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Want to try aero bars for comfort - need some advice

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Want to try aero bars for comfort - need some advice

Old 09-08-19, 06:30 PM
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UsedToBeFaster
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Want to try aero bars for comfort - need some advice

Hi All,

So I find that with age riding causes some stifness in my hands after about 50 miles so I thought trying aero bars may help and also help me go fastser! Besides, those people riding aero bars look like they are having fun.

But I need some advice.

Firstly with respect to bikes to place said aero bars on. I have two main candidates. A steel road bike with a racing geometry (ie. stack 540 and reach 385) and a CF endurance bike (stack 583 and reach 382). Would you recommend aero bars for one bike over the other?

Secondly, I am 6 foot 185 pounds so a little bit of a belly. Do aero bars only work if you are completely taunt?

Thirdly, I'll initially go clip on to try them out. Any reason to choose above bar or below bar clip on styles?

Finally, any general advice or even recommendations of products would be greatly appreciated. Recall speed is important of course, but secondary as I'm looking for products that are comfortable.


Thanks.
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Old 09-08-19, 07:29 PM
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Depends on what you mean by "work". You steer with your elbows, which makes the bike much more twitchy. You also lose reaction time to grab brakes.

As far as "work" in the sense of speed....it depends on how flexible you are, and your bike fit. The more flexible you are, the lower and narrower you can get--the more aerodynamic you are....but the less (generally) comfortable you are. But you can go quicker for the same effort.

Getting them to "work" as in bike fit is tricky. You have to compromise between the bikes you have and how flexible you are.


Buy known vetted products like Profile Design etc. You have to have a well-engineered product. There are lots of knock-offs andfakes...yes you can roll the dice and buy El Cheapo off Ali, but you risk needing dentures if they break under load.
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Old 09-08-19, 09:11 PM
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I just installed some Profile Design Legacy bars on my bike. Did a 40km (25 mile) ride to get a real feel for them.

Some bits of advice I've picked up on them.

1) you're going to want to install them so that when you are on them, your arms are parallel to the ground. Most of the elbow cups have some adjust-ability for relative position and angle, you'll end up playing with them for a bit to find the right set up for you
2) The real aero advantage you get will be from pulling your shoulders in and forming a wedge shape with your body when you are on the bars, (see above about the cup adjustments....this will make them comfortable). The flatter you get your back, the less resistance as well
3) Be careful if you have carbon handlebars.... they may not like being clamperd onto. Also.... use a torque wrench and clamp as per manufacturer instructions.....

From riding on them, here is what I found..

1) I tended to sit up on the front of the saddle more and engaged a different set of muscles ( or used the existing ones differently); I definitely experienced some muscle stiffness the day after.
2) Taking a hand of the aero bar to shift gears is annoying; I fully understand why tri bikes are setup with the shifters on the aero bars. I found myself grinding on some gears instead of down shifting if I didn't think the hill was that long (I'm lazy I guess)
3) Steering is twitchy, there is a skill to be learned for sure. On any real corner (or steep descent), I am on the drops for control;
4) Even if you are on the hoods or drops, your bike is going to handle differently; you've hung a pound or so of weight on the front bar and changed the balance of the bike
5) My average speed was a bit higher than normal due to the aero efficiency gained; my average cadence was down (more from the different posture and gear grinding).

I'll be playing with these for a while to see if it is really worth it. My initial reaction is that I am a fan of them, although I'd never use them on a group ride. I think a clip on set is the right way to try them and see if you really like the setup. Once you know where you stand, you can look to upgrade.
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Old 09-08-19, 09:36 PM
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I know a guy who does ultra distance, and he has stubby little clip on aero bars and his drop bars are saddle height or higher,

so it's more to take the weight off his hands than it is for reduced air resistance.

If you get too long and low, hands will be happier but neck might be less happy.
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Old 09-09-19, 10:09 AM
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I put some on a month ago, really like them. I recommend this bend, these are the bars I bought:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

You WILL use different muscles in this position....my thighs took a beating the first few rides but I'm stronger and Strava says I'm faster now in all aspects of riding. I normally gain at least 1mph when I drop into this position.


Strange...they were $49 when I got them. I couldn't find many reviews so I took a chance....GLAD I did.

I started with a set of these....talk about hard on the wrists as your forearms don't come into play with the, it's all wrist.


Installed image of the small bars...


Last edited by mynewnchome; 09-09-19 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 09-16-19, 12:38 PM
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If asked to describe what it’s like to use aero bars, “comfort” and “fun” would not be my choice of words.
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Old 09-16-19, 12:48 PM
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Which bike? Pick the one with the longer front-center distance. That's measured from the BB to the front axle. When you're in the aero bars, your weight shifts forward. As you spend more time in the aero bars, you'll probably want to slide the seat forward and handlebars forward to improve comfort in the aero position -- which moves your weight further forward. This can make for unpleasant handling on bikes with road racing geometry.
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Old 09-16-19, 12:56 PM
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I've been using clip-ons for over 20 years. I love them. Comfort and fun for me, but one has to get used to them, which takes a while. I try to schedule some flat riding where I can stay on them for 20' at a time. That's what it takes. On any corner that's a real corner, I come off them. Limited visibility, I come off them. I never ride closer than 20' to any rider in front of me, or I come off them.

I've mostly used top-of-bar mounting, these bars. If you have much of a belly you won't be comfortable with under-bar mounting, although that's what I have now, having raised my stem up a bit. The disadvantage of the Syntace bars is that the pads don't flip up so you lose some bar top real estate. OTOH, the flip up pads are tricky to deploy without bike handling issues.
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Old 09-17-19, 06:12 AM
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I recently looked on line at some TT bars and nothing I expect to gain justifies the price of these things. Then again I'm old and used to being in the way.
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Old 09-17-19, 06:42 AM
  #10  
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For sure aero bars increase comfort and fun, But with a price. You have to deal with the guilt of increased comfort and fun without increased effort.
I've used aero bars since '87 .
Regardless of your choice, remember the wider a part your elbow rest are the more stable you'll feel.
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Old 09-17-19, 09:04 AM
  #11  
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To me, aero bars are the opposite of comfortable. Yeah, they're faster but due to an old neck injury I can't stay in 'em for longer than a minute at a time. I have some older Scott bars and newer Profile on a borrowed tri bike. Can't use either for very long at a time (buggered up C1 and C2 vertebrae from being hit by cars). I was thinking of trying the state TT event soon but, nah, I can't stay in aero bars long enough to manage it. Unless they have a Merckx class event, I'm out.

Instead I made a few changes to one road bike to maintain a fairly traditional configuration but a little more aero and comfortable.

I swapped out the old classic drops (42 or 44 wide) for 38 wide at the tops, 40 in the drops. No problems with handling or comfort over a long ride, but I'm 40" across the shoulders so it's probably closer to the right size for me anyway. My elbows aren't splayed out as much as with the wider drops, so those were probably the wrong size for me.

I went from deeper to shallower drops. But I can get lower with arms more parallel with the ground than with the deeper drops, so at least for me the compact drops were better. Same from the hoods -- I can get lower with forearms parallel with the ground to get aero and can hold that position awhile.

On the downside the new drops are larger in diameter, less aero, and I added a double wrap of bar wrap that's already thick, so the tops are almost as thick as a baseball bat. And I wrapped all the way to the stem, which looks gawky. Don't care, it's comfortable, I can grab the top of the bar close to the stem to get a little more aero, and even lean my forearms across the bar occasionally for the invisible aero bar trick without resting my forearms on a bare bar.

Other little changes can help with getting faster and more aero -- helmet, clothing, position. That'll have to do for me unless I can eventually manage aero bars for more than a minute at a time.
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Old 09-17-19, 10:52 AM
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If for comfort, they sell aero road bars in any width you want. Go the same width you normally ride. To avoid a geometry change, go with something like a Zipp SL or an Easton aero bar. They don't really adjust the reach to give an "aero hoods" position and that further rearward "climbing/comfort" position. But, in general don't alter the reach.

Something like an Aeronova, be careful. They intentionally sweep the bars forward for more reach so that the hoods are more aero a position and the bar's profile to aspect ratio can be more aggressive to the 3:1 rule. They still have a "hoods" kind of position further back that is comfy and flat, but you can't reach the shifters from there.

I've attached a set of bars I got that do have the forward sweep, the picture makes it pretty obvious what to look out for (avoid) for comfort. You can clearly see my bars sweep forward almost a full 20mm.

But yes, aero bars are super comfortable to ride. Also, mine absorb road vibrations better than my alloy bars did.




Note that this Easton doesn't sweep forward that extra 20mm.......
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Old 09-17-19, 03:56 PM
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I use clip on aero bars on my main bike in order to add an extra position off my hands for comfort, an old pair of Profile Aero Lites that came with some bars for a project bike. I had a few issues with perineal numbness when first trying them out until I switched saddles to a Cobb Randee, probably because the position works better on the nose of the saddle and rotates my hips. Just a heads up that it may not be as simple as just putting them on and riding.
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Old 09-17-19, 06:31 PM
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If you have any "table muscle" the aero bars will NOT be comfortable.
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Old 09-17-19, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
I recently looked on line at some TT bars and nothing I expect to gain justifies the price of these things. Then again I'm old and used to being in the way.
You can buy a set of used Syntace clip-ons on ebay for less than the cost of a tire.
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Old 09-20-19, 04:08 AM
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If you look at the responses below yours many people say its fun and comfy. So i an not sure what is different.

Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
If asked to describe what it’s like to use aero bars, “comfort” and “fun” would not be my choice of words.
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Old 09-20-19, 06:14 AM
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20+ years using CLAMPED ON Profile AND $20.00 cheapo. Have been on them going down Hogpen (+) as well as up Hogpen (+) while passing many a rider sitting up using tops spinning/rocking as well as on hoods and standing. Find comfort level and fun to be a 10 out of 10. The use of them allowed me to non-stop the 112 miles in my 2014 Ironman Florida at age 64. I've recently made a WING REST instead of using the elbow pads for greater comfort and multiple resting positions. Used them frequently during yesterday's 122 miles on my Roubaix, Tuesday's 101 miles, last Saturday's 111 miles blah-blah-blah----

Different designs for different people's anatomy so you might have to experiment to find the most comfortable/efficient. Give yourself some time to get comfortable and I'm pretty sure they will improve your speed and distance.
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Old 09-20-19, 07:35 AM
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I don't hesitate to recommend Profile Design Airstrykes. They're a great set to start with, as they don't put you into a super-aero position, even if you have a sizeable saddle-to-bar drop. More comfortable than others due to the wider pad placement.
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Old 09-20-19, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by UsedToBeFaster View Post
If you look at the responses below yours many people say its fun and comfy. So i an not sure what is different.
Not fun/comfy parts:
  1. crappy steering control
  2. difficulty seeing the road ahead without craning your neck
  3. the associated suffering of a time trial that goes with using the bars
But if you set up aero bars in a non-aero position like this:




that looks pretty "comfy". Not aero, of course, and the handling will still be crappy.

Last edited by terrymorse; 09-20-19 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 09-20-19, 10:01 AM
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Clip-on aerobars can definitely provide some relief for hands, and even something as non-aggressive as the Profile Design Airstrykes can give you a speed boost. I bought a used set for $25 last year. You can tilt them up for more comfort; there's no need to mimic a pro-level TT position.
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