Aerobars — also known as tri bars — are a somewhat controversial bicycle attachment. Some triathletes love them, and others fear them. They have a host of benefits but also a few disadvantages. Due to the negatives, they’re banned in some races.
Are you looking for a way to boost your cycling performance during a triathlon? Aero bars may help. Read on to learn all about them and what to know before you buy, the good and the bad.
- What to Look For in Aero Bars?
- Are Aero Bars More Comfortable?
- Do Clip-on Tri Bars Make a Difference?
- How Much Time Do Aero Bars Save?
- Should You Tape Aero Bars?
- Why Are Aero Bars Not Allowed in Some Races?
- Should You Buy Aerobars?
What to Look For in Aero Bars?
When looking for aero bars, several factors must be considered to ensure that you select the right ones for your needs. The primary things to look for are adjustability, material, compatibility, price, and safety. (source)
The ability to adjust the position and angle of your aero bars is essential. You need to ensure that you can achieve the most aerodynamic and comfortable position for your body type and riding style.
Look for aero bars that offer multiple adjustment points and easy-to-use mechanisms.
Aerobars are made from various materials, including aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium. Your choice will depend on your budget, performance goals, and personal preferences.
Carbon fiber aero bars, for example, are lightweight and offer excellent vibration dampening, but they can be more expensive than aluminum or titanium options.
Not all aero bars are compatible with all bikes, so be sure to check that the ones you are considering match your specific bike model and size.
The cost of aero bars can vary significantly, from budget-friendly options to high-end, premium models. Consider your budget and performance goals when selecting them, and look for a model that offers the best combination of features and value for your needs.
Read Sherif’s article about this: How Much do Bike TT Aero HandleBar Weight and Cost? What matters the most!
Safety is always a top priority when selecting any cycling equipment, and aero bars are no exception. Look for ones designed with safety in mind, with features such as reinforced clamps, sturdy construction, and secure mounting mechanisms.
Are Aero Bars More Comfortable?
Aero bars can be more comfortable for some riders, but this depends on the person’s individual preferences and riding style. When used correctly, aero bars can reduce the strain on the rider’s upper body and allow them to use different muscle groups.
The benefits of aero bars are that they help to reduce fatigue and increase comfort during long rides. However, it’s important to note that aero bars place the rider in a more aerodynamic position that can put more strain on the lower back, neck, and arms. This is especially true if the bars aren’t adjusted properly.
Additionally, some riders may find the position of the aero bars uncomfortable or challenging to maintain for extended periods.
Do Clip-on Tri Bars Make a Difference?
Clip-on tri bars can make a significant difference in cycling performance for some riders. When used correctly, clip-ons can improve aerodynamics, reduce air resistance, and increase speed.
Clip-on tri bars can be easily added to most road bikes without requiring any significant modifications. This alone makes them a popular and affordable option for riders looking to improve their performance.
It’s important to note that the benefits of clip-on tri bars will vary depending on the rider’s individual riding style and ability. Some riders may find that the added weight and changes in position can negatively affect their performance or comfort.
Additionally, proper installation and adjustment of clip-on tri bars is essential to ensure maximum performance and safety.
How Much Time Do Aero Bars Save?
The amount of time saved by using aero bars depends on several factors, including the rider’s position, speed, and wind conditions. However, studies have shown that using aero bars can improve speed by up to 10% compared to riding in a standard upright position.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that using aero bars reduced air resistance by up to 28% compared to riding in a standard upright position. The study also found that using aero bars improved cycling performance by 4-5% for elite cyclists. (source)
Another study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that using aero bars reduced air resistance by up to 12.8%. They also appeared to improve speed by up to 6.5% compared to riding in a standard upright position. (source)
It’s important to note that the amount of time saved by using aero bars will vary depending on the specific conditions of the ride, the rider’s ability, and the course.
However, it’s clear that using aero bars can provide a significant improvement in speed and performance for many cyclists.
How Many Watts Do Aero Bars Save?
Similarly to the time saving, the amount of watts saved by using aero bars depends on the same factors. However, studies have shown that using aero bars can reduce air resistance and save significant watts.
For example, the same study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences translated to a power savings of approximately 19 watts at a speed of 40 km/h.
The Journal of Applied Physiology study found that using aero bars translated to a power saving of approximately 56 watts at a speed of 50 km/h.
Should You Tape Aero Bars?
Taping aero bars is a common practice among many cyclists and can provide several benefits. This process can help to improve grip and comfort, reduce vibration and shock, and prevent slippage during wet conditions.
Additionally, taping can help to provide additional insulation and protection against the cold or hot temperatures that the rider’s hands may be exposed to during a ride.
When taping aero bars, it’s crucial to apply the tape evenly and tightly to avoid any gaps or creases that could cause discomfort or slippage. Riders should also consider using tape specifically designed for this purpose, as they’re often thicker and more durable than standard handlebar tape.
Ultimately, whether or not to tape aero bars is a matter of personal preference. Some riders prefer to ride with bare ones for maximum grip and control, while others prefer the added comfort and protection that comes with taping.
Riders should experiment with different taping methods and materials to find the one that best suits their needs.
Why Are Aero Bars Not Allowed in Some Races?
Aero bars are banned in some races for safety reasons. Using them can significantly alter a rider’s position on the bike, affecting their ability to handle it in certain situations, such as sudden changes in direction or traffic congestion. This can increase the risk of accidents, especially in mass-start races where many riders compete closely.
Aero bars can also make it more difficult for riders to brake quickly or maneuver the bike in technical sections of the course. This challenge can pose a risk to both the rider and other competitors.
In addition, some races may have rules that specify the type of equipment allowed, and aero bars may not be permitted under these rules. For example, some road races may require that all riders use traditional drop handlebars, while some triathlons may allow aero bars only on certain sections of the course or during specific parts of the race.
The decision to ban aero bars in a particular race or competition will depend on various factors, including the type of race, the course conditions, and the rules and regulations of the race organizer.
Should You Buy Aerobars?
Whether or not to buy aero bars as a triathlete depends on several factors, including your performance goals, riding style, and budget.
Aero bars can be an effective tool if you are a triathlete looking to improve your performance and reduce your race times. They can help to reduce air resistance, increase speed, and provide a more comfortable riding position, which can be especially beneficial during long-distance races.
However, it’s important to note that aero bars aren’t suitable for all riders or all situations. They can make it more difficult to maneuver your bike in technical sections of a course or alter your center of gravity, affecting your ability to handle the bike in certain situations.
If you do decide to purchase aero bars, it’s essential to select a high-quality, well-designed model that fits your bike and body size properly. As I said earlier, practicing with them in a safe and controlled environment is vital before using them in a race or high-speed situation.
In the end, the decision to purchase aero bars as a triathlete is a personal one that should be based on your individual needs, preferences, and performance goals. If you’re unsure whether they’re right for you, consider consulting with a cycling coach or a more experienced triathlete for guidance.