Aero Handlebar: Speed Boost or Gimmick

The debate as to whether or not an aero handlebar offers a real speed boost for cyclists has been raging for years. In this article, we will take a look at the pros and cons of investing in an aero handlebar and examine the science behind the claims.

For a competitive cyclist, or even just a passionate enthusiast of the sport, the idea of enhancing their aerodynamics by investing in aero handlebars can be an exciting prospect. After all, what could be better than reducing the amount of drag encountered as you tear down a hill or along a flat stretch of road? For those cyclists looking for an edge in an upcoming race, purchasing an aero handlebar makes perfect sense. But just how much of a difference will it make?

On the surface, the use of aero handlebars is seen as a no-brainer. Unlike other forms of aerodynamic optimization, they are relatively simple to install. That being said, aerodynamics is a highly complex field and the effects that aero handlebars will have on performance can be difficult to predict. What’s more, there is often a degree of personal preference when it comes to choosing the right handlebar.

In theory, aero handlebars should reduce the drag you encounter as you ride by providing a more air-resistant profile than conventional handlebars. The frame of the handlebar should fit the shape of your body more closely, making you more aerodynamic. By improving your aerodynamics, you should be able to achieve a higher top speed and improve your overall performance.

That being said, there is not a lot of evidence to suggest that aero handlebars make a significant difference to speed and performance. In fact, most studies seem to show that the benefits of aero handlebars are minimal. One study conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science showed that while aero handlebars did reduce drag, the difference in speed when cycling with aero handlebars was only 0.75 mph (1.2 km/h) faster than when using regular handlebars. Subsequent tests have produced similar results.

So, should you invest in an aero handlebar or pass on this race-day upgrade? Well, it really comes down to personal preference and expectation. If you’re expecting miracles, then chances are you’re going to be disappointed. But, if you’re looking to eke out a slight increase in performance then an aero handlebar is probably worth a shot.

Ultimately, there is no definitive answer when it comes to the debate over aero handlebars. For some, the slight increase in speed that they can offer is enough to justify the expense. Others, however, may prefer to opt for a lighter, more maneuverable handlebar. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the individual cyclist and their specific needs.

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