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Aerobars

Old 08-24-16, 01:27 PM
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carleton
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Aerobars

I figured this topic probably deserves its own thread.

Aerobars are useful (at times), expensive, finicky, and can be tricky to use. It's wide and deep subject.

Please share your thoughts, experiences, reviews, tips, etc...
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Old 08-24-16, 01:43 PM
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One thought (or a lot of thoughts). A few years ago when I was focusing on the Kilo, I spent a lot of time, energy, and money fretting about aerobars. I bought maybe 6-8 sets, then made another handful of sets by mixing/matching bits from those sets, and even had a custom set built. Come to find out, I was never much of a Kilo rider, no matter what bars I used, hahaha.

That being said, I did learn A LOT about them and I realized that they aren't a simple matter.

Some random thoughts:

- Aerobars are a means to an end. The end being putting your upperbody and arms in a position to either keep you from being a big parachute or move air over you easily. If you don't achieve this, you are receiving no benefit.
- Every time trial does not benefit from the use of aerobars.
- Some riders are faster with certain drop bars than they are on aerobars.
- Most riders (even experienced riders) require a significant amount of time in the bars to feel comfortable riding at race pace. A LOT of mental energy is expended focusing on staying up and steering. While you are doing that, you aren't focusing on your effort as a whole (pacing, breathing, pedaling, etc...)
- A lot of people don't know what the ideal aero position is for them or their event.
- Newer narrow sprint bars can have the rider in an aero position as good as aerobars. Even at the elite level.
- In elite world women's 500M competition, there seems to be a 50/50 split between drop and aero bars.

Anecdotal points:
- I rode the same PB kilo time (a sorry 1:15.x) in both aero bars and narrow drop bars.
- Sky Christoperson (albeit not your normal Masters racer) rode a 1:06 in 35mm Scattos at 2011 Masters Worlds. To put this into perspective. Sky was in the 35-39 group. 1:04 would have been fast enough to win US Elite Kilo. So, if Sky were 10 years younger and riding the same Scattos, he probably could have won elites with his setup. Basically, the bars are fast if you are setup in them correctly.
- I like the 3T system of aerobars as an off-the-rack option. They seem to have the most options and are very modular.
- That being said, my kilo bars of choice were a mix of 3 different aerobar systems

Final Thoughts:

- If I were coaching an athlete for the kilo, if the rider has a killer start, I'd put him on narrow drop bars and focus on having the perfect start and top speed and then making his posture small and aero to be slick through the air afterwards.

Last edited by carleton; 08-24-16 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 08-24-16, 03:35 PM
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Carleton, -

I know its an old system, but have you ever tried the Cinelli Angel's ?

I have a local gent who is selling out and among his pile is a pair of these -- I would have to buy a bunch of "fixie grade" other stuff to get these in a pile , but I'm not afraid of recycling otherwise un-wanted parts to try these if they're worth a go

--- If its a "save your money for something current" type of thing, i'll pass
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Old 08-24-16, 03:45 PM
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Yeah, the Cinelli Angels were a good bar. They have a deep drop on them which is great for getting a grip to start that feels like drop bars.

The HUGE down side is that they have an integrated stem (similar to the Cinelli Alter stem). If I recall, the stem is made for a 1" fork steerer, not the current 1 1/8" standard that we use today.

Personally, I'd pass on them as performance parts. I'd only buy them if I were making a project bike for fun or a vintage bike show.
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Old 08-24-16, 03:46 PM
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Random Fact (because I'm a wealth of useless information): Steve Hill (back to back US Elite Kilo champ (2007 & 2008?))) had some custom bars made by Naked Bikes that were modeled after the Cinelli Angels.
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Old 08-24-16, 04:47 PM
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It's too bad Sam isn't making those custom bars anymore.

My favourite aero bars were a Cinelli deep drop Chrono base bar with Profile Century bars mounted on them. I had cut the Centuries in half to separate them, then swapped them left/right. So instead of a diamond to grip on the front, it was like a butterfly. This had my palms facing up instead of down, and allowed me to really reef on the bars in the last half lap. It also allowed me to really roll my shoulders down and in. After trying this, I don't understand why there weren't more bars made with the palms up grip. It was really relaxed, made it easier to get into a tight tuck, allowed me to make more power in the bars, and was easier to steer. Did some flying 250s with both positions and the palms up was consistently almost 0.25 seconds faster for me.

I may have to get me a welder and pick up here Sam dropped off with the custom bars.
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Old 08-25-16, 08:15 AM
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I've seen a lot of people throw on aerobars for a timed event without modifying their position or practicing in the aerobars. While that may be worth a tiny bit of time, it also might cost time -so there's really no substitute for a little bit of practice.

I've also seen hastily-assembled 'aero' positions look really non-aerodynamic and they make me wonder why exactly somebody is using aerobars.

The bare minimum of what you should do if you're throwing on aerobars for the first time is, ask somebody who is more experienced to take a look at your position.

Best approach, though, is to practice, tinker, and find a position that is comfortable and aerodynamic.

Oh, and if you have a power meter, Golden Cheetah's Aerolab can be used to optimize your aero position - it can measure differences in drag that result from even small changes to aerobar setup.

Short of a wind tunnel, it's the best way to get a fast position and an optimal power:drag ratio.
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Old 08-25-16, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Personally, I'd pass on them as performance parts. I'd only buy them if I were making a project bike for fun or a vintage bike show.
I've been a C&V maniac on the road side for the last year now, - I've put together several nice 80's/90's Italian machines and am sourcing parts for an early 90's DeRosa build now

---- since you put it that way -- these might be a cool pick up to have in inventory in case a TT frame from that era comes along,
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Old 08-25-16, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
I've seen a lot of people throw on aerobars for a timed event without modifying their position or practicing in the aerobars. While that may be worth a tiny bit of time, it also might cost time -so there's really no substitute for a little bit of practice.

I've also seen hastily-assembled 'aero' positions look really non-aerodynamic and they make me wonder why exactly somebody is using aerobars.

The bare minimum of what you should do if you're throwing on aerobars for the first time is, ask somebody who is more experienced to take a look at your position.

Best approach, though, is to practice, tinker, and find a position that is comfortable and aerodynamic.

Oh, and if you have a power meter, Golden Cheetah's Aerolab can be used to optimize your aero position - it can measure differences in drag that result from even small changes to aerobar setup.

Short of a wind tunnel, it's the best way to get a fast position and an optimal power:drag ratio.
I think you're talking about me...

One reason I do this is to learn. I'm not sure that my aerobars position is more aero than my drop bars position...but I'm trying to maximize my competitiveness sometime out in the future, not at the current event...
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Old 08-25-16, 05:31 PM
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3T Aura Pro bars were recommended for me during my bike fit for my new frame. The position for them only involved a 30mm shorter stem as well. There was no going lower as the fitter pointed out to me, going lower would sacrifice power output IN MY PARTICULAR CASE. The loss in aero benefit would be far outweighed by the increased power capability. However, I make the step up to M3 in 2017, so I'm just going to go with a PRO road drop bar with aerobars to mimic the same position as I can't justify the cost as I plan on sticking with my BT drop bars for the 750. I will still be doing kilo for club champs, but that's only once per year against maybe 4 or 5 people, if I'm lucky!
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Old 08-26-16, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by brawlo View Post
3T Aura Pro bars were recommended for me during my bike fit for my new frame. The position for them only involved a 30mm shorter stem as well. There was no going lower as the fitter pointed out to me, going lower would sacrifice power output IN MY PARTICULAR CASE. The loss in aero benefit would be far outweighed by the increased power capability. However, I make the step up to M3 in 2017, so I'm just going to go with a PRO road drop bar with aerobars to mimic the same position as I can't justify the cost as I plan on sticking with my BT drop bars for the 750. I will still be doing kilo for club champs, but that's only once per year against maybe 4 or 5 people, if I'm lucky!
This brings up a great point: There is such a thing as going too low.

Let's say that you've been doing the stretches that everyone preaches that we should all do , and you are reasonably flexible. When you are bending your back and closing your hips to go lower and lower there exists a point where the power just shuts off. Even though your back will allow you to contort lower, the power output from your legs drops significantly.

This can be made evident using a magnetic trainer and drop bars. Get on the trainer, warm up, and load up a moderate amount of resistance. Start bending your elbows and go lower and lower and lower...there will be a point where it seems like one muscle group simply stops contributing and the resistance feels harder to overcome. That's the "too low" point.

I'm not sure what muscles stop engaging, but I think it's the the hip flexors.
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Old 08-26-16, 07:42 AM
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An anecdotal story:

I used to frequent a shop in VA that specialized in serving the triathlete crowd. I would see all of the expensive fancy doo-dads and bikes. I saw one customer's bike, a Specialized Shiv decked out like Fabian Cancellara dropped it of...save the 1 foot of spacers under the aero bars. I looked at it and the mechanic looked at me with a grin, "This is what the customer wanted." The customer had to have a Shiv...but wasn't nearly flexible enough to get on one properly. He literally was more aero using his road bike in competition...but you couldn't tell him that.

At the same shop, a masters woman's "tri bike" was in for service. It was simply a road bike. The mechanic pointed it out to me and says, "The woman that rides that bike always wins her division...without aerobars. She wins by being comfortable on her bike when the others aren't."
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Old 08-26-16, 09:08 AM
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Yup - in response to stuff like that, Specialized started making the Shiv with higher and higher headtubes, optimized for basically no drop from the saddle to the basebars.
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Old 08-26-16, 09:11 AM
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Not an extremely low or flat position --- lots of spacers, up-turned aero bar extensions -- seemed to work out alright for him

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Old 08-26-16, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
Not an extremely low or flat position --- lots of spacers, up-turned aero bar extensions -- seemed to work out alright for him

Look at his body, not the spacers.

That frame is using a 650c front wheel with like a 80mm heat tube.

The base of his neck is like 3 inches under the top of his back. His forearm pads are under his saddle. That's low.

These positions are similar:


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Old 08-26-16, 04:44 PM
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To explain that "funny bike": It was designed for use without modern style aerobars. It was designed to be used with base bars only...very frikkin' low. Like this:



Indurain (in the vintage photo above) was probably an early-adopter of arm pad style aerobars...and used them with the old style frame. Hence the spacers because no human could get that low with bent elbows. Not even Indurain.
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Old 08-26-16, 05:28 PM
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I'll be darn -- your right. (Big Mig's position vs a modern TT position ) - I'll look for a pic of Big Mig from his hour record run to see his position on the track --- that guy was a specimen - I am curious whether he was the heaviest tour winner ever (he was listed at 178 back then at 6'2 or 3)

Last edited by DMC707; 08-26-16 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 08-26-16, 05:42 PM
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My personal funny bike - its a 3 Rensho -- now its strictly a wall hanger , but last time I legitimately used it, I had to use a Salsa positive rise MTB stem to get the bullhorns high enough just to ride it





This beast is in inventory and waiting to be built up as well --- because I actually want to ride it in club TT's, -- I wished to attempt to approximate the riding position of Big Mig's machine -- which is why I was studying early photos of his bike)

going to need a positive rise stem here also because the steerer is cut short , as originally intended --- this one is a 53c, so uses a 24" front wheel as opposed to the 650c wheel on the Banesto Pinarello.
The bike only has one shifter braze on -- definitely not designed for lazy days toodling along the bike path ---

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Old 08-26-16, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Indurain (in the vintage photo above) was probably an early-adopter of arm pad style aerobars...and used them with the old style frame. Hence the spacers because no human could get that low with bent elbows. Not even Indurain.
Indurain IS the heaviest largest/heaviest Tour winner. His position was also typically higher than the one in the above pic. He was definitely not the most aero/lowest rider of his day (Boardman would be my guess), but he put out A LOT of power, and adopted every technological advantage he could. His Hour Record position is as low as he went at that point in his career. He tried lower (apparently he tried to emulate his teammates position, Abraham Olano), but the higher position helped him with holding his line in the bends, as well as relieving neck strain. Apparently his neck didn't handle the G forces of the track so well over the course of an hour.


And one where he must've stolen a speedskaters skinsuit
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Old 08-27-16, 12:47 PM
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Good illustrations.

On a related note, Dame Sarah Storey sits noticeably higher than most and has probably seen more wind tunnels than all of us here combined.

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Old 08-27-16, 02:52 PM
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Aerodynamics can be misleading - especially once you get to optimizing things, the air starts to not play by the rules. Low and tight is a good starting point, but past that, eyeball aerodynamics don't get you too far.

Another case in point is Evie Stevens' Hour Record position. It looked uncomfortable, anachronistic, and like there was room for some eyeball optimization - but her coach said it was one of the slipperiest positions he'd ever worked with.
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Old 08-28-16, 01:49 AM
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Actually her position looks pretty good. Maybe just stretched forward a little. Is that what you meant by uncomfortable?
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Old 08-28-16, 12:49 PM
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Again - eyeball optimization and a jillion grains of salt because I'm sure they tunnel tested it. But when the early news came out, I thought that her forearm angle looked like absolute torture to hold for an hour, that her head was still high, and that her frontal area could be reduced.

But - like I said - apparently it's an extremely slippery position. And it worked great for iher! And drives home the point that rules of thumb for aerodynamics are very rough indeed.
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Old 09-14-16, 06:31 AM
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On a related thread, somebody posted a link (on eBay?) to an affordable alternative to the Look Ergostem. Anybody got that link handy?
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Old 09-14-16, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
On a related thread, somebody posted a link (on eBay?) to an affordable alternative to the Look Ergostem. Anybody got that link handy?
it's called Satori Turn Up stem

Satori Turn Up Adjust Handlebar Stem Riser 31 8x100mm | eBay

It doesn't have FULL adjustability - the first knuckle, at the steerer, can go anywhere but the second knuckle is limited (by the shape of the two pieces) to about 90 degrees. Not much of a limitation.

Also, it only appears to come in 100mm.
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