Aerobars, which are also known as triathlon bars, are handlebar extensions with padded forearm rests that allow the rider to get into a more aerodynamic position by drawing their body forward into a tucked position, with a dropped torso.
Best clip-on tri bars
Zipp Vuka Clip
Zipp’s Vuka Clip bars are available in aluminium or carbon – we tested the luxurious latter version, weighing 218g per bar including the clamp. The standard 31.8mm clamp makes it suitable for use as a clipon with drop bars, or on a full tri rig with Zipp’s own Vuka Alumina Base Bar or Vuka Bull. Extra wedges are included to increase the armrest angle by up to 15°, which you’ll appreciate if you favour a ‘mantis’ position. It also supports internal cabling to route gear shifters through if you intend to use on a tri bike.
Set-up is simple with two T25 bolts either side to tighten the extension clamp to your drops, and another two T25 bolts on top to tighten bars to the clamp. There’s a handy key on the bars to dial in the fore/aft of the extensions. Carbon assembly paste is included to prevent slippage between the clamp and base bars you’re mounting to. Zipp say that the Vuka Clip was born out of ‘data compiled from thousands of fit sessions’ to help riders maintain their aero tuck for longer, and it shows in how ergonomic the extension is. The bend and the shape place the wrists in a highly comfortable position, and coupled with the wide, dense arm pads, we felt like we could stay out on the aerobars all day long.
Verdict: expensive, but brilliantly ergonomic and lots of adjustment on offer 90%
Profile Design Sonic Ergo 45/25A
The Sonic Ergo from Profile Design is available with a number of different extension options; the 45/25a here features an S-bend bar that curves upwards. We weighed each bar plus its clamp at 284g each, not a great deal heavier than the carbon Zipp bars. Profile Design claim it’s ‘the most adjustable clip-on bar on the market’, with a huge number of configurations possible thanks to the risers and 15 different positions for each arm pad. There are also inserts for internal cabling.
Getting set up on your drops or base bars is very easy, with just a 5mm hex key needed to screw the single top bolt down, and two on the underside to secure the clamp. The bars are 40cm long, which should be enough even for super tall riders who need lots of reach, and there’s a scale on the underside to mark your ideal bar length. We found the pads on the firm side, so not the most comfortable on a longer ride; we’d probably put some bar tape on the extensions for anything longer than a sprint. While the Sonic Ergo costs significantly less than the Vuka Clip, it loses out here due to the middling levels of comfort and standard round aluminium extensions, plus the Vuka’s option to adjust the armrest angle with wedges
Verdict: a more basic set of clip-ons with some notable extra features 80%
Bontrager Race X Lite
You’d expect a set of clip-on bars with carbon extensions to be light and, with a claimed weight of only 425g, this offering from Bontrager is noticeably the lightest on test; and at a competitive price, too. With measurements on the extensions helping you to get the desired position, setting up the bars is straightforward, but a torque wrench is a must when pairing alloy and carbon!
The ergonomic-shaped ski arms start straight and have a short kick up for your hands to rest at a comfortable angle, without having to over rotate your wrists, but those with larger hands may need to grasp the end of the extension. The pad stack height of only 43mm lets you get a low profile and the position of the armrests are easy to alter. Yet a minor gripe is that, to stop them moving, it feels like you’re at risk of over tightening the bolts.
Verdict: sharp and light bars, but the profile won’t suit all 82%
Vision Trimax Adj TT
The highly-adjustable Trimax certainly live up to their name. With 40mm of lateral movement you should be able to find a comfortable position for the armrests. If you’re a fan of a slammed stem, or like to hold the tops of your handlebars when taking a breather, you’ll appreciate the height offered by the Trimax’s bracket and stack spacers. Yet this bracket is quite substantial and contributes to the Trimax being the heaviest bar set-up on test (claimed weight of 667g).
Once the mount and pads are installed, you slide the alloy ski arms in and fix them in place. Although tightening the extension bolts is a little fiddly, even when at the recommended torque under force they rotate and the white decals don’t last long. The shallow J-bend bars really do look the part and allow you to get a good position, but for longer rides we’d prefer thicker pads.
Verdict: a solid set of clip-on bars, but for £180 they’re behind the competition 70%
Profile Design T5+ Aerobar
Don’t be concerned by the relatively low price and the simple appearance: Profile Design’s T5+ Aluminium are a reliable pair of aerobars. Unlike the other bars on test, the mounts for the armrest and the extensions are independent, meaning that you can move the pads back from your handlebars and tilt them without affecting the angle of the ski arms.
Installation is very easy; all you need is a 5mm Allen key and a torque wrench. The extensions have a classic appearance with a subtle 15º bend and, like the other test bars, have ports for internal cable routing. But there are questions about the long-term durability of the pads, especially if being frequently used indoors on the turbo, and, despite being tightened securely, when riding over potholes the bars tended to move slightly.
Verdict: ignore the lack of glamour, these are a good option without breaking the bank 77%