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I got a set of aerobars for free and decided to install them on my hybrid.

1) I just tried them and feel a bit unstable. After checking it out online, I see this is normal, but I wonder if there is an optimal way to install them to reduce instability.

2) Does it make sense to install them on a hybrid? My hands do get numb during a long ride and I have always wanted to shift between positions.

3) While riding them, I feel more in control when my elbows are on my flat handlebars and thus not on the pads. Could this be because my seat isn't high enough (that's another problem altogether since my aluminum seatpost is corroded to my CrMo frame)?

enter image description here

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Interesting answers here! Is the answer the same for a touring bike? –  dsalo Sep 28 '12 at 0:02
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Ideally a touring bike already has a drop handlebar -- if you're lucky one with a randonneur profile. But some "touring" bikes are shipped with straight bars and will benefit from bar ends or something similar. And with the shallower steering tube angle the touring bike will not be quite as "twitchy" if you try to use aero bars. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 28 '12 at 2:03
    
I had a hybrid bike that I put a bullhorn handlebars on. They were great for giving me lots of different hand positions. They weren't the standard bullhorn handlebars, but rather wrapped around more at the front rather than just jutting out forward. Closest I can find right now on the web is something like this. (gear-hanger.co.uk/info/bullhorn-handlebars-and-grip-set/345/758) –  Kibbee Sep 28 '12 at 12:39
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

They are unstable because of how your weight shifts on the bike when you move to the aerobars. Hybrids are not really designed to have aerobars, the geometry doesn't really lend itself to that.

My suggestion would be to get rid of the aerobars, and get handlebar extensions for the ends of the bars, much like you see on many mountain bikes. This will allow you to switch between different hand positions, while still keeping control and weight distribution where it should be.

Bike geometry- The main difference is in the seat tube and head tube angles. As you go from a hybrid (upright riding posture, slack seat tube angle) to a road bike (slightly more leaning forward, steeper seat tube angle) to a time trial frame (leaning on forearms, even steeper seat tubes), you progressively move the weight on the frame further forward.

There are also differences in how the bottom bracket is placed in relation to the ground/seat, etc. that are designed to produce a more comfortable ride.

As the weight shift forward happens, the handling of the bike is different. TT frames are notoriously poor handlers compared to road frames, and hybrids handle much different than a traditional road frame.

So when you move forward on the hybrid like you would for aerobars, you are moving the weight/center of gravity out of the "sweet spot" for the frame, and handling deteriorates as a result.

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I've thought about extensions as well but these were cheaper :). Could you explain a bit about the geometry problem? –  Jacob Sep 27 '12 at 15:38
    
Most extensions (As pictured in the other answer) are only a few bucks, and most that I've seen are way cheaper than full aerobars. –  JohnP Sep 27 '12 at 18:57
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The sense of instability is mostly because your arms are not spread out. The farther apart you spread your arms, the more stability you get, simply because it takes more motion of the arm to rotate the steering tube by a given amount.

This effect is amplified on a hybrid, which usually will have a somewhat steeper steering angle, leading to less inherent stability than a road bike.

You'd probably be happier with some sort of "bar end" extensions (if you choose to not simply replace the bar, or the bike).

enter image description here

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Great point about the steeper steering angle contributing to the feeling of instability. –  Gary.Ray Sep 27 '12 at 16:36
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if you place your pads more separately more stability you'll get..

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Welcome to Bicycles! Sometimes very brief answers like this get flagged for moderator attention as a 'low quality answer'. Sometimes a little more detail and description leads to a better answer. –  Gary.Ray Sep 27 '12 at 16:35
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