We review 16 of the best triathlon aerobars and clip-on extensions for 2012

Find more group tests from Triathlon Plus in our other best triathlon gear reviews.

USE R1 Aerobar
£800-1,000 (TBC)
Weight 645g
www.use1.com

We tested a preproduction sample of USE’s R1 aerobar and were impressed – at 645g including base bar, extensions and brake levers it’s one of the lightest available. It performed well on the road and we were easily able to find a comfortable but fast position. The base bar looks slim but it’s very stiff, and the forward sweep of the pods offers a good cornering position. The elbow pads are comfortable and can be set at two different widths, and you also have two width options for the extensions. The in-line brakes take some getting used to though. The R1 includes a shim so it will fit a standard stem and will also fit some superbikes that have integrated bar set-ups. We had some issues with our sample that we’re assured will be fixed for the production bar, otherwise we’d have no hesitation in giving this full marks for performance.

Verdict
Has potential to be the perfect aerobar.

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

Triathlon Plus Peak Performer Award – Issue 42

Vision TriMax Carbon SI R-Bend CSI
£649.95
Weight 795g
www.wiggle.co.uk, www.visiontechusa.com

The fully integrated Vision TriMax Carbon Si R-Bend CSI aerobar is a slightly neater version of the base bar plus clip-ons that we also tested. It comes at a cost though: an extra £140 for a similar product that’s 25g heavier. The main aerodynamic advantage with these bars is less bulk around the base of the extensions, as they protrude directly from the base bar. That also means there’s no danger at all of the extensions slipping if you hit a hard bump. The extensions are fixed width but with R-Bends you can swivel them in or out. The pads have Vision’s standard three-width adjustment – again we’d like to be able to get them a little narrower – and we’ve found them very comfortable for long days in the saddle. Overall, it’s a very stiff bar and no surprise that it’s standard on many pro bikes.

Verdict
Sleek choice for the pro look and feel

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

Zipp Vukaaero Carbon Aerobar
£749.99 + £109.99 for extensions
Weight 865g including extensions and brakes
www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk

Zipps Vukaaero bar has been around for a few years, and it’s still one of the top aerobar set-ups out there. It packs in loads of adjustability, with elbow pad width and height all variable, a choice of three types of extension, fore-aft extension movement and numerous angling options, thanks to a clever spacer design at the base of the clip-ons. It also fits 31.8mm and 26.0mm diameter stems.
The VukaAero is comfortable and stiff to ride on, and the brake pods have plenty of grip. The position on the brakes feels a little upright but you get used to it quickly, and cornering isn’t overly hampered. The main downside to the VukaAero is that it costs £749.99 for the base bar set-up, plus another £109.99 for the extensions. At least you get the brake levers.

Verdict
Great adjustability, but at a high price

Performance 4/5
Value 2/5
Overall 3/5

Deda Bandito
£599.99
Weight 521g
www.chickencycles.co.uk

If you want an aerobar that looks like the ‘Flying Wing’ out of Raiders of the Lost Ark, then go for the Deda Bandito aero TT bar. If you want something more practical with more than a token nod to aerodynamics then choose a different bar. We liked the brake pods and the forward swept position, which is good for cornering. They are very light though at 520g (plus 60g for brake levers). You can’t move the extensions but there is a small amount of adjustment in the integrated stem and you can adjust the effective head tube angle from 73° to 76˚. The worst thing about the Bandito is that the pads stick straight onto the wings, which as they slope downwards is completely impractical and not very aero. We found ourselves holding our forearms on for dear life or they’d slip off. To make it worse, when we rode in the rain the pads became unglued.

Verdict
Completely impractical, a stylish looking bar but for show only

Performance 1/5
Value 1/5
Overall 1/5

Vision TriMax Carbon OS Bar plus R-Bend CSI clip-ons
£509.90 (£279.95 base bar, £229.95 extensions)
Weight 770g
www.wiggle.co.uk, www.visiontechusa.com

Vision are one of the biggest players in the aerobar market. The Trimax Carbon OS base bar fits 31.8mm stems and is compatible with clip-on extensions. It’s a flat, slightly forward swept wing with cow-horns for the brake levers that provide that little bit of extra confidence while cornering. There are several centimetres of width adjustment on the base bar, while the pads have three different settings. You won’t be able to get super narrow on them, however. The brake and gear cabling is all internal to reduce drag. Once fitted, the extensions were secure and we didn’t experience any slippage. Overall the bars are very stiff and offer plenty of adjustment, plus they’re cheaper than the fully integrated bar.

Verdict
A do it all bar

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

Triathlon Plus Gold Award – Issue 42

3T Mistral
£259.99
Weight 792g
www.chickencycles.co.uk

The 3T Mistral is an entry-level aerobar that’s got a lot going for it. It’s by far the cheapest integrated bar on test, and the low price doesn’t mean you pay a big weight penalty: the base bar plus extensions weighs 792g (for the record, add another 58g for 3T aero alloy brake levers). We liked the range of adjustability – the pads can go in 16 different positions on the base bar, although we’d like to see risers underneath them for better aerodynamics. We’d also prefer narrower options for the pad settings. The aluminium extensions are fitted underneath the base bar, and have rotational as well as fore-aft adjustment. They feel extremely solid while riding and the pads are comfortable. Cornering on the raised cow-horns is good too. Overall, we’re impressed by this well thought out entry-level bar

Verdict
Affordable entry level integrated aerobar

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

Triathlon Plus Top Value Award – Issue 42

HED Clip Lite
£299
Weight 325g
www.hedcycling.com

There’s nothing particularly complicated about the Hed Clip Lite at first glance, but when you pick them up you immediately notice how light they are, weighing just 325g. They have a few other tricks too, such as hinged arm rests that flip out of the way when you’re climbing. There’s no height adjustment for the arm rests but you can change the fore and aft position, as well as the width. The carbon extension poles can also be clamped in various positions, or sawn off at the length you desire. Our test pair came with carbon S-bend extensions, which made it comfortable to stay in an aero position for long periods. The arm pads are blocks of foam with a layer of material on top, and soaked up roadbuzz brilliantly. The best thing about these bars is that they combine low weight with slick aerodynamic

Verdict
Pricey bars with an appealing mix of low weight practicality and aerodynamics

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

Ratio Jet
£249.99
Weight 220g
www.ratiobikedesign.com

Once you’ve clamped these lightweight beauties on, their one-piece carbon extension hangs well below your bars. They also come with tiny arm rests and small, dense micro-fibre pads that are angled downwards so that you can grab hold of the extension without contorting your wrists. If you want an even lower riding position you can turn the extension pole upside down so that it angles downwards. They’re the lightest bars here on test and their carbon extension pole has up to six centimetres of fore and aft adjustment. This means you can make them short enough for use in elite draft-legal triathlons. On the downside however, it is not possible to adjust the height, width or fore and aft of the arm rests. And they’re not compatible with bar-end gear shifters, which is unfortunate.

Verdict
Feather weight tri bars, well suited to hilly triathlons and high speed training burn ups.

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

Zipp Vukaclip
£125 (chassis), £109.99 (extension poles)
Weight 500g
www.zipp.com

These aren’t the lightest or cheapest tri-bars, but they’re certainly one of the fastest. The VukaClips were designed for aerodynamics and adjustability, and every aspect of them is clutter-free and practical. The carbon bar extensions connect to the bases with a simple twist lock system, which allows you to make fast adjustments without tools, and also means there aren’t lots of bolts to mess up the airflow. The aluminium clip-on bases are designed to protect against sweat corrosion and come with risers so you can raise the comfortable armpads. They also have three width positions and can be moved backwards and forwards, which in addition to the bar extensions makes it easy to find the fastest position. They look and feel great and while their weight may put you off, the clever design and build quality will make up for it.

Verdict
Beautifully designed bars that are aerodynamic and easy to adjust

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

Triathlon Plus Peak Performer Award – Issue 42

Deda Carbon Blast
£199.99
Weight 225g
www.dedaelementi.com

These stumpy bars are best suited to hilly triathlons and elite non-drafting races. They’re so short that they don’t protrude past the brake levers, and are east to fit. Each bar is made of one elegant, single flowing piece of matte carbon and they come with a plastic bridging piece that connects them both together. They are so lightweight you will barely notice them during training rides until you really need them. They’re not cheap though, especially considering their simplicity. Their reduced size isn’t always a blessing either: there’s no adjustability, so you can’t fine tune your comfort or aerodynamics, and being so short, they don’t lend themselves to an all-day low tuck like some of the other bars on test here. Still, they’re not designed for that, and as long as you respect their limitations they’ll perform well

Verdict
Expensive, well made stubby tri bars that suit hilly triathlons and elite non-drafting races

Performance 4/5
Value 2/5
Overall 3/5

USE Tula Boost
£75 (chassis), £75 (carbon extension poles)
Weight 310g
www.use1.com

We had a bit of trouble trying to install these, but it was worth it. They brilliantly combined the attributes we were looking for, namely adjustability, aerodynamics, comfort and low weight. They have all the usual options such as variable arm rest positions and moveable extension poles. But they go further, thanks to their unique ‘Rock n Roll’ clamp. This allows you to angle the arm rests in almost any direction you can imagine. At 310g it’s quite light, and if you’re willing to pay extra you can get a carbon chassis that shaves off another 90g. The gel pads on the arm rests are great too. They’re designed by the saddle-makers Fizik and while they’re thin, they soak up every bump in the road. If you don’t mind fiddling with Allen keys, these bars are brilliant.

Verdict
Adjustable, aerodynamic, light and comfortable, what more do you want?

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

Triathlon Plus Gold Award – Issue 42

Giant Connect SL Clip-on S-bend
£139.99
Weight 375g
www.shopgiant-bicycles.co.uk

If you want tri-bars with carbon poles, that don’t cost the earth, these are worth a look at. They come ready-made, but you’ll need to deconstruct them to fit them to your handlebars. Once on, the extension poles sit well below your handlebars and while the S-bend shaped poles help, it can still be a strain on your wrists to hold onto them. They have a single clamp which connects the extensions to the bars that cleverly allows you to separately adjust the forwards and backwards angle of the arm rests. It means you can adjust the arm rests downwards to make it easier to grab the bars. The arm rests feel cheap and thin, and the low position of the extension poles may not suit everyone. Otherwise, they are great bars for the price

Verdict
Good value but their low position and thin armpads may not suit everyone

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

3T Clip-on Pro
£89.99 (chassis), £29.99 (alloy extension poles)
Weight 455g
www.3tcycling.com

If you’re looking for fast bars on a limited budget, these are well worth considering. Their price is kept low by their straightforward design and their lack of carbon, but that doesn’t negatively impact comfort or aerodynamics. In fact, it’s their simplicity that helps them slip through the air at high speeds. There is only one small bolt that might hinder the smooth flow of air. Although they’re made from alloy they’re not heavy, coming in at 445g, which is still lighter than some bars costing twice the price. The only slight downside is that they’re not especially adjustable. You can change the width of the arm pads and the position of the two poles, but that’s about it. So as long as you can find the perfect position these are high-performance bars that aren’t too expensive

Verdict
Fast, strong and simple tri bars that don’t cost the earth, but not very adjustable

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

Profile T3+
£99.99
Weight 500g
www.profile-design.com

These may look a bit old-school, but in terms of price, practicality and comfort they’re hard to beat. They can be adjusted in every direction you can imagine, thanks to a series of bolts, clamps and holes that are all easy to access. You can shift the arm rests forwards, backwards, side to side and even angle them inwards. The foam arm pads are soft and fasten to the base plates with Velcro straps. They are simple to remove and washable, while allowing you easy access to the Allen key bolts underneath. The alloy extensions can be moved and rotated too. While they’re very adjustable, the numerous clamps, straps and metal pieces don’t make them as sleek and sexy as, say, the Zipp Vuka. Apart from that they’re perfect for long-distance triathlons, when you’re looking for all-day comfort in an aerodynamic position.

Verdict
Not the sexiest but they’re hard to beat in terms of adjustability, value and comfort.

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

Triathlon Plus Top Value Award – Issue 42

BBB Aerobase
££54.95
Weight 475g
www.bbbcycling.com

The BBB aerobars are a throwback to the early days of triathlon, with an old style design that includes two sticky disks of foam for the arm pads and thin plastic arm cups that are held in place by a single Allen key bolt. They only give you a small amount of adjustability and they’re not the best aerodynamically either. The extension poles taper outwards, which means that your shoulders and chest are wide open to the oncoming wind. Still, you can’t deny they’re comfortable and there’s always the option of swapping the poles so that they point inwards. Otherwise they’re strong, simple to fit and lightweight at 475g. It certainly makes them an option if you’re looking to save money. But seeing as the whole point of tri-bars is to make you more aerodynamic it might be worth spending slightly more on a set with greater adjustability.

Verdict
Inexpensive and easy to fit tri bars, but they’re not very adjustable or aerodynamic.

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

Raleigh RSP Tri Bar
£44.99
Weight 565g
www.raleigh.co.uk

RSP stands for Raleigh Special Products; Raleigh’s range of low-price, high performance bike bits. In terms of speed versus cost they rate highly, but are not perfect. At 565g for the pair they’re heaviest on test. Otherwise, they impressed us. While some budget alloy tri-bars sit proudly on top of your handlebars, these hang beneath them so that you can get into a low position. Their S-bend extension poles angle upwards slightly and they have cable-routing holes so that you can fit bar-end gear shifters. It’s easy to find a comfortable and aerodynamic position too. The poles rotate and slide forwards and backwards within their clamps, while the arm rests can be angled inwards or outwards so you can have your hands together or far apart. The build quality is top notch too and they feel like they will last a lifetime.

Verdict
High performance at a low cost. It’s only their weight that lets them down

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

Find more group tests from Triathlon Plus in our other best triathlon gear reviews.

This review was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine. Save time and money by having every issue delivered to your door or digital device by subscribing to the print edition or buying digitally through Zinio or Apple Newsstand.

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