Introducing: Gamma Extensions
article & images by Nick Salazar
Feb 26, 2012
I've written about extensions before. As the primary contact point of a tri bike, they are perhaps the most important component of any rig. And yet, their intricate ergonomics are too often ignored or misunderstood. In last year's extension study, I tried to illuminate what I believe to be the most important aspects of good extension geometry. It's a nuanced subject that deserves attention.
But, even if you understand all the finer points of their fitment, it can still be a challenge to get the right extensions for your particular setup. For example, when using Di2 TT shifters, many extensions become unworkable because the Di2 shifter body is so long. You have to either choose to grab your extension, with the shifters far in front, or grab the shifters, but none of the curve of your extensions. So if you had an extension shape you liked for mechanical shifters, you often have to abandon them when switching to Di2.
In short, you always had to find the right extensions for your bars. You had to adapt to your extensions. There's never been an extension that could actually adapt to you. Until now.
Introducing the TriRig Gamma Extensions
I've never found what I consider to be the perfect extension, so I figured I might as well make it. The images shown here are the first computer renders of the TriRig Gamma extensions. The idea behind the Gamma project is to create extensions that will adapt to virtually any aerobar and still provide ideal ergonomics. They look deceivingly simple, but there's a lot going on here, because these extensions adapt to suit your needs.
The Gamma extensions are built around a very straightforward, single-bend geometry. The bend is a sixteen degree rise above horizontal. That figure is the perfect balance between getting enough rise to put the shifters where they need to go, while still remaining shallow enough to allow you to move back and forth a bit, or provide a point of leverage when desired. No other bar on the market has this geometry. The shallowest you can is about 20 degrees, and even that is tough to find. The only manufacturer still producing a 20-degree extension is USE, and theirs is alloy. Oval used to make one in carbon, but good luck finding them in stock. And in any event, I think 20 degrees is too steep to provide an ideal hand position if you move fore-aft at all. Shimano's Missile EVO TT bar has some nice extensions with a 15-degree rise, but they have ovalized cross sections specific to the bar, and aren't compatible with any other bar.
In short, there's nothing like the Gamma in a regular 22.1mm extension.
The other major component to Gamma is that the bar is extra-extra long at BOTH ends. It's designed to be trimmed both on the flats, and at the slope, to put your shifters exactly where you want them. I believe they are the first bar on the market with this type of thinking in mind. Using this construction, not only can you achieve the perfect reach, but also the perfect rise.
For example, let's say you determine you need a bar that's 280mm long. On ordinary extensions, you just cut the bar at the back (or telescope it through your aerobar) until you've achieved the length you want. And then you just have to hope that the rise suits you.
On the TriRig Gamma extensions, you have total control. If you want a long flat section and just a little rise, you could cut them to have a 200mm of flat and an 80mm-long slope. Or you could cut them with a 100mm-long flat and a 180mm-long slope, to achieve more rise from the extensions, effectively putting your shifters up higher. Because the Gammas are so long, you could even cut the whole slope off and create a 280mm straight extension.
Using this unique construction, the Gamma extensions have over 60mm of rise adjustment, to put the shifters precisely where you want them, while still providing a perfect 16-degree rise to keep your hands comfortable and your wrists happy.
Perfect for Mechanical AND Di2
Part of the impetus behind this project was to find a better extension for Di2 setups. As mentioned earlier, Di2 presents a particular fit challenge because the shifter pods are so darn long. If you take my advice and wrap your hands around the front of your shifters, then you probably don't like using Di2 with S-bends. Your hand doesn't get any curve in it, and you're just gripping a horizontal plastic shifter body. I ended up putting grip tape on my shifters to prevent from sliding off of them. To make Di2 shifters more comfortable, you have to use an extension with rise. But most of those are too long, and put your shifters higher up than you may want them. And the angle may be steeper than you're used to, especially if you're coming from S-bends.
The Gamma extensions were designed specifically with Di2 in mind. Because you can trim the extension slope, you can achieve precisely the right height to match your preferences. If this all sounds confusing, just check out the images in this article and in the gallery below. Hopefully it will all make intuitive sense.
The other issue plaguing a lot of extensions is cable routing. Some extensions don't even provide cable ports, or have ports too small for a Di2 connector. This forces you to either drill your own ports, or run the cables external. The Gamma extensions have three cable ports, and they're all Di2-ready. The first one is at the base of the slope, providing an inlet for the cable. Then there are two ports on the flat section, allowing you to pick the one that best matches your bike setup. Depending on how you trim your Gammas, you may only have one of these ports accessible, which is why they're both there. And of course, if you have a bar like the Felt Devox, you can always have your cables exit through the rear of the extensions.
So, that's a lot to say about this very simple-looking little bar. Hopefully you've gotten a glimpse of its potential to provide a very elegant solution to a fairly complex problem. These are currently on their way to production. I'll be making these soon, and sell them directly from the TriRig Store. Pricing, material, and availability still to be determined. You can bookmark this link for all Gamma-related news.