Cyclocross bikes have more robust frames, more upright geometry, and greater wheel clearance than road bikes. But despite that, they still depend on road bikes’ drop bars for their performance. So, why do cyclocross use drop bars?
The primary reason why cyclocross bikes use drop bars is that the international cycling governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), strictly insists on cyclocross not being wider than 50cm. With most drop bars averaging 38-44cm, they meet the UCI requirement.
But still, drop bars have several exceptional benefits that make cyclocross cycling easier and funnier.
They are not just aerodynamic, but they also have extra clearance and offer you multi-hand positions, among many other advantages that I’ll share shortly.
But before that, let’s first understand what a cyclocross bike can do.
What Is A Cyclocross Bike Good For?
A cyclocross bike is a bicycle with incredible versatility that allows you to ride it both on-road and on-road. You can ride this bike on paved streets, woodland trails, mud, sand, and even grass.
Overall, its versatility makes it a perfect commuter, touring, and cruising bike.
Why Do Cyclocross Use Drop Bars?
According to the international cycling body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), a cyclocross bike’s width shouldn’t exceed 50cm.
While they don’t specify the handlebar type, drop bars automatically qualify, given that they average 380mm-440mm (or 38-44cm).
This requirement by the UCI locks out flat bars as they average more than that. A majority of flat bars average 60cm or more.
While some comfort bike handlebars measure less than 50cm, they aren’t the best choice for cyclocross.
Do you know why? That’s because you have to be too upright when cycling, and such a posture doesn’t favor cyclocross cycling.
You need to push your weight forward when riding a cyclocross, and that’s attainable with drop bars.
Why Do Cyclocross Bikes Have Drop Bars
Overall, drop bars come with these advantages that make them ideal for cyclocross.
Drop bars allow you to lean forward and assume an aerodynamic position. The advantage of such a posture is that it resists wind drag, which means you can ride against the headwind.
Also, an aerodynamic position offers you speed advantages. It allows you to cycle much faster.
Overall, this position is more critical when descending, riding against the wind, and riding fast on a flat road.
Climbing Efficiency and Power
When climbing with a cyclocross bike, you must push your body forward as much as possible. That’s achievable with drop bars.
They allow you to lean forward, and that offers you more pedaling leverage. Not only does the posture offer you more leg power to pedal, but it also enables you to pedal much faster and efficiently.
Unlike flat bars, drop bars allow you to hold them on the hoods, at the drops, and even on the flat section. So, you are not limited to one position, which means more comfort.
Overall, the risk of suffering hand soreness is lower, given that you can change your hand position as often as you want.
One downside of flat bars is that they are too wide to allow you to go through tighter spaces. That problem is, however, solvable with drop bars.
Given that drop bars aren’t too wide, they offer you extra clearance to allow you to go through tighter spaces unrestricted. So, they eliminate the risk of getting caught or colliding when cycling.
More Ground Coverage
Speed is of the essence when riding a cyclocross, and that’s what drop bars promise.
The fact that drop bars give you aerodynamic advantages means you get to ride faster, allowing you to cover more ground.
Over a long-distance, drop bars save you energy and the small saving amount to something in the long. In that case, you get to do more miles.
Though this has nothing to do with UCI’s handlebar requirement, drop bars generally have a cool-look factor, thanks to their curvy design. They are a statement piece that befits cyclocross bikes.
Drop Bar vs. Flat Bar: What Suits Cyclocross More?
Let’s compare the two handlebars under the following:
1. Cycling Posture
Flatter bars naturally put you in an upright posture when cycling. While this position is comfortable for your spine as long as you don’t stay rigid, it doesn’t favor cyclocross cycling.
You want more pedaling leverage and an aerodynamic advantage when riding a cyclocross, and that’s what you get from drop bars.
You can crouch forward to be more aerodynamic or cycle upright, depending on preference. So, you are not just limited to one-position handling or one-position posture.
2. Bike Steering
With flat bars averaging 60cm or more in width, you don’t need much energy to steer the bike. So, you enjoy better bike control, provided that you are not riding in a tighter space.
Sadly, you don’t have such steering leverage with drop bars unless it’s on tighter spaces. In general, you need more force to control a cyclocross bike with drop bars properly.
3. Handlebar Grip
The problem with flat bars is that you only hold them in one position, leading to hand soreness. Luckily, you don’t have such misgivings when it comes to drop bars.
Since you can place your hands in at least three positions, it’s unlikely that your hands will become sore.
What Are the Best Drop Bars for Cyclocross?
Amazon has a wide range of drop bars that you can fit on your cyclocross. Overall, these three are the best based on build quality, ease of installation, and ease of navigation.
1. Satori X-Race Aero Cyclocross Drop Bar
The Satori X-Race Aero Cyclocross Drop Bar comes in a carbon construction to generally feel lightweight. The bar only weighs 200g.
With its 8-degree flare, you enjoy more handling leverage to negotiate harsher terrains. Plus, the flare offers you extra stability.
The handlebar is only 420mm (42cm) wide and features a 120mm drop and a 65mm reach.
Its versatility is its selling point, given that it fits a variety of cycles and not just cyclocross. That includes road bikes, gravel bikes, single-speed bikes, and touring bikes.
Discover what customers think about the drop bar on Amazon.
2. Satori X-Race Gravel Cyclocross Drop Bar
The Satori X-Race Gravel Cyclocross Drop Bar is another versatile drop-bar you can fit on various bikes.
Unlike its counterpart above (the Satori X-Race AERO), this drop bar is made of aluminum alloy. The material promise lasting use and a lightweight feel.
Satori X-Race Gravel Cyclocross Drop Bar is 420mm wide like Satori X-Race AERO and has an 8-degree flare. Plus, it features a 130mm drop and 86mm reach.
Overall, its design allows you to conquer the unpaved surface more comfortably.
Check out its unique features on Amazon.
3. UPANBIKE Road Bicycle Drop Bar
Lastly, the UPANBIKE Road Bicycle Drop Bar is another versatile drop-bar that you can use on cyclocross, road bikes, and other bikes.
It’s made of aluminum alloy to last longer and feel lightweight. Overall, this drop bar only weighs 350g.
The handlebar is only 420mm wide and enjoys a 31.8mm clamp diameter and a 22.2mm tube diameter.
Overall, this is one of the most ergonomic handlebars out there for the budget buyer.
1. What Is The Point Of Drop Bars?
Drop bars generally allow you to crouch down and push your weight forward in an aerodynamic position. The position reduces wind drag and allows you to cycle much faster.
Additionally, the position offers you more pedaling leverage to allow you to cycle uphill comfortably.
2. Should I Get A Flat Bar Or Drop Bar Bike?
Flat bars allow you to ride more upright and offer you more control on challenging terrains. The bars are best for mountain bikes.
On the other hand, Drop bars allow you to ride in a leaning or upright position, depending on preference. These handlebars are best for road bikes, cyclocross, gravel bikes, and tour bikes.
3. Do You Really Need Drop Bars?
If you want more leverage to cycle uphill, you could use drop bars against the headwind or ride faster on a flat road.
Also, if you ride in tighter spaces, you need drop bars as they are narrower, allowing you extra clearance.
4. Are Drop Bars For Commuting?
If you ride on a hilly paved road, drop bars are a handy choice. They allow you to swing your weight forward and offer you more leverage to conquer hills.
Drop bars also allow you to maneuver through tighter streets, thus great for urban commuting.
5. Are Drop Bars More Dangerous?
Given that drop bars allow you to ride while leaning forward and somehow facing down, keeping an eye on the oncoming traffic and obstacles can be challenging.
So, there is always the risk of poor visibility. For that reason, drop bars are not the best on heavy-traffic roads.
So, why do cyclocross use drop bars? With the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) strictly requiring cyclocross not to be wider than 50cm, drop bars are a fantastic choice.
Besides, they offer you more pedaling leverage, extra clearance, and multi-position handling advantages.