How to get more aero on a road bike without aerobars

Tim Don explains how to get more aero on a road bike without using aerobars

Credit: ITU Media

There are loads of ways to get more aero on a road bike, even before we start to talk about equipment. But first let’s look at the biggest thing that slows us down while riding – us! And more specifically, how our body mass cuts through the air. 


Now there’s a fine balance between getting crazy aero and super low, but then losing power through not being able
to push the big watts for a long time because you’re very uncomfortable. And then when you have to run off the bike, your hamstrings, lower back, neck and, well, whole body will not be loving you.

As with any new position change, it’s always best to practise first in training. Start slowly and build up as you become more comfortable and stable getting down and dirty aero!

So head position is key, and normally it’s way up high like a giraffe’s head, but we want it nice and low – we call it the ‘turtle’, where you bring your head towards your chest and forward while still looking forward (we wouldn’t want to crash now would we?!) At first you’ll feel a bit tight in the neck, so within your ride do 2mins on 2mins off for 20mins, and build up the form until this becomes a normal position.

Shoulder shape

The next level is to bring your shoulders into play, because being triathletes and, of course amazing swimmers, we’re very very broad. So bring your shoulders to your ears and lift your shoulders up. Again do this as 2mins on 2mins off within a ride. You could also do this in front of the mirror – you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your ride. If the sun is directly behind you and your shadow is in front of you, and you’re on a quiet road, play around moving your head and shoulders and make your shadow as small as possible.

Back and hand position

Now we’ll take a look at your back and hand position. Hold onto your drops or on top of your hoods and try and flatten your back and bring your elbows in towards your centre line – flatten that back! By now, your body is in a great position. It might take a few rides or weeks to get properly comfy and to be able to push the watts, but it’s worth the perseverance. And always remember, this is FREE SPEED!

Helmet choice

So as I said before, your head position is key, as is your helmet choice. Now, there are so many aero road helmets on the market from the Specialized Evade II to Oakley’s new lid, all of which are very stylish, comfy and, of course, aero as $%@&! Some of the newer helmets even have a visor, which is more aero than glasses and look rather wired! Loads of elites are also now choosing to use aero road helmets for Ironman over the classic TT helmet with a tail.

Keep it tight

Next, to state the obvious, the tighter your bike top/jersey or tri-suit, the more aero you’ll be – the same with your bike or shorts. There are some very fresh and super-fast bike tops and tri-suits from the likes of Endura, which have texture on the sleeves that act as trip lines for the air. You could even go full-on time-trial suit crazy fast. As always, try before you buy, and in your new aero position, to make sure it’s comfortable around any zips, the legs, arms, neck etc.

Wheel change

Another bit of kit that will make you way more aero are aero wheels/deep rims – anything deeper than 30mm with some 24mm tyres will give you free speed. But if you’re worried about crosswinds then don’t go for any crazy 70-80mm front wheels, stick with 40-64mm. Also, the wider the wheel the more aero it is, according to the latest data from manufacturers, and now the best wheels are really fat!


Race smooth

As a guy, you could also ask should you shave your beard?! No, that won’t make you go any faster, but it goes without saying to shave, wax, epilate or use hair removal cream to get those legs smooth as silk. Come race day, I’m super slippery!