Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling - Aero bars - handlebar stem adjustment?
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12-11-10, 06:04 PM
I have a set of aero bars I want to try out on my bike. Will there be an "appropriate" handlebar (stem) height adjustment relative to handlebar height without the aero bars?
Right now I probably have my handlebar (stem) set lower than most long distance riders (about 4 inches below the saddle height - 90% riding on the brifter hoods, never in the drops). I am/was inching it upwards recently for use without the aero bars as my hands began to tingle after 2 hours in the saddle the last few rides//I figure due to a bit too much weight on them. The long, low stretch is great for my back though.
Remember I ride 99% of the time "on the flats" in Louisiana (no hills over 50' elevation within 40 miles of home).
12-11-10, 07:41 PM
Are you talking about clip-ons or integrated cow horns?
You just have to try it. A lot depends on your personal dimensions, and it can take some time and conditioning to get your position right. Tall people can run lower bars than short people. Clip-ons will bring you up above the common roadie forearms on bars position. Many LD people like their clip-ons jacked up above the normal height. Some manufacturers make ~1" shims to raise them up. I have mine so that my thighs don't quite touch my lowest rib, but I'm short. Not an issue for taller people.
I don't like the look of the integrated bars for LD riding, because your shifters are separated from your brakes. You might have an unfortunate thing happen because you were riding on the 'bars so you could shift when you should have been on the cow horns so you could brake. It's not like TTing when you are not allowed to be near another rider.
12-11-10, 08:18 PM
They are clipons - Profile Design Century model.
12-12-10, 01:03 AM
I see so many people who put their bars so low down to make them look like the pro' riders, then ride on the hoods/tops all the time because the drops are too low and so uncomfortable. If the bars were at a more suitable height then that would allow you to ride in the drops a lot more and may actually then be more aerodynamic than is having the bars a little lower and always being on the top/hoods. Having the drops somewhere that is comfortable to use them also gives more hand comfort because you change position more often. If the drops still aren't comfortable even when raised a bit higher, then maybe they are too far away and so a shorter stem could be tried.
As for aerobars, I often use some, but mainly for the purpose of giving me an extra comfortable and completely different hand and body position. I find riding on clip-on aerobars vs riding in the drops to be about equal aerodynamically, although I have no wind tunnel testing to prove this. Of course, if the aerobars were set up in the ideal TT position then they would be the most aerodynamic position, but that is not the case, instead I compromise their positions to get all of my other positions totally usable and comfortable also.
12-12-10, 08:23 AM
Chris, thanks for the input, however, this isn't about being aerodynamic for me and I've never looked at a picture of a pro rider to make bike adjustments. My body composition is far from LA's, Contador's or that of any pro rider; I'm a Clyde with flexibility but back pain issues (even standing) hoping to ride for an extended period of time at medium effort possibly pulling a 50 pound trailer, not a 2% BMI stud riding a carbon fiber, hi-tech, uber-light demon at max effort trying to approach the speed of light.
I'm specifically looking for a stretched position that alleviates time-in-the-saddle-related back and wrist discomfort.
When I first bought the bike, I knew I wanted to ride ON the brifter hoods most of the time so I've adjusted the handlebar height specifically for that and am comfortable out to about 2 hours ride time. I can comfortably ride the handlebar "flats", and just back from the brifters the rest of the time for a bit of variety in hand position. I initially put the bars a bit higher, and tried riding the the drops that way. For some odd reason, riding on the drops themselves has never felt comfortable at all - something causes my wrists to hurt after 15 mins regardless of handlebar height or fore/aft position. I've played with the handlebar height and even changed handlebars trying different widths; then I went to an LBS where I worked with a tech to adjust things to where they are now. Trying aerobars may allow me to remain comfortable after 2 hours. What's been working for others doesn't seem to be entirely applicable to my body, so I'm making compromises/bike adjustments specific to my body and decided to give the aero bars a shot. I've just never really looked at how others had them set up before.
Having looked around the 'Net this morning at some pics of touring bike setups with aero bars, my initial reaction now is that the bars I picked up on eBay may not work without modification as it'll force me to choose between a handlebar height/handlebar stem combination I basically like and another setup more appropriate for the aero bars themselves.
Ultimately, if my setup winds up looking strange to someone else but is comfortable for me, so be it.
12-12-10, 09:44 AM
Don't worry about it, then. Just put them on and ride. It'll probably be just fine. It's incredibly comfortable and also, warm.
12-12-10, 11:45 AM
Don't worry about it, then. Just put them on and ride.I had planned on doing just that yesterday, then today. I put it off until tomorrow as the wind's up/seriously gusty and the temp's down (for Louisiana). We'll see how it goes.
Thanks for the comments.
12-13-10, 12:24 AM
If I'm doing RAAM or a long distance race I usually raise the stem on the steerer about an inch. I left it uncut when I bought the bike. The pads for my aerobars (Syntacs) are about an inch above the bars. That's about 2"s above the tops of my bars in their normal position. I think my normal drop is about 2" or so. I make no changed fore or aft.
Some brevets do not allow aerobars so I bought a set of handlebars that are flat on top. I added some padding on the flat part of the bars and I ride on them with my forearms. Just like if I had aerobars on there. Works great.
12-13-10, 11:07 AM
I had planned on doing just that yesterday, then today. I put it off until tomorrow as the wind's up/seriously gusty and the temp's down (for Louisiana). We'll see how it goes.
Thanks for the comments.You probably don't need the cautions, but I would feel bad if anything happened. I never ride them at over 30. Homeyba will probably disagree, but that's my practice. Safety first. It way slows down my ability to save myself if something goes wrong. I never ride them through tight corners, only easy sweepers. Same thing. They'll make it harder to control the bike in crosswinds until you get used to them, so watch that. I never ride them behind anyone, only on the front when I'm with others. When you're with others, be careful of your power on the front if you want to stay with them. It's easy to hurt the people behind you.
12-13-10, 11:38 AM
... I never ride them at over 30. Homeyba will probably disagree, but that's my practice. Safety first...
I think a lot of it depends on the bike. My single has fast steering so you won't see me in the aerobars above 35-40mph very often. I have a friend who's bike has some more rake than mine and is more stable. I've seen him at 50+ in the aerobars. First time I saw him do that I thought he was crazy. :) Since then, I've been those speeds in the aerobars on my tandem but it's a more stable plateform as well. I generally don't watch the speedo. I go by feel. If the bike starts moving around I switch to the drops, sometimes that's at 20mph!
12-13-10, 11:41 AM
I bought a pair of Syntace P2's (or something like that) and had a custom pair of "risers" made from aluminum. They make the bike look freakish BUT are essential equipment for long rides IMO. I did not adjust the stem. Not really an aero benefit but a big time benefit in the comfort department.
Good cautions, Carbon. Try them out first time well away from any type of traffic.
12-13-10, 12:42 PM
Gusty winds again today - not a good environment for trying them out/getting used to them.
Sigh. Postponed again "til manana". double sigh.
12-13-10, 06:14 PM
What are you worried about riding in aerobars in a side wind for? I do it all the time.
12-13-10, 06:39 PM
:thumb:Nice pic. great day for riding, eh?
Yeah, I'm an uber-cautious wimp, I know. The reality is that I've literally been knocked over by the wind once on a motorcycle. I've also been blown across three lanes of traffic on the same 'cycle.
I don't care to repeat either experience on a bike -- at least not while I'm still trying to learn how to reasonably handle the bike on the aero bars. I usually ride atop a levee totally exposed to the winds....
12-13-10, 08:54 PM
Thought you'd like that pic. I'm a big guy so the wind doesn't affect me like it does for many people. The furthest I've ever been blown on the bicycle is across one lane. That was pretty exciting. ;) I can't remember being blow across the road on the motorcycle. I do remember a few guys getting blown off the race track at Willow springs when I was racing. Better safe than sorry though. You don't want to be out there if you're not comfortable.
12-15-10, 04:38 PM
Got my first ride in with the new bars today - and of all things, wasn't on them when I got crosswinded into a bikepath-side sign!
It will take some major adjustments for me to get used to these - much more "in my head" than equipment/bike setup-wise. I'm fairly sure now that I'm going to have to make a pretty major (1 or 2 inch) handlebar height/stem adjustment from my current setup in order to use these bars as-is. I may (also) need a shorter reach on my stem - but I might be able to get around that by using an adjustable angle stem I "just happen to have lying around". :wink:
12-15-10, 05:23 PM
Got my first ride in with the new bars today - and of all things, wasn't on them when I got crosswinded into a bikepath-side sign!
It will take some major adjustments for me to get used to these - much more "in my head" than equipment/bike setup-wise. I'm fairly sure now that I'm going to have to make a pretty major (1 or 2 inch) handlebar height/stem adjustment from my current setup in order to use these bars as-is. I may (also) need a shorter reach on my stem - but I might be able to get around that by using an adjustable angle stem I "just happen to have lying around". :wink:As suggested, you might try to add risers between your bar tops and aero bars. Syntace makes them for their bars. I bought a set but never used them. This seems common with LD people who want the rest as much as the aero. Brevet folks not so much because they're illegal for PBP.
Do your thighs hit your lower ribs? If not, I suggest you try to get more flexible and use them as is. Don't put your elbows too close together, either. 6" to 8" apart works for me. Racers spend a lot of time working on their ability to use the position. You can, too. In the spring, every time I go out on the road on my single, I try to find a long flat and put in 20'-30' on them, steady. That makes a big difference.
12-15-10, 06:18 PM
Have you considered a recumbent? If that sounds stupid to you...that's fine and I'll shut up. But it would solve your problem. And, in the terrain you ride, if you chose an appropriate style of 'bent, you'd actually be faster too (after the muscular adaptation period).
12-15-10, 07:16 PM
As suggested, you might try to add risers between your bar tops and aero bars. Syntace makes them for their bars. I bought a set but never used them. This seems common with LD people who want the rest as much as the aero. Brevet folks not so much because they're illegal for PBP.
Do your thighs hit your lower ribs? If not, I suggest you try to get more flexible and use them as is. Don't put your elbows too close together, either. 6" to 8" apart works for me. Racers spend a lot of time working on their ability to use the position. You can, too. In the spring, every time I go out on the road on my single, I try to find a long flat and put in 20'-30' on them, steady. That makes a big difference.I'm fairly flexible. Prior to the aero bars, my handlebar height was about 3.5 inches below my saddle and I ride on the brifter hoods for rides up to 2 hours most of the time. Thighs didn't hit my chest/gut. That's not an issue. but, I was a bit further stretched out today on the aero bars than I wanted - so I need to make an adjustment. The pads only have 2 positions in term of width. Not sure if that was part of the "discomfort" as I didn't ride very long today. Maybe it's all just a period of adjustment... We'll see.
My goal is to use the bars for both LD/endurance rides and touring - I'll never go to PBP and have no desire to race - EVER!. So those aren't considerations.
Steamer, recumbents aren't a possibility financially. If I had the funds, I'd seriously consider one. I don't and that's not likely to change soon. 'nuff said.
Sidenote, I've heard that the local club has a larger percentage of recumbent randonnuers than most clubs. Shrug. Who woulda guessed?
12-15-10, 07:54 PM
It makes sense that you'd feel a bit more stretched out. I think you're on the right track.
12-15-10, 08:58 PM
Yeah. I expected the stretched out feeling - just not quite AS stretched out as I was. Raising the stem and/or shortening the stem's (apparent) reach (by using an adjustable-angle stem) should bring the handlebar-to-stem intersection, and thus the grips, closer to the saddle/my elbows. The end result, hopefully, will be a low & extended but not overly-stretched position.
12-16-10, 03:58 PM
Modified the setup today. Swapped out the handlebar quill stem & raised the handlebar height 1.5 inches. The quill stem angle is now 20 degrees vice 0 degrees and the length of the reach is 110mm vice the previous stem's 100mm. Still need to play with it a bit --- my trig ability is pretty much non-existent so I can't really say what the "effective reach length" is.
Comfort-wise/positionally - shrug. Not sure. Still seems a bit strange. I think I need to "shorten the effective reach" another inch to an inch-and-a-half or so with about a half-inch "vertical rise".
The reach on the new quill stem is fixed; the angle is adjustable, fwiw.
If someone wants to play "fit calculator"/trig expert, here're the relevant measurements.
Windsor Tourist geometry
SEAT TUBE...HEAD TUBE..TOP TUBE..WHEEL BASE..STAND OVER..CHAIN STAY.. H/T ANGLE..S/T ANGLE
Seat height above top tube - 46cm (perpendicular to ground, not along seat tube line)
Torso length (seated on floor to rotation point of arm) 65cm
Upper Arm to elbow 28cm
Elbow to mid-palm 33cm
12-16-10, 04:08 PM
The problem you have is that it's going to feel weird to you even if you are in the perfect position because you are not used to aerobars. That takes some time. It'd help if you had someone nearby who is knowledgable and can be there to help get you in the right spot or at least close so that you can put in some miles and get used to them.
12-16-10, 04:23 PM
I know where I "want" the setup to be... at least to start with. I just don't have the math ability right now to get it there... so it'll be trial and error.
((Oh to have a child/nephew/niece in high school/college right now! Lol))
12-16-10, 10:15 PM
I like my Syntace C2 bars because the pads are aft of the handlebars and adjust for width. I'm normally fairly stretched out, so I think that helps. Unfortunately, they don't flip up. OTOH, sometimes I'll sit up and grab the pads during a long climb, just for a different position, which is doable because they are fixed.
12-17-10, 08:46 AM
Did a search on the Net (again) and found two pages with some formulas for basic aero bar static "fit" (should have saved them but I just copied, pasted and combined the info then printed it out). 15 mins of playing around and I was pleasantly surprised with the results on today's ride. Not perfect but definitely more comfortable and "what I was hoping for" positionally. I feel far more stable on the pads than the other day.
I've wound up with the handlebar set 2.5 inches higher than before and somewhat closer to the saddle (forgot to measure it but it's probably 1.5 inches), seat half an inch lower and half an inch more forward. This seems to be a pretty radical change - far larger than I had anticipated.
Otoh, the brifter hoods are still rideable for at least half an hour at a time periods without hand pain (but I had that before so it's not a "gain" though it's important I didn't "lose" this). I *have* lost the top-of-the-handlebar hand position near the stem unfortunately, though like Carbonfiberboy, I could use the pads for variety/if necessary.
Had to look around for a new place to mount my cyclecomputer and it's now on the aero bars at the top of the curve. This is actually a really nice place for it as it doesn't require looking down as acutely when on the brifters. I'll definitely need to find new places for some other gadgets and gizmos that were on my bars - mp3 player, compass, light, bell, etc. Will probably move some to a 2nd handlebar mounted below the aero bars though I'm concerned about handling if I'm riding on the aero bars and have a bag mounted down below. I also found the bars made a "natural" map holder using some twist ties, which was nice.
12-18-10, 04:24 PM
A minor update and some thanks for those who've replied and encouraged me to figure this out and use the new (for me) clip on bars.
The bars definitely make a difference in my comfort after more than 2 hours of riding. Went for 3 hours without wrist, arm or back pain today and my average speed was 2 mph faster - in cool (40-50F) weather with low speed but gusty winds. I think I might need to shift my seat forward slightly or possibly move it down half an inch, but I'll give myself a few more miles before I do that.
I can see that I'll be "dialing the fit in" over the next month, a bit at a time, but I'm absolutely "in the right/correct-fit neighborhood" right now.
So, thanks guys.
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