At BikeTips we prioritize transparency. All opinions are our own and are never influenced by brands. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our full Affiliate Transparency Statement
You may be at the point where you want to squeeze extra speed and efficiency from your rides.
In this article, we will:
- Explain what triathlon aero bars are
- Discuss the benefits of aero bars
- Talk about the things you need to know about riding with triathlon aero bars
- Look at the different types of aero bars
- Recommend some excellent aero bars
Are you ready to shave valuable time off your triathlon races?
What Are Triathlon Aero Bars?
Triathlon aero bars are also known as clip-on aero bars or tri-bars. These are extensions that fit closely to the center of your existing handlebars, and stick out over your bike’s front wheel.
The purpose of these triathlon aero bars is to put you in a more aerodynamic riding position. When you use them, your upper body sits lower and puts your arms in line with your body.
When you look at a set of aero bars, you will notice that they have armrests and grips. This configuration reduces pressure on your hands and wrists.
Some triathlon aero bars have lots of adjustments regarding their height, separation, and armrests. These allow you to fine-tune the bars for optimum comfort and aerodynamics.
The Benefits Of Aero Bars
They Make You Faster
Aero bars make you more slippery through the air due to your more streamlined riding position. The reduced drag allows you to ride faster with the same effort.
Specialized’s Wind Tunnel YouTube series explains the difference between riding with triathlon aero bars and regular handlebars. They determined that you can be 1 minute 40 seconds faster over 40km with aero bars during this series.
The other advantage of riding with aero bars is that your riding position can be much more comfortable. This is especially the case during longer rides, as your upper body is more relaxed. However, it does take a few rides to get used to the new position.
Triathlon aero bars also give you another option for your hands. You can easily switch positions if one starts to become uncomfortable or to suit the terrain you are riding.
What You Need To Know About Riding With Triathlon Aero Bars
One of the issues with triathlon aero bars is that it is difficult to shift gears if you add them to a regular road bike. This is because your gear shifters are located on your bike’s standard handlebars, away from your hands while you are in the aero position.
But, if you have a triathlon bike, you can shift gears in the aero position, as the shifters are located at the end of the bars.
This is a similar story for braking, so you should only use your triathlon aero bars where it is safe, so you can react in time.
They Can Be Tricky To Fit
You will need to adjust your bike setup to get the proper aerodynamic position. Therefore, you need to move your saddle up and forwards to get it perfect.
You can do this yourself, but you may want to go for a bike fitting, so an expert can set your bike up correctly. But some aero bars are super easy to fit without the need for any tools, making it a simple job for you to do at home.
The Different Types Of Triathlon Aero Bars
Short And Long Aero Bars
You can have short or long extensions, but you may only be restricted to one type if you are entering a race.
Pro triathletes ride with short bars during short-distance races where drafting is allowed. Most of the time, amateur triathletes are not permitted to use short ones in draft-legal races.
For races where drafting is illegal, racers will use longer extensions.
One-piece Or Separated Bars
Some tri-bars have two bars fixed together. These are much easier to install on your bike, but they are not very adjustable. Therefore, most triathletes prefer two bars.
You can buy different shaped tri-bars to suit your required riding position. Most riders use bars with an L or an S curved shape, but which one you choose depends on your personal preference.
Carbon Aero Bars Or Aluminum?
If you want to save weight, you need to go for carbon aero bars. However, they are much more expensive than ones made from aluminium, so you need to decide whether saving a few grams is worth the extra spend.
Obviously, if you have a carbon bike, you won’t want to put aluminium bars on it. So, you will have to come up with the extra cash.
Our Recommendations For Triathlon Aero Bars
These carbon aero bars have an ergonomic design with super comfortable spongy cushions for your elbows. The cushions and the design make the Ricyrlk carbon aero bars ideal for long sessions in the saddle.
Thanks to the easy-to-use clamp, you can fit these bars to most bikes. The clamp has a 31.8mm (1.25″) diameter, while the bars measure 340mm (13.4″) long.
You will find that the Ricyrlk pretty good quality due to the carbon fibre construction and aluminium screws. They also weigh just 330g, so you won’t get much of a weight penalty for fitting them.
The Legacy II aero bars from Profile Designs have been updated to make them even better than before. One of the updates is improved ergonomics to make the bars more comfortable.
Profile Designs has also added extra hand positions to make the Legacy II more versatile and dynamic.
Riders who have chosen these bars love the adjustability of the armrests. You can change their width and rotate them for ultimate comfort.
Even with all the adjustability, the Legacy II have a comfortable and straightforward design.
If you like the idea of adjustable tri-bars and have a bit more money to spend, Profile Designs have an alternative to the legacy II.
The Sonic Ergo 4525a has been designed to increase your comfort using the Profile Designs Ergo armrest. This gives your arms a supportive curve and adjustability for the perfect fit.
Profile Design has made the Sonic Ergo with a tiny front profile to reduce aerodynamic drag as much as possible. They have also given these triathlon aero bars a wide fit range so you can get into a slippery riding position.
The adjustability lies in the extension length and rotation. You can easily tweak them via the top bolt. You can also move the armrests in 100 different positions to suit your needs.
In addition to all this, you can use any of the 1500 combinations when you use the risers. The Sonic Ergo 4525a is the most adjustable clip-on triathlon aero bar available.
If you are on a budget, you may not want to splash too much cash. Luckily, you don’t need to, thanks to these bars from Drckhros.
You can’t expect too much from bars at this price, but they will put you in a relaxed riding position. They are made from aluminum and feature two removable spongy elbow pads for comfort.
Even though these are entry-level, you can still tweak them to fit you. You can fine-tune the bar length, bar angle, and width. The armrest position and angle can also be set to your preferences.
Controltech makes some excellent road bike products, and these aero bars are a perfect choice for bikes without cylindrical handlebars. They clip on to different shaped handlebars, so if your bars are shaped for aerodynamics, these should fit.
The mini clip-on bars comply with ITU regulations, where long extension bars are not allowed. They are also great for time trials, as you can adjust your riding position by either fitting it to your handlebars or stem. However, you do need a Controltech stem to use these bars.
These carbon aero bars are pretty pricy, so you need to be sure that they are ideal for you and your bike.
You may not always want to ride with your triathlon aero bars attached, but they can often be tricky to add and remove. However, these quick-release carbon aero bars don’t require any tools.
Their simplicity means you can quickly and easily install and take them off when you need to. This way, you can have the perfect setup for each ride.
You can choose between versions with an S or L bend, so you can get ones in your preferred shape to put you in the most comfortable and aerodynamic position.
The Redshift quick-release clip-on carbon aero bars are a great alternative to the Controltech ones above. They are also slightly cheaper, although heavier.
Now You Have Some Great Triathlon Aero Bar Recommendations
Triathlon aero bars are an excellent and easy modification that will improve your speed.
All of the examples on this list will make your long rides more comfortable and faster. It is just a case of deciding which is best for you, your bike, and your wallet.
If you want to learn more about becoming a faster rider, check out the blogs below: