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Swapping bars and aero bars

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Swapping bars and aero bars

Old 01-01-20, 02:41 PM
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robbyville
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Swapping bars and aero bars

Hi all, happy new year!

I posted a variation of this in the Triathlon forum, but let's just say that participation there is not quite as "robust" as here lol!


Recently I've goofed around a bit with a mini triathlon, and then the Olympic Distance for an aquabike. Although not much of a runner (ok, not at all a runner), and an average swimmer, I'm having a great time and decided to enter an upcoming Triathlon also in Olympic distance. Going to start training for the run and work on my swimming over the next few months. The event is March first.

To my question... as most of you know, I'm a one bike guy, at least for now. If I'm going to keep doing these I'm sure I'll try to pick up a Tri bike at some point, but the budget doesn't quite allow for it right now, and to be honest with my own ego, I can't imagine getting a bargain basement tri bike so if this catches on I'd rather save for a bike that I can appreciate for a while.

also know that I can do perfectly well using my current set up. Still, part of me would like to practice getting into the aero position and looking the part. I use a one piece bar/stem combo and am not willing to sacrifice my paint with clip ons. My stem is also slammed with only a 1mm spacer below (see pics). Is there a Tri bar that I could buy along with a stem that would get me into a reasonable tuck? I imagine that I would need the arm rests to be fairly high although my saddle to bar drop is only about 2.5 inches. I know I would have to buy brake levers and electronic shifters along with new cables.


I'm sure this won't pay off financially, but I am curious as to if it would be plausible and get me started at least in a direction where I can get a feel for the tri bike set up until I decide to actually buy one further down the line.

I'd appreciate any thoughts or ideas!


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Old 01-01-20, 02:58 PM
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It’s possible to recreate a TT/Tri position with clip-on aero bars, you would also need to slide your seat forward.

That said, although the aero position may buy you 1 MPH, you are going to have sketchy handling and other compromises so I don’t recommend it. You can probably do fine on the road bike and bend elbows 90 degrees.

If you do choose to try aero bars, start off on a deserted area to minimize crash risk. A friend of mine did not heed this advice and was riding his Tri setup on a busy trail, it did not go well for him.
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Old 01-01-20, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
Itís possible to recreate a TT/Tri position with clip-on aero bars, you would also need to slide your seat forward.

That said, although the aero position may buy you 1 MPH, you are going to have sketchy handling and other compromises so I donít recommend it. You can probably do fine on the road bike and bend elbows 90 degrees.

If you do choose to try aero bars, start off on a deserted area to minimize crash risk. A friend of mine did not heed this advice and was riding his Tri setup on a busy trail, it did not go well for him.
Understood and thanks! Yes I've ridden a few tri bar set ups and agree the handling is completely different. We have a guy that rides with our group a fair bit who often joins in on his aero bike and we've had to talk to him a few times about riding in a paceline given the finiky-ness of his style!

As mentioned, I know that I'm absolutely fine riding my bike as is, and that any benefits would be minimal, plus, it's not like I'm racing to win, but I do want to do my best and place decently. On the Aquabike (1500 meter swim, 25 mile ride) I placed 3rd in my age group which was kind of fun, would have done even better if my swim wasn't so piss poor.
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Old 01-01-20, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
That said, although the aero position may buy you 1 MPH, you are going to have sketchy handling and other compromises so I donít recommend it.
I have no idea what any of this even means. It's not 1mph, it's 3-4mph-- which in TT terms is gigantic. Thanks to aerobars, I can average 21-22mph on 150-160W for extended periods of time-- in Z4 situations on flat ground, I'm 27-29mph. As someone with actual experience, I can state that steering with your elbows isn't a whole lot more different than steering with your hands, once you get used to the position. In terms of "buying speed," nothing will get you as much speed for the money spent as aerobars.

To the OP, most any tri base bar will suit your purpose, and the ability to go to a -10ļ or -17ļ stem should help get the bar (and the elbow pads) a bit lower. Quick maths show it ain't gonna be cheap (most due to the shifters) so it's a bit of a commitment. My only real advice is to go with aluminum everything to start, as you're not going to know what shape/length bars you're going to be comfortable with until you've spent some time on them, and to also set aside some money for a noseless/Tri saddle, because the TT position + normal saddle + man bits = unhappy times.
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Old 01-01-20, 03:18 PM
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What I would do....Put SPD pedals on it and ride it.

You'll lose about as much time duck-walking around transition (wrecking cleats) and standing-still straddle-starting out of transition than you'd gain with TT bars on that rig. If you don't know how to CX running mount, learn, lots of videos on GCN--free time gains without spending a dime. Don't start overgeared, more free time. Lots of people spend money in place of using smarts with Tris.


For the cost of new Di2 shifters/brakes and a bar and stem you can buy a cheap for-sale TT/Tri bike you won't cry about wrecking in a race. Particularly if you shop used. Seriously, setting aside time/manpower you're looking at $600USD in bike bits, You're over halfway to an entire bike, used. And even then, use SPD and MTB shoes.
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Old 01-01-20, 03:27 PM
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Swapping the bars out to a an aero/TT set up can be done, but going back and forth will be a bit of a PIA - in terms of rerunning brake cables and disconnecting/reconnecting your DI2.

But as already mentioned, a basic base bar and skis are your best option as they offer greater ability to adjust as you fine tune your position.
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Old 01-01-20, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
What I would do....Put SPD pedals on it and ride it.

You'll lose about as much time duck-walking around transition (wrecking cleats) and standing-still straddle-starting out of transition than you'd gain with TT bars on that rig. If you don't know how to CX running mount, learn, lots of videos on GCN--free time gains without spending a dime. Don't start overgeared, more free time. Lots of people spend money in place of using smarts with Tris.
Or.....keep your shoes attached to pedals run to transition exit barefooted, slip one foot in shoe, push with other foot and jump on bike. Then put other foot in shoe while riding. Save time in transition. That's what I do.
Regardless which aerobars you use, remember the closer your elbows are the more aero you'll be however at the cost of trickier handling. But you can get used to just about anything, so.
I use a road bike with aero bars and I feel great about it. I move my saddle up a little bit though. Some tri bikes I've tried in the past are a little twitchy and I don't want to deal with that in a timetrial. So the road bike geometry works for me.
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Old 01-01-20, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I have no idea what any of this even means. It's not 1mph, it's 3-4mph-- which in TT terms is gigantic. Thanks to aerobars, I can average 21-22mph on 150-160W for extended periods of time-- in Z4 situations on flat ground, I'm 27-29mph. As someone with actual experience, I can state that steering with your elbows isn't a whole lot more different than steering with your hands, once you get used to the position. In terms of "buying speed," nothing will get you as much speed for the money spent as aerobars.

To the OP, most any tri base bar will suit your purpose, and the ability to go to a -10ļ or -17ļ stem should help get the bar (and the elbow pads) a bit lower. Quick maths show it ain't gonna be cheap (most due to the shifters) so it's a bit of a commitment. My only real advice is to go with aluminum everything to start, as you're not going to know what shape/length bars you're going to be comfortable with until you've spent some time on them, and to also set aside some money for a noseless/Tri saddle, because the TT position + normal saddle + man bits = unhappy times.
Great advice thanks! I'm part of both our regular Desert Cycle Club and also our local tri club mostly because they're great folks that I enjoy riding with and also volunteer a ton in our area. Recently I was helping out at a bike aid station at an Ironman 70.3 in our area where we had many of our riders competing. I have to admit that I was incredibly impressed by some of their speeds and output, and these are people I ride with regularly with me doing a lot of the pulling so if I can up my speed by 3-4mph that would be amazing. BUT, would the position in aerobars change the way my muscles get used and would I have to strengthen those muscles to see increased output as well? The reason I ask is because the next few months of training will be mostly spent learning how to run properly and improve my swim. I will be riding a fair bit still but they will probably be shorter rides in the 25-45 mile range to minimize saddle time and increase time spent on the other disciplines. Of course I'll convert the bike and do many of those rides in the new position.

I'll definitely get a different snub nose saddle, but another question is: for the stem, if I'm using a 100mm now, should I shorten that along with increasing the rise on the new stem since the top tube on my road bike is probably longer than the top tube on a tri bike?

I'll also definitely go with aluminum to start. The nice thing is that the shifters are very reasonably priced and one of the things I love about DI2 is that I can simply unplug the old and swap plug in new. I already have extra e-tube wires in appropriately long lengths (or so I believe).


Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
What I would do....Put SPD pedals on it and ride it.

You'll lose about as much time duck-walking around transition (wrecking cleats) and standing-still straddle-starting out of transition than you'd gain with TT bars on that rig. If you don't know how to CX running mount, learn, lots of videos on GCN--free time gains without spending a dime. Don't start overgeared, more free time. Lots of people spend money in place of using smarts with Tris.


For the cost of new Di2 shifters/brakes and a bar and stem you can buy a cheap for-sale TT/Tri bike you won't cry about wrecking in a race. Particularly if you shop used. Seriously, setting aside time/manpower you're looking at $600USD in bike bits, You're over halfway to an entire bike, used. And even then, use SPD and MTB shoes.
Understood, and great suggestion thanks! I think I have my transition plan pretty decent, and to be frank I'm pretty good at running in my cleats. I agree with you having done quite a bit of cross and MTB riding in my past that SPD's may be the way to go and I actually have a set in my closet but don't think the shoes I have would be faster to get off/on than my road shoes.

Also agree about the pricing and back of the napkin that this could be halfway to a used tri bike. The thing is, and it pains me to say it but I am truly freakishly weird about only buying things once I know that it's going to stay in my repertoire for a while and I really rather spend the money and not deal with the what ifs later. Plus my wife loves to give me grief when I buy something only to rotate it out and spend more money later. I'd really rather go for brass ring and buy a tri bike that I love to look at and work on as much as I love to ride it once I know that I'll stick to the sport. My current bike is the perfect example, I waited, and saved, and made deals with the spousal unit until I could afford my current bike that is the only one I ride every day
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Old 01-01-20, 03:46 PM
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I raced for years on a single bike for all events. In a few Omniums we had TT's in additino to the rest of it. I had it down so I could swap between my regular setup and TT setup in about an hour. Included changing bars, cables, etc.

Keys- don't use crimps on the ends of the cable - use super glue to keep them from fraying. Loosen all of the anchors and pull the whole setup at the same time. IIRC I was able to set some housings the same length so they would work between regular bars and full tt bars. I did 2 setups - including stems. Kept cables for the two setups with the bars when pulling them off. Duplicate controls of course.

Setpost - I went with a Bontrager single bolt style as they were reverseable. This allowed the seat position to be put into a TT position by reversing the post.

Make good notes about all of the measurements and you can swap back and forth easily.
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Old 01-01-20, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
I raced for years on a single bike for all events. In a few Omniums we had TT's in additino to the rest of it. I had it down so I could swap between my regular setup and TT setup in about an hour. Included changing bars, cables, etc.

Keys- don't use crimps on the ends of the cable - use super glue to keep them from fraying. Loosen all of the anchors and pull the whole setup at the same time. IIRC I was able to set some housings the same length so they would work between regular bars and full tt bars. I did 2 setups - including stems. Kept cables for the two setups with the bars when pulling them off. Duplicate controls of course.

Setpost - I went with a Bontrager single bolt style as they were reverseable. This allowed the seat position to be put into a TT position by reversing the post.

Make good notes about all of the measurements and you can swap back and forth easily.
Great advice, thank you (as always)!
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Old 01-01-20, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by robbyville View Post
Great advice thanks! I'm part of both our regular Desert Cycle Club and also our local tri club mostly because they're great folks that I enjoy riding with and also volunteer a ton in our area. Recently I was helping out at a bike aid station at an Ironman 70.3 in our area where we had many of our riders competing. I have to admit that I was incredibly impressed by some of their speeds and output, and these are people I ride with regularly with me doing a lot of the pulling so if I can up my speed by 3-4mph that would be amazing. BUT, would the position in aerobars change the way my muscles get used and would I have to strengthen those muscles to see increased output as well? The reason I ask is because the next few months of training will be mostly spent learning how to run properly and improve my swim. I will be riding a fair bit still but they will probably be shorter rides in the 25-45 mile range to minimize saddle time and increase time spent on the other disciplines. Of course I'll convert the bike and do many of those rides in the new position.

I'll definitely get a different snub nose saddle, but another question is: for the stem, if I'm using a 100mm now, should I shorten that along with increasing the rise on the new stem since the top tube on my road bike is probably longer than the top tube on a tri bike?
If you plan on using the same position as your road bike but just adding aero bars then yes, get a shorter stem. However, if you are going to move your saddle slightly forward then I wouldn't get a shorter stem.
Moving your saddle forward basically gives you the same biomechanical advantages as a tri bike. In essence since the forward position mimics the run, it allows the transition from cycling muscles to running muscles a lot easier.
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Old 01-01-20, 05:34 PM
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This video covers the basics of fitting a road bike with aero bars for beginners. Makes sense, and mostly what I've been doing through trial and error.


Basically it boils down to:
  • Raise the saddle.
  • Scoot the saddle and body forward.
  • Get aero bars/pads that support the elbows, not the forearms.
  • Get the upper arms as vertical as possible.

The problem is this compromises the fit for riding the road bike using the hoods, tops and drops. A longer saddle can help a bit. But I'm still trying to find a compromise between a good fit for riding the aero bars while keeping the bike usable for other riding conditions.

Pretty good confirmation for why TT/tri-bikes are very specialized now.
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Old 01-01-20, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by texaspandj View Post
If you plan on using the same position as your road bike but just adding aero bars then yes, get a shorter stem. However, if you are going to move your saddle slightly forward then I wouldn't get a shorter stem.
Moving your saddle forward basically gives you the same biomechanical advantages as a tri bike. In essence since the forward position mimics the run, it allows the transition from cycling muscles to running muscles a lot easier.
gotcha understood, Iíll definitely be moving my saddle forward. Iím also considering getting an offset seat post topper from Speedvagen and reversing it if possible.
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Old 01-01-20, 05:46 PM
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But why would you want to mimic the run, wouldnít it be better to ride normally and conserve those areas for use during the run.
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Old 01-01-20, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
This video covers the basics of fitting a road bike with aero bars for beginners. Makes sense, and mostly what I've been doing through trial and error.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55TYyRdFCAk

Basically it boils down to:
  • Raise the saddle.
  • Scoot the saddle and body forward.
  • Get aero bars/pads that support the elbows, not the forearms.
  • Get the upper arms as vertical as possible.

The problem is this compromises the fit for riding the road bike using the hoods, tops and drops. A longer saddle can help a bit. But I'm still trying to find a compromise between a good fit for riding the aero bars while keeping the bike usable for other riding conditions.

Pretty good confirmation for why TT/tri-bikes are very specialized now.
awesome vid thanks!
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Old 01-01-20, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by robbyville View Post
But why would you want to mimic the run, wouldnít it be better to ride normally and conserve those areas for use during the run.
Not literally Mimicking the run but as bikies say riding the rivets. But the reason is to make more power, generating more speed and to make the transition to running much easier and less painful. Thereby getting your running kegs quicker and finishing faster.
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Old 01-01-20, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by robbyville View Post
awesome vid thanks!
DANG -- guess I should rethink my decades old personal preference set-up. Maybe I better not register for another Ironman FL to celebrate my 70th birthday this year and also tell the group of locals I will not be riding with them anymore on our 40 milers to 100+ milers cause I shouldn't have tri-bars on the Paramount or Propel or Roubaix when we ride BUT I should be OK at next month's Bike Sebring 12/24 Hour RAAM Qualifier.
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Old 01-01-20, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by OldTryGuy View Post
DANG -- guess I should rethink my decades old personal preference set-up. Maybe I better not register for another Ironman FL to celebrate my 70th birthday this year and also tell the group of locals I will not be riding with them anymore on our 40 milers to 100+ milers cause I shouldn't have tri-bars on the Paramount or Propel or Roubaix when we ride BUT I should be OK at next month's Bike Sebring 12/24 Hour RAAM Qualifier.
lol yeah you might be ok, no promises!
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Old 01-02-20, 01:39 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
I raced for years on a single bike for all events. In a few Omniums we had TT's in additino to the rest of it. I had it down so I could swap between my regular setup and TT setup in about an hour. Included changing bars, cables, etc.

Keys- don't use crimps on the ends of the cable - use super glue to keep them from fraying. Loosen all of the anchors and pull the whole setup at the same time. IIRC I was able to set some housings the same length so they would work between regular bars and full tt bars. I did 2 setups - including stems. Kept cables for the two setups with the bars when pulling them off. Duplicate controls of course.

Setpost - I went with a Bontrager single bolt style as they were reverseable. This allowed the seat position to be put into a TT position by reversing the post.

Make good notes about all of the measurements and you can swap back and forth easily.
^^^ Solid advice, as expected. I'd just add one tweak to this - get a second seatpost and put your TT saddle on that. Because of the difference in TT riding position, road saddles dont work very well (especially traditional long nose saddles), and you may not want your TT saddle to be perfectly level either. This way, you have your TT saddle set at the ideal forward position and wont need to faff around with adjusting saddle height, saddle fore/aft and saddle tilt - as long as you mark the insertion point of each seatpost, swapping becomes a lot faster.

Another option to consider: the Specialized aero stem and handlebar. 2 piece but the cabling integrates very neatly and isnt visible - and you can get ITU-style clip-on aerobars for that.
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Old 01-02-20, 05:19 AM
  #20  
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I can't help with the bars. But, I do love the bike.
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Old 01-02-20, 08:01 AM
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For the seatpost situation you might want to consider https://redshiftsports.com/dual-position-seatpost as this lets you easily swap between positions.
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Old 01-02-20, 09:37 AM
  #22  
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...except for the fact that the OP's bike doesn't have a seatpost, it's mast and topper.
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Old 01-02-20, 09:43 AM
  #23  
firebird854
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
...except for the fact that the OP's bike doesn't have a seatpost, it's mast and topper.
Ah, I didn't look that closely.
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Old 01-02-20, 11:38 AM
  #24  
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If you can’t move the saddle forward enough, I would be very hesitant to try this - moving your torso lower will close your hip angle and hobble you on the run.

The best solution is to get a used tri bike and smoke everyone on a cheap bike. I was never able to ride a converted road bike well, but a well-fitted TT bike is great and handles better than everyone assumes. It does take practice, but if an idiot like me can manage...
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Old 01-02-20, 12:57 PM
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robbyville
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Thanks as always for the awesome suggestions. Will look into the specialized bar as well.

im confident that o can figure out the seat post topper situation. The good folks at Speedvagen are always willing to come up with ideas. Will be bringing them into the loop shortly once I figure out what items I need, but a separate topper and saddle Iím sure will play a role.

in the meantime I am always watching for a used tri bike just in case but I donít see that happening.
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