Bullhorn and drop handlebars are known for their aerodynamic advantage, allowing you to ride against the wind, sprint, and pedal uphill. But what sets them apart? Which one wins the bullhorn vs drop bars battle?
Generally, drop bars offer you more handlebar positions, aerodynamic advantage, sprinting ability, and descending power. Bullhorns, in contrast, offer you better out-of-seat climbing power and road visibility.
As I’ll discuss, other differences are on the brake setup, accessories compatibility, and shifters installation. But overall, these handlebars have so much in common, making them popular on different road bikes.
Let’s compare them in detail:
Bullhorn Vs Drop Bars: Side By Side Comparison
The bars’ aerodynamic advantage also translates to better pedaling leverage. It becomes easier to pedal with power, and that allows you to sprint and tackle hills.
But what are the differences?
Let’s discuss them under the following:
1. Hand Positions
Drop bars generally have three primary hand positions (hood, drop, and top) and three secondary positions (under-hood, cups, and sides).
Bullhorns also have three primary hand positions (top, horns, and drops/sides). However, they only have two secondary positions (curves and sides).
Verdict – Drop bars offer you more hand positions. They offer you six hand positions, one more than bullhorns.
2. Aerodynamic Position
Both handlebars allow you to get into an aerodynamic position and ride against the wind. Their experiences, however, differ.
Drop bars let you get low and flatten your back, allowing you to be more aerodynamic. That’s the case with the UPANBIKE Road Bicycle Drop Bar, which suits road bikes and fixed-gears.
Bullhorn handlebars, in contrast, don’t allow you to get down very low, which means you don’t flatten your back. As a result, you are not as aerodynamic as someone riding a drop-bar bike.
While you can get into an aerodynamic position with bullhorns, it’s challenging to maintain the position for long hours.
Verdict – Drop bars are more aerodynamic than bullhorns.
3. Climbing Power
This is one area where bullhorn bars dominate drop bars. A bullhorn’s horns offer you more pedaling leverage.
They allow you to generate more out-of-saddle power, which enables you to climb more efficiently. This advantage is more critical when it comes to single-gear bikes.
While it’s possible to climb with drop bars, you don’t have enough out-of-saddle leverage to catch up with someone riding a bullhorn bike.
Verdict – Bullhorn bars win here as they offer you more out-of-saddle climbing power.
4. Descending Power: Bullhorn Handlebars Vs Drop Bars
While bullhorn bars offer you more climbing power than drop bars, they are not superior on descents.
Since drop bars allow you to get low, you can descend more comfortably.
Also, given that a drop-bar bike has brakes on the hood (see number 7), you have easy access, which gives you a mechanical advantage downhill.
It, however, doesn’t make bullhorns awful downhill. It’s just they don’t match drop bars.
Verdict – Drop bars win here for their superior descending ability.
5. Road Visibility
This is another area where bullhorn bars score a narrow win over drop bars.
Since drop bars force you to take a low-lying stance, you fix your eyes on the ground surface, lowering your visibility of the road ahead.
In contrast, bullhorn bars don’t require you to bend a lot, which means you have better road visibility.
That’s the case with the Fyxation Bullhorn Handlebar, which is perfect for professional road cyclists.
Verdict – Bullhorn bars allow more road visibility than drop bars.
6. Shifters Installation: Bullhorn Bars Vs Drop Bars
Drop bars allow you to install brake shifters, especially STI options, seamlessly. That enables you to brake seamlessly and shift smoothly without taking your hands off the hood.
Conversely, bullhorn bars don’t offer you such convenience.
Yes, they do allow you to shift down tube, top-mount, and bar-end shifters. In terms of compatibility, however, bullhorns are more compatible with inferior shifters.
Verdict – While both bars allow you to fit brake shifters, drop bars are more compatible with superior options.
More Drop Vs Bullhorn Bar Comparison
7. Bike Sprinting
Given that drop bars have a superior aerodynamic advantage, they offer you more pedaling leverage, and that allows you to sprint better.
Note, however, that even though bullhorns are not as superior as drop bars in sprinting, they aren’t entirely awful. On the contrary, they are more comfortable uphill.
Verdict – Drop bars are better at sprinting, but bullhorns are more comfortable running up the mountain.
8. Brakes Setup
Both handlebars have a default brake position. When it comes to standard drop handlebars, the levers are fitted onto the hoods.
As for the bullhorns, the levers are either on the tops or horns.
The advantage of having the brake levers on the hood (in the case of drop bars) is that they are more accessible when riding aggressively or at a medium pace.
Bullhorn bars, however, require you to fit in-line levers to improve their accessibility.
Verdict – In the default state, drop bars have a more superior brake setup than bullhorns.
9. Handlebar Weight
The weight of both bullhorns and drop bars depends on the material type and handlebar size.
So, it’s hard to claim that one bar is lighter than the other.
Verdict – It’s an even score here as the handlebar weight depends on the material and size.
10. Handlebar Accessories (Add-Ons)
While it’s not recommended to attach stuff one either bar, there are a few exceptions.
Bullhorn bars have more cargo clearance and can therefore fit a front rack or basket.
But when it comes to fitting a rear bike mirror, drop bars have an advantage as they offer you multiple locations.
Verdict – If you want to fit a front rack or basket, then go for bullhorns. But if you want to fit a rear mirror, you have more flexibility with drop bars.
What Are Bullhorn Bars Good For?
Bullhorn bars are aerodynamic, making them suitable for all kinds of road bikes, single-speed, fixed-gear, and commuter bikes.
They allow you to ride faster against the wind (though not as fast as drop bars). Plus, they enable you to climb better and offer you multiple hand positions, essential when riding long-distance.
What Are Drop Bars Good For?
Drop bars enjoy a superior aerodynamic stance that makes them best for road and track/urban bikes.
With these handlebars, you enjoy more hand positions, which allow you to ride comfortably long-distance.
They also enjoy better climbing power and sprinting effectiveness because of their aerodynamic advantage. That also means they suit touring and trekking bikes.
Bullhorn Vs Drop Bar FAQs
1. Are Bullhorn Handlebars Good?
Bullhorn handlebars are good on road, track, fixed-gears, and commuter bikes because they are aerodynamic and offer you multiple hand positions. Moreover, they provide you with more sprinting and climbing leverage.
2. Are Drop Bars Good for Commuting?
Drop bars are good for commuting for several reasons. First, they are not so wide, which makes them suitable for tight, high-traffic places.
Secondly, they are aerodynamic to allow you to resist wind drag. Furthermore, they offer you better pedaling leverage for easy climbing and sprinting.
3. Where Do You Fit Brakes On Bullhorn Handlebars?
The best place to fit brakes on bullhorn handlebars is on the stem, especially the middle part.
4. Are Drop Bars More Dangerous?
Drop bars allow you to rile lower, and so you are likely to fix your eyes on the ground than where you are going.
With reduced visibility, it’s easier to crash. That is, however, likely to happen when you are not used to the handlebars.
5. Are Bullhorn Handlebars Dangerous?
Like drop bars, bullhorn handlebars put you in an aerodynamic position which can reduce your road visibility.
But once you get used to the handlebars, it becomes easier to fix your eyes ahead and not on the ground, thus safer.
6. How Wide Are Bullhorn Handlebars?
Most bullhorn handlebars average 380-420mm (38-42cm) in width.
7. Do Drop Bars Make You Faster?
Drop bars offer you an aerodynamic advantage when riding against the wind. The position provides you more pedaling leverage, allowing you to pedal with much power and go faster.
8. Are Drop Bars Bad For Your Back?
Drop bars offer you multiple hand positions. So, you don’t have to limit your body to one stance, which saves you from straining your back. So, no, drop bars are not bad for your back.
Closing Thoughts On Bullhorn Vs Drop Bars
Generally, the contest between bullhorns and drop bars is hard if you don’t know the things that set them apart. But after going through the detailed comparison above, you now know what handlebar to go for. So, go for it!
Also Read: How wide are bike handlebars