Mass-produced things are so 2015—we look at a pair of the best aftermarket aerobar options from two smaller brands that just might make you a believer.
Aerobars can make or break the way a bike fits and can practically transform a modest ride into a superbike. Two very small companies are making aerobars that are gaining a lot of attention and are just as good, if not better, than those made by much bigger ones. We take a deep look at the trick integrated aerobars from both TriRig and 51 Speedshop—two of the best aftermarket aerobars on the market today.
TriRig Alpha One
$1,000 without extensions, $1,100 with extensions; TriRig.com
The Origin of this Aftermarket Aerobar
TriRig started off as an online journal focused on reviewing triathlon-related gear but soon morphed into a brand with the best of what TriRig loved. Nick Salazar of TriRig is responsible for the design and engineering of TriRig’s products. The small brand makes aero focused brakes, bikes, and of course, aerobars. The TriRig Alpha One aerobar is the latest release and a big contender for best aftermarket aerobars. The Alpha One’s most notable feature is the simple-to-adjust mono riser which allows you to adjust the height of your arm pads by simply loosening one hex screw. The bar features an integrated stem which keeps the assembly tidy and large arm pads that provide for a fairly large range of horizontal adjustability. This bar does not include extensions, but they accept virtually any extensions out there and TriRig sells some of their own in carbon and aluminum.
The easy-to-adjust mono spacer is the main attraction on this bar. It’s not impractical at all to imagine making fine tune adjustments to your arm pad height during a training ride to dial in your fit. For those who know their fit numbers already, TriRig has a nice calculator on their website to help figure out how to match you with the best aftermarket aerobar configuration, but be sure to take your time with it to fully understand the nuances of how it works. This bar has a tremendous amount of vertical adjustability thanks to the mono riser and the included aero headset spacers. This is also an aerobar that will work well with “long and low” bike positions better than just about any other bar out there. Assembly of this bar is fairly simple, thanks to the internal cable guides and the fact that all bolts are always accessible. The included 4mm Silca hex wrench is a nice touch as well.
Certain areas of the bar could be slightly more refined, but it doesn’t necessarily take away from the bar’s function. Neoprene may not be the best choice of material for the arm pads, and the arm pad range of horizontal adjustment (40mm) could be improved slightly—given that you can not interchange stems. Installing aero extensions on this bar (TrRig’s extensions or any other brand) will likely require cutting, since the back of the extension will likely interfere with part of the bar if not trimmed. It would also be nice to see a slightly larger enclosure for a Di2 junction box, however, many brands seem to struggle to find a good internal enclosure. If you use SRAM eTap, the junction box must be located externally. Our only noteworthy gripe is that the arm pads may not go wide enough for some riders, the arm pads on the Alpha One max out at 220mm (center to center). Also, beacuse this is almost like a “mom and pop” aerobar shop, expect delivery times to fluctuate wildly; order way ahead.
This is for
Triathletes who struggle to get their arm pads low enough on their bike or for those who like to perpetually tinker with their bike fit.
Someone who needs a (relatively) short arm pad reach or a pad width wider than 220mm.
51 SpeedShop Mono Riser Aerobar
$1,000 without extensions, $1,180 with extensions; 51-Speedshop.com
The Origin of this Aftermarket Aerobar
Matching Mat Steinmetz and Dave Ripley’s extensive work as bike fitters with engineering from Inigo Gisbert, this bar has been raced in the Tour De France, Kona, and all over the globe. The 51 SpeedShop Mono Riser bar is an exceptionally nice aerobar that rivals the quality and aesthetics you would expect from much bigger brands. The star feature here is nesting kamm tail-shaped spacers which stack to allow for the arm pad height to be adjusted in 5mm increments. 51 Speedshop’s extensions, sold separately, are the natural choice for this bar, and they feature unique bends which provide three different ergonomic options.
The bars unique assembly allows for 5mm incremental adjustments of the arm pad stack height, and the mono spacers are stout—it would take quite an effort to flex this bar. The arm cups provided with these bars are among the best aftermarket aerobar pads and can be adjusted in width to fit the widest of shoulders, using an interchangeable bracket system and the various holes drilled within the pad. Various cable routing options exist for the rear brake cable, which allow the bar to work well with bikes that have the cable port in the top as well as the side of the downtube. This bar also has a massive range of fit adjustability but in the lowest position the arm cups sits about 20mm higher than the TriRig Bar. The full 50mm arm pad reach range is achieved by swapping the left and right arm pads, and every millimeter of range in this respect is good given that the stem length is also fixed. For those who know their fit coordinates already, there is a fit guide on the 51-Speedshop website and a more formal solution coming soon.
This bar requires a little bit of care and attention to detail when being assembled, it is worth spending a few moments figuring out the appropriate screws to choose from the included screw kit. There is no integrated storage for a Di2 or eTap junction box, but they do fit easily on top of the stem cap and having these boxes accessible isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
This is for
Anyone looking to upgrade their tri bike with a super bike style cockpit.
Someone looking to get their arm pads super low.