Best aerobars review 2015
Why should you bother with aerobars? The Brownlees don’t and they manage to do okay.
Then again, they have a few other things in their favour: nature, nurture and the rules. They’ve been gifted with a high level of endurance that has been carefully honed during years of training. Also they’re allowed to draft. And those of us who don’t race in the ITU World Series aren’t.
Drafting – sitting in the pocket of low-pressure air directly behind the rider in front – saves you a serious amount of energy on the bike. But what do you do if you can’t draft? Well, you could train your backside off to get fitter, or spend a small fortune on an advanced, high- performance bike. And although there’s a strong case to be made for both of those options, the other, which is significantly easier and cheaper, is to get a set of aerobars.
Aerobars put you in a more effective riding position. Not only do they bring you forward so you can put more force into the pedals, they also make you more aerodynamic by allowing you to lower your head, flatten your back and tuck your arms in. You probably still won’t match the speed of the Brownlees, but you’ll get a lot closer to emulating them with a set of aerobars than you would with normal handlebars.
>>> All you need to know about aerobars >>>
(Image: Michael Rauschendorfer)
So what aerobars should you buy? They boil down to two categories: clip-on and integrated. Clip-ons are simply a pair of armrests and extensions that, as the name suggests, clip on to your existing handlebars. Integrated aerobars, on the other hand, are the ones that look like a model of something you might find flying around in a Star Wars film, and replace your existing handlebars altogether.
Which type you should buy will depend on how much racing you intend to do, how seriously you want to take it and how much you’re willing to spend, but our grouptest will help you narrow down your choices a little further.
>>> Read our guide to 2014's best tri aerobars
Profile Design T5 Plus
Price: £99 from www.madison.co.uk
Rushing out to buy Profile’s T4 Plus clip-ons on the strength of their class-winning performance in our April 2014 grouptest would have been a wise decision. They’re light, adjustable, have smart clamps and great armrests. There’s no reason to regret your decision.
Well, there wasn’t until the arrival of the T5 Plus bars. They may be aluminium instead of carbon like the T4s, but they’re lighter (507g), cheaper, have a gentle ski-bend that’s comfortable to hold and possibly the best armrests on the market – providing fore/aft and rotational adjustment and shaped so they don’t saw at your forearms when you’re riding on the hoods.
Fitting can be fiddly as the handlebar clamp bolts are positioned facing upwards in between the extensions. But that’s a minor niggle in an otherwise superb package.
Verdict: Great shape, great price and great armrests, 93%
Pro Missile Alloy
Price: £99 from www.madison.co.uk
These no-frills clip-ons show that sometimes the simplest approach is the best. Almost identical to the Profile Design T5 Plus bars, they use just a couple of cinch clamps to secure the armrests to the extensions and the extensions to the handlebars.
As the name suggests, they’re made of an aluminium alloy (the Evo version is carbon) and they weigh in at just 494g. If the 45° ski-bend extensions (seen here) aren’t to your liking, there are tri and S-bend alternatives.
Aside from the fact that you can’t route cables internally if you decide to run these with bar-end shifters, there’s very little not to like. The armrests are well-shaped and the pads are comfortable, and the option of siting them either in front or behind the extension clamp gives you a wide range of position options. In short, they’re great.
Verdict: Easy to use and highly adjustable. No cable routing, 92%
Profile Design Aeria AL
Price: £299 from www.madison.co.uk
These are the aluminium version of Profile’s Aeria T2 carbon aerobars that came top in last year’s grouptest (April 2014). Aside from the material, there’s very little difference between the two – both are superb. In its most basic, riser-free configuration, the AL weighs in at an impressive 786g, although that’s without a built-in stem.
Risers allow you to increase the stack height from 55mm up to 135mm and there’s acres of adjustability in the big, comfy armrests (fore/aft and lateral) and S-bend extensions (reach and rotation) too.
With internal routing for cables and a base bar that, unlike many, manages to be a comfortable place from which to steer and slow down, the Aeria AL is a seriously attractive option. More attractive than its carbon equivalent that costs twice as much? Quite possibly.
Verdict: All the class of its carbon stable-mate, but half the price, 96%
Zipp Vuka Stealth
Price: £813 (+£100 for extensions) from www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk
They’re not the most expensive set-up here, but £813 is still a lot of money, especially when you factor in the extra £100 for the extensions. But you do get an integrated stem as part of the deal (bringing the weight up to 832g).
As you’d expect, there are ports for internal cable routing and there’s grip coating too, but only on the bullhorns, not the tips of the extensions. There’s also more adjustability than any other bars here, with fore/aft movement in the armrests (which are big and supportive), the armrest mounts and the extensions.
You have two options for extension width, depending on which way round you run the clamps, and they can also be tilted up or down by 6° as well as raised. So funny-money territory, unquestionably, but you can fine-tune your position with the utmost precision.
Verdict: Unparalleled adjustability, but at a whopping price, 85%
Read the rest of our guide to 2015's best aerobars, where we deliver our verdict (2/2)