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Back 3.19.2018

Results of Zipp Handlebar Survey - It's All About #ZippFit

Pro cyclists, like those from Boels-Dolmans Pro Cycling shown here, and enthusiast alike spend a buik of their riding time with hands positioned on the brake hoods. That's influenced Zipp handlebar design.  


Grab your bars and start riding. It’s that simple. But there’s always room for improvement and innovation, right? At Zipp, we’re always refining and expanding our handlebar lineup, alloy and carbon, to meet the needs of a wide swath of cyclists from professional road racers to Gran Fondo adventurers.


We recently conducted an online survey, promoted over Zipp social media, on road handlebar ergonomic and shape preferences. We were pleased to have almost 1,350 respondents. Our primary goal was a broader stream of feedback. Historically we’ve sought opinions from top bike fitters and sponsored pro cyclists. We wanted to expand that to get more raw data from some of the thousands of cyclists interacting with us on social media. The results reinforce our fit-first philosophy of improving each portion of handlebar to optimize comfort and efficiency. Here are the results with brief commentary from Zipp product manager Nathan Schickel:

The popularity of the brake hoods as a riding position is not surprising. But the margin (65 percent) did get our attention. The strong preference for the hoods is, perhaps, an indicator that respondents are relatively well-fit on their bikes. Conversely, a top preference for the bar tops could indicate discomfort in the drops or hoods, perhaps from a poor fit. Certainly, though, for situations such as long climbs, grabbing the bar tops is an efficient choice. 

The preference for riding in the hoods can be traced back to technological changes in bikes over the past couple of decades. The transition away from quill stems in the late 1990s and early 2000s resulted in the dropping of the entire cockpit, often by 5cm or more. Enter the era of the “slammed stem!” Another factor is the increase in size, and comfort, of the hoods as they became packed with technology from integrated brake-lever shifters and, for some, hydraulic brakes. We’ve also worked hard to developing handlebar shapes that optimize the transition from the brake hood to the bar for greater comfort. 

The preference of the majority (54 percent) for the aero top shape reminds us that we serve a very performance and speed minded group of cyclists. This goes to the heart of what we do, help cyclists go faster. We also see fit – and resulting efficiency – as a component of speed, a view underscored by the preference of 57 percent of respondents for our Ergo handlebar shape. 

Zipp handlebars are designed to provide a smooth transition to the brake hoods for added comfort in the most popular riding position, on the hoods. 

Our two most popular road bars in terms of aftermarket sales both incorporate many of the preferences expressed by survey respondents. The carbon SL-70 Aero offers the 70mm short reach (the horizontal distance from the bar’s stem clamp area to the center of the brake perch) with a distinctive wing-shaped aero top section. The Service Course SL-70 Ergo provides that same short reach to the drops with a contoured top section for a natural ergonomic grip on the bar tops. Watch for further bar shape and ergonomic refinements from us. 

Our two most popular road bars, the carbon SL-70 Aero with its wing-shaped top, and the alloy and ergonomic Service Course SL-70 Ergo. Both feature the short 70mm reach. 

We thank everyone who participated in this survey. Please watch for additional Zipp cycling surveys.