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Best aerobars review 2015

Get low, narrow and fast with our guide to eight of this year’s best aerobars

We continue our guide to this year's best aerobars, and deliver our verdict...

>>> For lots more advice on the best triathlon gear money can buy, head to our Gear guides

Vision Metron TFA Di2

Price: £1,099 from www.windwave.co.uk

Vision Metron TFA DI2

For integrated bars with a built-in stem, these are light – 641g. When the Metron was last in 220 (November 2013) it was 780g, but that had built-in brake levers, whereas this Di2-compatible version lets you choose your own. 

Other than that, it’s basically the same: an expensive, carbon aerobar that’s fine if it works for you. Making it work for you may prove tricky though. Reach adjustment involves taking a saw to the extensions and width adjustment relies on rotation, which alters your wrist angle. 

There’s some height and width adjustment in the armrests but, again, your wrist angle and comfort is compromised. All this wouldn’t be such a problem if the extensions were wider apart, but they’re so narrow you find your thumbs fighting for space like the battle for the armrests on a plane.

Verdict: Lacking the adjustability of similarly-priced rivals, 70%

USE R1 Aerobar

Price: £824.99 from www.ultimatesportsengineering.com

USE R1 Aerobar

The bullhorns, or rather bull pods, on USE’s 811g R1 bars are by far the nicest on any aerobar, not just visually but also in terms of comfort. Their bulbous ‘speed egg’ shape fits in your palm better than any curved or swollen tube. 

Sadly the same can’t be said for the brakes. On paper, mounting the levers like this seems like a good idea, but in practice pulling them with your thumb doesn’t generate enough stopping power and their flat, bladed profile cuts into your fingers when you use your whole hand. They’re also a faff to set up as you have to disassemble the pod to fit the cables. 

That aside, they’re lovely bars. There’s width/height adjustability in the armrests, although adjusting reach requires a saw. The small armrests are fine, although you might want something bigger for longer rides.

Verdict: Magnificent bars. Little arm- rests may mar long distances, 84%

Zipp Vuka Alumina

Price: £193.00 from www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk

Zipp Vuka Alumina

This is a modular system: a pick’n’mix set-up in which all the parts are sold separately. You choose whether you want above- or below-the-bar clamps, the shape and material of the extensions and how many risers you want, then attach the whole lot, along with the armrests, to your bike. 

The test sample came with below-the-bar clamps and ski-bend carbon extensions, and tipped the scales at 465g, making them the lightest full-length clip-ons here. Given the range of options, they’re easy to tailor to your positioning needs, although the Profile T5 Plus bars do an almost equally good job for nearly half the price. 

The armrests are great and, despite being the biggest on the market, manage to let you use the hoods and the tops without a problem. The grip coating on the extension tips is an especially nice touch.

Verdict: Outstanding clip-ons, but twice the price of the T5 Plus, 90%

Enve SES Aero Bar

Price: £1,050 from www.saddleback.co.uk

Enve SES Aero Bar

The Enve may sit in similar funny-money territory to the Zipp Vuka Stealth, but it’s an equally serious cockpit. It’s a full-carbon set-up with a huge amount of adjustability and gives you the option to run your extensions above or beneath the base bar. 

It weighs in at a svelte 746g, but it has the advantage of lacking an integrated stem. Tailoring the extension and armrest position to your needs is easy given the range of height, width and reach adjustment provided. 

If you’re looking for a set of bars to spend extended periods hunched over, you could do a lot worse. The bullhorns get a grip coating, but it would be nice to have it on the extensions too. And although you won’t be spending that much time on them, the bullhorns do feel a little thin and austere after you’ve been treated to USE’s pods.

Verdict: Fantastically adjustable – and fantastically expensive, 88%

Final verdict

Time to give the Allen key a rest and decide: which bars had us tucked up comfortably and which proved to be a drag?

In the absence of of independent aero data, this test has focused on ease of set-up, adjustability and ride comfort. And ride comfort is arguably the most important factor since it doesn’t matter how aerodynamic you are if you’re too uncomfortable to push the pedals. Remember too, your saddle is as important as your bars when it comes to putting your position together. Chances are, you’ll have to bring your saddle forward, tilt the nose down and maybe even run your seatpost at a different height. 

As far as clip-ons are concerned, Zipp’s Vuka AL bars are very nice and have loads of positional options, but so do the Profile Design T5 Plus bars. The T5 Plus bars are a little heavier and lack the riser options, but they manage to give the Zipps a run for their money in the comfort stakes, despite being half the price.

Zipp aerobars

The Pro Missile Alloy bars are the only spanner in the works for the T5 Plus set-up. Pro’s bars are the same price, just as adjustable, just as comfortable and they’re also a little lighter. The only thing they don’t have is the option to run bar-end shifters with internal routing. It’s a minor issue, but it’s enough to give the Profile bars the edge here.

In the integrated bar battle, there’s only one realistic winner: the Profile Design Aeria AL. The Enve, Zipp and USE bars are all superb, but you could buy another bike for the price of them. If someone else is writing the cheque, by all means choose one of those. But if the cash is coming from your own wallet, get the Profile Design bars because, whatever performance gap there might be between the Aeria AL and its rivals, it isn’t £700 wide.

>>> For lots more advice on the best triathlon gear money can buy, head to our Gear guides


 
 

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