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Old 04-13-10, 09:53 PM   #1
MTBMaven
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Organized Rides and Aero Bars

Most organized rides (centuries, doubles, etc.) state in their rules that aero bars are not allowed. Yet at every ride I see people using them; be they clip-on or full tri bikes. I have a set of aero bars I would like to use for long flatter rides but am afraid of issues with the event promoters. So what is the deal? Are these rules enforced or there just so the promoter is not on the hook if you get into an accident while using aero bars?
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Old 04-14-10, 01:15 AM   #2
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they are a really bad idea if you are actually riding in a group. If you are basically riding solo, there isn't much of a problem. I don't see why anyone would stop you if you had clip-ons, but full aero bars just seem like a bad idea. As far as I know, aero bars are legal in randonneuring, except they are prohibited in France, so don't take them to PBP. Brevets generally have a bike inspection beforehand. I've never been on a century that did, but it wouldn't surprise me if there was an inspection.
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Old 04-14-10, 07:17 AM   #3
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Aerobars are for solo riding: time trials, triathlon bike legs, or being alone in the wind on a tour. DO NOT try to use them in a pack or on a group ride. In fact, it's pretty g__d___ tacky to show up for a group ride with aerobars mounted on the bike.

First of all, bike handling is way different and a lot squirrelier when you're on the aerobars rather than the handlebars. Next, when on the bars, you don't have ready access to your brake levers if you should have to suddenly slow or stop in order to avoid a collision.
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Old 04-14-10, 08:31 AM   #4
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The Cascade Bicycle Club has the following rules for STP:
Single File is Safer
Using voice and hand signals/calling out when passing
Move off the road when stopping
Ride right/Pass left
Do not pass too close/ride too close to another rider
No headphones/earphones
Do not hold up more than 5 vehicles
and specifies a $25 fine for the following, tickets issued by the Goldwings ride marshals:
Running through a stop sign or red light without stopping (riders do not necessarily have to unclip, but they must come to an obvious momentary stop)
Passing other bicyclists on the right in a dangerous manner
Riding more than two abreast
Crossing a solid centerline
Public urination or littering
Not wearing a helmet
Aero bars are not mentioned. Nor have I ever been on a ride where they were banned, having never ridden in France. Though there may be US rides where they are prohibited.

I've been riding with aero bars (clip ons) for over a decade. They are maligned by those who are not capable of riding them. That being said, they are never to be used except with a clear road ahead, so either solo or pulling.

It's not tacky, and aero bars do not make a bike squirrely. Poor riders make a bike squirrely. I have found that in-ride policing by other riders fixes any problems, just like it does problems with the many other riding offenses by inexperienced or egotistical cyclists. They sure fix the problem of riders making unexpected braking decisions, which is a very common cause of accidents.

Misuse of aero bars is not a special case of poor riding behavior, just another case of same. Hands on bar tops in a paceline is about as bad.

I would call posters attention to the rule, "No headphones/earphones." They are illegal in my state and are much defended by posters on these forums, although they are much more dangerous than aero bars. Your eyes and ears are your best defenses.
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Old 04-14-10, 08:39 AM   #5
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I use my aerobars all the time, on my single and on my tandem, but I don't ride in them in a group. That would be showing poor form. I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense to take off your aerobars just for a group ride. That'd be a bit of a PITA.

btw, There are a lot of double centuries here in CA and I don't know of one that bans earobars. They are almost standard equipment for many long distance riders.
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Old 04-14-10, 10:52 AM   #6
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Never heard of them being banned. Most "organized" rides don't necessarily confine you to a paceline. Common sense dictates not to be on the aero's in a paceline, but also that you not be anywhere on the drops or tops where you can't reach the brakes.

If somebody (barring any official rule) gave me grief for having them at the start of a "century," I'd probably politely tell him to bugger off.
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Old 04-14-10, 04:06 PM   #7
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Aerobars are for solo riding: time trials, triathlon bike legs, or being alone in the wind on a tour.
In theory, yes. But in some popular triathlons the bike leg can be one big mass of people jostling for position, especially if roads are open to traffic. And yes, it gets interesting.
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Old 04-14-10, 05:03 PM   #8
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And back to the real concern: safety. You should have, say 5-10 hrs. of solo on-road use of a set of aero bars before taking them out in company. So if you went out for a couple of weeks and spent 1/2 hr. at a time on the bars, you should be good to go. Work on riding on the fog line if it's dry. Don't let your front wheel wiggle. You'll notice that your lower back will get a good workout. My practice is to never use them at speeds over 35 and never corner hard on them.
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Old 04-14-10, 09:12 PM   #9
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I know for certain that Planet Ultra does not allow aero bars and at this weekend's Mulholland Challenge I saw plenty. I have done other events as well where the rules state you cannot use aero bars yet I see them.

I am perfectly fine with using them and realize not to use them when riding in a group.
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Old 04-14-10, 10:20 PM   #10
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I know for certain that Planet Ultra does not allow aero bars and at this weekend's Mulholland Challenge I saw plenty....
Where did you see that rule? I've been doing those doubles since Hugh Murphy owned the series and have never seen that rule? Mr and Mrs. Planet Ultra use aerobars themselves so I don't know why they'd preclude them. I just looked through the rules and couldn't find anything about aerobars.

The only rides that I know that specifically preclude aerobars are PBP and Tour de Tucson and their reasons have a lot to do with the number of participants. I'm sure there are probably others but I really don't think Planet Ultra has a rule against them.
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Old 04-14-10, 11:02 PM   #11
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Wow Homeyba you are correct. I stand corrected. I had this memory of reading aero bars were not allowed on their rides. I did an advanced Google search for "aero" on http://www.planetultra.com Sure enough no rules talking about aero. Thanks for calling me out on this one. I am doing their King of the Mountains series right now so an aero bar will not do much for me with all the climbing, but later in the year I will be doing long flat rides where the bars will come in handy.
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Old 04-14-10, 11:34 PM   #12
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No biggy, if you're doing the their King of the Mountains series then it's probably a mute point for you anyway. As you observed though, a lot of long distance riders use them, even on rides with a lot of climbing. They use them for the additional position and some added comfort rather than just a more aero position.
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Old 04-14-10, 11:56 PM   #13
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Ya, I'd like to get in a few doubles this year time willing. For something like the LA Wheelman Lowland Double or Hemet an aero bar would be a real nice way to change things up around hour 10.
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Old 04-15-10, 08:19 AM   #14
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You might want to consider the doing the highland version of the GT. It's really not that much climbing and you're on much quieter roads. The lowland has a lot more stop signs and traffic. I'd rather do some extra climbing and have a more pleasant ride.

If you want a beautiful ride with little traffic, awesome views and 13,000ft of climbing you should head up here and do the Central Coast dble. Great ride!
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Old 04-15-10, 10:26 AM   #15
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I suppose questions regarding not permitting aero-bars have replaced questions regarding requiring fenders and bells on PBP bikes from years past. If you are participating on an organized ride, then you should implicitly obey the organizers' rules and regulations. Otherwise, what's the point of participating in an 'organized' ride. The organizer sets the rules. If too many people object, then there will be very few participants on that ride. I gather that the potential over-subscription for PBP means that more than enough riders do not find not using aero bars to be objectionable.

If your participation is part of training or qualifying for an ultimate challenge like PBP, then you really should try to duplicate PBP conditions as near as possible. That definitely means no aero bars. If would be in your interest to find out that aero bars are necessary in your case during a qualifying ride, than at Loudeac or some other PBP control.

I was a regional administrator for the ACP a couple of decades ago. During the first year of the aero bar's prohibition, one prospective participant had nerve damage and required the use of aero bars. He had medical certificates to prove it. I wrote the PBP officials pleading his case - no dice. He did not go to France.
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Old 04-16-10, 07:43 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
You might want to consider the doing the highland version of the GT. It's really not that much climbing and you're on much quieter roads. The lowland has a lot more stop signs and traffic. I'd rather do some extra climbing and have a more pleasant ride.

If you want a beautiful ride with little traffic, awesome views and 13,000ft of climbing you should head up here and do the Central Coast dble. Great ride!
Thanks for the recommendations. I will looking to the dates for the Central Cost Double. I might be able to get y wife up there for the weekend if I do a ride like that.

Update: Unfortunately that ride is not a good weekend. I am doing Breathless Agony (114 miles/12,000 gain) the weekend before and leaving for a road trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton the week after. Maybe next year.

Last edited by MTBMaven; 04-16-10 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 03-20-15, 11:03 AM   #17
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I've always been disappointed with the mentality surrounding this subject. Banning riders with aero bars from group rides is parochial thinking. Group organizers who mandate that requirement are inadvertently categorizing the group as immature and irresponsible. All that needs to be said is if you have them don't use them. If someone does use them, riders in the group will know and you kick him/her out, it's just that simple. Group rides are suppose to be fun, anyone should be allowed to participate with their bike configured anyway they want. The assumption going in is that we all can follow directions and be responsible.

If it were me I would say go ahead and use them to your hearts content just respect the group's safety and get off them if you are within 10' of anyone. Adequate spacing between riders is far more important than where your hands are, that's where the emphasis should be. Maybe these group organizers/leaders are too busy leading the pack to mingle with the group and assure safe protocols are being followed? If so, they are not really doing their job.
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Old 03-20-15, 11:52 AM   #18
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I suspect the OP has figured this out in the last 5 years. Aero bars are in fairly common use among long distance riders.

Some people just aren't smart about aero bars, that much is plain
[video]https://youtu.be/GaQJB_bWA4c[/video]
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Old 03-20-15, 12:12 PM   #19
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Do aero bars give you much extra benefit if you are already in a paceline or peloton?
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Old 03-20-15, 02:53 PM   #20
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Rule of thumb in the groups I rode with was that you only use your aero bars if you are pulling. Big no no to use them otherwise, which I totally agree with. Inside a fast group you need to have to have your hands on the brake levers at all times. Secondly the aero bar position is much less stable than the standard position with hands spread wide on the handlebar. Anyway why would you need to be in your aero bars when you're not on lead?
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Old 03-20-15, 03:57 PM   #21
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... Anyway why would you need to be in your aero bars when you're not on lead?
Change in riding posture and comfort to name the obvious. If you go any distance at all that's a nice option to have. If you're not glued to the guy/gal in front of you then no reason not to use them. Some may think prohibiting aero bars is addressing the root cause of a problem but it is not. The root cause is not keeping a safe distance between you and the riders you're with.
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Old 03-20-15, 06:13 PM   #22
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safety issues aside... perceived enforcement or lack of it may well rest in the difference between 'having them available for use' and actually 'using them'.
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Old 03-20-15, 07:42 PM   #23
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Velominati Rule #54
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Old 03-21-15, 01:26 AM   #24
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I find it interesting that in the last 5 years, nobody has actually identified any long distance events (i.e., events over 100 miles) where aero bars are banned. And since the people that participated in this thread aren't around to defend themselves, I'm closing it.
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