Triathletes, duathletes, and cross-trainers know the importance of spending time in the saddle. I look forward to my weekly rides along the New Hampshire seacoast now that winter has finally let up and spring is in the air. The strength benefits of riding help boost my running speed, and the low-impact exercise protects my legs from overuse injuries.
The one thing I struggle with on my long rides is discomfort in my shoulders, neck, and back. After 45 minutes I start to feel an ache develop that ruins an otherwise stellar experience. This can make a thirty or forty mile ride miserable. A friend of mine suggested aerobars.
Aerobars extend the rider’s forward reach by allowing the rider to rest their forearms on the pads while positioning their bodies in a more tucked and extended position. When fitted properly, this results in less wind resistance, a more efficient riding form, and higher speeds. With the addition of aerobars, road bikes can be refitted to perform like more expensive triathlon bikes.
Always looking to save a buck where I can, I decided to test out a DIY solution. I researched clip-on aerobars and reached out to Profile Design to see if I could test their new T3+ Aerobars. It took me about 30 minutes to attach the bars to my Felt Z100 bike. The clip-on setup was easy to adjust and all that was required was an allen wrench and a little patience testing the fit until it was just right.
After installing the T3+ Aerobars, inflating my tires, checking the brakes, and filling my water bottle, I took off for a 10 mile test ride. The first thing I found out was that riding with aerobars takes a little getting used to. The body weight of the rider shifts forward and the front wheel takes on more weight. This results in some “twitchy” steering. After five minutes I got used to this new setup, but I would highly recommend some practice time on a road with a smooth surface, little traffic, and excellent weather.
In addition to the adjustment of the aerobars, the rider should also consider the height and positioning of the saddle. It may be beneficial to move the seat up and forward to better fit the posture of the rider. You want your ears over your elbows and your elbows in line with your shoulders. Any decent bike shop can help with bike fit and adjustment if necessary.
I definitely noticed an increase in speed and efficiency when I used the aerobars. I felt sleek and I was in a nice comfortable position to roll for miles. The neck pain is still there, but the shoulders and back felt better than ever. I plan to enter my first duathlon this summer. If you want to upgrade your road bike this is the way to do it without a second mortgage.
You cannot shift gears or brake when grabbing on to the T3+ Aerobars. Therefore, you do NOT want to use these in heavy traffic, unstable terrain, or in a crowd. These are meant for the long haul on open roads. Also, it is very important that your setup fit your body. Riding with poor posture can cause injury and discomfort.
The T3+ Aerobars by Profile Design performed as promised. They are lightweight, easy to install, and the drop-bend extensions provide many options for you to customize fit and feel. If you want an inexpensive and effective way to upgrade your road bike, this may be what you’re looking for.