Author Topic: Aerobars and bikepacking  (Read 24102 times)

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Offline pgadola

Aerobars and bikepacking
« on: December 04, 2010, 10:12:11 pm »
I'm new to the idea of bikepacking and I've seen some people use Aerobars.  Just wondering about specific suggestions for which aerobars and why?  I'm thinking (dreaming) of doing the Great Divide this summer.  Thanks.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2010, 12:35:35 am »
Make sure to try them out a lot before you go on a tour with them.  They must be adjusted just right to avoid aches and pains.  I tried them out and got bad lower back pain and some neck crimp pain. It is a different position.  I did like the streamlining they provide, and my speed went up 1-2 mph. 
May the wind be at your back!

Offline whittierider

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2010, 01:09:17 am »
I ride on my aerobars all the time, and have somewhere near 40,000 miles on them, not just with them.  Half their value is comfort-- if they're set up correctly.  Often they are not.  One common error is to have them too far out in front, which isn't even good for aerodynamics because you can't get your elbows together if they're not bent much. See how the Syntace C2 (and other Syntace ones) have the pads behind the base bar instead of directly over it.  Another error is having the aerobars that are relatively straight instead of curved up at the ends.  The straight ones require an unnatural bend in the wrists which cannot be maintained for long, and also robs you of a little power.  Another error is not putting the saddle farther forward.  Counterintuitively, you can keep a straighter back with the seat farther forward and the bars (at least the arm pads) farther back.  I wish I could put a diagram here to illustrate why.

Please note that aerobars are definitely not an instant-gratification kind of thing.  It takes thousands of miles to gain good stability and control in a wide range of situations.  It can be done though.  I can stay on them in a curvy mountain descent, or even weave in and out of these lines

      

left of one stripe, right of the next, left of the one after that, etc., at over 20mph, which is about three per second on this bike trail.  And I have always been able to get to the brakes plenty fast.  You will probably hear plenty of myths about aerobars, all from people who have little or no experience on them, and ones who didn't have them set up correctly.  Don't believe them.

Offline pgadola

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2010, 05:42:03 am »
Thank you so much for the lesson on aerobars.  That is very helpful. 

Offline ducnut

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2010, 10:27:43 am »
I'm with "whittierider", as I always ride on aerobars. His tips are accurate.

I'd been riding a TT bike, as my everyday ride. I wanted something that could traverse crappy roads, so I started looking at cyclocross and touring bikes. I knew the layout dimensions of the TT bike and took those with me, when I went looking. I ended up choosing a frame one size smaller than normal for a road bike, for my height. This allowed me to maintain the horizontal dimension that I knew worked. The great thing about the 'cross bikes is that their headtubes are taller and that allows the bar height to be higher, relative to the saddle. In a addition to the extra headtube length, I added a 125 degree stem, to the mix. I've ridden with a rear rack and overnight pack and didn't notice any difference in the aero position. So, now I have a comfortable, mileage bike that can ride anywhere I want. Oh yeah, I have fenders to keep the crap off me, too.

As for what brand/model of aerobar to go with, I like Profile Design T1+. Every single aspect of them is adjustable fore/aft, up/down, and rotationally. Plus, they mount the extensions above the base bar and the elbow pads mount above the extensions, which allows a higher stack height than one can with some of the other offerings. Profile offers replacement parts, too. You want the most adjustable, highest stack height aerobar you can find for comfort potential. It'll probably take a few miles of fiddling with them to get them where they're perfect.

Many of the Great Divide mountain bike racers use aerobars. The movie, Ride the Divide, shows several people utilizing them, but, doesn't mention anything about setups to allow that on a MTB. The toptube dimension is roomier on them and makes setup a little more difficult. For sure, I can't use them on my current MTB.

This is my setup, still utilizing the stock stem.


That's an Aerodrink bottle holder bracket in the middle.






Hope that helps.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2010, 03:53:44 pm »
After the great responses above, I think I'll try mine again.  It's been 2 years.  I'll work on the adjustments and see if I can get it right.  I like the idea of having one more position to use. Thanks for the good pics and descriptions. 
May the wind be at your back!

Offline bikermike

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2011, 04:37:14 pm »
i switched to aerobars midway through the northern tier route. saved my hands quite a bit and took a little weight off an already sore and beaten backside.

one thing i had to adjust was my handlebar bag. admittedly, i had too much gear for my very first tour, but i do know that the handlebar bag was my favorite storage spot. so, i bought an elongated handlebar bag, cut it, and then somehow rigged it to my aerobars. not perfect, but it worked.

for those of you more experienced with aerobars, have you found a good bag to attach? i'm thinking about another tour soon and never seem to come across a bag designed for aerobars.

Offline DaveB

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2011, 09:57:25 am »
And I have always been able to get to the brakes plenty fast.  You will probably hear plenty of myths about aerobars, all from people who have little or no experience on them, and ones who didn't have them set up correctly.  Don't believe them.
The only time using aerobars is strictly a no-no is when you are riding in a pace line.  Tourists don't often find themselves doing that but if you are riding with a group it can happen.  Yes, you can get to the brakes relatively fast under solo conditions but not when you are 6" off the wheel of the rider in front of you.   


indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2011, 10:24:25 am »
You will probably hear plenty of myths about aerobars, all from people who have little or no experience on them, and ones who didn't have them set up correctly.  Don't believe them.

Would they be of much value on the GDMBR?

Offline spudslug

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2011, 12:23:25 pm »
I road tour with aerobars and use front and rear panniers. I find that the bike is stable enough unless there are strong crosswinds. I use the style that has flip-up armrests so I can still place my hands on the top of the bars. The fixed-position style aerobars, like shown in the photo provided by ducnut, block the top of the bars so you lose that riding position.

Your speed on gravel roads will be slower so you won't gain much aero advantage, except in a headwind. I think the main advantage would just be an alternate body/hand position. Metal aerobars are heavy. Carbon fiber ones are expensive. Unless you have a full suspension bike, aerobars might be uncomfortable on rough roads. You'll have to decide if it is worth it.

Before I got front panniers, I modified a Trek brand handlebar bag by first adding more velcro strap length. The straps fit around the handlebars and aerobars (slightly twisted) and the bag hung below the aerobars (watch for cable interference). This bag has elastic cords with metal rings on the ends that attach to hooks you install on the forks. The cords keep the bag stable by preventing it from swinging. It fit fine but was difficult to access the top zipper between the narrow aerobars. So, I could only use it to hold things that I didn't need frequently, which is contrary to the purpose of a handlebar bag (but might be useful on the Divide if your carrying capacity is limited). I eventually quit using it, when I got front panniers  because it was heavy because it had plastic stiffeners inside to hold it's shape. I had to cut the top of the stiffener about an inch to compensate for the space that the aerobars took up under the bars. I covered the cut plastic with duct tape to prevent the sharp edges from cutting the bag fabric.

For one tour I tied a fanny pack to the top, lengthwise along the aerobars. But it was difficult to tighten or loosen the straps as needed. I gave up on that too. What works well and that I use regularly is a clear map case with velcro straps that I strap to the top of the aerobars where it is always handy. It fits between the handlebars and where I place my hands on the aerobars and I can glance down and read it between my arms.

Good luck!

Offline whittierider

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2011, 03:02:22 pm »

Quote
Would they be of much value on the GDMBR?

I'll guess-- is that "Great Divide Mountain Bike Ride"?  I don't ride off-road, so I don't know.

Quote
I use the style that has flip-up armrests so I can still place my hands on the top of the bars.  The fixed-position style aerobars, like shown in the photo provided by ducnut, block the top of the bars so you lose that riding position.

He has his really far apart, losing much of the aero advantage, although the comfort value would still be there.  I have my Syntace C2 pads close enough together that I can still put my hands on the tops of the bars near the turn (as in climbing), or, if I want my hands near the stem, I put them on the aerobar pads.

Quote
Metal aerobars are heavy.

My Syntace C2 aluminum aerobars weigh 450 grams, or one pound.

Quote
Unless you have a full suspension bike, aerobars might be uncomfortable on rough roads. You'll have to decide if it is worth it.

Before I had aerobars, the pounding from rough roads made my wrists and elbows ache; but the aerobars put an end to that, as they take the strain off of them and leave other parts of the body more relaxed too. 

Offline ducnut

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2011, 04:40:15 pm »
Would they be of much value on the GDMBR?

Many of the Great Divide racers use aerobars on their MTBs. If you watch the movie Ride the Divide, you'll see them. However, I haven't researched how the racers achieved their setups, as I know I can't get aerobars to comfortably work on my MTB.

Quote from: spudslug
I use the style that has flip-up armrests so I can still place my hands on the top of the bars. The fixed-position style aerobars, like shown in the photo provided by ducnut, block the top of the bars so you lose that riding position.

I put my hands on the tops of the arm pads for another position. But, I've been eyeing the flip-up style, too. I may get a set to try, this summer. Also, I can still use the curved part of the tops of my handlebars. Not ideal, but, it works.

Quote from: whittierider
He has his really far apart, losing much of the aero advantage, although the comfort value would still be there.

I have them far apart for stability and comfort. There's still aero advantage to using them the way they are. I've experimented, on my TT bike, and found that placing the pads close together cost me time. That pinches ones chest together and inhibits the lungs from fully filling with air. And, the instability on crappy roads and in crosswinds wasn't worth it, either. Some can do it, but, I'm not that person.


Offline whittierider

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2011, 04:47:03 pm »
If you look at a side view, you'll see the lungs are behind the arms, not between them, and I find I can inhale every bit as deeply with my elbows together for a narrow frofile as I can with my arms way out.

You can try this experiment at your desk: Put your elbows close together in front of you, bent at 90 degrees, then inhale absolutely as much as you can.  Then separate your elbows and see if you can inhale any more.  I can't.  Not one bit.  The upper ribs anchor into the sternum, so top of your rib cage is not compressible like the bottom is, and it will keep the same volume available for your lungs regardless of your arms' position.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2011, 04:54:53 pm by whittierider »

Offline ducnut

Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2011, 05:32:09 pm »
If you look at a side view, you'll see the lungs are behind the arms, not between them, and I find I can inhale every bit as deeply with my elbows together for a narrow frofile as I can with my arms way out.

You can try this experiment at your desk: Put your elbows close together in front of you, bent at 90 degrees, then inhale absolutely as much as you can.  Then separate your elbows and see if you can inhale any more.  I can't.  Not one bit.  The upper ribs anchor into the sternum, so top of your rib cage is not compressible like the bottom is, and it will keep the same volume available for your lungs regardless of your arms' position.

I'll agree to disagree.

Riding at speed, in exertion, your lungs are compressed by narrow arm pad placement. That's a fact that is proven in labratory testing. The key is balancing aero with performance.

There's, also, a difference in where one is setting up their arm pads fore and aft. The pros seem to run them way forward from where I do. I'm using them for support of weight, more than just a bicycle guide, as the pros do. Likewise, they use the nose of the saddle as a guide. They put so much power into the crank that there's not much weight on the saddle. I use the saddle to support my weight. Different setups for different folks for different reasons.

Furthermore, MTB riders use bar-ends to open up the chest cavity on climbs. Again, they've proven that it works.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Aerobars and bikepacking
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2011, 10:23:31 am »
The reason I asked about their usefullness on the GDMBR is because the OP said that is what he is planning/dreaming of doing.