28 April 2014

Monkey, Longhorn Or Ape Hanger

One of my favorite non-bike blogs is Old Picture of the Day.  Sometimes the images are worth looking at purely for aesthetic reasons; almost all of the others are interesting in some aspect of life, past or present, they reveal.

In each post, a (usually brief) comment accompanies the photo.  Those are worth reading because they convey "PJM"'s deep appreciation--and, sometimes, personal connections--to the photographs he collects and displays.

His post today included this photo, along with a reminisce about his own childhood bike, which was very similar to the one in the picture:

One thing I found interesting about the responses he got to his post is how they described the handlebars.  I have heard to bars like the ones in the photo referred to as "Longhorn" bars (even though I grew up in Brooklyn and New Jersey!)  and the bars on bikes like the Schwinn Sting Ray and Raleigh Chopper (the ones with "banana seats")as "Ape Hangers".  But one commenter heard them referred to as "monkey" bars".  What's really funny, to me, is that some of the adults I knew during the  '70's "Bike Boom" referred to the those funny-looking dropped handlebars on those newfangled ten-speeds as "monkey bars"--meaning, I presume, that only a monkey could ride them.



  1. Of those three terms, only "monkey bars" is familiar and that referred to the bars on the Raleigh Chopper type bikes. (Childhood in the 1970s in Oregon.)

    Could those using "monkey bars" for drop bars aka "curly bars" have been thinking of the way monkeys can hang by their tails - but need a curved tree limb or whatever to do so from? Just musing on that...

  2. Ape hangers are the tall handlebars and similar ones are often found on motorcycles where they are usually an after market add on. I'm at a loss as to what compels people to use these though.

  3. Rebecca and Samuel--Thank you for your insights. Whatever the origins of those terms, they're colorful if not quite accurate.