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At the end of August I am organising and completing a solo 2 day bike ride for charity that will be around 260 miles in length.

The longest I have ever done is 105 miles in one sitting, about 6 and a half hours in the saddle.

The first day of my event will be about 175 miles and I am estimating about 12 hours saddle time.

I was wondering if using Tri-Bars would be advantageous with regards to the extra position it will give me, or would I be better sticking to the ~4 positions I currently have on my drop handles?

I have never used Tri-bars before but have a pair in my garage. My bike is a Felt F-85 road bike with quite aggressive geometry.

  • 1
    @ChrisH cheers have edited to reflect now – Cearon O'Flynn May 26 '16 at 15:40
  • Are you using a race bike or a touring bike or what? You don't normally see tri bars on a touring bike, but they don't attach at a normally used grip position, so it wouldn't hurt. You'd have to try it though to see if it works for you. – Batman May 26 '16 at 15:56
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    Check if the organizer allows tri-bars. They are banned for safety reasons at many events, especially when larger groups of cyclists and higher number of participants are expected! – Carel May 26 '16 at 16:05
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    Well, don't get a higher authority than that! :) – FreeMan May 26 '16 at 16:12
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    As a solo rider you presumably don't have so many worries about not being near the brakes/not having the visibility to know when to get near the brakes . – Chris H May 26 '16 at 17:00
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I would suggest attaching the bars and doing some test rides.

  • Is your bike, with it's aggressive geometry, stable when using them?
  • Are you comfortable using them?
  • Does this new position provide some relief, or is it just more annoying?

I think you're the only one who can determine if they'll be an advantage to you. In general, I'd think the extra position would be an advantage.

Even with 4 positions on your standard drop bars, being able to take weight off your hands and put it on your elbows might be a welcome relief, even if it's just for a short period of time.

  • I like this answer. Just try it! I'll give it a day or two and will accept it. I'll try the bars on my next training ride on Sunday, aiming to do 100km so should be a good test. – Cearon O'Flynn May 26 '16 at 16:18
  • I didn't try them this weekend in the end as I wanted to hit a couple of big (for around here) hills and didn't want to risk them causing mischief. Will try them out soon though – Cearon O'Flynn May 29 '16 at 21:06
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They would be yes. Beyond the advantage of providing an additional position, they actually provide a bigger benefit of (properly setup) a more aero position. Theoretically this could increase your average speed and provide you with less time in the saddle.

All things equal, I consider the extra position (when you already have ~4) to be a minimal impact. All you really need on any bike is one "good" position. I've done long rides (20+ hours) on my fatbike with essentially one position. However, I had done the work beforehand to make sure that position was perfect.

TL;DR They are not worth the extra position, but they are worth the aero advantage and reduced ride time / increased speed.

2

Collectively, some good advice here. I first used tri-bars (sometimes referred to as aero-bars) for long rides back 30 years ago, on a touring bike. The two biggest benefits were:

  • extra position to to take the weight off my hands and put the body/back into a different position (you lean further forward)
  • less wind resistance and easier pedaling, especially on the flat

The geometry of the front forks on your bike is important. You've got to have stability and be able to quickly change back for braking.

1

Will they be an advantage? Depends.

They may be an aerodynamic advantage but a handling and physical fatigue and wear disadvantage.

With the aero position comes a very unnatural neck angle needed to look straight ahead. You may say 'oh well I'll just rest and look straight down for a sec' and soon you might be picking weeds out of your teeth. I've done the 24mile bike portion of triathlons and almost skittered off the road because my neck wasn't in shape and I looked down. I can't imagine being in that position for extended periods without some major physical training to strengthen those neck muscles.

Your crotch will also be utilized differently as the angle between legs and upper body will be more acute. This can put more pressure in certain areas.

  • Agreed (mostly). However, since the ride in question is 3 months away, adding them now should allow plenty of time for his neck muscles to adapt. – Deleted User May 27 '16 at 17:32
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A friends of mine just installed aero bars, we went for a 150 km ride. The aerobar advantages are mainly useful in flat terrain. If you have many uphill / downhill you will be using the side handles. And he reported shifting gears was quite annoying compared to brifter shifting. I wouldn't do it, it is for getting faster speed not for comfort or safety.

Edit: I was thinking of the whole aero handlebar with shifters at the end and pushed forward saddle combination, which is expensive to have mounted. If it is only the bars, well, I don't know but it seems like a bit shoddy. Of course try it, since it is not as big an expense.

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