Drag bars are usually handlebars that run straight across with no rise above the neck of the motorcycle. You can see this type of handle bars on many street bikes built for speed and even custom motorcycles. The drag bars image is from Ebay Seller p3racer.
Riding a motorcycle with drag handle bars, sometimes called cafe racing handle bars, causes the rider to lean forward, thereby reducing wind resistance created by the body and providing a bit of extra speed added to the top limits of the bike.
But they are also popular with choppers, bobbers, and cruisers so drag handlebars cross different styles and models of bikes because they are versatile and very cool looking. That's why they are so popular.
It has been suggested that this style of handle bars originated in London when motorcycle riders would select a song to play on the juke box, race from the Ace Cafe to a pre-established point and attempt to return before the record finished playing. While this may be only legend, it sounds like something that motorcycle enthusiasts would love to do!
This custom Yamaha 650 has traditional style drag bars, for example.
The image below is a set of custom Ultima Drag Bars.
During the 1960s, the style became quite popular, especially in Britain, but often the speed of the bike did not live up to the racy appearance. To help increase speed, many riders added the small front fairing which was mounted on the drag handle bars to help get that extra few miles at top speed.
For some riders, the riding position forced by drag handle bars forcing them to stretch nearly flat over the gas tank is quite comfortable, but other riders find it quite uncomfortable. It's really a matter of what look you love and how the riding position feels to you.
All drag motorcycles today use drag racing handle bars, but they remain quite popular in the street riding crowd too. While you won't likely see this handle bar style on a custom street chopper, you will see it V-Twins that are not chopped out and on many other makes and models of motorcycle.
If you want to change over to drag bars on your own motorcycle, and you are changing from stock, the process is really quite easy. The cables and wiring inside your stock handle bars are almost certainly longer than needed for the straight drag handle bars. Thank means you simply have to buy the handle bars, remove the old ones, run the cables and wires and you're good to go. You can purchase a drag handle bar kit which contains everything you need to make the changeover, if you prefer.
While drag bars are about as far from ape hanger handle bars as you can possibly imagine, many motorcycle enthusiasts love to have two bikes, one with each setup. This is because it is so much fun to enjoy the leaned-over posture and speed provided with a café drag racing set up but it is equally as much fun to have a flashy custom chopper with ape hanger handle bars for cruising around town with your buddies on a lazy afternoon.