCS Beacon

(Image credit: Luke Friend)

What about flat bars for gravel riding?

Flat bar gravel bikes could be the next big thing. Specialized's 2021 Diverge launch featured two straight bar models, Ribble offer some of their CGR models with flat bars too, and there's an increasing number of custom gravel built up with straight bars too.

When it comes to putting straight bars on gravel bikes, there might be a bit more to it than simply fitting some old MTB flat bars. As the type of riding is often a bit different to modern mountain biking, you'll need to consider how you can make these comfortable, for example, for longer rides where you spend more time in the same position.

You can use two different things to alter how comfortable this is for your hands and wrists: the sweep of the bar (Jones bars being the extreme example) or the grips that you use. Try a set of grips with more wrist support, for example the Ergon GA3 grips.

If you're into bikepacking, you might find that flat bars work better for you, as there's less of a limit when it comes to handlebar bag size.

Best handlebars for gravel bikes: Specialized Diverge EVO with flat bars

(Image credit: Specialized)

What's the best handlebar material for gravel riding?

Although most gravel-specific handlebars are aluminium alloy, you'll also find some carbon fibre models aimed towards the racier end of the spectrum.

Alloy makes for a great handlebar material as it's strong and robust, which is especially useful when it comes to gravel bikes and the kind of treatment they go through over rough terrain or on multi-day bikepacking trips.

Carbon fibre handlebars tend to be lighter, which might be of use if you're a more competitive gravel racer, or help to reduce rough road feedback a little. They'll certainly be more expensive though, and bear in mind that although carbon fibre bars are strong, they can break more catastrophically on impact, such as if you end up tumbling over the bars.