Saturday, May 2, 2009

Aero Bars for Track Kilo

Vision Tech integrated aero bar - notice the elbow rests are too close together and the middle extensions are straight.

Profile adjustable aero bar - notice elbow rest spaced further apart and middle extensions curved up.

Aero bars are supposed to make you go faster by reducing frontal area whereby reducing aerodynamic drag, especially when speeds reach 30 mph. I therefore bought a Vision Tech aero bar with integrated stem, elbow rest and straight extensions, nothing could be adjusted, everything was fixed in place on this bar. The only adjustment you could make was raising or lowering the elbow rests. This was of no help since it was more important to be able to space the elbow rests. Surprisingly I did slower kilo times with this aero bar on several occasions than I did with my conventional track bar, it was puzzling. I just spent $275 dollars for a bar which made me go slower. Could it be the elbow rests were two close to the stem making it difficult to control the bike at speed? Could it be I was not able to leverage my upper body because the extensions placed my hands in a downward position which did not give me anything to resist or pull against without making the front wheel unstable?

I decided to ditch these Vision Tech aero bars and use the conventional track bars to do my subsequent kilos. This particular Vision Tech bar might be more suited for a road time trial which is not as violent as the track Kilo. This bar did not allow for you to use brute force and leverage, it was more for finesse.

Recently I revisited the idea of using an aero bar. I bought a different one - a Profile for $90 which had adjustable elbow rests and upward curving extensions. I found this bar worked perfectly once the elbow rests were adjusted wide enough to provide optimal steering but still maintaining aerodynamic benefits. I needed the elbow rests spaced wide enough apart to provide control since Kissena track is very bumpy and it is difficult to control the bike with an aero bar when going over 25 mph. The upward curving extensions also allowed me to leverage more upper body and core strength into the pedal stroke, especially in the final half lap of the kilo when your legs are on fire.

I have finally found an aero bar which serves my personal preferences and riding style. The experimentation, trial and error is what makes cycling such an expensive sport. You need to wade through all the hype to see what works for you. Also, more expensive does not necessarily mean better performance.

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