Video: Bontrager's Aero and Isozone handlebars
One to make you go faster, one to make you more comfy. Well, two of each actually.
There was plenty of stuff to see at the Trek World Europe show, including some interesting new bars from Bontrager. One's fast, and one's comfy.
Fast first. The leading edge of your bike is pretty important in terms of aerodynamics so if you can make your bars a bit less draggy then that's a win.
The XXX Aero Road bar is the result of Bontrager's investigations in the wind tunnel and it uses a 42mm x 15mm section that falls within the UCI's 3:1 ratio rules, just. On top of that it uses a similar Kammtail Virtual Foil profile to the Speed Concept and new Madone frames; essentially it's like a much longer teardrop profile that's cropped at the rear end. Even though the end of the tail isn't there, you still get much of the aero benefit of the longer shape.
Bontrager claim that the bars offer significant savings; 23 seconds over an hour of riding. That's assuming you don't wrap the tops… For comfort's sake the drops are flared by six degrees and also extended back by 10mm to give you more clearance from the tops.
The Race XXX Lite Aero Road is an OCLV Carbon construction; it weighs 200g and costs £249.99. If that's too salty the bar is also available with a similar profile (though it's not quite the KVF section of the Carbon one) in 6061-T6 aluminium, the Race Lite Aero, for £69.99. Both have a 125mm drop, an 85mm reach and a 31.8mm clamp size, and they’re available in 38, 40, 42, 44 and 46cm widths (centre to centre).
On to comfy, then. The Isozone bars are part of the development of the Trek Domane (more on that soon) and they're all about comfort. Bontrager wanted to make their stock bars more comfy and they noted that most of the options for increased rider comfort – gel pads and double wrapping, for example – made the bars a lot bulkier.
The solution is one of those why-didn't-I-think-of-that ones: just recess the pads into the material of the bar. That way you get the bump-soaking properties of the pads with a standard bar profile. The pads Bontrager ended up using are EVA foam, which is light and offers good damping properties; Bontrager claim that the system will reduce vibration at the hands by around 20% which is comparable with aftermarket gel systems.
Like the aero bars there's two version of the Isozone. The Carbon RXL incarnation has embedded pads both on the tops and the drops, whereas the alloy RL just has them on the tops. Both bars share the VRCF (Virtual Radius Compact Flare) shape which is a mid-drop with the drops extended 10mm backwards and flared out by six degrees to increase comfort and wrist clearance. Like the Aero bars they're available in 38-46cm widths; the dog ate our notes with the prices of the two bars written but we'll confirm when we've got them...