Clip-on triathlon aero bars cut more drag than any other bike upgrade. We’ve tested, rated and reviewed 15 of the best

Best Tri-Bars Review

For something as seemingly simple as attaching two pipes and a pair of pads to your handlebars in a secure but not overly heavy way, we’re astonished every year by how many companies make a complete pig’s ear of their clip-on tri-bars. So it’s a good thing we’re here to let you know which ones raise the bar, and which ones fall below it.

We’ve rounded up 15 of the latest sets, tested them thoroughly on the road, and rated them for performance and value. In terms of fit, shape, pad material and how much adjustment you need, clip-ons are a very personal choice, so our riding feedback is deliberately more descriptive than prescriptive so you can work out what’s going to suit you.


BEST ON TEST

Syntace C3

Syntace C3 – Gold Award
£160
358g
syntace.com / o-w-d.nl 

Syntace has been refining its clip-on design for 15 years so it’s no surprise this unique set-up is pretty much perfect. The C3’s Double Helix Bend extensions give several natural-feeling hand positions. They also curve round to carry the sideways-sliding arm rests. There’s no fore/aft adjustment – instead you choose a size based on forearm length. Deep but firm Lycra-covered pads sit on carefully shaped, drooped-lip ‘Bio Wing’ cups, which are superbly comfortable and secure without being restrictive. Premium detailing includes anti-crush O-rings on the welded clamps, threaded computer mounts, cable routing protection and optional high-rise spacers. Weight is low, and the price more than fair too.

Verdict: Innovative, evolved design delivers rock-solid, ultra-comfy yet lightweight performance

Performance 5/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5


USE Tula Boost Bar and carbon extensions

USE Tula Boost Bar and carbon extensions – Runner-up
£150
338g
use1.com 

Use has displayed some typically outside-the-box thinking with its ultra-light Tula Boost Bar menu. As well as the usual straight, ski and S-bend extensions in alloy or carbon you get the option of ‘mini’ 245mm draft-legal options to plug into the £75 Boost Bar clamp set. Inset O-rings and a tight-tolerance fit make them super-secure in terms of twist, and unique rose-joint arm rest spars give 3D adjustment at a super-low weight. The small Fizik gel pads are comfy and secure despite their size, too. Tightness of the single clamp bolt is crucial to stop the whole set-up coming loose though, so they’re not ideal for heavy riders or rough roads.

Verdict: Potentially excellent ultralight performance if you’re fanatical about the set-up

Performance 4/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5


Zipp Vuka Alumina Clip

Zipp Vuka Alumina Clip – Peak Performer Award
£190
456g
zipp.com / fisheroutdoor.co.uk

Zipp’s Vuka clip-on buffet is loaded with excellent detailing, but that’s reflected in the price. The straight carbon extensions we tested have rough textured grips and inset gear cable ports. Ski and hockey-bend versions are also available, in carbon or alloy, along with VukaShift options with a neat direct mount for SRAM’s TT shifters. There’s a choice of under- and over-bar clamps, arm rise is adjustable and you can buy riser shims for the big, low-pressure, width-adjustable arm rests (10, 25 or 50mm, £20). The spare clamp bolt Zipp includes is a nice touch for those who aren’t as careful in the workshop as they should be. Premium features are reflected in the cost though, and weight is middling rather than light.

Verdict: Outstanding fit-fettling options with quality finishing details but that doesn’t come cheap

Performance 5/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5


Token Alloy Aero Extensions

Token Alloy Aero Extensions – Top Value Award
£40
410g
tokenproducts.comi-ride.co.uk

Clip-ons don’t get much more basic than these ones from Token, but then the price is pretty stripped down too. While really cheap bars tend to use a one-piece U-bend extension, the Tokens get separate shallow S-bend extensions with laser-etched length markers to allow synced set-up. They’re not slotted for gear cable routing but the chunky two-piece, front-bolted clamps keep them secure on rough roads. The extensions sit above the bars, which adds some height, but there are no height spacers. Relatively small curved oval arm rests with removable EVA pads offer four possible settings for slight adjustability. They’re sweaty though, and the tight curve may feel restrictive to some riders. The simplicity of these clip-ons means weight is impressively low, and the price is equally friendly.

Verdict: Basic and sweaty, but all the tri-bar you really need at a bargain price

Performance 3/5
Value 5/5
Overall 4/5

 

ALSO CONSIDER

Deda Parabolica Due

Deda Parabolica Due
£75
394g
dedaelementi.com / chickencycles.co.uk

Italian frame manufacturer Dedacciai is into all things tubing related and the Parabolica comes with a choice of extensions: straight (Zero), single-bend (Uno) or the tall S-bend of our test model (Due). There are no end plugs or gear slots but the extensions are marked for symmetrical set-up. The over-bar mounts are nicely shaped forged clamps, and while there’s no height or angle adjustment on the pads, the honeycomb pad plates mean loads of potential mounting options. The Velcro pad sheets cover half the holes though, which is a pain if you want to use one of the outer ones. Although pad angle is fixed, the triangular shape is forgiving of different arm angles and perpetual position shufflers, and the grooved pads are comfy. Weight is low, and pricing is more than fair for the quality too.

Verdict: Light, secure, adjustable enough and well priced, with various extension options

Performance 4/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5


3T Team Clip On Kit

3T Team Clip On Kit
£205
354g
3tcycling.com / i-ride.co.uk

3T’s team clip-ons are a neat looking, lightweight design but they’re not the easiest to adjust or install. The £110 clamps and arm rests are sold separately to the ski, straight or S-bend extensions, which cost £95 in carbon (tested here) or £35 in alloy. Sharp edges on the socket-style clamps scarred the extensions as we fitted them. Extension chop is limited without cutting into the logo too, and there’s no way of re-extending them if you trim them too short. The broad bar clamps are carbon-friendly though, and the bullet-shaped bolt receivers look smoothly aero. Flip-up arm rests allow full use of the handlebar tops on climbs and the curved pads are particularly comfy despite limited adjustment. Low weight is matched by high cost, though.

Verdict: Expensive but slick-looking, super-light and comfy clip-ons, if you’re careful installing

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5


RSP Adjustable Tri-Bars

RSP Adjustable Tri-Bars

£45
568g
raleigh.co.uk / cyclelife.com

RSP (that’s Raleigh Special Products, folks) can always be relied on for good-value kit, but these clip-ons are probably overkill for all but the most finicky fit-fettlers. With no fewer than five different pieces held together by eight different bolts, each combined bar and arm rest clamp section is hefty and hardly aerodynamic. The multi-part design also places a big emphasis on keeping all those bolts tight, as it only takes one loose bolt for the whole set-up to rattle apart. The underslung extensions sit a long way inboard of the arm rests, even at the closest setting. There’s loads of tweaking potential though, and the Lycra-covered textured arm rest pads are comfortable enough to settle into for long stretches. The price is good, too.

Verdict: Heavy and bulky, but masses of extension adjustment at an economical price

Performance 3/5
Value 4/5
Overall 3/5


Ritchey Pro Wedge ClipOns and Pro L Bend extensions

Ritchey Pro Wedge ClipOns and Pro L Bend extensions
£108
386g
ritcheylogic.com / paligap.cc 

Ritchey’s clip-ons are properly minimalist pieces with a weight to match. The clamp/pad sections (£82) are sold separately to the ski-bend, S-curve or straight extensions (£26), with carbon versions available too. There’s a gear cable slot but no length ruler or torque guide markings. Forged under-bar clamps with a single bolt and interlocking clamp keep things light but secure. The simple rectangular gull-wing plates are really wide for plenty of arm movement, although they can feel a bit ‘open’ and insecure unless you’re up against the corners. Springboard flex and simple ‘ingot’ pads mean lots of vibration-reducing long-haul comfort, though.

Verdict: Straightforward, lightweight, smooth-riding design with lots of options at a decent price

Performance 4/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5


Giant Connect SL U-Bend

Giant Connect SL U-Bend
£170
448g
giant-bicycles.com 

Giant’s Connect SL clip-ons come in a conventional ‘two halves’ S-bend design as well as the U-bend version seen here. The carbon extensions get a smoothly flared shape for extra comfort and thumb-looped security, and are joined with a twin-bolt alloy centre clamp. This makes them draft-legal if you pull them back far enough but it’s an awkward shape for computer mounting. Hinged clamps tighten the extensions and the tilt-adjustable arm rest spars with a single bolt. This sounds clever but makes for an awkward juggling act. Sideways pad adjustment is reasonable though, and while the chevron pads leave your arms grooved after a long tuck, they stop you slipping about too much.

Verdict: Comfortable closed-end carbon bars, but a real fight to set up

Performance 3/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5


Profile Design T4 Plus

Profile Design T4 Plus
£100
502g
profile-design.com / madison.co.uk

The latest model in the highly popular and long-running T+ series has a unique design that adds extra adjustability but extra mass too. Separate arm rest and over-bar clamps are able to slide forwards and backwards independently along the ski-bend extensions, which have gear entry and exit slots. Deep, Lycra-wrapped pads are removable via two wrapover straps, which means none of the inevitable peeling off of stuck-on Velcro. The pressed alloy plate F-19 arm rests are angle-adjustable but there are no height gain shims. The arm rest clamp bolts are hidden by the plates too; make sure they’re properly tight as they’re a right pain to secure if they start to droop, which has happened to us several times on test bikes.

Verdict: Unique amount of adjustment for extreme positions but heavy and droop-prone

Performance 3/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5


Ambrosio Atritium 1 Aero Bars

Ambrosio Atritium 1 Aero Bars
£60
542g
ambrosio.co.uk

Ambrosio’s clip-ons offer loads of hand positions and fractionally more adjustment than the most basic sets, but they’re high on weight and perspiration. The boomerang-shaped extensions have a massive 170mm rise so even though they clamp under the bar, they suit an arms-down or arms-up tuck angle. The slight shimmy in the bend gives them a subtle but comfortable inward angle. The forged under-bar clamps use a single bolt and hinge for quick fitting, and the simple extension clamps allow plenty of fore and aft movement. The twin-bolt arm rest sections can be swung between three different bolt holes, which adds a fraction more adjustment to the simple oval arm rests with their sweaty EVA pads.

Verdict: Loads of positions but extra  adjustment adds cost and weight for little practical gain

Performance 3/5
Value 2/5
Overall 3/5

ALSO ON TEST

One23 Tri Bar

One23 Tri Bar
£56
568g
todayscyclist.co.uk

Having two almost identical products at different prices is the group test equivalent of wearing the same dress as somebody else to a party and looking fatter than they do. This time it’s the One23 bars that are running home in tears. There’s no discernible difference between these bars and the RSP clip-ons, apart from the fact that these ones cost £11 more. They have the same heavy, bulky, bolt-tightness-reliant clamping arrangement that leaves the front end of your bike looking like a forklift truck, and the same waffle-style, Lycra-covered pads providing reasonably comfortable long-haul leaning. It’s just that if you buy these ones, you know anyone riding past on the Raleighs will have saved a tenner and change.

Verdict: Multiple adjustments but heavy, complicated and more expensive than very similar sets

Performance 3/5
Value 2/5
Overall 2/5


Vision Trimax Carbon CSI

Vision Trimax Carbon CSI
£230
694g
visiontechusa.com / windwave.co.uk

The Trimax Carbons are gorgeous looking, high-comfort bars but their overcomplicated design means they cost a fortune and weigh a ton. They’re the only set on test to come with riser spacers and the adjustable, drooped pads on tapering composite cups are both comfy and secure. The neat flip-out-arm socket tool for the drag-reducing internal clamps that secure the extensions also seems cool at first. Then you realise you’d be screwed if the bars came loose on a ride. The CSI extensions use a veneer of carbon over an alloy inner tube and, combined with the hidden mechanism and metal end caps, mean these ‘carbon’ clip-ons weigh twice as much as the lightest bars on test. All the complexity makes them very expensive too.

Verdict: Sophisticated internal-clamp aero design but at a massive weight and wallet cost

Performance 3/5
Value 2/5
Overall 2/5


ControlTech Aero Cockpit Carbon

ControlTech Aero Cockpit Carbon
£180
314g
controltechbikes.com / hotlines-uk.com 

ControlTech’s fancy looking ultralight clip-ons are designed for occasional short-course/draft-legal use but they’re not comfy even in that context and adjustment is minimal. The one-piece H-shape body puts the short Lycra-wrapped pads under your wrists, not your arms, so they’re not a place to spend prolonged tuck time. The ‘trombone’ slider section is good to hold though, with the added thumb-hook security and draft legality of a thin joining bridge at the front. The extra weight and complexity of four bolts and a sliding section only gives you 15mm of extension movement though. While the carbon Aero Cockpit is light, the alloy version costs £60 less and is only 25g heavier, making that the smarter buy.

Verdict: Compact and lightweight but rather uncomfortable draft-legal bars

Performance 2/5
Value 2/5
Overall 2/5


Pro Synop AL Clip-On

Pro Synop AL Clip-On
£110
564g
pro-bikegear.com / madison.co.uk

Pro is the component arm of Shimano and its kit is always extremely well made. The alloy Synop bars are no exception, but their solid construction counts against them in terms of weight and rough-road comfort. The tightly curved S-bend extensions are solidly attached to the over-bar clamp mounts and there are slots for internal gear cabling. The thick arm rests are extremely rigid and the ribbed leatherette pads grip without being too sweaty, so they suit powerful riders. They’re far from forgiving over rough surfaces or if you knee them when climbing, though. There’s no fore/aft or vertical pad adjustment and only 10mm of sideways movement. Heavy-duty construction makes these clip-ons look (and weigh) more like parts for a multi-fuel stove than something you’d want to stick on a lightweight bike.

Verdict: Rock-solid power bars, but unforgiving on rough roads and the scales

Performance 2/5
Value 2/5
Overall 2/5

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING TRI-BARS 

Extensions

The forward-projecting pipes that you hold onto in an aero tuck. Come in straight, single-bend ‘ski’ and double-bend ‘S’ versions, and varying lengths. Carbon extensions look bling but are much more expensive and often not that much lighter than alloy.

Extension clamps

The clamps used to attach the extensions to the handlebars may hold them under, over or level with the bars. Some are simple side clamps while others use internal chuck-style fixings.

Arm pads

The pads your forearms rest on can be simple sweaty EVA discs, Lycra-covered foam or gel, or even naked gel. The smaller the contact area, the higher the pressure on your arms, so choose a pad that suits your arm shape and your race distance.

Arm rests

The plates that hold the pads come in all shapes and sizes, in alloy or carbon. Look for adjustability (via multiple mount holes or riser spacers) and a shape and feel that suits you (curved/flat, firm/springy).

Arm rest clamps

The clamps that attach the arm rests to the extensions can be separate or combined with the extension clamps.

Torque values

Loose tri-bars aren’t just irritating but potentially dangerous too. Fastening to the right torque (tightness rating) is vital, especially where carbon is concerned. Always use a torque wrench or get a shop mechanic to fit them.