Over the years, we have made it obvious that we believe many cyclists would profit from smooth handlebars on rougher ground. Therefore, it’s no surprise that we’re also advocating for a gravel bike with flat bars.
No, we’re not talking about rigid mountain bikes nor MTBs or hybrids from the 90s. While these types of bicycles may closely resemble gravel bikes, there are still quite a few fundamental differences, such as the flat handlebars, for instance. Besides, you’ll also find new, readily accessible technologies on these bikes that aren’t commonly seen on the good ol’ gravel bike.
So, let’s talk more about flat bar gravel bikes- what makes them unique, why you should try them out, and which models you should definitely consider buying. If you’re someone who starts when it comes to gravel bikes, a flat bar bike might be an excellent option. Therefore, if you’d like to ride the best flat bar gravel bike, see this guide.
Top 5 Flat Bar Gravel and Road Bikes
In order to capture the latest status of this trend, we assembled a list in 2021 of our favorite flat bar gravel bikes. Read the information about these bikes below:
Schwinn Vantage Sport Hybrid Bike
An all-round, top class, hybrid sport built for any reason, you can get it all in the Vantage Flatbar(F) sequence if you want intense sports results, lightweight architecture, and high quality, but do not want to compromise comfort. It is built for beginners and advanced riders who want to drive themselves harder than ever.
This flat bar hybrid bike offers an active suspension device with vibration insulation capabilities for unrivaled cycling in the sports hybrid segment with Smooth Ride Technology (SRT). The frame has a soft elastomer tail suspension and offers the best support in any adventure.
The Schwinn Vantage is simple, pleasant, and sensitive for a variety of uses. No matter if you want to keep healthy, fly to work, pull the kids, run orders or get around the city, what you can do on the Schwinn Vantage is limitless.
- 35c Schwinn hybrid tires
- 21-speed drivetrain
- Fender and rack mounts
- Suitable for riders 5’3” to 5’7” tall
Huffy Hardtail Mountain Trail Bike
Next up is the Huffy Hardtail Mountain Trail Bike. The hardtail aluminum frame on this bike is more lightweight than steel and has more rolling energy, making it simpler to pedal for pace and acceleration. An all-Shimano drivetrain is engineered and optimized to provide seamless and smooth twisting to 21 speeds, while the suspension bucket absorbs bumps for smoother travel.
Moreover, oversized tires improve grip in damp or dry environments for dirt and gravel roads. This is particularly suitable for climbing and descending and control in muddy or rugged areas. We also like the premium padded ATB saddle that features stitching the sides to make for long-lasting quality.
Finally, the linear alloy pulleys and machined alloy roller wheel rims provide smooth, stopping power, the light-hearted handlebars reduce back and shoulder strain, and the ATB resin pedals of the sort and Kraton handles on long travel is convenient.
- Available in a tropical blue finish
- Suitable for riders at least 5’ tall
- 10-year limited warranty
- Assembly video included
Royce Union Men’s Gravel Bike
The RMG gravel bike from the Royce Union was built to stand out in every area, regardless of the weather. Its hardtail aluminum frame offers smoother driving and much less maintenance without losing performance.
The rigid 3-piece aluminum frame and alloy crank of this flat bar road bike give unrivaled gravel riding efficiency with specs for accuracy. Meanwhile, the 27.5″ tires for all-terrain riding allow you to quickly turn from field to road and back, and the size of the frame makes it perfect for riders with a 32” inseam.
The Shimano EZ Fire trigger switches allow a split second shifting. Not only that, a Shimano Claris rear derailleur has 16 speeds, and the front and rear disc brakes create an exceptional stall strength. The RMG is also fitted with a complete Shimano drivetrain that quickly transfers the driver’s power to the back wheel.
- Full Shimano Claris drivetrain
- Suitable for riders of all skill levels
- Available in 2 styles (16 to 19” frame)
- 700c or 27.5” tires
6KU Aluminum Fixie Urban Track Bike
Fixies, road cycles, urban bikes, commuters? There are several choices, and it may be a little overwhelming. So, to make things as simple as possible, just take a look at the 6KU Aluminum Fixie Urban Track Bike. Aesthetics alone, it comes in various color options that are sure to match your distinctive style.
People demanded a robust, inexpensive path bike, so 6KU supplied. The urban route includes riser bars instead of drop bars for easy navigating through your area’s concrete jungles. And, the lightweight 6061 alloy frame paired with a 1/8′′ alloy fork gives you the best of all worlds.
Whether you use this bike for pleasure riding, or as a regular mode of transport, it’s totally up to you. Either way, this bike is filled with features like replaceable, seamless welds, and good quality aluminum, in stainless steel dropouts.
- Lightweight aluminum fork and frame
- Flip fop hub for freewheel/ fixie riding
- Available in 2 colors and 3 sizes
- Assembly tools and video included
Schwinn Mesa Adult Mountain Bike
Next is the Schwinn Mesa Adult Mountain Bike, which comes with all-aluminum construction that’s ideal for pretty simple riding on gravel and roads. The frame is an essential feature of this mountain bike since it maintains the rider’s weight and handles the varying forces exercised by the ground.
An alloy frame makes the bike comparatively light and steers reliably. Meanwhile, the aluminum frame keeps the weight reasonably light without skimping on longevity. This structure provides an ergonomically convenient riding posture to prevent discomfort or injury. The aluminum frame also helps you to move your cycle across barriers with comparatively low weight and pain.
Most importantly, the bike has a range of features built to guarantee convenience and efficiency without abandoning performance. This Schwinn’s bike is durable and enduring, and its efficiency ensures a fantastic experience.
- Durable aluminum frame and mechanical brakes
- 3 styles to choose from (Mesa 1, 2, and 3)
- Comes in black, blue, and red
- Available in 4 frame sizes
Also check out: the best touring bikes in 2021
What To Look For In A Flat Bar Gravel Bike
Flat bar gravel bikes are perfect for travel and also for other reasons, such as:
- The extra steering lever allows you to boost bike power especially with any front luggage
- You get an even better handgrip on bumpy surfaces when braking
- It opens gravel bikes to unique MTB parts, particularly the brakes, shifters, and derailleurs
- Changing/maintaining gear and brake cables are simpler
- A flat-bar grip is also more enduring than bar tape
- Mountain bike components are typically better, which allows mountain bikes of better use
- Mountain bike sections have more acceptable dirt road gear ratios
- There is more room for handlebar kits and attachments for bike packaging
All this said, how would you pick the right flat gravel bike for your needs?
Flat Bar vs Drop Bar
As gravel riding is increasingly common, more riders notice how enjoyable it is to travel the beaten road. In this case, most cyclists would think that you can only get the quintessential drop bars on gravel bikes. What you may not know is that there are other options, namely, the flat handlebars that we’ll talk about today.
This is why several bicycle manufacturers sell flat handlebar road bike choices. Some claim that flat handles provide better bike power, particularly when we talk about off-road biking. They offer improved steering levers that are perfect if you also apply weight to a bike pack or front bag. In any case, flat bars are usually ideal for those who only ride a bike.
However, you are not in the most aerodynamic role with flat bars relative to a dirt bike. This is still all right since you can adjust the flat bars to any alternate control choices.
To know more about this topic, here’s a guide explaining the benefits of flat bike handlebars and how they compare to drop bars.
Gravel Bike Conversion
Besides looking at these devices, a current drop-bar gravel bike may be changed to a flat bar. But bear in mind that flat bar bikes’ geometry is significantly altered in contrast with a drop bar.
In fact, a few drop bar bikes might be perfect conversion candidates for a flat bar. They are designed with “progressive” frame geometries and already have a more extended frame reach and a slackened head tube angle.
The frame geometry of flat handlebar bikes is different from those with drop bars. One of the most notable differences here is the frame’s durability, as well as the tightness of the groups, and the frame’s thickness. So, when riding a flat bar bike, expect to feel a difference in the angle of your arms, back, and shoulders.
For a road bike with straight handlebars to be friendly and secure, the steering geometry must be changed to make the bike slower than the drop bar bike. This serves to offset the extra steering leverage. With easy steering and plenty of levers, you get a twitchy bicycle.
Moreover, the head tube angle is also typically slackened in order to accommodate the extra steering lever. This steering feel is typically measured in milliliters, where less trail means quicker travel and more track means slower direction. It’s a little too technical, but basically, if you want to factor speed, you need to account for trail as well.
When it comes to the size of the frame, gravel bikes are highly similar to road bikes. Meaning, whatever road bike size is recommended for your build, the same size will apply if you’re looking for a gravel bike.
However, one important note is that you’ll mostly see gravel bikes with a S, M, or L tag in terms of sizing, rather than seeing centimeter measurements. The available sizes are also quite limited. That said, it really isn’t as much of a problem, since gravel riding requires lots of movements so you have more leeway in getting a suitable bike size.
A helpful tip would be to go for the bigger frame, which would be beneficial is you often do multiple-day trips and long-distance rides. Alternatively, a smaller bike frame will feel better and more responsive on short yet intense riding sessions.
Gearing is another way in which these bikes are distinct from the pack. Because of the environment, many gravel bikes feature big cassettes and lightweight or smaller gear. 50/34 or 48/32t cabinets are popular. Also, several gravel bikes come with 1x equipment and big cassettes.
A 1x drivetrain is common on modern designs of gravel bikes. This setup makes for ample gearing that’s light and simple, especially with wide cassettes that are prevalent today. For the best in terms of performance and durability, opt for 10 or 12-speed rear cassettes and derailleurs that come with 38 to 42t front road chainrings.
Gravel bikes have larger pneumatics. In other words, as these bicycles are built to cross miles of unpaved highways, their pneumatics are far more significant. Under these situations, mud-clearing is also a problem.
What you need to understand is that tire widths vary from 30mm to 48mm everywhere. In addition to 700c wheels, smaller diameters of 650b wheels with higher capacity pneumatics are standard, especially for gravel bike tires.
Most gravel pneumatics have a fast-rolling central tread with knurling or side knobs for increased curling ability on mixed surfaces. The latex sealant gives a degree of insurance against punctures, which is often usual for tubeless tires.
How much are you willing to spend on your gravel bike? That likely depends on what you term a gravel bike. For instance, a used flat bar cyclocross bike might perform wonderfully as a gravel bike, and you will pay a fraction of its cost.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to cost is that entry-level components are prevalent within the $800 range, so if you want mid-range quality and performance, especially one from a comprehensive brand, you should expect to spend around $2000 to $3000. Of course, if you’d like custom parts and higher-end componentry, it’s also possible with a higher budget.
You might also want to check out this review of the best gravel bikes under $1000.
What are gravel bikes?
Gravel bikes are essentially a blend of mountain and road features. Meaning, you can technically ride a gravel bike on both road and off-road paths. What you’re getting here is a bicycle that is efficient, fast, and lightweight.
A gravel bicycle will feel great on a compact surface, while also being stable and composed when tackling off-road terrain. In other words, it’s versatile.
Gravel bikes also feature unique frame geometries that are focused on stability and comfort over long-distance riding. So, don’t expect a gravel bike to be the most efficient or aggressive ride; rather, expect a bicycle that will let you enjoy the riding experience on the whole.
Are flat bar gravel bikes the same as hybrid bikes?
No. as we mentioned earlier, flat bar gravel bicycles are not the same as hybrid bikes.
A traditional flaring bar bike has a long wheelbase and a slack head angle with a short stalk, aiming to make the geometry more progressive than the drop bar range and more appropriate for fast and aggressive cycling. More great bars have more power, which specific riders like as they hurl down off-road roads.
Who are flat bar bikes good for?
They’re great bikes for more prominent individuals, older adults, people living in places where the pavement sucks. And for those who like to travel gnarlier land, they can even be better bicycles.
Flat bar gravel bikes are not a one-size-fits-all solution to all cycling needs. However, this type of bicycle does allow for more accessibility by introducing a ride that is suitable for a wide range of riders, be it young or old, skilled or not. In short, flat bar bikes are great for pounding gravel and more, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try one out.