A rider’s seated position can make a difference in how interacting with the air affects the body and performance. That’s why many triathletes try to enhance their performance with bike aero bars designed for aerodynamic riding. When riding aerodynamically, the rider gets out of the air’s way, becoming less of an obstacle and therefore reducing resistance. The torso is bent forward and fairly horizontal, the head is nearly level with the body, and the arms are typically at a near 90-degree angle. Aero bars attach to a bike’s handlebars, generally extending from just forward of the handlebars and reaching toward the rider.Other bike steering components such as hand grips can be at the forward side, while padded rests protrude like wings from the portion of the extension nearer the rider.
When riding aerodynamically, competitive speeds can be increased and energy levels decreased. Aero bars like Profile Design aerobars essentially allow the rider to assume an aerodynamic position with support and shock absorption while weighing down on the elbows. They’re considered best used on triathlon bikes that, with more space between the torso and thigh, can increase comfort as well as ease the transition from cycling to running. Reports have suggested that experienced riders who know how, when and where to ride aerodynamically can also gain a cardiovascular edge. Breathing is said to be increased and muscular tension reduced. In some instances at least, proper aerodynamic riding might involve “pulling” the bike’s pedals as well as pushing them.
When selecting aero bars, riders have been advised to consider comfort, weight, adjustability and use. Aero bars generally come in two varieties. Lighter weight time trial aero bars are considered more aerodynamic and are designed for short-term comfort. Their counterparts, sometimes called triathlon aero bars, are tailored to long courses. They often feature thicker rest pads in different widths and extensions in “S” and “J” shapes. Riders can select the extension shape and padding thickness that best meets their comfort level. Often, aero bar extensions and rests can be adjusted, allowing riders to also determine the lower arm position and rest fit that’s most comfortable for them.
Aero bars, like the Vision trimax aerobar, can be clamped or clipped on to the top or bottom side of a bike’s handlebars. They tend to come in different sizes, and some are more adjustable than others. Aero bar extensions tend to be made of aluminum, carbon or alloys, and even some of the lighter weight extensions can nevertheless be strong. Shifters and brake controls can often be mounted to aero bars. Some aero bars feature ergonomic grips typically designed to support the palm and reduce pressure on the unprotected ulnar nerve that spans the pinky finger to the adjacent side of the ring finger.
Aero bars can range anywhere from about $50 US to about $1,200 US. At least one representative of a pricier model attributed the cost in part to labor intensive details, high end components such as Swiss bearings and features such as internal cable routing and anti-bacterial pads.
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