The 5 Best Aero Bars for Road and Triathlon Bikes 2021

aero bars can benefit your road or triathlon bike. Read our reviews of the best aerobars

As much as you love those drop handlebars on your road bike, they won’t cut it if you want to be competitive on a time trial race. So what’s the solution? Aero bars!

Of course, aero bars won’t convert your road bike into a triathlon bike but they can improve your aerodynamics and make you faster. In this article, we’re going to review the 5 best aero bars for road and triathlon bikes 2021.

Here we go.

Best Overall Aero Bar

Our Pick
Profile Designs Sonic Aerobar
$136.12
  • Ergo/4525a
  •  Black
  • 55mm
  • 135mm Stack
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09/01/2021 04:25 pm GMT

This an aluminum-made aero bar with a 45-degree angle at the edge and a 25-degree angle at the grip. It looks like a hybrid between an ‘S’ and a ski bend design; that means, it will give you both comfort and speed.

Talking of ergonomics, it features padded elbow pads that can be adjusted. The extension bar is around 15 inches long which should be enough for most people’s arm length. What’s more, it’s easy to install and the clamp diameter can fit most standard road bikes.

On the downside, this is not a full-on aero bar and it doesn’t come with a base bar.

Manufacturer Specs

  • Type: Clip-on aero bars
  • Handlebar material: Aluminum
  • Clamp diameter: 31.8 mm
  • Weight: 559 grams

What We Like

  • It’s lightweight
  • Easy to install
  • It can fit most road bikes
  • It’s comfortable
  • It can be adjusted

What We Don’t Like

It doesn’t include a base bar

Summary

This is our pick for the overall best aero bar to put on your road bike.

Also Great

Profile Designs Sonic/Ergo T5+ Aerobar
$141.77
  • Aluminum
  • Reduces wind drag
  • 13 degree angle
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09/01/2021 04:24 pm GMT

What’s interesting about this aero bar is that it gives you a low-profile aerodynamic angle of 13 degrees. In other words, this aero bar will reduce the wind drag as much as possible but make you as swift as the wind. The best part is, it can be used on both road and triathlon bikes.

Thanks to its adjustability, you can fine-tune the armrest to about 80 different positions. Better yet, you can increase and decrease the extension handlebar to match your arm length.

Unfortunately, due to its low angle, you have to sacrifice comfort for a better aerodynamic angle on this bar.

Manufacturer Specs

  • Type: Clip-on aero bars
  • Handlebar material: Aluminum
  • Clamp diameter: 31.8 mm
  • Weight: 554 grams

What We Like

  • Very aerodynamic
  • Lightweight material
  • It can be fine-tuned
  • Ideal for most riders
  • Easy to clip

What We Don’t Like

  • Not very comfortable over a long distance

Summary

A low-profile aero bar that can be clipped on both road and triathlon bikes.

Best For Short Distances Itu/Uci Legal

Vision Team Mini TT Handlebar
$154.99
  • 170mm
  • Fits most bikes with 31.8mm handlebars
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09/01/2021 04:24 pm GMT

Sure, this is not your typical aero bar; it’s half the size, but it will give you maximum leverage particularly on short-distance triathlons. Besides that, the armrests are padded and flexible so you don’t need to worry about comfort.

Despite its small size, it’s draft legal and compliant with ITU and ICU standards. Also, it can fit most bikes with a 31.88 mm handlebar.

There is just one thing though; this aero bar is not for everybody, especially those who want more space to move around. However, if you don’t engage a lot of force when riding, these mini aero bars would be ideal.

Manufacturer Specs

  • Type: Clip-on mini aero bars
  • Handlebar material: Aluminum
  • Clamp diameter: 31.8 mm
  • Weight: 471 grams

What We Like

  • Compatible with standard handlebars
  • ITU and ICU compliant
  • Flexible arm pads
  • Designed for sprint distance triathlons

What We Don’t Like

  • Not suitable for all riders

Summary

An ITU and ICU compliant mini aero bar for short distance time trials.

Quick Release Aero Bar

REDSHIFT Quick-Release Clip-On Aerobars
$179.99
  • Aluminum Extensions
  • L-Bend
  • Easy to install and remove
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09/01/2021 04:24 pm GMT

How about some aero bars that can be clipped and removed in a few seconds with no tools required? Another trick up its sleeve is that riders can adjust the extension length, arm pad width/height, and armpad fore-aft.

Depending on your preference, you can choose a carbon or aluminum-made extension bar; and they’re all available in different sizes. Did I mention, the bars can be used to relieve pressure especially for those with hand injuries.

On the flip side, if you want to increase the stack height, you will need to buy the extension riser kit separately.

Manufacturer Specs

  • Type: Clip-on aero bars
  • Handlebar material: Aluminum & Carbon
  • Clamp diameter: 26.0 mm, 31.8 mm
  • Weight: 630 / 640 grams

What We Like

  • Easy to install and remove
  • Relieves pressure
  • Available in aluminum and carbon
  • It can be adjusted
  • Different sizes available

What We Don’t Like

  • Riser kit is sold separately

Summary

A quick-release aero bar that can be installed and removed in a few seconds.

Best Lightweight Aero Bars

Best Lightweight
FSA Vision TriMax Aerobars
  • Alloy R-Bend
  • Clip-On Adjustable
  • Lightweight
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This aero bar comes with a carbon extension; a material that is both lightweight and durable. To top it off, the carbon extension bar suppresses vibrations and the armrest is padded to make your ride as comfortable as possible.

If you take a closer look, you will notice it has an ‘S’ bend design with an almost straight extension so that it could capitalize on the aerodynamics. In case you’re wondering, it can be tilted to about 16 degrees which is enough to make a huge difference in your speed.

However, it’s a little bit expensive compared to the rest of the aero bars on our list. Then again, it’s made of high-quality carbon material.

Manufacturer Specs

  • Type: Clip-on aero bars
  • Handlebar material: Carbon
  • Clamp diameter:  31.8 mm
  • Weight: 526 grams

What We Like

  • Very durable and lightweight
  • Built for speed
  • Comfortable armrest
  • Easy to install
  • Full range adjustability

What We Don’t Like

  • It’s expensive

Summary

A lightweight and aerodynamic aero bar with a carbon extension.

What Are Bike Aero Bars And Why Would You Use Them?

Aero bars, as the name suggests, are handlebar extensions that are usually mounted on road bikes and triathlon bikes to improve the aerodynamic position. Unlike the bar handlebars on your bike that give you a wide berth, aero bars will put your hands in a narrow position; your forearms are closer on a straight position and your elbows rest on the cushion pads.

Since aero bars are not what we would call ‘typical bike handlebars’, why in the world would you want to use them besides looking cool? Here are a few reasons:

Increased Speed

Aero bars make it possible to lower your upper body and align your arms with your torso for a better aerodynamic position. In turn, that reduces the wind drag when you’re riding and increases your speed significantly.

In fact, it’s not usual for an aero bar fitted on a bicycle with less power to go faster than a drop bar fitted on a bike with more power. However, aero bars are better suited for time-trials especially when you’re riding on flats or downhill.

Increased Grip

Don’t get it twisted, aero bars on road and triathlon bikes are usually not very comfortable when you’re going uphill or riding on roads with sharp turns and rough pavement. Nevertheless, if you’re riding on long flat roads and you want to maintain a high speed, aero bars will increase the grip and you will feel more comfortable.

Just remember, you will probably need a lot of practice while riding using clip-on aero bars before you’re comfortable and confident on a road or triathlon bike. But once you learn how to do it, you will soar high like an eagle.

Reduction of Injuries

Most people with arthritis or wrist joint injuries prefer to use clip-on aero bars. This is because once you put your forearms closer and rest your elbows on aero bars, you will use fewer muscles in your back, shoulder, and arms to ride a bike. In other words, you won’t strain your upper body muscles too much which could be an advantage if you have an injury.

Not to mention, aero bars allow you to save more energy for your legs so you can push the pedals harder.

The bottom line: Sure, we’ve heard it all; aero bars make it harder for you to quickly press on the brakes, and when you’re riding as a group, most people will probably keep off. However, if you simply want to increase your speed with less power and you can’t afford to buy triathlon bikes since they’re expensive, an aero bar on a road bike would be a good option.

Even if you have a triathlon bike, an aero bar will have more impact on speed than any other upgrade. It doesn’t matter whether you’re riding a $7000 or a $200 bike; if the aerodynamic position is poor, you won’t go as fast as possible.

7 Things To Consider When Buying Road Or Triathlon Bike Aero Bars

Carbon, Steel, or Aluminum?

The extension rods on aero bars are usually made out of carbon, steel, or aluminum. So which is better? For starters, steel is almost indestructible and you can be assured it will last a very long time. However, steel is heavy, and the extra weight will slow you down. Because of that, we don’t recommend an aero bar with steel extension rods; unless, of course, you prioritize durability over everything else.

On the other hand, aluminum is lightweight but it’s not as durable as steel. Regardless, you will probably be faster while using aluminum aero bars (because of the less weight) compared to steel aero bars.

But what if you want something that is both lightweight and durable? Carbon material is the answer. As a matter of fact, carbon dampens vibrations better than aluminum and steel. The only snag with carbon aero bars is that they’re expensive when matched with steel or aluminum handlebars.

J Bend or S Bend?

When it comes to the extension bars fitted on aero bars, there are usually two common designs you will get; J bend or S bend. The J or ski bend extension looks like the letter ‘J’ with a bent forward end. However, the S bend extension looks like an ‘S’ from the side but the shifters are straightforward.

So which one is better; J bend or S bend?  It depends! A J bend extension rod allows you to put your wrist in a neutral position. That means J bend aero bars are designed to prioritize comfort, especially on long distances.

The S bend is quite the opposite; it won’t be comfortable compared to the J bend but it will give you an advantage when it comes to leverage and reducing wind drag. For that reason, S bend extension bars are mostly preferred by professional riders competing in time trials.

If you’re the average cyclist on a road bike, we suggest you choose a J bend extension. But if you’re a professional on a triathlon bike, S bend extension would be better suited. Then again, it all comes down to your preference.

Ergonomic Armrests and Elbow Pads

There are many different aero bars to choose from. We review the best 5

Of course, you want an armrest that is cushion padded to make your elbows comfortable. The last thing that you want is to get your hands numb because of the road vibrations, especially on a long-distance time trial.

To optimize your comfort, you can consider extra-thick arm pads; anything between 16mm to 20mm thick is good. Other than that, the armrest pads should be wide enough to accommodate your elbows.

Are They Easily Adjustable?

Here is the thing; the best clip-on aero bars should come with armrests and extension rods that can be easily adjusted. How else are you going to make sure it fits your arm’s length? Anyway, consider aero bars that allow you to move the elbow pads back and forth or in and out.

Also, you should be able to adjust the length of the aero bar extension or even raise it when necessary. A good rule of thumb is to pick an aero bar that allows you to position your arm to the end of the extension and switch the gears without moving your elbows. 

Type of Aero Bars

Usually, there are two common types of aero bars; clip-on aero bars and full-on aero bars. If you have a road bike, clip-on aero bars are versatile, economical, and easy to install. A typical clip-on aero bar can cost as little as $40 and the premium models will cost you about $300.

However, if you ride a triathlon bike, full-on aero bars are better suited; although they’re expensive and complicated to install since you will probably need to adjust the brake and cable system. The good thing about full-on aero bars is that they include base bars and they’re more aerodynamic compared to clip-on aero bars.

Are They Easy to Clip on and off?

Talking of clip-on aero bars, you ought to consider an option that is easy to install and remove. For instance, some models come with a quick-release feature so you can install and remove the aero bars in a few seconds.

However, to be honest, most clip-on aero bars need to be bolted on the handlebar using special tools. Even though it won’t be super-fast to clip on and off, the aero bar will be firmly attached and unlikely to loosen up due to road vibrations.

aero bars can aid your performance on your road bike

Base Bars

If you prefer aero bars, you should pay closer attention to the base bars. Usually, you will come across two distinct designs of base bars: the standard design with a grip handle facing the extension bar and a reverse base bar that lets you grip it behind the wing.

In our experience, front base bars are more aerodynamic and easy to switch arm position when riding. On the other hand, reverse base bars will give you a stronger and comfortable grip. Ultimately, it all depends on your preference; do you want to prioritize speed or comfort? 

Otherwise, you should choose base bars with a clamping system so you can adjust the distance of the bar extensions.

Aero Bars FAQs

Q. Do aero bars make a difference?

A. Yes. Aero bars make a big difference. An aero bar can give you a speed gain of at least 10 to 20 percent.

Q. Do aero bars come fully assembled?

A. Yes, most aero bars come fully assembled. However, you will probably need to bolt the aero bar on the handlebar; or just clip it.

Q. Can the elbow pads be rotated or adjusted?

A. It depends on the type of aero bar, but most models feature elbow pads that can be rotated or adjusted.

Q. Are aero bars worth it?

A. Instead of buying a super expensive triathlon bike to compete in time trials, an aero bar on your road bike won’t cost that much money and it will improve your speed significantly.

In fact, an aero bar is the most important upgrade you can do on your bike if you want to go faster.

Q. Are aero bars dangerous?

A. Aero bars are not dangerous if you know how to use them. Also, aero bars should be used on flat and smooth roads where you’re unlikely to meet obstacles, junctions, or traffic.

Q. Why are aero bars not allowed?

A. Aero bars are usually not allowed in group rides or specific roads with traffic or obstacles because it can be difficult to brake while using aero bars. Not to mention, if you’re not a skilled or experienced rider, it’s easy to lose control over the bike, especially at lower speeds.

Q. Are aero bars more comfortable?

A. Not really. Aero bars are not made with comfort in mind but to improve speed. However, aero bars can be comfortable over a long-distance trip at a high speed.

Q. How much time do aero bars save?

A. If you’re riding at 40 km/hr, aero bars can save you as much as 2 minutes. That is a lot of time in cycling minutes.

Q. Do you need aero bars for Ironman?

A. Yes, a lot of professional cyclists use aero bars on their bicycles during Ironman endurance races. It’s actually an advantage since you can switch between an aero bar and drop-down handlebars depending on the road.

Also, if you switch to an aero bar on a flat road with no obstacles, you will be conserving a lot of energy since you won’t be using most of your back, arm, and shoulder muscles; a technique that is very crucial in the Ironman Triathlon race.

Q. Can you put aero bars on a mountain bike?

A. Yes, you can put aero bars on a mountain bike. However, we strongly advise against it since mountain bikes are designed for longer arm reach which doesn’t work well with not just aero bars but also drop bars.

It would be a different thing if you put aero bars on a road bike though.

Q. How do you install aero bars on a road bike?

A. Each aero bar comes with a different set of instructions on how to install it. For some aero bars, it’s simple and it can be done in just a few seconds.

However, some aero bars need to be fixed with screws and it could take a few minutes. Just make sure the aero bar doesn’t interfere with the brake and cable system on your bike. But whatever you do, make sure you follow the instructions on the manual.

Q. How do you position while riding Aerobars?

A. After you’ve installed the aero bar, there are a few things you should know if you want to ride in a more aerodynamic position.

First, the saddle needs to be raised and moved forward to improve your hip angle. Second, you should lower the handlebar on the stem a little bit for a better aerodynamic position; don’t go too extreme.

To achieve a good aerodynamic position, your ears should be on a straight line over your elbows and your knees should come very close to your elbows when your legs move upwards during a cycling motion.

Conclusion

If we had to choose the best overall aero bar, we would go with Profile Designs Sonic Aero Bar. This is because of its unique ergonomic and aerodynamic design, plus it can be clipped on almost any road bike.

Even so, all the aero bars we’ve reviewed on this guide are the best you could get your hands on.

Ultimately, it all comes down to what you want. So what do you say?

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