Time trial on road bike without aero bars

by jimzy   June 20, 2012  

Just wondering if anyone has advice or hints and tips on doing a time trial without aero bars.

I am competing in a series of Time Trial races, but do not have aerobars. Is it more aerodynamic to have your hands in the drops and be as low as possible or have your hands in the centre of the bars, again as low as possible?

Any other recommendations or advice would be much appreciated!

21 user comments

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I have always had luck not using the drops, but getting as low as possible on the hoods with the forearms parallel to the ground

Jake

posted by Jake Schneidewind [1 posts]
21st June 2012 - 1:07

14 Likes

if you have your hands on the drops your arms stick out, but on the hoods or bars you can tuck your arms in line with your body thoeretically creating less drag. Loads of people do tt's on a road bike without bars. I'm not good enough to spend loads of money on a tt bike, but i do have nice clip-on aero bars by Profile Design which are pretty light and not a bad price.

posted by matt637 [52 posts]
21st June 2012 - 7:20

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i'm not normally an advocate on spending to improve performance - unless you're really serious you'd be better off spending the money trying to get fitter, or lose weight.

that being said, a set of aero bars will give you the single biggest performance gain of any upgrade, and you can have a pair off ebay for £20. so it's worth getting some.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
21st June 2012 - 7:46

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these are the bars i have. As i say, pretty light for the money, very simple design, v easy to fit, and get you v low.
https://wap.ebay.co.uk/Pages/ViewItem.aspx?sid=d4qohmqcjltkw2nhyqzsbuqc&...

posted by matt637 [52 posts]
21st June 2012 - 7:50

17 Likes

I normally switch between drops and parallel hoods Big Grin

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1733 posts]
21st June 2012 - 7:51

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on the flat sections make yourself as aero as you can by bringing your hands in near the stem and your torso as low as possible, small frontal area is the key, hence why people use aerobars. If there are lumpy sections use whatever position you can get the most power out, aerodynamics is less important when you're climbing

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stuke's picture

posted by stuke [327 posts]
21st June 2012 - 8:42

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On the hoods with arms flat behind can be tiring to maintain after a while. I've usually raced in the drops with my elbows in and my nose on the stem if possible, moving to hoods (but still keeping low) for any climbs or corners/junctions.

Either way, if you find a position that you can maintain then you will be able to focus your mind on your effort.

I like my T2 aerobars but riding in the drops didn't stop Alf Engers doing a 49-minute '25' in 1978:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150632666597634&set=a.409805027...

Cool

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2031 posts]
21st June 2012 - 9:01

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Like Dave, i'm not one for spending money on anything I don't feel helps me.

If I was you, I'd get myself a cheap set of clip on bars, then you don't have to worry so much about getting into an "aero" position between hoods and drops

Something like this would do

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/XLC-AERO-TIME-TRIAL-TT-TRI-HANDLEBARS-ROAD-TRI...

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9010 posts]
21st June 2012 - 13:20

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those cheap ebay ones don't seam a bad weight at about 485g. Just be careful if you get some bargain ones that they don't weigh a ton and offset any gains made by your new aero position - it's all about small fractions especially on a short tt.

posted by matt637 [52 posts]
21st June 2012 - 14:40

14 Likes

matt637 wrote:
those cheap ebay ones don't seam a bad weight at about 485g. Just be careful if you get some bargain ones that they don't weigh a ton and offset any gains made by your new aero position - it's all about small fractions especially on a short tt.

Depends on the course really - on a flat course, the weight will make barely any difference but the aero advantage will be significant. If it's hilly, the weight comes in the play more, but you'll probably still get more benefit from the bars - think of it as less than an extra water bottle...

posted by step-hent [697 posts]
21st June 2012 - 15:32

17 Likes

matt637 wrote:
those cheap ebay ones don't seam a bad weight at about 485g. Just be careful if you get some bargain ones that they don't weigh a ton and offset any gains made by your new aero position - it's all about small fractions especially on a short tt.

Aero trumps weight every time, component weight is insignificant unless it's very steep. The weight of the lump on top of the saddle is far more relevant, remember you're lifting yourself up that gradient as well as your bike.

Lighter wheels can 'feel' faster, but I'm not sure that you'll notice a big difference on a typical course.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2031 posts]
21st June 2012 - 15:58

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step-hent wrote:
matt637 wrote:
those cheap ebay ones don't seam a bad weight at about 485g. Just be careful if you get some bargain ones that they don't weigh a ton and offset any gains made by your new aero position - it's all about small fractions especially on a short tt.

Depends on the course really - on a flat course, the weight will make barely any difference but the aero advantage will be significant. If it's hilly, the weight comes in the play more, but you'll probably still get more benefit from the bars - think of it as less than an extra water bottle...

yes sure, but the point i'm trying to make is not end up strapping loads more weight to your bike than you need to - that's why tt bikes are usually light. It's best if you can get the aero position *and* less weight. Don't forget the psychology as well Wink

posted by matt637 [52 posts]
21st June 2012 - 16:02

16 Likes

here's your new tt bike Brad - yeah, sorry it's 1kg heavier than your last one, but don't worry you'll not notice it on the flat!
Without wanting to get in to a big debate, and wanting try and offer this guy some useful advice, the point i am trying to make is that all other things being equal - it's best to ALSO keep weight down. But if we are working on a budget and just want to get that aero position sorted - get your hack saw out, chop your steerer tube so there's no spacers, get a cheap -17 deg stem and get down reeeeeally low.

posted by matt637 [52 posts]
21st June 2012 - 16:25

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aero position *and* less weight is the ideal, of course. and different components have different weight/aero gain/cost equations.

but tt bars are a complete no brainer. they can save you a minute over a ten-mile TT. a MINUTE.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7470 posts]
21st June 2012 - 16:50

17 Likes

In my experience to go faster, in this order:
1. Aerodynamics. Reduce the riders drag - Position (i.e. Aerobars), make yourself less 'draggy' (helmet, tight fitting clothing, shoe covers, loose weight/bulk).
2. Aerodynamics. Then reduce bike drag - get decent rubber, get a deep section front wheel, then finally a disk/deep rear wheel.
3. Mental approach. How far can you push yourself. It will hurt to go fast(er).
4. Power to weight. All things being equal, for the same power a lighter bike+rider will win. Loose weight from yourself (cheap) then the bike. Add power by interval training.

Bring me sunshine, and dry roads

MalcolmBinns's picture

posted by MalcolmBinns [107 posts]
21st June 2012 - 17:01

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During a eurosport commentary it was mentioned that one of the teams had done wind tunnell testing and found that getting low on the hoods was preferable to using the drops.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
21st June 2012 - 17:11

18 Likes

TheHatter wrote:
During a eurosport commentary it was mentioned that one of the teams had done wind tunnell testing and found that getting low on the hoods was preferable to using the drops.

It's about the rider's frontal area - you are likely to punch a smaller hole in the air with your arms horizontal than the more 'open' posture of reaching down into the drops.

David Millar has used narrower handlebars when he has felt it provides an aero benefit.

http://cyclinginfo.co.uk/blog/3945/cycling/time-saved-from-weight-loss-o...

At 25mph compared to this the difference 1 or even 2kg makes is insignificant, and even when riding uphill. If you're really bothered about saving grammes then go on a diet.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2031 posts]
21st June 2012 - 18:30

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Thanks Simon E, that was I think the jist of the comments I heard - I think it was during tour of Beijing as TT specific bikes weren't allowed.

Personally I don't bother with aero bars when I compete in my clubs TT's as its more a challenge against myself (...and yet I still lose most of the time!)

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
21st June 2012 - 19:26

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Hey all thanks for all the really helpful tips and comments. Did my second short (13.5km) TT last week and finished 9th. Found my most powerful and sustainable position was to be in the drops with my arms tucked in as close as possible (but maybe should be in the hoods or draped over the handlebar judging by the comments here?). Average heart rate of 183 over the 20mins...must learn to pace myself a bit better! Smile

On the night the guy with the fastest time was on a road bike without any aerobars, disc wheels, etc. Most of the others within the top 5 were on TT bikes, so goes to show, its all in the legs really! Gonna have to keep training harder! Smile

posted by jimzy [3 posts]
25th June 2012 - 23:16

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never mind the position - what was the time? Smile
To echo your experience I recently did my first 10 mile TT and fitted some aero bars but used them only about 60% of the time. I found that I was more powerful on the drops which I reckon is down to a) bike setup and b) conditioning - You need to adjust your bike so the aero position is as comfortable / optimal as possible then train yourself to ride in that position so you adapt to it.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [878 posts]
26th June 2012 - 10:46

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The clock time was 20:05 over the 13.5k (8.5m?) flat route, my garmin time was 19.56 Smile My average speed was just over 40kmph (25mph?). Happy enough with that, the fastest I've been so far on a spin of that distance.

Yeah I agree joemmo, I'm sure there is a lot I can do in terms of setup and conditioning to get more aero. Dropping the height of my handlebars possibly?

posted by jimzy [3 posts]
26th June 2012 - 13:21

11 Likes