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aero bars are awesome!

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aero bars are awesome!

Old 01-24-22, 08:33 PM
  #1  
bonsai171
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aero bars are awesome!

So I bought aero bars back in November, and it has cut a nice chunk of time off my Strava segments. Today it cut 32 seconds off a 1.6 mile segment, compared to my previous PB. The bars feel too far out, so i'm thinking about shortening my stem (currently a 110 mm). I have a 100 mm stem at home i could try, but suspect that might be too long still. How long of a stem should I run? Is there a rule of thumb to follow?

Dave
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Old 01-25-22, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
So I bought aero bars back in November, and it has cut a nice chunk of time off my Strava segments. Today it cut 32 seconds off a 1.6 mile segment, compared to my previous PB.
I highly doubt that a 32 second reduction in time over a 1.6 mile segment is solely due to a new handlebar.

Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
The bars feel too far out, so i'm thinking about shortening my stem (currently a 110 mm). I have a 100 mm stem at home i could try, but suspect that might be too long still. How long of a stem should I run? Is there a rule of thumb to follow?
Did your prior handlebar also "feel too far out"? Which part of your new handlebar "feels too far out"? Just the hoods? For reference: Drop bar hand positions | BikeGremlin.

Perhaps the front of your new bar is rotated too far upward. Try to rotate the front of your new bar downward and move the STI levers higher and back up toward the top of the handlebar. Doing so decreases your reach to the hoods but maintains your reach to the tops.

The general rule of thumb is that the middle of the bar should block your view of the front wheel hub.
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Old 01-25-22, 01:27 AM
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Actually, please ignore everything I have said above in post #2.

I misunderstood your use of "aero bars" to refer to an aerodynamically shaped handlebar, whereas you were most likely referring to aero bar extensions.
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Old 01-25-22, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
So I bought aero bars back in November, and it has cut a nice chunk of time off my Strava segments. Today it cut 32 seconds off a 1.6 mile segment, compared to my previous PB. The bars feel too far out, so i'm thinking about shortening my stem (currently a 110 mm). I have a 100 mm stem at home i could try, but suspect that might be too long still. How long of a stem should I run? Is there a rule of thumb to follow?

Dave
My aerobars have fore/aft adjustments that allow them to be moved around indépendant of the handlebars / stem

Which ones did you buy?
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Old 01-25-22, 06:33 AM
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I was once a critic of "all that aero crap". Years ago I did a training ride with a buddy on a 1-mile flat loop. We swapped pulling at each lap. At the time, we were dead even in fitness. He showed up on a TT bike, aero helmet. I laughed... briefly. I had to work to stay on his wheel. I heard lots of freewheel on my pulls. Eventually, he rode me off his wheel. Science hurts.
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Old 01-25-22, 07:46 AM
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bonsai171
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Originally Posted by Zaskar View Post
I was once a critic of "all that aero crap". Years ago I did a training ride with a buddy on a 1-mile flat loop. We swapped pulling at each lap. At the time, we were dead even in fitness. He showed up on a TT bike, aero helmet. I laughed... briefly. I had to work to stay on his wheel. I heard lots of freewheel on my pulls. Eventually, he rode me off his wheel. Science hurts.
It does hurt, lol. Someone I used to ride with thinks Aero bars are totally unnecessary and just another accessory. I bought them anyways, and managed to beat some PRs I had on Strava that I couldn't beat despite repeated efforts in the standard road configuration.

The bars I have are the Prime S bend Clip on aero extensions from Chain Reaction Cycles. What I want to do is move the clip ons out to accomodate my longish arms, but then move my elbows closer to the chest. I'm wondering if maybe 80 mm is the right stem to do that?

Dave
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Old 01-25-22, 08:08 AM
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I'm sorta meh on comparing PRs before/after equipment purchases. Lots of sports you can buy faster speeds.
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Old 01-25-22, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
I'm sorta meh on comparing PRs before/after equipment purchases. Lots of sports you can buy faster speeds.
I don't think anyone is confusing the tech improvement for a fitness improvement. But for riders who are into racing, the PR comparisons might be useful data. (With the usual caveats about all of the uncontrolled variables that can affect those ride times.)
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Old 01-25-22, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
I don't think anyone is confusing the tech improvement for a fitness improvement. But for riders who are into racing, the PR comparisons might be useful data. (With the usual caveats about all of the uncontrolled variables that can affect those ride times.)
Agreed. On a tangential note, for whatever reasons through the multiple threads on "what should I buy next" to presumably improve speeds, it always seems tires or wheels or somesuch. Clip-ons never really make it as a rec that I recall, even though the cost can be comparable to a set of tires and less than a wheelset.
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Old 01-25-22, 08:40 AM
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I don't like clip on aerobars on my road bike, the fit just isn't quite there (I have a pretty slammed front end which I find really comfortable but it's too low for clip ons, at least cheapo ones without ability to substantially raise the pads), but a full on TT rig, oh my. Really quick on the flat at not a lot of watts. ​​​​​

Just not as practical as a road bike. The first time I took it out it was damp and with CF wheels (disc in the rear) and ye olde rim brakes really aren't nearly as good as a road bike with discs. I can't imagine taking the TT bike out when it's windy or in grisly weather.

Anyway, I get why wheels and the like are suggested to improve speed on a road bike and clip on aerobars aren't - you're just not allowed to ride clip ons in a lot of events where you'd use a road bike.
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Old 01-25-22, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Agreed. On a tangential note, for whatever reasons through the multiple threads on "what should I buy next" to presumably improve speeds, it always seems tires or wheels or somesuch. Clip-ons never really make it as a rec that I recall, even though the cost can be comparable to a set of tires and less than a wheelset.
Well, if a person has a real reason (besides ego) for wanting to go fast, aerobars are of limited use: you can't use them in a road race, and in gravel racing you really only see them in very long events which have some relatively flat and smooth terrain - which isn't a large portion of that scene. And most riders aren't such Strava ***** that they will use aerobars just to nail a KOM.
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Old 01-25-22, 10:59 AM
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I know aerobars can no longer be used on the UCI World tour except for TT events but is that also true for other racing levels?
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Old 01-25-22, 12:43 PM
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So I don't do any regular racing or group rides. Most of my riding is solo, but I do plan to do a TT this year. I mostly got the aero bars to get more comfortable on the bike. On longer rides, I need the extra position to give me more hand placement options. Part of it was pure curiosity, wanting to experiment with aero and see how much faster I can go.

Dave
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Old 01-25-22, 01:14 PM
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I just never will consider one instance as proof of anything. So let us know what the six best of your next twelve rides with them average out to compared to six best of your previous 12 rides without them.

Not that I don't believe that they help. It's just that in your case how do we know you didn't have a 20 mph tailwind the entire way?
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Old 01-25-22, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I just never will consider one instance as proof of anything. So let us know what the six best of your next twelve rides with them average out to compared to six best of your previous 12 rides without them.

Not that I don't believe that they help. It's just that in your case how do we know you didn't have a 20 mph tailwind the entire way?
That was just 1 example, I could give plenty of others. My fitness probably hasn't gone up, I haven't been able to ride much lately.

In any case, going back to my original question, how long of a stem should I try with clip on aero bars? Currently running a 110mm.
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Old 01-25-22, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Branko D View Post
I don't like clip on aerobars on my road bike, the fit just isn't quite there (I have a pretty slammed front end which I find really comfortable but it's too low for clip ons, at least cheapo ones without ability to substantially raise the pads), but a full on TT rig, oh my. Really quick on the flat at not a lot of watts. ​​​​​

Just not as practical as a road bike. The first time I took it out it was damp and with CF wheels (disc in the rear) and ye olde rim brakes really aren't nearly as good as a road bike with discs. I can't imagine taking the TT bike out when it's windy or in grisly weather.

Anyway, I get why wheels and the like are suggested to improve speed on a road bike and clip on aerobars aren't - you're just not allowed to ride clip ons in a lot of events where you'd use a road bike.
I was once on a 70 mile group ride in the local mountains. A woman showed up on a TT bike with TT chainrings. She did just fine on the 3000' climb. She was young, though. Of course rim bakes, ordinary deep rims, this was maybe 15 years ago.

Clip-on aerobars on a road bike are great on ordinary competitive group rides, especially when you're not one of the strongest riders. You use them when you pull so that doesn't take as much out of you. They're great for bridging up to another group. They don't weigh much, so one comes out on it, energy-wise. You can't use them unless you have at last 20' of clear air in front of you, that's all.

On long endurance rides, one really comes out on it. It's less energy per mile, plus one gets to rest one's entire upper body. Down on the bars, one is just resting on bones, no upper body strain at all. Though that assumes you pedal smoothly so you aren't bracing against a wobbling motion. If one has a good road position, no need to alter it to use aerobars. One is higher up than one would be in the drops with bent elbows, meaning that the hip angle is not more closed, so no need to move forward to open it.

My coasting experiments show exactly the same speed at 40+ whether I'm deep in the drops, chin 2" off the stem, elbows tucked under my belly, or just on the aerobars, completely comfortable. Cylinders (arms) are very high drag forms.

Clip-ons have limitations around safety. I don't use them on descents where one would corner at a substantial lean angle. I don't use them unless if have a good line of sight. I don't even use them on ordinary cornering. Anything vaguely technical, I have my hands near the brakes.

For anything other than long solo rides, I much prefer the type with fixed pads rather than flip-up. I'd rather lose a big chunk of bar top than have to take that little extra motion to put the pads down. That's a problem in a fast rotating paceline where you have to be perfect every instant.
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Old 01-25-22, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
In any case, going back to my original question, how long of a stem should I try with clip on aero bars? Currently running a 110mm.
You should try as many and as long or short as you care too. When you know by your own sense that you've gone to far in one direction then you probably have.
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Old 01-25-22, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I just never will consider one instance as proof of anything. So let us know what the six best of your next twelve rides with them average out to compared to six best of your previous 12 rides without them.

Not that I don't believe that they help. It's just that in your case how do we know you didn't have a 20 mph tailwind the entire way?
On the flat, clip-ons equals about 1 cog.
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Old 01-25-22, 02:16 PM
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I put clip-ons onto my ride and i am not sure if they have made me faster or not. i only really put them on for another hand position. i absolutely love them and spend more time on the bars than on the hoods or drops. One of those things i with i had done sooner.
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Old 01-25-22, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
That was just 1 example, I could give plenty of others. My fitness probably hasn't gone up, I haven't been able to ride much lately.

In any case, going back to my original question, how long of a stem should I try with clip on aero bars? Currently running a 110mm.
The point of clip on bars for a road bike is to buy a set that has adjustments such that you don't have to swap hardware out that messes with the road bike fit. The pad clamps should bolt to the extension poles and the extension poles can slide in/out of the pole clamps. That's your reach adjustment right there. Buying/swapping stems on a road bike to make clip on bars work is the wrong way to go.

Next up, if you do care about any measurable changes, you need to do out/back or looped routes. Since it's clip ons, do it once on the drop bars and the next on the clip ons. There ya go.

Side comment just for clowning around: for every 100 people posting about how they bought clip-ons for "all the hand positions and resting the elbows on long rides due to my sore old man's back" I'll show you 100 liars that bought them hoping they'd go faster also.
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Old 01-25-22, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
That was just 1 example, I could give plenty of others. My fitness probably hasn't gone up, I haven't been able to ride much lately.

In any case, going back to my original question, how long of a stem should I try with clip on aero bars? Currently running a 110mm.
Look in a mirror. With your hands on the hoods, elbows slightly bent,, your upper arms should be at about a right angle to your straight torso. If that's the case, you have the correct length stem, which will work just fine with clip-ons and your road bars.

I've been using clip-ons on my road bikes for 25 years, which is why I'm posting. I don't race and haven't done PBP but I've used them on group rides and event rides. I never take them off..
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Old 01-25-22, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
On the flat, clip-ons equals about 1 cog.
If I switch to a wide-range cassette with a 11-13-15 progression instead of 1-tooth jumps, I can double the speed benefit of aerobars!
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Old 01-25-22, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Branko D View Post
I don't like clip on aerobars on my road bike, the fit just isn't quite there (I have a pretty slammed front end which I find really comfortable but it's too low for clip ons, at least cheapo ones without ability to substantially raise the pads), but a full on TT rig, oh my. Really quick on the flat at not a lot of watts. ​​​​​
Do you move your saddle when you install the clip-on aerobars?
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Old 01-25-22, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Clip-on aerobars on a road bike are great on ordinary competitive group rides, especially when you're not one of the strongest riders. You use them when you pull so that doesn't take as much out of you. They're great for bridging up to another group. They don't weigh much, so one comes out on it, energy-wise. You can't use them unless you have at last 20' of clear air in front of you, that's all.
How is that a competitive group ride? Paceline ride, sure.

If you have 20' of clean air you've been shot out the back and are headed home. As the clean air is between you and the group that just dropped you.

If you have 20' of clean air in front of you and you're on the front, on a competitive ride, you better not be in aerobars otherwise the group is going to wait until the second you get on front and get in them then light you up. And again, you're shot out the back this time while scrambling to get back to the shifters.

But that's exactly what I would do. I would grab the attention of the riders in the spots right behind you and the second you settled into those bars.......attack. I doubt it would take more than once, but repeat if necessary. No different than what you'd do to a tired rider that gets on the front then doesn't skip the pull, attack and drop them as they can't latch on.
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Old 01-25-22, 03:45 PM
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I use aero bars on my bikes. Not so much for any aero advantage, but to reduce pressure on my hands. I find that long rides with conventional bars, the palms of my hands will hurt and/or go numb. I find using aero bars allows me to support my upper body without tiring my arms and hurting my hands.

My experience is that the farther forward you can mount them, the more control you will have. But that's relative. You give up a lot of control in that position.
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