Lighten Up - Aerobars
article & images by Nick Salazar
Jan 10, 2011
Something has been bothering us at TriRig. It's a bit of an itch, you might say. What's our problem? We think aero parts are too heavy. In the never-ending quest for better aerodynamics, many manufacturers have lost sight of another important aspect of high-end bicycle parts: keeping them light. Sure, you can dress up a part with carbon fiber, but that alone doesn't make it light. Case in point: the Trek Speed Concept aerobar (carbon base bar with carbon extensions) weighs about 750 grams, BEFORE you add the brake levers or shifters. Slap on the stock Bontrager levers, and SRAM's R2C shifters (which are awesome, by the way), and you're well over 1000 grams. So in the coming months, we will be releasing a series of articles with the notion that the quest for aero needs to "Lighten Up" - literally. And we're going to start right at the front of the bike.
Embracing your inner Weight Weenie
Why are we on a crazy quest to lighten up our bikes? Weight isn't everything, of course. There are good resources for determining what kind of time advantage you'll get from what kind of terrain by having a lighter machine. But we're not really interested in quantifying this mad quest. If you could have a front-end setup that weighed, say, HALF of what Trek's top-of-the-line bar does, all else equal, why wouldn't you? Besides, minimal setups have advantages beyond mere lightness. Let's break them down. First of all, a minimal setup can be quite aero, as Chris McCormack proved earlier this year. Less material usually (if done right) means less material exposed to the wind. Of course, this means the bar itself may sacrifice some adjustability, but don't forget that adjustability can be achieved in places other than the bar itself (i.e., frame choice, stem choice).
Moreover, a one-piece carbon bar is probably going to be rock solid. A bar with a dozen-odd bolts and multiple pieces of hardware is liable to be clunky, and cumbersome to adjust. We'd rather get an appropriate pad-to-extention relationship in the bar itself, and then achieve overall stack via frame and stem adjustment. With that in mind, we set out to create the lightest front-end system possible.
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