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Benefits of cycling

Clip On Aero Bars Vs Drops | Which Is Faster For Your Next Triathlon?

With the introduction of
draft legal triathlon to ITU age group races, you
may be starting to consider your bike set-up options. And that might include these
short, clip-on aero bars. Now we see the elites using them, but why? Especially as it’s draft legal racing? (pulsating electronic music) Well, before you go racing
ahead and copy the elites, it’s worth noting that
the short clip-on bars aren’t currently allowed for all draft legal age group races. That said, it has only
just been introduced to the ITU age group ranks, so it may well be introduced with time. That aside, it’s still a really interesting bike set-up option. So we thought we’d try them out today to see why they’re used, and you never know you may
actually like these shorter bars for your non-drafting races, too. So today, we are using the
Impel TT Bars from ControlTech. And as you can see you barely
notice them on the bike until you actually need them. And they’re really lightweight, weighing in at just 276 grams. Now, for draft legal racing, the bars can extend
beyond the brake levers, and that’s mostly for safety, so you can still grab the brakes quickly whilst you’re riding in a group. (pulsating electronic music) Well, we know that air resistance is the cause of most of the
drag we experience on the bike. In particular, it’s our body
that causes the biggest drag. So adjusting our body position
can improve our aerodynamics. And whilst it’s draft legal racing, there are still times when an athlete could find themselves
needing to use these bars. For instance, if you’re riding alone, and want to bridge a gap
to the group ahead of you. But the question is, are
they really that much faster than being on the drops? So how are we going to do this? Well, firstly, it’s worth noting that this isn’t going to
be perfectly scientific, but it will give us plenty
of food for thought, and a good idea of the differences. I have an undulating but straight, 3.5 kilometre section of road. I’m going to do two runs at 250 watts. One on the drops, and
then one on the aero bars. Then, to broaden the results, I’m going to do another
two runs at 350 watts, again, one on the drops, and
then one on the aero bars. And for all the runs, I’m going to record my time and my average speed
that the power gives me. And then we’ll compare the results. Run 1, 250 watts on the drops. Let’s go. (pulsating electronic music) Okay, next run at 250 watts, on the short, clip-on aero bars. Let’s go. (pulsating electronic music) Right, ramping this up a bit, now, 350 watts on the drops. Last run, 350 watts on the aero bars. Here we go. (pulsating electronic music) That’s all the runs complete, so it’s time to look at the results, and the first run, 250 watts
on the drops, was 5:34. And then 250 watts on
the aero bars was 5:24. At 350 watts, on the drops, was 4:58. And then 350 watts on
the aero bars was 4:41. It’s not a total surprise, because when I was on the aero bars I was able to reduce my frontal area, therefore making me more aerodynamic. That’s all very well, but
are they always suitable? And that is why they’re
not currently allowed for all the age group
draft legal events. You need to be able to react
quickly when you’re in a group, so having your fingers
resting over the brakes is much safer. But that said, when they’re
used at the right time, they can definitely be beneficial. And another thing to consider is comfort. Leaning forward onto the aero bars can feel a little unusual with
a standard road bike set-up, and it’s not really worth
changing your saddle position for the short stints that you’re
going to use the aero bars. So it really does just
come down to confidence and a bit of experience using them. Well that’s give us some food for thought, and shown the benefits of
using these clip-on aero bars. And even if you’re not
doing draft legal racing, maybe these short bars appeal to you for the non-drafting races too. You can see more videos from us by clicking on the globe
and subscribing to GTN. And to see our draft legal
triathlon explainer video, just click down here, and to see our TT versus
road bike on the climb video, just click down here.

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