Hybrid bicycles bridge the gap between the speed of road bikes and the durability of mountain bikes. You can use them on city streets and take them off road. If you ride for long periods of time, you may find that your hands become numb from the pressure of your handlebars. You may also feel pain in your lower back. Swapping out your standard handlebars for a more specialized set will give you more options for hand positions, which can help prevent some of the discomfort you feel when biking.
While preventing discomfort in your hands is certainly an advantage, you will also find that alternative handlebars can increase the enjoyment of your ride. Handlebars with armrests, for example, allow you to lean forward over the front of your bike, making you more aerodynamic. This can increase your speed and help you overcome some resistance when using your hybrid on a windy day. Hybrid bikes are not nearly as fast as touring bikes due to their wider tires and heavier frame. Racing handlebars give you an edge where speed is concerned.
You have options for adding to the variety of hand positions on your hybrid bike. You can replace the ends of your current set of handlebars with extensions. These pieces clamp on the end of your handlebars, providing added perpendicular extensions. You can also buy armrest extensions to allow you to use your handlebars for upper body support. Using these will vary the angle of your hand position, providing some relief from pressure in one area of your hand. Aerobars provide the greatest variety of hand positions and make your hybrid more aerodynamic. These replace your existing handlebars with a set that can angle upward or forward for greater comfort.
Simple modifications can make your current set of handlebars easier to use. You may find that by increasing the padding with tape, you make riding more comfortable. You can position your hands along the entire length of your handlebars instead of just using the handgrips. You can also adjust your handlebars or seat to increase the comfort level. You may also want to consider getting clip-on handlebar extensions so you can vary your hand positions frequently and easily.
If you change your set of handlebars, you may need to readjust the tension on your brakes and cables, especially if the new handlebars change the form of the bike dramatically. You may also want to keep your old set in case the new handlebars don't work out. No matter what type you choose, you should take advantage of the versatility they offer and change your hand position frequently when riding your hybrid.
- "Bicycling Science"; D. Wilson; 2004
- "Bicycling" magazine; Wrapper's Delight; Brian Fiske
- "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance"; L. Zinn; 2009