“Handlebars” (Flobots) Lyrics Meaning

“Handlebars” is a song by the American hip-hop group Flobots from their 2008 album, “Fight with Tools.” At first glance, the song may seem like a playful tune about childhood memories and skills.

However, a closer look at the lyrics reveals a deeper exploration of human potential, power, and the consequences of our actions.

Lyrics Interpretation

Before we delve into the story behind this song, let’s take a closer look at each verse of the lyrics.

Verse 1: Innocence and Discovery

I can ride my bike with no handlebars

The song starts with the repetition of riding a bike without handlebars, a common childhood achievement. This line emphasizes the innocence and joy of youth while also highlighting the inherent human desire to push boundaries and surpass limitations.

Look at me, look at me

Hands in the air like it’s good to be

Alive and I’m a famous rapper

Even when the paths are all crookedy

The lyrics introduce the theme of craving attention and validation, as well as the pride of accomplishing something. The “crookedy paths” line alludes to the obstacles we face in life, yet the protagonist still finds success and happiness.

Verse 2: Expanding Skills and Knowledge

I can keep rhythm with no metronome

No metronome

No metronome

And I can see your face on the telephone

On the telephone

On the telephone

As the song progresses, the protagonist’s abilities evolve from simple tasks to more complex feats. The lyrics emphasize how quickly technology advances and how it enhances communication.

I can make money open up a thrift store

I can make a living off a magazine

I can design an engine

sixty four miles to a gallon of gasoline

I can make new antibiotics

I can make computers survive aquatic conditions

I know how to run a business

And I can make you wanna buy a product

Movers shakers and producers

Me and my friends understand the future

I see the strings that control the system

I can do anything with no assistance ’cause

The protagonist’s skills become more specialized, showcasing their ability to adapt and learn. The lyrics mention entrepreneurship, innovation, and understanding complex systems, suggesting that human potential is limitless.

Verse 3: Power and Responsibility

I can lead a nation with a microphone

With a microphone

With a microphone

And I can split the atom of a molecule

Of a molecule

Of a molecule

In this verse, the lyrics demonstrate how the protagonist’s abilities have escalated to the point where they can wield significant power and influence. The mention of splitting an atom is a metaphor for the destructive potential of human innovation and knowledge.

Bridge: A Shift in Perspective

Look at me, look at me

Driving and I won’t stop

And it feels so good to be alive and on top

My reach is global

My tower secure

My cause is noble

My power is pure

The protagonist’s perspective shifts to a darker, more egotistical viewpoint. Their power has grown, and they believe their intentions are pure, but there is an underlying sense of arrogance and disregard for the consequences of their actions.

Verse 4: The Consequences of Power

I can hand out a million vaccinations

Or let ’em all die in exasperation

Have ’em all healed from their lacerations

Or have ’em all killed by assassination

I can make anybody go to prison

Just because I don’t like them

And I can do anything with no permission

I have it all under my command because

This verse explores the darker side of power and the potential for its abuse. The protagonist wields life and death decisions, revealing a corruption of power and a lack of empathy.

Outro: The Ultimate Power and Its Consequences

I can guide a missile by satellite

By satellite

By satellite

And I can hit a target through a telescope

Through a telescope

Through a telescope


And I can end the planet in a holocaust

In a holocaust

In a holocaust

In a holocaust

In a holocaust

In a holocaust

In the outro, the song reaches its climax with the protagonist possessing the ability to cause a global catastrophe. The repeated lines emphasize the severity and real-world consequences of this power.

I can ride my bike with no handlebars

No handlebars

No handlebars

I can ride my bike with no handlebars

No handlebars

No handlebars

The song ends by returning to the initial innocent act of riding a bike without handlebars. This repetition serves as a stark contrast to the destructive power the protagonist has acquired, reminding us of our humble beginnings and the importance of staying grounded.

True Meaning Behind “Handlebars” 

“Handlebars,” the evocative hit single by hip-hop group Flobots, is a lyrical rollercoaster exploring the depths of human potential, innovation, and the fine line between creation and destruction. It’s a poetic and stirring anthem that takes listeners on a journey through the life of a dictator, from an innocent child riding a bike to a world-conquering adult, showcasing the innate duality of mankind.

According to vocalist Jamie Laurie, “Handlebars” delves into the complex nature of our species, capable of boundless creativity and innovation but often using these gifts to fuel destructive military endeavors. Laurie laments how society often neglects projects aimed at solving pressing issues like world hunger, deeming them frivolous or unimportant, while pouring resources into the machinery of war.

Despite its somber undertones, “Handlebars” isn’t all doom and gloom. It celebrates moments of human ingenuity and creativity, acknowledging that these sparks can ignite positive change in the world. It’s the contrast between these flashes of brilliance and their potential to spiral into dark and destructive ends that make the song so powerful and thought-provoking.

From its independent EP debut in 2005 to its re-release on the band’s major-label album “Fight with Tools” two years later, “Handlebars” has captured the hearts and minds of music lovers worldwide. The song’s meaning, as the band mentioned in a KROQ 106.7 Los Angeles interview, is open to interpretation. However, it is undeniably influenced by global events, a reflection of the times in which it was created.

Music Video

The music video for Flobots’ “Handlebars” is a great way to understand the song’s message. The video shows two friends riding their bikes without their hands on the handlebars. One friend is dressed casually and the other is wearing a business suit. The casual friend chooses the path of peace, while the other goes for corporate power. As the video goes on, things get worse and the corporate friend becomes a dictator-like figure. The peaceful friend gathers a crowd to fight against him.

The video uses symbols to show peace and oppression. The dove represents peace, while the hawk represents oppressive power. It also references historical events and people like Che Guevara and the Abu Ghraib tortures during the Iraq War.

The video ends with a flashback of the two friends riding their bikes and crossing into a bright light. “Handlebars” is a thought-provoking story about friendship, power, and oppression. If you want to explore these themes in a visually stunning way, you must watch this music video.


Whether you’re a die-hard Flobots fan or simply appreciate great music, “Handlebars” is a must-listen track that will leave you contemplating the intricate nature of human potential. As the lyrics dance between innocence and corruption, beauty and devastation, listeners are invited to ponder their own roles in the world, and the power they hold within themselves.

So, the next time you find yourself humming along to the catchy tune of “Handlebars,” take a moment to appreciate its deeper message: a reminder of the duality that resides within us all, and a call to harness our potential for the betterment of the world.

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