Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

The aerobar syndrome

Old 04-12-12, 03:11 PM
  #101  
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Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
I ride double centuries, and when I see a rider with aero bars I stay far away. They tend to be the wobble riders. They are sometimes strong, but generally clueless about what's going on around them.

They may be great in some situations, but in the hands of the incompetent, they just act as stupidity multipliers.
The slower guys in the back may indeed be a bit wobbly, but on all long events I've done it isn't rare to see the leaders on aerobars, and they certainly aren't wobbly. I placed quite nicely in both the last double, and the last century I did, and all the guys off the front in the double were on aerobars. On the century 2 of the top 5 were on aerobars.
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Old 04-12-12, 08:46 PM
  #102  
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
So I guess the OP has never used the IAB position (invisible aero bar) before?

I don't have aerobars on my bike. I'd put them on if I were to do a TT or tri, but I do frequently get into an IAB position when I'm riding solo or out front going hard. It is nice to sometimes rest on forearms, giving my hands a break.
Agreed. I've only started using it recently but it's a handy position to have. Still getting used to steering with it though and sometimes I'll do a "half" IAB (alternate arms which are in the IAB position) so that I can have one hand on a brake.
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Old 04-12-12, 09:01 PM
  #103  
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Originally Posted by jmX View Post
The slower guys in the back may indeed be a bit wobbly, but on all long events I've done it isn't rare to see the leaders on aerobars, and they certainly aren't wobbly. I placed quite nicely in both the last double, and the last century I did, and all the guys off the front in the double were on aerobars. On the century 2 of the top 5 were on aerobars.
Agree. All these comments about Fred aerobar users are more a reflection of the caliber riders that the commenters are making with who they're riding with. If you're too good for aerobars, how are you even letting a Fred with poor bike handling skills the chance to even keep up?

All the guys I ride with, who aren't necessarily road racing guys, are eminently capable with aerobars and fast enough to ride a 22-24mph paceline no problemo sans aerobars.
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Old 04-12-12, 09:14 PM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by jmX View Post
The slower guys in the back may indeed be a bit wobbly, but on all long events I've done it isn't rare to see the leaders on aerobars, and they certainly aren't wobbly. I placed quite nicely in both the last double, and the last century I did, and all the guys off the front in the double were on aerobars. On the century 2 of the top 5 were on aerobars.
Yeah...

If you are riding a century on aerobars then they aren't set up correctly.

The point of aerobars is to be aero (by this I mean in a TT position). This is NOT a comfortable position for extended periods of time because it is an extremely aggressive racing position.

If someone can do a century on aerobars they are not in a good TT position and could just a likely complete the same distance, in the same time without the aerobars and with the benefit of a good fit (position).

Most people using aerobars when not doing a Tri or TT are using as a crutch to compensate for poor fit or less than optimal positioning (or a few for medical reasons). The bars aren't making them any faster then they would be otherwise because they are not being used for their intended purpose.

Think 'lipstick on a pig'.
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Old 04-12-12, 09:17 PM
  #105  
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
All the guys I ride with, who aren't necessarily road racing guys, are eminently capable with aerobars and fast enough to ride a 22-24mph paceline no problemo sans aerobars.
That's not that fast.

In fact, you need to go at least that fast to even make a paceline work otherwise there's little draft and it becomes a yo-yo festival.
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Old 04-12-12, 09:22 PM
  #106  
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
That's not that fast.

In fact, you need to go at least that fast to even make a paceline work otherwise there's little draft and it becomes a yo-yo festival.
It's fast enough to make my point - riders at that capability are NOT terrible on aerobars, nor do they have them mounted on mountain bike or at 45 degrees like a lot of the assertions made previouslky on this thread.

And for what it's worth, a paceline has to be 26mph for it to even begin to drop me, in general, so no, I don't find 22-24mph fast for a paceline, but this isn't a pissing contest.
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Old 04-12-12, 09:36 PM
  #107  
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
Yeah...

If you are riding a century on aerobars then they aren't set up correctly.

The point of aerobars is to be aero (by this I mean in a TT position). This is NOT a comfortable position for extended periods of time because it is an extremely aggressive racing position.

If someone can do a century on aerobars they are not in a good TT position and could just a likely complete the same distance, in the same time without the aerobars and with the benefit of a good fit (position).

Most people using aerobars when not doing a Tri or TT are using as a crutch to compensate for poor fit or less than optimal positioning (or a few for medical reasons). The bars aren't making them any faster then they would be otherwise because they are not being used for their intended purpose.

Think 'lipstick on a pig'.
Incorrect sir. If I'm going out for a 20-40km TT, then indeed I will have my clip-on aerobars a bit lower than usual, but for my century position it is by far more aero than drops AND more comfortable (which isn't to say it is as comfy as much higher riding positions, but I do like it more than being in the drops for 5 hours).

I've done aerolab testing for *my* positions and I know what works for me. Maybe you're correct for how you'd have your bars setup. To imply it's some sort of all-or-nothing hardcore position where you have to be slammed and uncomfortable to get any benefit over drops is simply incorrect.
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Old 04-12-12, 09:37 PM
  #108  
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
It's fast enough to make my point - riders at that capability are NOT terrible on aerobars, nor do they have them mounted on mountain bike or at 45 degrees like a lot of the assertions made previouslky on this thread.
Seriously?

Riders 'at that capability' are slow. That's not even baseline racing speed. I'm leery of riders 'at that capability' even without the though of aerobars.

And, even for riders who consider themselves fast there is always a bit of sketchiness for the first ride with aerobars if they've been off your bike for a while.

I've done a lot of ITT and TTT over the years and I always do the first ride with aero equipment alone just to get the feel back before I jump in with a group.

Bottom line aerobars and group rides don't mix unless you are paid to do it for a living. There's no point and it just adds a ton of risk.
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Old 04-12-12, 09:39 PM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by jmX View Post
I've done aerolab testing for *my* positions and I know what works for me. Maybe you're correct for how you'd have your bars setup. To imply it's some sort of all-or-nothing hardcore position where you have to be slammed and uncomfortable to get any benefit over drops is simply incorrect.
What's an aerolab?
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Old 04-12-12, 09:45 PM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
Seriously?

Riders 'at that capability' are slow. That's not even baseline racing speed. I'm leery of riders 'at that capability' even without the though of aerobars.

And, even for riders who consider themselves fast there is always a bit of sketchiness for the first ride with aerobars if they've been off your bike for a while.

I've done a lot of ITT and TTT over the years and I always do the first ride with aero equipment alone just to get the feel back before I jump in with a group.

Bottom line aerobars and group rides don't mix unless you are paid to do it for a living. There's no point and it just adds a ton of risk.
Well your comments clearly show that you're out of touch with reality.

22-26mph in a paceline isn't fast compared to a Cat3 and above racing rider, but that would be considered very fast for most noncompetitive roadie rides. I live in Norcal where there are tons of bike groups from nonracing to racing, so I'm pretty qualified to comment on what typical speeds are, and I can assure you that 22-26mph is wayyy faster than any nonracing roadie paceline would be, even the "A" group. There is not ONE single non-racing team ride I can point to that goes this fast for more than a few miles, even on the 'fast' short ride days. (There's a paceline to Menlo Park that averages 24ish, but it's usually frequented by ex-racers or masters racers despite it not being a racing club ride.)

The racers go this speed and higher, yes, but if you're limiting your discussion of cycling to only racing roadies, you shouldn't even be commenting in this thread about aerobars used in a FREDly manner by folks who would never have a chance at keeping up at this pace.
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Old 04-12-12, 10:05 PM
  #111  
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
Well your comments clearly show that you're out of touch with reality.
That may be true but not for the reasons you think - smiley face.

Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
22-26mph in a paceline isn't fast compared to a Cat3 and above racing rider, but that would be considered very fast for most noncompetitive roadie rides. I live in Norcal where there are tons of bike groups from nonracing to racing, so I'm pretty qualified to comment on what typical speeds are, and I can assure you that 22-26mph is wayyy faster than any nonracing roadie paceline would be, even the "A" group. There is not ONE single non-racing team ride I can point to that goes this fast for more than a few miles, even on the 'fast' short ride days. (There's a paceline to Menlo Park that averages 24ish, but it's usually frequented by ex-racers or masters racers despite it not being a racing club ride.)
If you are correct then these riders have no need for aerobars. Aero equipment is not a substitute for training or experience. What I'm hearing sounds like the Tri mentality I used to hear all the time when I worked in retail.

It goes like this:

1. I am not fast.
2. I want fast.
3. I will buy fast.

The result? A still not fast rider who thinks they are fast with expensive go-fast stuff cobbled to their bike wobbling all over the road posing a danger to themselves and others as they crash for no particular reason other than their inability to ride safely in a straight line with all their new aero-crutches.

Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
The racers go this speed and higher, yes, but if you're limiting your discussion of cycling to only racing roadies, you shouldn't even be commenting in this thread about aerobars used in a FREDly manner by folks who would never have a chance at keeping up at this pace.
Not all FREDS are slow. Some FREDS ride lots and can suck wheel pretty well. I've known plenty of them.
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Old 04-12-12, 10:18 PM
  #112  
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
If you are correct then these riders have no need for aerobars. Aero equipment is not a substitute for training or experience. What I'm hearing sounds like the Tri mentality I used to hear all the time when I worked in retail.

It goes like this:

1. I am not fast.
2. I want fast.
3. I will buy fast.
I was in a shop today and overheard a customer tell the shop employee that they were looking for a faster road bike. I know I'm making some assumptions here but I took this to mean, a) he already had a road bike, b) he felt it was too slow, and c) he felt that he could buy a faster road bike. I had to bite my tongue to keep myself from saying that he should just save his money and work on the engine.
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Old 04-12-12, 10:20 PM
  #113  
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
Bottom line aerobars and group rides don't mix unless you are paid to do it for a living.
I've not seen a single person in this thread advocate their use in group rides, so I'm not sure why you're mentioning that. That's certainly not what I'm advocating.
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Old 04-12-12, 10:25 PM
  #114  
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Originally Posted by jmX View Post
I've not seen a single person in this thread advocate their use in group rides, so I'm not sure why you're mentioning that. That's certainly not what I'm advocating.
Honestly, it's a pet peeve of mine and I may be projecting a bit and I'm too lazy to go back through the thread and see if you're right.
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Old 04-12-12, 10:28 PM
  #115  
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
1. I am not fast.
2. I want fast.
3. I will buy fast, and train.
Fixed it for you.

You're deluding yourself if you think many triathletes or cyclists don't put in the hours to train. I feel like SoCal is a hotbed of cycling and triathlons and nearly everybody I come across with aerobars or fancy wheels is out there TRAINING hard. You can buy some speed as well as work out, they are not mutually exclusive.

My w/kg put me around a Cat3 on the e-wang, so I'm not that fast, but I have a fancy bike and fancy wheels (and often, clip ons!)...I bought some speed. Financially I don't have to wait until I'm PRO to have fancy stuff, so why should I? I still put in my hours to train.

I assume your "what is an aerolab" comment was rhetorical, so I'll leave that one alone.
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Old 04-12-12, 10:33 PM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
Yeah...

If you are riding a century on aerobars then they aren't set up correctly.

The point of aerobars is to be aero (by this I mean in a TT position). This is NOT a comfortable position for extended periods of time because it is an extremely aggressive racing position.

If someone can do a century on aerobars they are not in a good TT position and could just a likely complete the same distance, in the same time without the aerobars and with the benefit of a good fit (position).

Most people using aerobars when not doing a Tri or TT are using as a crutch to compensate for poor fit or less than optimal positioning (or a few for medical reasons). The bars aren't making them any faster then they would be otherwise because they are not being used for their intended purpose.

Think 'lipstick on a pig'.
I want to agree with you, because I think they're silly...and a few months ago I would have. But lately I've been noticing that the guy who post the really fast times in the brevets often use clip-on aerobars on their bikes. So...I'm starting to think there might be something to it.

Well then again maybe it's just to provide another position, and increase comfort just by allowing them to move around.
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Old 04-12-12, 10:43 PM
  #117  
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Originally Posted by Commodus View Post
I want to agree with you, because I think they're silly...and a few months ago I would have. But lately I've been noticing that the guy who post the really fast times in the brevets often use clip-on aerobars on their bikes. So...I'm starting to think there might be something to it.

Well then again maybe it's just to provide another position, and increase comfort just by allowing them to move around.
If those doing brevet could strap a cot to their bikes and still complete the distances in the times they do I'd say good on 'em. But that's not who we're talking about here.
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Old 04-12-12, 10:49 PM
  #118  
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Originally Posted by jmX View Post
Fixed it for you.
Train? Right, in the pool or running. You don't need to train on the bike much. Just buy the speed, non?

Originally Posted by jmX View Post
You're deluding yourself if you think many triathletes or cyclists don't put in the hours to train. I feel like SoCal is a hotbed of cycling and triathlons and nearly everybody I come across with aerobars or fancy wheels is out there TRAINING hard. You can buy some speed as well as work out, they are not mutually exclusive.
See above comment.

Originally Posted by jmX View Post
My w/kg put me around a Cat3 on the e-wang, so I'm not that fast, but I have a fancy bike and fancy wheels (and often, clip ons!)...I bought some speed. Financially I don't have to wait until I'm PRO to have fancy stuff, so why should I? I still put in my hours to train.
I have no problem at all with people buying fancy stuff and enjoying the heck out of it. You might even say I make a living out of it and I do it, too. I have a computer faster than I need, I buy clothes nicer than need to cover my man bits or keep me warm and I drink wine finer than needed to give me a warm fuzzy feeling and love for my fellow man.

We are in complete agreement here.

Originally Posted by jmX View Post
I assume your "what is an aerolab" comment was rhetorical, so I'll leave that one alone.
No, I was serious.

I know what a wind tunnel is but I am curious as to what makes an aerolab an aerolab and not a wind tunnel. Is it the way you hold you mouth?
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Old 04-12-12, 10:53 PM
  #119  
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Originally Posted by vandalarchitect View Post
I was in a shop today and overheard a customer tell the shop employee that they were looking for a faster road bike. I know I'm making some assumptions here but I took this to mean, a) he already had a road bike, b) he felt it was too slow, and c) he felt that he could buy a faster road bike. I had to bite my tongue to keep myself from saying that he should just save his money and work on the engine.


I'm all for working on the engine (heck, I eschew my Cervelo bike in favor of riding my stock Giant Defy3 Sora bike that's heavier all the time and don't race with aero gear) but there is one very true reality that I think has been lost in the thread:

Aerobars are no question the most effective speed upgrade for your bike that you can buy. Like 3x more effective than race wheels, and nearly 10x more effective than a fancy aero framed road bike. In fact, you would need to spend like $3000 in wheels, aero frame, skinsuit just to equal the aero effect of a single $80 clip on aerobar set. There is NO other bike upgrade that will give you this sort of speed upgrade (about 1mph speed gain.)

So when you look at it like that, for someone who's looking to go for the best bang for buck solution for actual real speed purchased with their wallet, aerobars takes the #1,#2, and #3 spots. (Obviously, not a good idea if you want to use this in fast pacelines or mass start races duh.)

I'd tell anyone who is interested going faster in their solo rides, or even if they're riding with loose groups (not paceline) with lots of space, that aerobars are pretty much the only reasonably priced way to buy speed on the bike. (Aero helmet works too, but nowhere near as good as the aerobars.) Even if you had $10k to spend on speed upgrades, the $80 aerobar alone would trump all the discs and toys you could buy with that $10k to upgrade a regular road bike sans aerobars.

So as critical as folks here are about 'buying free speed', aerobars are pretty hard to argue against for non-group riding if you're looking for real speed gains. Clip on aerobars are so inexpensive that it really is buying free speed. A $600 Sora-equipped road bike with aerobars will crush a $10k road bike without aerobars in a time trial with equal riders - it wouldn't even be a contest.
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Old 04-12-12, 10:59 PM
  #120  
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If you are riding a century on aerobars then they aren't set up correctly.
How about you go and tell all the people racing RAAM and Ironmans who use aerobars that they're setup incorrectly.


The point of aerobars is to be aero (by this I mean in a TT position). This is NOT a comfortable position for extended periods of time because it is an extremely aggressive racing position.
Looks like someone doesn't understand how aerobars work.
The aero benefit of aerobars has nothing to do with position. For any given "fit" (back position) on a bike, aerobars will reduce your frontal area by moving your arms inwards and thereby reducing drag. It doesn't matter if your back is horizontal or at 45 degrees, you will gain an aero advantage.
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Old 04-12-12, 11:04 PM
  #121  
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
I'm all for working on the engine (heck, I eschew my Cervelo bike in favor of riding my stock Giant Defy3 Sora bike that's heavier all the time and don't race with aero gear) but there is one very true reality that I think has been lost in the thread:
That won't make you faster but we can debate that in another thread.

Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
Aerobars are no question the most effective speed upgrade for your bike that you can buy. Like 3x more effective than race wheels, and nearly 10x more effective than a fancy aero framed road bike. In fact, you would need to spend like $3000 in wheels, aero frame, skinsuit just to equal the aero effect of a single $80 clip on aerobar set. There is NO other bike upgrade that will give you this sort of speed upgrade (about 1mph speed gain.)
I'd say clipless pedals trump aerobars as the first upgrade that adds speed esp if you factor in hills.

Then I'd throw in a good fit.

Then I'd throw in a proper training plan that includes structured intervals.

So, that puts aerobars as #4 at best.
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Old 04-12-12, 11:14 PM
  #122  
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Originally Posted by AngrySaki View Post
Looks like someone doesn't understand how aerobars work.
I was racing before aerobars even existed. I think I get how they work.

Putting aerobars on a lawn chair won't make it faster.

Oh, yeah, and ask Jonathon Boyer about RAAM and aerobars: LINK.

Atlantic City, New Jersey - America's first ever Tour de France competitor, Jonathan "Jock" Boyer, of Monterey, Calif., made a successful return to the Race Across America, adding a Solo Enduro victory in the 3,043 epic to his first RAAM win back 1985.

Arriving in Atlantic City at 1:35 p.m. on June 21, Boyer was tired, but happy with his time of 10 days and 52 minutes.

This made him the first winner of the new Solo Enduro division of racing, in which riders were mandated to take at least 40 hours of stops.

For Boyer, who first won RAAM aged 32, his return to the race 20 years later was dogged by difficulties.


The problems began on the second day, when extended time in the aero position of his time trial bike started to place excessive stress on his neck muscles.

Within 48 hours he started to need a head support, which was initially fabricated as a cardboard pillar taped to his bars and later replaced by a proper neck brace.
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Old 04-12-12, 11:15 PM
  #123  
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
That won't make you faster but we can debate that in another thread.



I'd say clipless pedals trump aerobars as the first upgrade that adds speed esp if you factor in hills.

Then I'd throw in a good fit.

Then I'd throw in a proper training plan that includes structured intervals.

So, that puts aerobars as #4 at best.

Bob's just now looking to disagree with me intentionally.

All the thing you mention are assumed to be 'given' for fair comparisons. I'm not comparing an untrained rider to a trained rider, or a clipped in pedal to an unclipped one, duh. Show me one 'aero speed benefit' comparison test that does what you're implying.

Aerobars are #1,2, and #3 (and likely more) in all FAIR and REASONABLY designed aero gear tests. I don't know any aero testing for speed gains that would test using big differences in training, pedals, or basic fit because those are assumed to be standard.

If you're going to be that difficult, I'll one up you and say that upgrading from a tricycle to a road bike trumps all the things you mention - no amount of training, clipless pedals, or training plan, will allow someone to ride as fast on a tricycle than on a road bike. So don't intentionally take things out of context just to make a point.
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Old 04-12-12, 11:16 PM
  #124  
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
I'd say clipless pedals trump aerobars as the first upgrade that adds speed esp if you factor in hills.

Then I'd throw in a good fit.

Then I'd throw in a proper training plan that includes structured intervals.

So, that puts aerobars as #4 at best.
But aerobars are still cheaper and don't require intervals.
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Old 04-12-12, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by hhnngg1 View Post
Bob's just now looking to disagree with me intentionally.

All the thing you mention are assumed to be 'given' for fair comparisons. I'm not comparing an untrained rider to a trained rider, or a clipped in pedal to an unclipped one, duh. Show me one 'aero speed benefit' comparison test that does what you're implying.

Aerobars are #1,2, and #3 (and likely more) in all FAIR and REASONABLY designed aero gear tests. I don't know any aero testing for speed gains that would test using big differences in training, pedals, or basic fit because those are assumed to be standard.

If you're going to be that difficult, I'll one up you and say that upgrading from a tricycle to a road bike trumps all the things you mention - no amount of training, clipless pedals, or training plan, will allow someone to ride as fast on a tricycle than on a road bike. So don't intentionally take things out of context just to make a point.
Given the context of the thread (ie. the OP) I think Bob hit it right on the head.
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