My back was feeling much better after four days of rest, so a little shake down ride was in order. I was going to do a short 20 mile ride, but I was feeling no discomfort whatsoever at the turn around point, so I logged a full miromar-30 ride. I spent most of the ride in my aero bars to both minimize any possibility of restraining my back and to continue the acclimation process of being in the bars.
Speaking of the aero bars, they are quite the delight. I added the bars, not to convert my bike to a wind cheating TT machine, but instead to give me an additional, comfortable position for longer rides, taking pressure off my hands, arms, core and back. The added benefit is, of course, increased aerodynamic efficiency for both windy and non windy conditions, easily increasing my speed by 2 to 3 MPH.
There are several different makes and styles of aero bars in the market right now, from the full on TT style pursuit bars to clip-on bars which bolt onto your already existing handlebars.
Aero bars basically come in three styles:
1. The straight bar. No bends of any kind.
2. The chicane. Bar that has a bend or slight jog in it. Like an ‘S’ shape.
3. The ski tip. The extension bar looks like the end of professional ski pole. They have a more drastic bend than the chicane extension. Like a ‘J’ shape.
Each style has its own set of benefits. The chicane and ski tip will allow your hands to be closer together, enabling you to be in a more aerodynamic position streamlining your body position when you are on your bike. The straight bar on the other hand gives you the ability to change positions on your bike while still maintaining aerodynamics. If your main goal is not maximizing aerodynamics, then the straight extensions are perfect, but remember, comfort first.
I opted for the Bontrager Race X Lite clip-on aero bars. They are ski tip style aero bars made of carbon fiber making them both extremely light and strong. I found the ski tip style to be more comfortable than the straight or chicane style and, at least for me, offered more control and stability while in the bars.
The fine folks at Trek installed them for me and dialed them in during a fitting session, perfectly understanding my desire/goal of comfort and aerodynamics over the extreme TT makeover. Normally an aero bar setup significantly alters the geometry/riding position of your road bike as your saddle is moved significantly forward to shift your weight over the front wheel of your bike. As I did not want to alter my road riding geometry, the bars were brought back to me instead, leaving my center of gravity unchanged. The end result being a very comfortable, wind cheating, low stress, long distance position which allows me to relax my core, arms and hands for long stretches of time.
I did want to point out though that aero bars are often frowned upon on road bikes, particularly in group rides, but you’ll find that it’s not all that uncommon to see them on many road bikes down here in Florida. Just be sure to stay out of them while in pace lines or in the middle of a group or peloton. Note also that you may have to physically remove the bars if you plan to enter some road races or crits.
I’m still officially getting used to and fine tuning my new bars, but overal I’m finding they are working exactly as I had hoped they would.
Ride Time: 1:45:18
Stopped Time: 22:35
Distance: 30.49 miles
Average: 17.37 mph
Fastest Speed: 21.43 mph
Ascent: 1026 feet
Descent: 992 feet