Robot’s Useless Reviews – Aero Bars

Blah. Blah. Blah. Aerodynamics. Those are great. If you can get some, you should, because watts. Percentages. Efficiency. FTP over time, minus drag = salvation. Etc. You should lose weight. No. That’s rude. You should sharpen the top of your head to a point, so that the wind flows over you more gracefully. You should taper yourself. You should wax.

Having said all that, aero bars make an excellent place to hang things like jackets and helmets when you’re back from a ride and those things are too sweaty to put away but somehow you can’t convince yourself to clean them properly. Oh, it’s because you’re lazy. That’s ok. I am too. And you have aero bars, so there is a good, lazy solution at hand.

I should warn you that once you establish your aero bars as a good place to hang things, other members of your family may commence putting damp towels or delicate undergarments there, too. I should also warn you that, after the initial period in which you actually ride the bike upon which you have fastened these aero bars, you are likely to abandon this bike forever, meaning that you no longer own a bicycle. You own a very expensive drying rack.

And it’s true that you could reclaim this bike from its laundry-intensive existence but see paragraph 2 above. You’re too lazy. Again, me too. It’s ok. And wet things need to be dried.

Imagine this, but with more lycra.

I can imagine an annual event, something like the Running of the Bulls, in which riders who have not let their aero-barred bike out of the pasture basement for the previous year, engage in some sort of mass start, slow roll down a major thoroughfare. Then you’d have the daring runners, clad in slippy-tippy- tappity road shoes, jumping into the fray, seeing how long they could stay upright and off of the horns of a would-be triathlete. Red Bull would sponsor it, natch.

I’d watch that all day.

Another thought is a sort of Renaissance faire jousting competition. Maybe the jousting and Running of the Bulls happen on the same day during the Festival of the Aero, an outre cycling pageant that happens in Southern California probably. That seems like the most aero part of the country, if I had to guess.

Folks who ride aero bars are good at breaking wind. Just pointing that out. I’m sorry. I’m not proud of that one.

Graham Obree takes things to their logical conclusion.

If you’ve ridden aero bars (I confess my experience is limited), then you know it’s not fun. It’s not meant to be fun. It’s meant to be effective. As such, there is really no point in affixing aero bars to your bike and NOT also getting a bike fit. These words constitute serious advice, rather than cheap jokes. That’s worth pointing out. Seriously though, if you’re going to ride bikes while having no fun, consult a professional so that your no-fun produces the actual results you went on this boondoggle to achieve in the first place. Aerodynamics is a percentages game. You’ll want to be sure you’re trading your 0% fun for a proper 3% faster.

I believe that’s what’s known as a margarine gain.

For those of you who have never ridden a set of aero bars, I would equate the experience to trying to ride a bike with the lower half of your body and trying to crawl into a very small hole, or maybe an MRI machine, with the upper half. Given what aero bars do to the handling of many bikes, the MRI machine is probably the more apt metaphor, and a skill worth practicing.

If you are considering adding aero bars to an existing bike or investing in a purpose-built aero machine, let me ask you a few questions. First, really? Second, are you so fast that you imagine the one thing that’s holding you back (literally/figuratively) is air drag? Third, who hurt you? If it helps, I will tell you, in all honesty, that I think you’re good enough just the way you are. I love you, and I have some towels that didn’t quite get warm and toasty enough in the dryer the first time around.

The Cycling Independent is sponsored by Shimano North America. What a bunch of honchos.

Join the conversation
  1. Jeff vdD says

    Aero bars aren’t fun. Wait, what!? I haven’t ridden them a ton, but I have a clip-on set for my gravel bike. I put them to good use at last year’s Leadville Stage Race and at this year’s Mix Tape.

    On a gravel bike, aero bars are especially fun on pavement and tamer sections of dirt road. You feel like you’re flying, and if nothing else, it’s one more position in which to shake off the consequences of being bounced around unsuspended on rowdier terrain.

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