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Pedal Science Blog: Choose Your Aero Bars Carefully

Welcome to Pedal Science, the weekly bike fitting blog by Nick Thomas of The Endurance Coach. This week we look at the subject of CHOICE OF TRI BAR and cycling performance. 

Previous articles have discussed the various factors to consider when determining the correct height, reach, width and angle when fitting tribars. To achieve an efficient position the tribars must therefore provide an appropriate range of adjustment which enable them to be positioned correctly. This sounds simple but it’s surprising how many brands produce tribars which provide very limited ranges of adjustment and it’s not necessarily the cheaper ones which are to blame. There are numerous high-end bikes with integrated carbon aero bars which are positioned very low and provide very little adjustability: conversely there are several cheap alloy bars which allow huge amounts of adjustability and make the bike fitting a much more successful process.

When choosing tribars consider the following points before buying:

  • Height:

Tribars which fit above the handlebar generally provide a better fit as they’re not as low as ones that fit below it

It should be possible to raise the arm pads if necessary with spacers

  • Reach:

Shortening the bars several inches should be possible by sliding them back through the bracket where they attach to the handlebar (they can be cut down if they protrude too far back towards the knees)

It should be possible to adjust the fore-aft position of the arm pads so the arms can rest in the most ergonomically efficient position

Reach adjustability is particularly important when fitting tribars to road bikes as they invariably need to be shorter than bars fitted to TT bikes

  • Width:

Both tribars should fit independently so you’re able to fit them at the correct width

Check there are width options where the arm pads attach to the top of the tribars

  • Angle:

Unless tribars are integrated there should be the option to rotate the bars up

Final considerations include the following:

  • Arm pad comfort:

There are many surprisingly uncomfortable arm pads around which is problematic if racing over longer distances

Check the pads are not too small or hard if you want to maintain an achievable riding position

  • Bar shape:

‘S’ bars which curve up and then end horizontally are more currently very popular and work well for many people

A slight bend where the hands hold the bars can be more comfortable, especially when racing over longer distances

  • Rotation:

It should also be possible to rotate the bars in and out to improve comfort in the wrists

The most common position is with the tribars rotated towards each other

  • Material:

Although more expensive carbon bars are generally lighter and more comfortable than alloy bars (providing they’re correctly fitted!)

Conclusion:

Expensive tribars do not guarantee more adjustability so research thoroughly before choosing a set. You will only realise the potential benefits of tribars if they provide the necessary range of adjustment and can be fitted correctly.

Nick Thomas is the resident bike fitter at The Endurance Coach. He is a fully qualified bike fitter and expert in lower limb mechanics, holding a BSc (Hons) in podiatry. You can contact him using the email address: nickthomas@theendurancecoach.com or see more about his fitting services by GOING HERE.



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