Aero Bars Essential Buyer Guide: What You Must Know Before Buying

If you’re looking to upgrade your bike and take your riding to the next level, adding aero bars is a great place to start. Aero bars, also known as tri bars or clip-on bars, allow you to ride in a more aerodynamic position, reducing wind resistance and improving your speed and efficiency. However, before you rush out to buy a set, there are a few things you need to know to make sure you get the right ones for your bike and your riding style.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand what aero bars are and how they work. Aero bars are handlebar extensions that attach to your bike’s existing handlebars, allowing you to ride in a more aerodynamic position with your arms resting on pads in front of you. This position reduces wind resistance and can help you maintain a higher speed with less effort. However, it’s important to note that riding in an aero position can also put more strain on your lower back, neck, and arms, so it’s important to adjust your bars properly and make sure you’re comfortable before you hit the road.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding what aero bars are and how they work is crucial before buying them.
  • Compatibility and installation are important factors to consider before purchasing aero bars.
  • Adjusting your aero bars for optimal performance and ensuring safety and comfort while using them is essential.

Understanding Aero Bars

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If you’re new to triathlon or cycling, you may be wondering what aero bars are and why they’re important. Aero bars, also known as tri-bars or aerobars, are handlebar extensions that allow you to adopt a more aerodynamic position on your bike. This position can help reduce wind resistance and improve your speed and efficiency.

Types of Aero Bars

There are several types of aero bars available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Clip-on aero bars are the most popular type and can be easily attached to your existing handlebars. They’re also relatively inexpensive and easy to remove when not needed. Integrated aero bars, on the other hand, are built into the bike’s frame and offer a more streamlined look. They’re also more expensive and harder to remove.

Another type of aero bars is the S-bend, which features a curved shape that allows you to adjust your hand position for comfort. J-bend aero bars, on the other hand, have a straight shape and offer a more aggressive position for maximum speed.

Materials and Construction

Aero bars are typically made from lightweight materials such as carbon fiber or aluminum. Carbon fiber aero bars are the most expensive but also the lightest and most aerodynamic. They’re made from unidirectional carbon fiber, which is stronger and stiffer than traditional carbon fiber. Aluminum aero bars are more affordable and durable but also heavier.

When choosing aero bars, consider the material and construction as well as the cost. Look for a model that offers the best combination of features and value for your needs. For example, if you’re a beginner, you may want to start with a more affordable aluminum model before upgrading to a carbon fiber model later on.

Overall, aero bars can be a valuable addition to your cycling setup, but it’s important to choose the right type and material for your needs. Consider your budget, performance goals, and riding style when selecting aero bars, and don’t hesitate to ask for advice from experienced cyclists or triathletes.

Compatibility and Installation

When it comes to buying aero bars, compatibility and installation are two important factors to consider. Here are some things you need to know before making your purchase.

Bike Compatibility

Before buying aero bars, make sure they are compatible with your bike. Aero bars are designed to fit specific types of bikes, such as road bikes and triathlon bikes. Clip-on aero bars are a popular option for road bikes, as they can be easily attached to the handlebars. However, if you have a triathlon bike, you may need to purchase a different type of aero bar that is specifically designed for your bike.

Another important factor to consider is the size of your handlebars. Aero bars come in different sizes, such as 26.0mm and 31.8mm bars. Make sure you choose the correct size for your bike, as this will ensure a secure fit.

Mounting and Tools Required

Installing aero bars can be a bit tricky, especially if you have never done it before. To install aero bars, you will need a few tools, such as an Allen wrench and a torque wrench. Make sure you have these tools on hand before you begin the installation process.

When it comes to mounting aero bars, there are a few different options to choose from. Some aero bars are designed to be mounted directly onto the handlebars, while others are designed to be mounted onto the stem. Make sure you choose the right mounting option for your bike.

It’s also important to make sure the aero bars are securely mounted onto your bike. This will help prevent any accidents or injuries while you are riding. Use a torque wrench to tighten the bolts to the correct specifications, as this will ensure a secure fit.

By considering bike compatibility and the tools required for installation, you can ensure that your aero bars will be a safe and secure addition to your bike.

Adjusting for Optimal Performance

When you purchase a set of aero bars, make sure you can adjust them to fit your body and riding style. Proper adjustment is essential to achieving the most aerodynamic and comfortable position for your body type and riding style. Here are some key factors to consider when adjusting your aero bars:

Finding the Right Fit

Before adjusting your aero bars, make sure your bike is properly fitted to your body. Your riding position should be comfortable and efficient, with your weight evenly distributed between the saddle and handlebars. If your bike fit is not optimized, adjusting your aero bars may not provide the desired benefits.

When adjusting your aero bars, start by finding the right height. Your armrests should be positioned at a height that allows you to maintain a low, aerodynamic position without putting too much strain on your back and neck. Experiment with different heights until you find the one that feels most comfortable.

Adjustment Features

Look for aero bars that offer multiple adjustment points and easy-to-use mechanisms. Most aero bars allow you to adjust the angle of the armrests and pads, as well as the width of the bars themselves. Some models also allow you to adjust the length of the bars and the position of the shifters and brake levers.

When adjusting the angle of the armrests and pads, make sure they are positioned at a comfortable angle that allows you to maintain a low, aerodynamic position. If your armrests are angled too high or too low, you may experience discomfort or reduced aerodynamic efficiency.

In summary, adjusting your aero bars is essential to achieving optimal performance. Make sure your bike is properly fitted before making any adjustments, and look for aero bars that offer multiple adjustment points and easy-to-use mechanisms. With the right adjustments, you can achieve a more aerodynamic and comfortable riding position, and improve your overall performance on the bike.

Safety and Comfort Considerations

When considering purchasing aero bars, it is important to take into account both safety and comfort. Aero bars can provide benefits such as reducing fatigue and increasing speed, but they can also be dangerous if not used properly. Here are some safety and comfort considerations to keep in mind before making your purchase.

Ensuring Comfort Over Distance

One of the main benefits of aero bars is that they can help reduce fatigue during long rides. However, it’s important to make sure that you are comfortable while using them. Make sure that the aero bars are adjusted properly to fit your body and riding style. You may need to experiment with different positions to find the one that works best for you.

If you plan on using aero bars for longer distances, consider investing in padded armrests or gel pads to help reduce pressure on your arms and elbows. You can also try wearing padded gloves to help reduce vibration and increase comfort.

Navigating Potential Risks

Aero bars can be dangerous if not used properly, especially in traffic or on bumpy roads. When using aero bars, it’s important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Keep your eyes on the road ahead of you and be prepared to brake or maneuver quickly if necessary.

When riding on bumpy roads or around corners, it’s important to be extra cautious. Aero bars can make it more difficult to maneuver quickly, so take turns at a slower speed and be prepared to sit up if necessary. Always prioritize safety over speed when using aero bars.

Overall, aero bars can be a great addition to your bike if used properly. Keep these safety and comfort considerations in mind when making your purchase to ensure a safe and enjoyable riding experience.

Maximizing Your Investment

When it comes to buying aero bars, you want to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money. Here are some tips for maximizing your investment:

Evaluating Cost vs. Performance

Aero bars come at different price points, so it’s important to evaluate the cost vs. performance. While you don’t necessarily need to splurge on the most expensive aero bars on the market, you also don’t want to skimp on quality.

Consider your budget and what features are important to you. Look for a balance between cost and performance. Keep in mind that investing in high-quality aero bars can improve your speed and endurance, so it may be worth the extra expense.

Maintaining Your Aero Bars

To get the most out of your investment, it’s important to properly maintain your aero bars. Regularly check for wear and tear, and make any necessary repairs or replacements.

Clean your aero bars regularly to keep them in good condition. Use a soft cloth and mild soap to gently wipe down the bars and remove any dirt or grime. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage the bars.

By properly maintaining your aero bars, you can extend their lifespan and ensure they continue to perform at their best.

Remember, the market is filled with different aero bars at different prices. It is important to conduct thorough research to find the best aero bars that suit your needs and budget. Keep in mind that the best aero bars for you may not be the most expensive ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of installing aero bars on my road bike?

Aero bars can provide several benefits to road cyclists. They allow you to achieve a more aerodynamic position on the bike, which can help you ride faster with less effort. They also provide a more comfortable hand position, which can reduce fatigue on long rides. Additionally, aero bars can help you conserve energy during a ride, making it easier for you to finish strong.

How do carbon aero bars compare to other materials in terms of performance and durability?

Carbon aero bars are generally considered to be the most lightweight and stiff, which can provide a performance advantage. They are also known for their durability, as carbon is a strong material that can withstand the rigors of cycling. However, carbon aero bars can be more expensive than other materials, such as aluminum or steel.

Are there specific aero bars recommended for bikepacking adventures?

When it comes to bikepacking adventures, it’s important to choose aero bars that are comfortable and durable. Look for aero bars that are adjustable and provide a variety of hand positions, so you can find the most comfortable position for your ride. Additionally, consider aero bars that are made from durable materials, such as aluminum or carbon, to withstand the rigors of off-road riding.

Can you explain when and why aero bars might be prohibited in certain cycling events?

Aero bars may be prohibited in certain cycling events, such as mass-start races, due to safety concerns. When riding in a group, aero bars can make it more difficult to control your bike and react to sudden changes in direction. Additionally, aero bars can make it more difficult to brake quickly, which can be dangerous in a group setting.

What speed gains can I expect from using aero bars during my rides?

The speed gains you can expect from using aero bars will depend on a variety of factors, including your riding position, the terrain, and your fitness level. However, studies have shown that aero bars can reduce your power output by up to 29.4 watts, which can translate to a significant increase in speed over a long ride.

How do I determine if I need risers for my aero bars for a comfortable fit?

If you find that your aero bars are uncomfortable or causing pain in your wrists or hands, you may need risers to achieve a more comfortable fit. Look for risers that are adjustable, so you can find the perfect position for your body type and riding style. Additionally, consider risers that are made from durable materials, such as aluminum or carbon, to ensure they can withstand the rigors of cycling.

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