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TECH NEWS

First look: Canyon Aerocockpit CF integrated handlebar

We take a closer look at Canyon’s latest weapon in the aero arms race

Have you ever thought about how much drag your handlebars are creating? Probably not. Canyon have though, and developed the new Aerocockpit CF integrated handlebar. They claim it is good for an aero advantage of 5.5 W at 45 km/h, compared to a conventional bar.

Aerodynamics is informing bicycle product design to an increasing extent. Bicycle and equipment manufacturers have turned to the mysterious art of making bicycles, parts and even clothing more aerodynamic to reduce drag so you slip through the air more cleanly and ride faster. And aero handlebars are the latest trend. 

Not that it's a new trend as such. Canyon aren't the first to produce an integrated bar and stem. Far from it. Deda, Cinelli, PRO and FSA have offered one for some time, but this year there are a few new contenders on the market. As well as Canyon's new bar, Cervelo, Bontrager and Specialized have released aero bars. With the rise in popularity of aero framesets, aero clothing and aero helmets, the handlebar is also a prime candidate for an aero upgrade. 

The new Aerocockpit CF isn't actually available to buy yet, but Canyon let us have a first look at the only sample to arrive in the UK when they popped into the road.cc office the other day. 

When Canyon developed the new Aeroad, they decided that the handlebar is an integral part of the bicycle in the battle to best manage the airflow over the bike. Reducing the frontal surface area is one key aspect, which is why head tubes and fork blades are typically very narrow on aero and time trial bikes. The handlebar is a large part of the frontal surface that the bike presents to the air, so it makes sense to also design a handlebar that is more aerodynamic. 

But how much more aero is it compared to a regular handlebar? Well, in their tests, Canyon reckon the Aerocockpit CF provides an “aero advantage that adds up to approximately 5.5 W at 45 km/h against a conventional bar and stem, thanks to the minimal frontal surface area.”

Their claims, not ours. Now 5.5 W isn’t a great deal, but try adding 5.5 W onto your threshold through training. It’s a small gain but they all add up. And the smallest gain can be the difference between winning and losing in some very close races.

The handlebar has a style reminiscent of the bike it’s intended to be bolted to. The top surface is strikingly flat, and it’s very low profile when viewed from the front. There's a recess for the bar tape so the transition from tape to bar is smooth, maintaining the slender profile.

One neat feature is the full integration for a Di2 groupset. The junction box, normally slung below the stem by a rubber band, instead sits flush in a small cavity under the stem. The wires, as are the brake cables, are all internally routed. Not only does it create a very clean looking handlebar, it also reduces the frontal surface area. There are fewer bumps and ripples to cause drag, basically.

As well as making the handlebar shape aerodynamic, Canyon have studied the impact of bar width. Their tests suggest that simply tucking the arms in for a narrower stance on the bike can net aerodynamic improvements. We've seen a trend for professional racers to use as narrow a handlebar as they can get away with (Adam Hansen, anyone?).

As  a result they recommend a bar that's 10mm narrower than you would normally use - so if you normally ride a 42cm, you’ll be put onto a 41cm bar instead. Make sense? There will be three widths - 39cm, 41cm and 43cm - and five stem lengths - 90mm to 130mm - but there will only be certain width and length combinations (so you can’t have a 90mm stem with a 43cm wide bar, for example).,

The handlebar is made from carbon fibre, and it’s light, this 41cm example just 375g on the road.cc scales. We’ve not word on pricing or availability at the moment, as soon as we get that info, we’ll let you know. More at www.canyon.com

David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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