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Aerobars

Old 01-21-20, 08:55 PM
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Bliip
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Aerobars

Opinion on aerobars for riding comfort and another area to rest hands?
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Old 01-21-20, 08:58 PM
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I can't speak for anyone else, but that's the primary reason I fitted mine. Add to that the ability to ride further, faster (increased efficiency) and they're worth the several months of acclimating the body to them. At least for me. YMMV.
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Old 01-21-20, 09:02 PM
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Thank you
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Old 01-21-20, 09:36 PM
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Sure, the ultra-endurance cycling crowd uses them and that alone speaks volumes. But it's not just for hand comfort, it's also for saddle comfort since the different position also makes you rest on a different part of your sit bones.
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Old 01-21-20, 09:39 PM
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It's also like a bit of "bicycle cross training," because my position on the aerobar-fitted bike and my "normal" bike is different enough that I tend to be recruiting different muscles on each bike.

I have a noseless ISM on the aerobar bike, so completely different contact points relative to a traditional saddle. Gives the undercarriage a break.
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Old 01-21-20, 10:49 PM
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I recently tried a set of Profile Carbon Stryke aero bars on my older steel road bike. Not bad. I can see why some folks like them, especially for longer rides or stiff headwinds. Much more comfortable -- or, rather, less uncomfortable -- than the first or second generation Scott aero bars I tried a year or so ago. Never could get used to those. The main difference is where the forearms contact the arm rest. With the Scott aero bars the arm rests were in the middle of my forearms -- that was torture. With the Profile bars the rests were closer to my elbow. Not a perfect fit but closer.

Main problem was the aero bars made the cockpit cramped on my standard drop bars. I'd need an accessory bar to mount my other stuff -- lights, etc. And wider drop bars, or flared in the drops. With my 40cm wide drop bar there was no room on the top of the bar for my hands -- best I could do was hold the arced section between the tops and hoods, with my elbows flared out.

I can see why most TT/tri bikes use bullhorns, although those would limit hand positions for non-competitive use. But time trials and triathlons are a whole nuther beast. If the rider isn't in the aero bars most of the ride he's not going to be competitive against riders who have their fit nailed and can stay in the aero tuck longer.

Another issue is saddle adjustment -- especially height. If I set the saddle to the best height for getting in the aero tuck, it was too high for the regular riding position. If I set the saddle height to be appropriate for riding the hoods, tops or drops, it was too low for the aero bar and my torso wasn't open enough. My quads tired more easily... everything felt a little off.

There's a cleverly designed seat post/saddle rail that can be adjusted without stopping to accommodate both positions -- conventional bar positions and aero tuck.
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Old 01-22-20, 07:31 AM
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I have a pair of profile design aero bars I fit for both TTs and anything over 100 miles. They were a godsend on my double century last year. It was nice having another position to be in, and allowed me to stretch my back out a bit while still on the bike. As mentioned above, if you have smaller width handlebars, real estate does become an issue. Mine are 36cm, but profile design make an attachment that gives you a mounting a point between the aero bars that I use for lights. I've opted to keep my wahoo bolt on it's stem mount, instead of it's out front mount. I do TTs for a bit of fun, not competitively, and having it on the stem mount allows me to charge it on long rides if needed.
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Old 01-22-20, 11:05 AM
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The trade off for efficiency that the aerobars can give you is that the weight of them drastically alters the bike's handling. From what they weigh, it shouldn't be a big deal, but because the weight is on the front bar, I found that the handling losses were unacceptable enough that I abandoned them.
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Old 01-22-20, 11:27 AM
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You must have had some really bulky clip-ons, I guess. My Shimano PRO set weighs about 350g. I've never really noticed the weight.
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Old 01-22-20, 12:09 PM
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If they are proper aero bars they are NOT comfortable to ride on. The idea of aero bars is to get you as low on the bike as possible without losing pedaling efficiency. This is NOT a comfortable position.
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Old 01-22-20, 02:05 PM
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Speed and comfort are not mutually exclusive. So long as the bars reduce the size of a rider's aerodynamic profile, they're having a benefit. Not all of us are going all out in a TT, so the bars can be set up less aggressively and still keep their "aero" moniker. IMO, at least.
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Old 01-22-20, 06:50 PM
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Aero bars aren't necessarily uncomfortable. I've heard enough users of aero bars say they're comfortable for an alternate position on long rides, including the state time trial championship which includes some marathon distances that would be impossible for me to do in an aero tuck.

Even with an old neck injury (C1 and C2) with chronic pain and stiffness, I could get reasonably not-too-uncomfortable on the Profile Carbon Stryke bars, and stay in an aero tuck up to 5 minutes. In contrast the old school Scott bars were torture and I couldn't stay tucked for more than a minute at a time.

If we're not limited by current UCI rules (which are just stupid, but that's UCI), the best aero bar position is probably the "praying mantis" position, which angled the forearms upward so the hands were in front of the face. Most users say this was both comfortable and more aerodynamic because the hands serve as air foils for the larger head. I've used that position on both my old Scott and newer Profile bars and it was effective, good for a 1 mph boost even with my limited abilities.

Not to start a ruckus over old PED scandals, but I'm going to use Floyd Landis as an example. Floyd was an unusually effective time trialist, something that's been forgotten amid the scandals. He was an odd looking fellow but his relatively massive lower back and hips, compared with the rest of his physique, made him a formidable cyclist under any circumstances. It was somewhat reminiscent of Merckx, who also had a massive lower back and hips, on top of an already fairly large physique for a cyclist.

Here's a photo of Landis as a teammate of Armstrong, from 2002 (before mandatory helmets). Note the time trial setups -- pretty close to current UCI regs. Forearms nearly parallel with the ground. Floyd's bullhorns are lower. Lance stuck with his preferred position, more stretched out, no drastic drops between saddle and bar height. The bikes weren't the highly specialized TT/tri bikes that dominate the scene now, so it's closer to a hybrid road/TT setup we'd use for non-competition rides.

Floyd Landis following Lance Armstrong, 2002 time trial. Note the differences in aero and bullhorn bars and overall bike fit.

***
And here's a photo that's more representative of the time trial position Landis preferred in his post-Armstrong support role. Landis used the then-UCI legal praying mantis position.

Floyd Landis TT bike setup, 2006. Praying mantis position. More effective use of hands to divert wind around the larger face/head. No longer legal for UCI competition.

***

Skip to the 6:30 mark of this video (the link may already do that) and compare Floyd's TT bike position with his rivals. He was consistently more aero and looked more comfortable in the tuck, particularly compared with Oscar Pereiro who was eventually declared the 2006 TdF winner after Landis was DQ'd.

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Old 01-22-20, 09:32 PM
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I tried them like 23 years ago. Did notice a little gain of speed on the flats. Took time to get used to them. Heck, took me about 3 weeks to get used to them where I'd feel comfy staying down for a mile. After that it was easy so no problem after the learning process.

But once I started actually doing more demanding rides, they were a hinderance to my hand positions. More climbing rides, centuries with 10,000 ft types so I needed all the space on the hb's. The aero bars were just in the way.

My longest ride is 126 and never did I feel I was missing them or needed them.
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Old 01-22-20, 10:48 PM
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I've been using clip-ons on my good road bike for over 20 years. I think it's harder to ride no hands with them, even though they're very light. Could just be the geometry of my bike. Otherwise I can't tell the difference in handling. I mean people ride long distance with bar bags. Good grief. They do take a little getting used to. I practice on them every spring, trying to spend 1/2 hour on them continuously and ride the white line as well as I can. I'm conservative and don't use them in sharp corners or when cornering hard. I usually pick up an extra 1.5 mph on them, something like that, maybe use one cog smaller than on the hoods. I have Profile Design bars which are under my handle bars. They have flip-up arm rests and so don't take up any real estate. I clip my Garmin to one of them. It's easier to glance at further forward like that.

You know you've set them up too low if your thighs hit your belly. Or you could just lose weight. It's somewhat important that they not restrict your breathing. OTOH if you're using them to rest your arms, you've probably backed off the effort a bit while holding speed and thus don't need to breathe as well. They're really good on long descents where otherwise you'd be using a lot of energy to hold a tuck.

I use them on rides of any length, but really appreciate them on doubles and longer.
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Old 01-23-20, 09:05 AM
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I used Profile aero bars 30 years ago. Loved them. Had Scott AT4 bars on my MTB, which was fun to chase down roadies...

I started the winter indoor season with the Profiles on my indoor bike. And I just couldn't get comfortable on them like I used to. Some of that might be age related , and my 6 level T7-T12 fusion didn't help. I left them on for a while as a place to mount my tablet, But now that I have a 50" TV to watch and cast to, No need. I'm looking at a different bike for possible trainer duty, different geometry, taller frame. Maybe if I get it, and it is suitable for my trainer use, I may try them again.
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Old 01-27-20, 07:57 PM
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I love my cervelo aero bars. I won't ride a non aero bar at this point.
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Old 02-01-20, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post


***
And here's a photo that's more representative of the time trial position Landis preferred in his post-Armstrong support role. Landis used the then-UCI legal praying mantis position.

Floyd Landis TT bike setup, 2006. Praying mantis position. More effective use of hands to divert wind around the larger face/head. No longer legal for UCI competition.
Awesome photo.
Floyd's ass-to-seat ratio here is pretty crazy.

Also I'd love to know what the front tire to downtube clearance was on this bike. Looks like it's razor thin.
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Old 02-01-20, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I can't speak for anyone else, but that's the primary reason I fitted mine. Add to that the ability to ride further, faster (increased efficiency) and they're worth the several months of acclimating the body to them. At least for me. YMMV.
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Old 02-01-20, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Speed and comfort are not mutually exclusive. So long as the bars reduce the size of a rider's aerodynamic profile, they're having a benefit. Not all of us are going all out in a TT, so the bars can be set up less aggressively and still keep their "aero" moniker. IMO, at least.
Originally Posted by Bliip View Post
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Maybe you'll be lucky like me and get comfortable after a couple of rides. Not really that difficult as long as you don't try to emulate the form of Landis.
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Old 02-01-20, 06:36 PM
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Take a peek at stage 3 of the Vuelta a San Juan last week, the 15km/9.4mi time trial on road bikes (TT bikes and aero bars prohibited to level the field for less well funded and equipped teams. It's interesting to see the ergonomics and styles used to tackle a relatively short time trial that's just long enough to separate the sprinters, pure climbers and pure long range TT specialists.

It was won by Remco Evenepoel, who weighs maybe 61 kg, by more than 30 seconds over the 2nd place finisher. Check out his form. I'm not sure I could do that for a mile, let alone 10. But he looks relaxed, well within his comfort zone while still trouncing the competition.

I'd like to see a road bike only TT stage on every grand tour. It'd be more relatable to many viewers. Most of us can find a 5-10 mile route suitable for time trials in our areas. I've chosen a couple within easy riding distance of my home.

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Old 02-02-20, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Take a peek at stage 3 of the Vuelta a San Juan last week, the 15km/9.4mi time trial on road bikes (TT bikes and aero bars prohibited to level the field for less well funded and equipped teams. It's interesting to see the ergonomics and styles used to tackle a relatively short time trial that's just long enough to separate the sprinters, pure climbers and pure long range TT specialists.
That's interesting... I had expected to see more "elbows on the tops" style riding but apparently not... or is that position banned?
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Old 02-02-20, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by atwl77 View Post
That's interesting... I had expected to see more "elbows on the tops" style riding but apparently not... or is that position banned?
The "invisible aero bar" position -- forearms draped across the bar top -- is permitted. But, as with aero bars, some riders aren't comfortable with that position long enough for it to do much good.

During a final time trial stage in the 1990 TdF, Claudio Chiappucci lost a lot of time to Greg LeMond because Chiappucci used regular drop bars while LeMond used aero bars, which he'd proven the year before were very effective. Chiappucci wasn't a strong time trialist and needed all the help he could get, but gave away his yellow jersey by not mastering the aero bars.

In the long version of that stage 3 time trial from the Vuelta a San Juan, Evenepoel looks very relaxed using the "invisible aero bar" position, while others were not. Drag is increased significantly even with hands on the hoods and forearms parallel with the ground, compared with draping the arms across the center of the bar top. If you watch Phil Gaimon's KOM attempt videos from around 2017-'18, he also uses the invisible aero bar position a lot. He's pretty strategic about it, using that position on the relatively flat parts of those climbs to get a short rest before the climb resumes.

I practice it on the indoor trainer, but rarely outdoors -- the slightest jolt in the road can jerk the wheel. There are a couple of places with little traffic and smooth pavement so occasionally I'll try it there. I would need a longer stem on my steel road bike to make it work better. I put on a short stem a couple of years ago to accommodate a neck injury, but it made handling a bit twitchy. A longer stem would stabilize the wheel a bit.
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Old 02-02-20, 11:00 PM
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For me, I needed a saddle with center cutout in order to do invisible aerobars comfortably, and yes, it's less stable so I only do it on long, straight stretches of road. On the indoor trainer I've also tried wrapping extra padding where my forearms rest (e.g. a sock) and it adds to comfort.

But now I've gone full aerobars on both outdoor and indoor bike so I don't practice that position anymore. Though experience with that position does help with transition to aerobar handling.
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Old 02-03-20, 03:10 PM
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Aerobars on a road bike are legal grounds for having your bike confiscated and being placed in the corner of shame.
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