How Much Faster is a Road Bike with Clip On Aerobars?

How Much Faster is a Road Bike with Clip On Aerobars?


(water splashing) (foot steps thumping) – Morning, Trainiacs. Just about to head out to the Tuesday, Thursday
morning group ride. That’s not what we’re
talking about, though. A lot of you have a road bike, and you’re wondering if aero bars put on that
road bike are worth it. Well, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna slap these
babies on the road bike, and what we’re gonna do is
we’re gonna do some testing to see if aero bars on your
road bike make you faster. Spoiler alert, yes, but how much faster so that you can decide if this is worth it for you. Let’s rip her. (energetic dance music) All right, Trainiacs,
what we’re gonna do here is we’re on a stretch of
road that I’m gonna ride on. I’m gonna start with the road bike here with no clip-on aero bars. I’m gonna ride out four minutes out, turn around, four minutes back
to eliminate any differences between wind or elevation. I’m gonna do that twice. The first time I’m gonna do it, we’re gonna do low power. Second time we’re gonna do it, we’re gonna do a little bit higher power. Then I’m gonna stop, put
the clip-on aero bars on. I’m gonna do that again. I’m gonna go out with low power, back with low power,
out with higher power, back with higher power, trying to keep those power
numbers to a normalized power that’s the same both with
the clip-on aero bars and the bike, and we’re gonna see how far I went in each of those time trials to see how much difference
it makes having aero bars at low and high power. Let’s do it. (jaunty electronic music) All right, so what we did
there was eight minutes on just the drop bars at 150 watts, then eight minutes on the
drop bars at 200 watts. Then we put on the aero
bars, did eight minutes at 150 watts, eight minutes at 200 watts, and now we’ll go back to the Pain Cavern and we’ll see, well, I know for a fact that I actually went
further with the aero bars, but we’ll see exactly how
much that difference is. Let’s do it. All right, Trainiacs, that worked. I’m astonished here. We have excellent data with results that are around
where I was expecting. So what we’ve got here
is the ride that we did, and are remember, we did four sections. We did 150 watts for eight
minutes going four minutes out, four minutes back, 200 watts
going four minutes out, four minutes back. Then we slapped on the aero bars, went four minutes out, four
minutes back at 150 watts and then 200 watts four
minutes out, four minutes back, and those last two were in the aero bars. Now, what you would expect is
that the aero bars are faster, and what I want to see is how
much of a difference there is in between that 150 watts and 200 watt. Like what I wanna see is is there a significantly bigger
advantage the faster you go? So let’s take a look
and analyze those laps. So what we’re looking
for is laps number one and three match up. So those are the 150, the
150 for eight minutes. So lap one here, the first
eight minute section, I went 3.81 kilometers
and had normalized power of 149 watts. Now let’s compare that to the
third eight minute section where I did 150 watts but I went 4.17 kilometers. So we’re looking at a
difference in just eight minutes of almost 400 meters, and
this was back to back. All I did was just circle the round. So it’s not like the wind
was even that much different. Now, let’s see how much difference that is when we increase the power to 200 watts. So in that case, the first time we did it when I was up on the bars, I went 4.37 kilometers, even further than when I had
the aero bars at 150 watts. And let’s see how far
I went doing 200 watts in the aero bars. That’s this last section. 4.65 kilometers, so just under
.3 kilometers difference. And the wattages between the
two are largely the same. The first time I did it, 202 watts, and then the second time
I did it, 201 watts. So what we’re seeing is that
regardless of the wattages, whether you are at 150 watts, kind of a low, easier effort or 200 watts, there is a similar advantage, but what we see is that as you get faster, the advantage becomes a little bit less because it becomes harder as you go faster to gain additional speed. And the wattages between the
two are largely the same. The first time I did it, 202 watts, and then, the second
time I did it, 201 watts. So what we’re seeing is that
regardless of the wattages, whether you are at 150 watts, kind of a low, easier effort, or 200 watts, there is
a similar advantage, but what we see is that as you get faster, the advantage becomes a little bit less because it becomes harder as you go faster to gain additional speed. So I just did some math here, and let’s say we took
the average bike times for sprint Olympic half
Ironman and Ironman, how much time could you
expect to actually save? Well, depending on the wattage, we calculated just now
between about a 6-1/2 and a 9-1/2% time improvement on the bike. If we took some of the
average finish times for the bike in a sprint, we’re talking going from
about a 50 minute bike time to a 47, a three minute savings. Over an hour and 1/2
Olympic distance bike, we’re looking at about
a 5-1/2 minute savings. Over about a 3-1/2 hour half Ironman bike, we’re looking at about
a 12-1/2 minute savings, and then over the course
of a 6-1/2 hour Ironman, we look at a 23-1/2 minute
savings by clipping on a set of $40 aero bars. Now that is the single best
investment you can make on your bike because doesn’t matter if you go from a $2,000
bike to a $7,000 bike, if you’re a windsail, you’re
a big kinda just wind scoop with your hands on the bars and you’re just sucking in all that air into your chest cavity, 85%
of your total aerodynamics is your body, so you are going to be slowing yourself down immensely. If you get comfortable
in that aero position and do quite a number
of brick workouts after, you’re going to be able to go faster, like we show here, and
still run after the bike with a very, very marginal
penalty on the run for being that little
bit more aerodynamic, which is just a tad less comfortable, but you can overcome that by training in that aero position quite a bit more. Now, the reason that I did this test is because I just finished the first draft of the Beginner Triathlon
Foundation’s How to Bike booklet, and one of the first
things that I said is, “In the series of things
that triathletes have to buy, “there’s dozens and dozens of upgrades “that you can make for your bike. “It’s just a black hole of money. “The first thing that you should look at “isn’t a tri-bike, it
isn’t a set of aero wheels. “It’s not even an aero helmet. “It’s a set of clip-on aero bars.” And the reason I say that is
because of results like this. So if you’re watching this
video right after this video has been published, that
guide isn’t available yet, but it will be over
the next couple months, and if you’re watching
this video down the road, it should be available. So you can go to
triathlontaren.com/beginnerbike and get that free download. You just put in your email address and get a little preview of that booklet, and when it’s out, who knows? Maybe you’ll wanna buy it. All right, upgrade to aero bars. Later, Trainiacs.