Everything is going aero in 2015, from frames to bottle cages. We have seen from bikes like the Venge and Madone that the front end of the bike has the most effort put in to reduce drag, making the handlebars an obvious place to start.
The Bontrager Race Lite Aero Handlebars are one of the cheapest aero road bars that money can buy, coming in at £69.99, making them an attractive option for a DIY aero bike (Graeme Obree would certainly be a fan).
In terms of shape, the bars have a flattened top and a clamping area wider than many other aero bars on the market. I particularly like this as it allows for either clip on TT bars or out front computer mounts and even a front light. A light may disturb the aerodynamics, but if I am caught in the dark I would rather lose 23 seconds per hour, rather than being invisible to a car from not being able to clip on a light.
I also found it easy and secure enough on the flattened aero section to hold the bars there when climbing or just cruising. It is one of the major benefits of the 6066-T6 alloy aluminium used, which is very sturdy. This is partly due to the material, but also helped by the increased clamping area, which is the foundation for a sturdy bar. It does not have any real feeling of flex when pulling hard, but despite this I did not feel too much road buzz through them. It makes them very comfortable to use.
Assisting this comfort is the slight flare in the drops, which allows for extra stability when sprinting or descending. It is certainly not massively pronounced when you look at them, but you can certainly feel it when riding in the drops. Aside from this slight flare, they are a regular compact bar, with a 123mm drop and 93mm reach.
The most important element of any aero bar is the aerodynamics. Bontrager claim that they will save you "23 seconds per hour compared to traditional round bars". This is a slightly vague claim and unfortunately not one that we can verify given that budget approval for the road.cc wind tunnel is has not yet been forthcoming. However, they feel quicker and given the stability from the flare, certainly makes it feel like you can go faster whilst still staying in maximum control.
As well as an aero shape, hiding cables also has an important part to play and internal cable routing is included in these bars, with holes on either side next to the shifters and a single hole behind the clamping area. Fitting internal cables is a challenge at the best of times and these are no exception, in fact I found these slightly more difficult than others I have fitted in the past. The holes are fiddly, which took me a long time to fit, but once through the rest of the installation was easy.
Coming in at 345g (claimed weight is 340g) makes them fairly heavy for handlebars of this price, but as with all things aero, the weight is secondary to the aerodynamic function. In terms of price, the RRP is £69.99, which is remarkably cheap for aero bars, even if they are made from aluminium.
Overall, I was impressed with these handlebars, offering a decent level of aerodynamics but with the practicalities that the extra clamp area presents. I found them stable, yet without the excess feedback that you often get with stiff bars and a fair price coming in at £69.99. Perhaps I would like to see better internal cable routing as the initial setup is fairly fiddly and the weight could be lower, but all in, I enjoyed using these bars.
Nice bars at a decent price, a good option for DIY aero conversions
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Make and model: Bontrager Race Lite Aero handlebars
Size tested: Black , 42cm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
'Shaped from 6066-T6 aluminum, these bars are proven to save up to 23 seconds per hour compared to traditional round bars. Internal cable routing helps to further calms turbulent air, and is compatible with electronic shifting systems from Shimano and Campagnolo.'
These are big claims and especially when it comes to the more technical aspects, such as the 23 seconds per hour, not something that I can really test. However, I certainly found them to be comfortable and a strong performing bar.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Custom butted 6066-T6 alloy construction
Variable-Radius Compact Flare (VR-CF) design adds flare to the drops for increased wrist clearance and a more ergonomic drop shape
Compatible with clip-on aero bars
Aero drop bar profile is more aerodynamic compared to traditional round bars
Internal cable routing for Di2 and standard housing
Laser-etched brake lever position lines for spot-on control setup
Once they are on, they work very well, providing a comfortable ride but without having too much flex when really pulling hard. The only aspect that has marked them down is the holes through which the cables are routed, which could do with being a little easier to use.
I can't make any specific claims regarding the aerodynamic features, given that I have no access to a wind tunnel, but they are good looking, comfortable and stiff bars that I enjoyed using.
Where most aero handlebars are carbon to cut down on the weight, the fact that these are made from 6066-T6 alloy means that you'll worry far less about hidden damage. If I were to take a big fall on these, I would be happy using them for the rest of the ride, rather than worrying about them snapping in half.
Like most aero features, you sacrifice on the weight to gain on aerodynamics. At 345g, these are no exception.
The slight flare on the bars, combined with a compact design creates a comfortable ride. The bars are also stiff enough that there is no flex when pulling hard, but do not allow too much buzz through the bars as a result, meaning that you don't get shaken to death on uneven surfaces.
With an RRP of £69.99, they are no cheap as far as handlebars go, but are the cheapest aero handlebars that are readily available, making them a good deal.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The bars worked well, the aerodynamics certainly felt like they were performing well, but without a wind tunnel it is always difficult to work out exactly how effective they are. Away from this though, I found them comfortable to use and sturdy in the hands, without giving too much feedback from the road.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I really liked the slight flare and also the general look of the bars. It meant that not only was it comfortable to use, but that they also looked really good on my bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The holes at the rear of the bars for the internal routing could have done with being a bit larger. It was difficult to feed the wires through compared to others I have used in the past.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Use this box to explain your score
Really good bars coming in a strong price for the aero market. For anybody who is looking to go more aero, but without breaking the bank on handlebars, these should certainly be on your list.
Age: 27 Height: 6 ft Weight:
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.