I see that there are many types of aero bars, i.e., different designs. I am going to buy one but I am not sure which one is better.
Here are two types of aero bar designs:

enter image description here Type1 enter image description here Type2

The first one is a bit straight and the second one with a rise towards the forward end.
Can anyone please list the pros and cons of the 2 designs?
I am new to cycling and I hope that this question is not closed as a product recommendation because I am asking about the design.

  • 3
    I've modified your question to include the graphics behind the links, to make life easier for anyone thinking of helping. I also think you could improve your wording - rather than just asking "which is better" you could ask people about pros and cons of each design. You'll then get more objective answers. But I leave that edit to you.
    – PeteH
    Jul 22, 2013 at 8:30
  • All I know is that the bottom design is more traditional and likely more comfortable. I would guess that the top design is judged (with or without merit) to be a bit more "aero". But I've never used either one, so, again, a guess. Jul 22, 2013 at 10:43

3 Answers 3


First, one small point. The two pictures show different types of extensions, not bars. Bars are still what the extensions attach to (Commonly called either aerobars or bullhorns).

Extensions come in various types, including (but not necessarily limited to) S bend, F bend, straight, skip tip. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. Most wind tunnel tests have shown that the hands angled slightly down so the line is straight along the tops of the wrist arms is faster. However, this may not be comfortable for some people depending on distance and position.

Of just as much if not more important is the shape of the base bar, and the extensions/pad system being used. The entire aerobar/extension setup (Commonly referred to as the cockpit) is also highly dependent on rider position, and often the canard used in the TT/triathlon world is that you almost determine your cockpit first, and then your frame.

For the second point, the photo being shown of Matt Goss is a bike that is set up according to UCI rules. These are very stringent, and regulate such things as the angle of the forearms according to the ground, the position of the seat front to back in relation to the BB, etc. If you remember the Levi Leipheimer praying mantis position, that would now be illegal according to UCI rules. They also dictate the shape of the aerobars and other factors (Such as a water bottle cage mounted between the arms. Wind tunnel tests have shown this is one of the best options, but is illegal according to UCI rules).

Caveat- One of the last Tours that Levi did, his bike was set up according to UCI rules, but he had it at the limits and was still able to approximate his praying mantis position. I remember Liggett commenting on it at the time.

However, unless you are competing in a specific National level time trial or higher where UCI rules apply, you can safely ignore the UCI guidelines.

As it is a huge impact both in comfort and performance, I highly suggest you get with an experienced fitter. Time trial/triathlon frames and setups are vastly different, as are the measurements and frame designations. (A 54cm is not necessarily a 54 cm, etc.)

  • interesting answer. Do you know why the UCI would get involved in dictating whether a position is legal/illegal?
    – PeteH
    Jul 22, 2013 at 16:07
  • Nobody is sure why the UCI does anything sometimes. In theory it's like the NASCAR concept of the cars are all the same so it's the skill of the driver. However in practice, some of the decisions are just really...odd. I don't know why they dictate things like arm positions and bottle placement. There are some TT/Triathlon frames that are quite effective, but are not UCI legal. They dictate the ratios/chord length for forks IIRC, and many other little things that most people wouldn't even think about.
    – JohnP
    Jul 22, 2013 at 16:21
  • 1
    Yes I've followed the brilliant Graeme Obree's career a bit and he had a lot of hassle with the UCI, although obviously what he was doing was leading edge as regards innovation so you could understand their nerves (in terms of deviation from the norm). Less so with aero bars, plus you'd think if they made something illegal that would be obliged to give a reason, however contentious it may be.
    – PeteH
    Jul 22, 2013 at 19:51
  • It's really weird how they do it. The tips of the extensions can't be more than 75cm in front of either the BB or the saddle, I forget which unless you get a "morphological exemption". That was in response to the "superman" position. There really doesn't seem to be rhyme or reason sometimes.
    – JohnP
    Jul 22, 2013 at 20:08

Here's a photograph of a professional rider (Matt Goss) that I took during a time trial at the Tour de France a couple of weeks ago.

enter image description here

Clearly he's going to be using top-end kit, a dedicated bar rather than some bolt-on aero bars. But if you ignore that and look at his position, he is riding with dead flat bars - your first option, or close to it. I took a lot of photographs on that day and this was pretty much universal among the riders I watched.

Unfortunately I have no idea why this is, so I'm only really offering an insight rather than a proper answer. When you look how low his hands are compared to his head, it is difficult to imagine that having his hands a few inches higher (i.e. using the second shape) would make any difference as regards aerodynamics.

But there again, these guys will have spent hours in wind tunnels working on their TT position, so it is probably not a bad assumption to say that the position we see the rider in is pretty much his optimum position.

So in terms of aerodynamics I would suspect your first bars are better, but I have no real idea why this is, other than that's how I've seen the professionals ride.


Each of the two is comfortable for some, not so much for others. I occasionally turn a wrench in a shop that caters to Triathletes and by FAR the preference is the straighter bars (S-bars). Most of those that go with the J-bars are doing so with a conscious decision to exchange comfort for a bit more power (and while the Triathlon bike portion is similar to a TT, comfort biking plays a much bigger role as you still have to run once you finish the bike). The J-bars force your wrists into a position where they are under tension, you have to grip the bar even if just lightly. With the S-bar you can cut the length to where the palm of your hand is just resting on the end and can ride with very little tension in the arm; the (small) con with the S-bar is that you can't use as much upper-body when powering up a hill or going for a hard acceleration.

Both of the pictures are of clip-ons and both share a couple weaknesses. These are designed to be added to a road bike and doing a Triathlon or TT fit on a road bike with clip-ons is going to be less than ideal. For other purposes, they do offer an additional position that you can ride, but they also take away a position; you can now ride with your forearms on the clip-ons, but you lose the position of having your hands on the straight portion of your drop-bar.

Clip-ons also, generally, leave the shifting where it was, so if you are using the clip-ons for TT/Tri, you put yourself at a disadvantage of having to move your arm to shift.

If you are looking at this for purposes of a Tri, I'd recommend holding off until you are ready to buy a Tri bike. Just ride your road bike in the mean time. You can actually get in a better aero position on a road bike by using your drops than you can by adding clip-ons.

If you do go with clip-ons, as others have mentioned, get a good bike fit from someone with experience with TT/Tri fits.

  • Thank you for the answer. Comfort is the 2nd thing I am thinking about. I am planning to do the Ironman next year and many local triathlons this year. So any suggestions for this?
    – Freakyuser
    Jul 23, 2013 at 7:19
  • 1
    I'd personally leave off the clip-ons, ride the road bike with road bars until/if you are ready for a Tri bike. You'll give up a few seconds, but you will be much more comfortable. You might keep an eye on craigslist and at your LBS's for deals on Tri bikes and test ride a couple, they are worth it if you get serious about being competitive, but even with a good fit, they are not as comfortable as a well-fit road bike.
    – Ken Hiatt
    Jul 23, 2013 at 7:24

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