Riding with an aerobar

Aerobar: Advantages and Disadvantages 4 Regular Folks
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Riding with an aerobar 
by 4RegularFolks Writer

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There are many who swear by aerobars saying that they make a huge difference to their cycling experience. On the other hand, there are others that say that the aerobars are useful to only those who participate in triathlon events; not of any use to the casual non competitive cyclists. There is some truth to both sides of the story.

The advantages of riding with an aerobar

  • More than 90% of your effort goes towards countering  wind forces against your body at a speed of about 25 miles per hour. What causes this wind drag? More than 80 % of the wind drag is caused by your body. If you were to reduce the wind drag factor by taking your body out of the way, your speed will increase without any additional effort. This is the biggest advantage of riding with an aerobar. It doesn't take your body away, but helps you assume an aerodynamic stance.

  • You can choose to modify your normal handlebar when you fit the bike aerobars to reduce the total weight of the bike. Since you would be using the normal handlebar only to operate the brakes, you can make changes to reduce weight without compromising on maneuverability.

  • The aerobar is just a different way to steer the cycle. Just because the normal handlebar is replaced with the two stubs does not mean that you cannot maneuver the bike as you could do earlier. You increase speed and yet retain total control. The only difference is that you will use your elbows and your hips to control the bicycle.
  • Aerobars are useful for triathlon athletes for a completely different reason. A good way to think about this is using the leg muscle. It consists of different muscles and tendons which work together to produce motion. When we use aerobars to ride our bike, we use a set of muscles which are completely different from the muscles used for running. This helps us improve our performance without having to do anything drastically different. 

However, using aerobars is not totally devoid of its share of disadvantages.

  • Riding with aerobars could be challenging when you need to make quick and constant changes on your cycle route. Maneuvering your bicycle using your hands, elbows and hips are two completely different things. If you have to take many sharp turns, then you will be forced to rely on your handlebar instead of your aerobar. Using aerobars to ride under such conditions is not safe. 

  • Aerobars are potentially unsafe when riding in a group. For starters, the basic purpose of the aerobar is to ensure that wind drag does not affect your ride. However, when you have three riders in front of you, they will absorb the pressure of the wind and you really do not need aerobars to protect you from the wind. In such a scenario, sacrificing control does not make sense and you do not gain anything in return.

  • Aerobars are not of great use if you ride at speeds less than 12 miles per hour, then it does not make a huge difference whether you have aerobars fitted on your bike or not. 
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