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handlebar vs. handlebars

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handlebar vs. handlebars

Postby Ilka » Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:02 pm

I am translating operating manuals for ATVs and motorcycles from German. The handlebar consists of a single bar. Nevertheless, I am aware that the term is often used in plural.

Should handlebar be plural or singular? Here are some sample sentences.

"Start the engine and let it run idle. Move the handlebar to and fro over the entire steering range."

"Move the clutch fluid reservoir mounted on the handlebar to a horizontal position."

"The clutch lever is fitted on the left side of the handlebar."

"Hold the handlebar firmly with both hands."

I've already started a discussion here but there doesn't seem to be a consensus.

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Postby bnjtokyo » Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:23 am

It is a slightly different field, but I searched on and found both "handlebar" and "handlebars." Of course as an adjective ("handlebar tape" "handlebar mount" etc.) it is always without an "s."

A quick survey of issued US patents with the word
"handlebar" in the title had about 450 hits, but many of them (but not all!) were adjectival uses as described above.

On the otherhand, there were only 63 patents with "handlebars" in the title.

Of course the data from the US Patent Office covers ATV, motorcycles and probably some other things in addition to bicycles.

Overall, I am of the impression that "handlebar" is preferable in technical writing.

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Postby skinem » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:34 am

I always looked at it this way--handlebars, plural because there are two handles. There may technically be one bar, but is a sense there are two--one coming out in each direction from a central point making two handles.

Or not...
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