When we consider how one can ride a bike quicker, aero bars are a must-have accessory. Aero bars, in principle, enable riders to adopt a time trial position, which reduces aerodynamic drag while increasing speed.
Aero bars are a distinctive element that separates most time trial and triathlon bikes from ordinary road bikes. They are recognised for their distinct road bar design and operation. That is not to argue that road bikes cannot be converted into time trial machines by adding aero bars.
An aero bar is useful in a variety of situations other than time trials and triathlons, such as ultra-distance gravel grinders, touring and bikepacking, and adventure cycle racing, where improved ergonomics, posture, and comfort are essential factors considered along the way.
In this article, we cover all you need to know about aero bars, including the best brands in the industry, the ideal position for comfort, and the physics behind why aero bars are a better addition than a traditional road riding position. Sign up for our newsletter if you want further information regarding extensions in stock across various platforms.
What Are Aero Bars for Your Road Bike?
Simply put, an aero bar is a forward-facing handlebar extension with cushioned forearm rests that allow bikers to position themselves in a more aerodynamic, “time trial” posture. The aero position is defined as pulling your arms and body inward and forward into a tucked position to reduce aerodynamic drag. In addition to this, the use of aerobars helps you to engage your back muscles to achieve increased speed and efficiency during your ride.
The Science Behind Aero Bars
Riders utilize drop bars, aero bars, and tight-fitting clothes for a specific reason. Apart from the resistance encountered when pedaling or using a base bar, the most significant obstacle to cycling speed is aerodynamic drag, which accounts for 70 – 90% of the resistance generated when riding.
While improvements in triathlon bikes have been critical in increasing cycling speed, the rider is the greatest obstacle to reduced aerodynamic drag. Due to the fact that the human body is not particularly aerodynamic, cyclist placement and shape are crucial for decreasing drag and increasing efficiency and speed.
Aero bars and drop bars are used by cyclists to position themselves such that their frontal area is exposed less, reducing the amount of wind resistance they have to face. Riders can enhance their efficiency and speed over time by reducing their frontal area.
How Fast Are Aero Bars?
Aero bars, which enable riders to achieve an aerodynamic time trial position, typically yield five to 10 percent or greater speed advantages. That is a variance of approximately one to two mph (1.6 to 3.2 kph) quicker at the exact same degree of output for a cyclist moving at 20 mph ( or 32 kph).
It is crucial not to overlook the aerodynamic benefits of current time trial bikes. In terms of drag reduction, rider positioning, and weight, time trial bike technology has evolved to a large extent. While aero bars might assist you with going quicker, the overall performance of the individual and bike is what matters most.
How Do You Choose the Best Aero Bars?
You can choose between two primary types of aero bars, including:
- Clip-on aero bars – Clip-on aero bars are extensions that attach to the handlebars of a regular road bike.
- Full aero road bike handlebars – These products include both aero bars and base bars.
Clip-on aero bars are suitable for many road bikes and several novice time trial bikes. Clip-on aero bars, the most common products to start with, are the most versatile and cost-effective alternative, which are available at a wide range of prices.
Full aero handlebars, unlike clip-on aero bars, come as a full unit with an integrated aero bar, base bar, and stem. A complete aero handlebar layout is generally more appropriate if you are riding a high-end triathlon or time trial bike. This modification has been shown to be much more aerodynamic than clip-on aero bars put on-road bike handlebars. However, these aero bar and base bar extensions cost much more and need a fully new cable and brake system, which may be a major mechanical overhaul in and of itself.
Other factors to think about when looking for the correct sort of aero bars are:
- Bar Extension – The extensions placed at the end of the base bar, or where you would put your hands the majority of the time, are one of the most distinguishing elements of aero bars. Less angled and shorter extensions might feel faster for some cyclists, while longer extensions could feel faster for Ironman and ultra-endurance competitors.
- Risers – You may use risers to raise the arm pads or armrests on almost all aero bars. Beginner athletes are more likely to employ risers as their time trial position improves.
- Arm Pad Position – Your choice of aero bars may be influenced by the width, narrowness, or angle of the armrests. There is no scientific evidence that a narrower arm position or specific shapes are faster than one with a greater width; therefore, comfort comes first regarding armrests.
- Brake Levers and Gear Shifters — The shifting and braking mechanism around the brake levers are an essential factor for riders who use complete aero handlebars, especially when upgrading.
- Overall Weight – The majority of aero bars are built of lightweight carbon fiber and or aluminium; however, the use of additional components can add weight.
Although it is generally recommended to prioritize fit and function over appearances, the appearance of the aero bars does, most certainly, play a part. Check out the goods below for a clearer visual representation of the many aero bar possibilities.
The Best Aero Bars for Your Bikes
Each year, the industry for aero bars, like other riding gear and equipment, evolves with more advanced and newer technologies. Below are some of the greatest aero bars available on the market, including entire aero handlebars, to keep you up to date.
The best available aero bars on the market include:
- ControlTech TTH-14 Falcon Mini Clip-On Bike Aerobars for TT/Triathlon, Red, ST1846
- Vision Team Mini TT Handlebar, 170mm
- Strength Aero Bars TT Bike Armrest Handlebars Carbon Fiber Aerobar Triathlon 340mm Red Gloss
- Vision Trimax Carbon SI
- Profile Designs T5+ Carbon Clip-On Aerobars
ControlTech TTH-14 Falcon Mini Clip-On Aero Bars for TT/Triathlon, Red, ST1846
ControlTech has been making high-quality bike parts and accessories for riders all around the world for many years. These clip ons are of the highest quality and comply with all standards, making them an excellent choice for riders who are dedicated to their sport.
You may be sure you are buying a product of the highest quality because it is one of the only types of aero bars on the market that meets the International Triathlon Union’s regulations.
The ControlTech clip-ons are made to last and put you in the best position to increase speed and reduce wind resistance, which is every biker’s desire.
When you are looking at bike parts, if you are serious about improving your ride, you might believe that money is not an issue. The ControlTech Clip Ons come with a long list of features that make them well worth the higher price tag:
- Installation is simple, requiring only four bolts to secure;
- a 15mm clamp with a 20mm adjustable range;
- Full carbon structure for maximum flexibility and lightness;
- Titanium handle bolts are strong and long-lasting.
- For stability, the arms are joined together in one piece.
- A heart rate monitor or device can be mounted on the central bridge.
- A set of light, aerodynamic compact aero bars
- Armrest’s R/L Adjustable: R/30mm, L/30mm
- Bridge connects extensions for increased hand comfort
- One piece of clip ons per pack
Vision Team Mini TT Handlebar, 170mm
The UCI-compliant Vision Team Mini TT Clip-On Aero Bars provide a great aero riding posture while being small and light. With a black anodized finish and white graphics, it has a charming, minimalistic CFD elegant appearance. A UCI customizable 3:1 aerobridge connects the 170mm fixed-length butted aluminium extensions at its forward end. The ergonomic armrests are customisable, allowing you to fine-tune your hand position and riding position. Additionally, the sculpted armrest pads on the Vision Team Mini are pleasant even on extended rides.
The aero bars may appear “stubby” to a few riders because they are just 170 mm long, compared to other alternatives, such as the S Bend, that are between 300 to 400 mm long. Hence, if you are seeking to truly stretch out and lengthen, or if you are replacing lengthier aero bars, you may want to consider the other possibilities. These are a wonderful way to adjust your mountain bike if you merely want the ability to get down in aero over longer, flat stretches.
The majority of riders think this aero bar is well-made and simple to install. In comparison to others in the pricing range, the arm pads and width are also exceptionally comfortable. Remember that arm pad comfort is essential when you are in the midst of a 70-mile journey.
This item is defined by the following characteristics:
- Butted alloy extensions
- For use with O31.8 mm anodized black finish
- Weight: 471 g
- Unci compliant three: one bridge one size, 6-position ergonomic angular armrests
- New refined aero CFD design
Strength Aero Bars TT Bike Armrest Handlebars Carbon Fiber Aerobar Triathlon 340mm Red Gloss
These carbon bar products offer great value for money when you consider the price. However, it is worth mentioning that you do not get a set of end caps for the aero bar and base bar extensions.
Installation of the Strength Aero Bar TT carbon version is simple. It is suitable for use on the road as well as on your competing bike. Additionally, it comes with an axis end rubber covering, so you do not have to concern yourself with your hand hurting from the chosen positioning when in use. These aero bar carbon options also come with two pieces of spare screws, which can be seen as an advantage.
You can expect the following features on this product:
- Aero Bars
- Carbon Fiber Aerobar Triathlon
- TT Bike Armrest Handlebars
- Red Gloss gloss
- Clamping Diameter 31.8mm 1-1/4″ length 340mm
The Fluir S Bend is also an ideal product to consider if you are not satisfied with any of the abovementioned products.
Vision Trimax Carbon SI
The SI aero bar is an incredibly lightweight system for both competitive athletes and time trialists, as it features a complementing full aero handlebar design with Vision’s trademark TriMax JS-bend extensions.
Each frame with a regular 31.8mm diameter handlebar clamp area can use the Vision TriMax Carbon SI aero bar extensions. Riders can quickly modify the aero bars without using bolts due to the ability to pivot the base bar.
The Vision Trimax Carbon SI is a carbon aero handlebar system that weighs 780g total and offers high-quality performance at an affordable price. Additionally, though it meets all of the requirements for high-end aero technology, it does not sacrifice comfort. The SI has a wide range of adjustment options, including reach, extension angle, stack, width, and armrest settings.
Profile Designs T5+ Carbon Clip-On Aerobars
One can quickly and efficiently tune in the optimal time trial position with the Profile Designs T5+ Carbon Clip-On Aerobars. It is an excellent overall aero bar system on the same level as factory equipment of some pretty impressive time trial bikes, just like the T4+ prior to it. The device, which has a conventional ski-bend shape with a low depth between the extension and the shifters, allows for excellent aerodynamics by providing a low extension height and neutral wrist angle.
The Profile Design T2 and T5+ system could be ideal for people wishing to replace poor or damaged aero bars on a triathlon bike they currently own. In fact, various tri bikes come with factory components that are very comparable to these.
The bracket on the Profile Design T5+ Carbon Clip-On Aero Bar system is meticulously controlled by a single bolt, letting you alter the extension length and rotations with ease. Triple fore or aft positioning is available on the armrests that finish the Profile Design T5 bars. Furthermore, the F-35 has a 30mm adjustment range and a rotation range of about 15 degrees. As a result, you never have to fight to get the ideal fit. Another important point to note is that these aero bars are compatible with 26.0mm and 31.8mm bars. The slope on the bar end is 13 degrees, which we found to be a comfortable general curve.
The overwhelming majority of reviewers noted these stem bar extensions as high-quality, quick to install, make a significant difference in effort, and are quite pleasant on the wrists and elbows. Long rides were made easier using the Profile Design T5+ Carbon Clip-On Aerobars. The fact that the aero bars are light, compact, and have a lot of modifications is also a plus for people who find this quite similar to the S Bend.
Aero Bars vs. Hoods and Drop Bars
When comparing the aerodynamics of triathlon bikes and road bikes, a popular question is how much quicker are aero bars vs. drop bars when using a road bike.
Aero bars, such as the S Bend, beat both brake hoods and drop bars regarding aerodynamics, heart rate efficiency, and VO2max in various studies comparing aero-bars to typical cycling positions.
It is worth noting that a great deal of the research is centered on experienced riders who were well-trained. In contrast, a study of inexperienced athletes found that an upright cycling posture outperformed an aerodynamic time trial position in terms of VO2max.
Aero bars are a tried and true approach to increase bike aerodynamics. Any extra gains in heart rate efficiency and VO2max, on the other hand, are highly dependent on the particular rider.
Novice triathletes may usually get their bearings on entry-level road bikes while improving confidence and fitness by using the stem drop bars to get into an aerodynamic posture. Aero bars and assertive time trial placement can help a cyclist achieve higher performance increases as their training advances and their riding skills develop.
How to Put Aerobars on Your Bike
We are going to defer this to the instructions that came with your specific bars on this one, as each set is slightly different. The good thing is that they are simple to install; all you need are a few basic tools and around half an hour so you are not pressured and can perform a nice job.
Safety is essential for both the bike and your future journeys. Hence, you want to install the bars in such a way that there is no doubt that they are securely attached to the bike. Any bike handling equipment that malfunctions on a busy road could have disastrous repercussions that we fear to consider. Simply said, do not do it haphazardly.
You do not want to overtighten the screws because of the delicate materials you are working with on the bike and aerobars. It is possible that you might break anything valuable. This is unquestionably a job for a reliable bike torque wrench. The necessity of properly following the guidelines for both the new aero bars and the current bike frame and handlebars cannot be overstated. If you turn a half-round too far, you risk breaking some very expensive bike pieces. If you do not already have a torque wrench, now is a good time to buy one. Also, before you start cranking on the bike, watch a few videos or read a few posts to get the hang of it.
If you are unsure, take it to a local bike shop and have it installed by a professional. All we care about is that you and your bike stay safe.
The Final Verdict
Aerobars are available in all shapes and sizes; therefore, you can rest assured knowing your ideal option is out there. From the height adjustment to width, armrests, cable routing, STEM mounting, and bar setup, you can find the product that suits your preference regarding body weight and riding position. Sign up for our newsletter or create an account so you can keep up to date with the latest posts when it comes to your bike setup and bar extensions.