A bicycle handlebars may be a symbol of the freedom and mobility that are its hallmarks.
But in a number of countries, they are not.
Here is a look at the key issues in the debate over which handlebars to buy.
Which handlebars are best for all the people?
Bicycles are the most common means of transport around the world.
But the people who use them most often are also the most vulnerable, according to a new report from the advocacy group Cycling Aid.
“The number of people who suffer from bicycle injuries and fatalities is increasing, and there is no doubt that a more robust and comprehensive system of safety is needed,” says the report, which comes at a time when bike handlebar technology is becoming more common and more accessible.
The report also highlights a number other potential problems with the current system, such as safety barriers for the vulnerable.
“Bicycle handlebars, whether they are designed to be stable and safe or not, can be seen as a symbol that people are not protected from the consequences of bad decisions made by the owners of the bicycle,” says Jane Leverenz, co-author of the report and a research fellow at the Australian National University.
Leveenz says there are more than 100 types of bicycle handle bars, but the majority of them are for “the most vulnerable people”.
“They are the ones that are most vulnerable because they are the least protected from other people,” she says.
Which bike should I buy?
“You need to be aware of where you are, what your needs are and the types of activities you do, and that’s what you need to consider when choosing a bicycle handle bar,” says Julie Horsfall, chief executive of Cycle Australia.
She says many of the “unfortunate incidents” in recent years have been related to people not using the appropriate handlebars.
Horsdale says a “reasonable” price is set on the number of bars that are appropriate for a range of different activities.
“Some people need to get a bike handle bar that’s suitable for the job that they are doing,” she said.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that for some of the people that have been injured in crashes, that there’s been a risk of death or serious injury and they have had to buy new bikes.”
Which one should I go for?
“There are a lot of different bikes available to cyclists,” Horsden says.
“So we would advise people to get the bike that fits them the best for the tasks that they do most frequently.”
The new report recommends that consumers think about what types of work they are most likely to undertake, and then decide which handlebar style is right for them.
For example, a bicycle saddle should be for people who do a lot, but don’t necessarily need a lot.
A bike handle that is too long or too short for some people can be problematic.
The new analysis also suggests that many people do not buy a handlebar if it is not made of the right material, such a steel, plastic or aluminium.
“This is a big area of concern,” Harsdale says.
Which type of handlebars do I need?
“I’ve found it’s important to think about whether you need a single or double bar,” Hoursdale says, adding that the answer can be “difficult” depending on the job you do.
“For a lot people it’s about the job they do the most.”
The report recommends a “two-pronged approach” when it comes to selecting a handle bar: “Make sure you know what you want it for, and make sure it fits the task that you’re doing,” Hinsdale says