Tri-bars (aerobars) have been around in the UK in various guises for over two decades. They not only have the potential to improve your aerodynamics (if set up correctly), but they also give your upper body a rest, which conserves energy for a strong run off the bike. Like any skill you have to have focus and allow time to make technical progress. Tri-bar finesse won’t happen by luck but it’s not impossible…
1. Check you have the bars close enough to your saddle so that you don’t overreach. There’s no hard and fast rule but aim for an upper arm angle of around 60-85°, while keeping the knee within 5-7cm of the back of the elbow/tricep at its closest brush past. Do not move the seat forward to achieve this. Instead get a shorter stem or the tri-bar reach adjusted. Seek tri shop help if need be.
2. On dry, quiet roads practise riding the tri-bars through various corners and junctions. Be careful to slowly increase the severity of turn you’re attempting and/or the speed you are riding. Stay relaxed and err on the side of caution.
You’re not Cancellara – a few seconds of easing off the gas will not ruin your race.
3. As many junctions or corners are unknown or unfamiliar in races, get a thorough recce in before events (especially possible wet ones). If you know the likely points where coming off the tri-bars will save a spill, you’ll lose very little speed as you move your hands onto the base bar. Keeping low on the bike remains a focus of good bike handling.
4. A few less psi in your tyres can help grip on wet roads. Around 110 psi should be ideal, but this doesn’t account for diesel spills, drains and road markings. You will go where you look, so look through obstacles not at them to take better lines in corners and at junctions.
5. For the super advanced, you should practise tri-bar riding on rollers.
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