As a result of this bounty, there has been a commingling of componentry like never before. Mountain bike pedals on track bikes, disc brakes on 'cross bikes, flat bars on road bikes--people are using whatever wherever to suit their particular riding styles. They're disregarding intended use, so long as the component does the job.
Perhaps the most commingling has occurred with handlebars. The lines between road and offroad, track and road, and so forth, have blurred considerably. Now, I'm all for comfort, but sometimes I think this handlebar promiscuity has gone too far. Coupled with this, there's also just a general disregard for proper handlebar setup, as well as a sacrifice of functionality for the sake of style. Some of this is due to mixing and matching, some is due to ignorance, some to vanity, and some to neglect. Here are some examples:
"Flop n' Chop"
With the fixed gear explosion has come a mass butchering of handlebars that would make Stalin blush. What is this compulsion to neuter the simple road bar by cutting off the hooks and removing the means by which you can most effectively transfer power to the bike? Somewhere in the trendier neighborhoods of our nation's cities there must be vast killing fields of dismembered drops like endless expanses of severed walrus tusks. A person more enterprising than myself might find these graveyards and sell the remains to Cinelli so they can make more of those stupid Spinacis.
Excessively Chopped Straight Bars
Before the bullhorn and the riser bar, the flat mountain bike handlebar was appropriated for street use. These things are fairly wide, so it's normal on- or off-road to cut them down. It lets you pass between trees or cars, depending on where you're using them. However, truncating them so there's only a fistful of aluminum on either side of the stem is just vain affectation. Just because messengers do it doesn't make it a good idea. I won't take the time to explain the concept of leverage here, but on a bicycle it's something you want. Most of these riders will never see a real hill so it's not an issue, but on the East River crossings they look like they're trying to open a bottle of wine while holding it between their knees, or like Bill Murray in "Caddyshack" cutting new holes in the green. And forget handling--unless you want your bike to be twitchier than a chihuahua with a nerve disorder, go easy with the hacksaw.
I'm not a tremendous fan of bullhorn handlebars for street use, but it's certainly better than maiming an innocent drop bar. If you're going to go this route, just please install your lever correctly. Don't put it on with the lever tip pointing forward, so that your bike looks like a pike fish swimming with its mouth open. Also, try to keep the bars somewhat level. I know they're called bullhorns, but TT bars pointed skyward makes it look like you're riding an antelope. And if you prefer to ride with your arms straight out in front of you, perhaps you'd be more comfortable in a car gripping a steering wheel, or on a subway holding a magazine.
Risers with Quill Stems
Using risers on a street bike is better than drop bars with grips on the tops. At least the rider has come to terms with the fact that he or she will be staying in the upright position. And sure, sometimes you need a little more bar height than your steer tube would otherwise allow. But very often I see bikes with quill stems and riser bars with the stem lowered to its minimum height. Why not just use regular bars and raise the stem? There's a reason you didn't see risers much until the threadless thing took over. And yes, I realize it works just fine, but it's making five lefts to go right--like using air conditioning and the heat at the same time--and consequently inelegant.
Rotation on Drop Bars
Depending on what's comfortable and where you like your levers you might opt to rotate your bars up or down a bit. But often I see riders with their bars angled way, way down, so that the drops form the letter "U." The only explanation I can possibly come up with is that their bars are slipping a little bit each day, and it's so incremental they're just not noticing it. Either that or they just want to feel like they're holding on to two umbrella handles while they ride. And I don't even think I need to mention people who rotate their bars all the way up, so that their brake levers are on top and parallel with the ground. These people are generally riding old ten speeds along boardwalks, wearing flip-flops and pedaling with their heels, and as such are so beyond knowing (or caring) what they're doing that they're outside of the jurisdiction of this site.
Bar Ends Pointing Straight Up
Your bar ends are to give you leverage and a more forward hand position should you need it. Yet for some reason every week or so I see somebody with his bar ends pointed directly skyward. These things exist for a purpose, and it's not to make your bike look like an attentive lemur. A good rule of thumb is to angle them using your stem as a guideline--unless of course you've got a vertical stem.
Bar Ends on Riser Bars
There are certain rules of thumb in cycling that exist for no good reason except that adherence to them means you're "in the know." And the admonition to not use bar ends on riser bars is one of those rules. Those of you who choose to disregard the rules and do whatever works best for you are certainly more enlightened than me, I will freely admit. That said, ditch the bar ends on riser bars--it looks stupid.
Yes, bar tape can tear, and you don't always have the time or inclination to purchase costly cork and re-tape your bars. Especially on a commuter, or at the end of a long racing season when just looking at your bike makes you want to throw up. In these cases, temporarily fixing the problem with a little electrical tape is acceptable. However, what is never acceptable is letting loose tape flutter in the breeze so that your bike looks like an old-time movie monster. Bar tape hanging off your bars is the equivalent of having toilet paper stuck to your shoe. And while I'm at it, if you don't know how to tape your bars properly, take tomorrow off, stay home, and learn.
Full Frontal Nudity
I see more and more people riding with completely bare bars these days. Please, out of decency, cover your naked, shivering bars. I don't know if people don't know how to tape them, or they just think it looks cool. But there's just nothing cool about grabbing your bars with sweaty, gloveless hands and sliding off the drops. It's like trying to handle porcelain after eating a meal of greasy spare ribs. Except the latter won't cost you your teeth.
Just Plain Overdoing It
Integrated Carbon Bar/Stems
This is one of those bad ideas manufacturers just don't seem to be able to leave alone. Pros don't even ride these things. What is the wisdom of a system that saves no weight while simultaneously preventing you from changing your stem length, stem angle, bar width, and bar angle without tossing the whole thing? In the case of the FSA Plasma, you can have the convenience of this setup for the low, low price of almost $600--which can buy you a pretty decent frame in some parts of the world. Personally I'd rather commit to a tattoo of my bar/stem setup than actually physically fix it in stone (or carbon) like these things force you to do. At least with the tattoo I can still be comfortable. (And I can cover it up with my new bar/stem setup for less money.) If these things were the norm and regular "modular" bars and stems were just coming out they'd be hailed as a brilliant innovation. They also look dated in about six months--remember the Cinelli Integralter? Neither do they.
Clip-On Aero Bars of Any Kind
Unless you are actually riding a TT and need to adapt your road bike to the purpose, please think twice before you bolt all kinds of extensions, forearm pads, beverage containers, and digital readouts on your bars. Some people seem to think they will find zen if they can attain every conceivable hand position possible. But it is never possible. Buddhists will tell you that material gain will never bring you true fulfillment, and I'm here to tell you that multiple hand positions won't bring you true cycling fulfillment. Instead, one day you'll get so frustrated you'll dispense with the aero extensions altogether and find yourself riding a recumbent. And trust me, you do not want to wind up rolling around town looking like a guy lying on the ground and trying to fight off an attacking eagle with his feet.