Best Clip-on Aero Bars for Road Bikes
Just behind the force of gravity experienced when climbing, aerodynamic drag is the single most significant barrier to cycling speed. In fact, aerodynamic drag (or a cyclist’s bike and body mass) accounts for 70% to 90% of the resistance experienced while pedaling. It’s why the cycling industry has continuously progressed advancements in aero bars, time trial helmets, aerodynamic hydration systems, low-drag clothing, and other innovations.
While advancements in bike technology and gear have been ground-breaking in improving speed and efficiency, the cyclist’s body mass presents the greatest force of aerodynamic drag. Beyond drop bars found on most road bikes, clip-on aero bars have been proven investment to help transform any road bike into a more aerodynamic TT-like bike.
Below we highlight a few of the best aero bar options for road bikes, and what features to consider when searching for the right type.
Need Clip-on Aero Bars? Here’s What to Consider.
There are two major distinctions in the world of aero bar setups. These can be grouped as clip-on aero bars and full aero handlebars.
The latter, which is common most on triathlon bikes, comes as a complete unit with an integrated stem and aero bars. Full aero handlebars are more expensive units that provide the greatest aerodynamic and weight advantages. Typically a full carbon setup, you can expect to pay between $400-1,000+ for full aero handlebars.
The focus of this article, clip-on aero bars, are a more common and universal type that can be used on road bikes, gravel bikes, and other types of riding that demand greater aerodynamics and comfort on the bike. Clip-on aero bars are the most versatile and economical option that’s typically priced between $100-300.
Other things to consider when searching for the right type of aero bars include:
- Risers – Almost all aero bars allow you to use risers to elevate the arm pads, which dictate how low of an aero position an athlete achieves.
- Bar Extension – Aero bar extensions the protruding bars in which you’d place your hands most of the time while riding in an aero position. Some athletes prefer shorter and less angled extensions, while longer extensions are often preferred for bikepacking, long-course racing, and Ironman triathlon distances.
- Arm Pad Position – The width, narrowness, and angle of the arm pads may also dictate your choice in aero bars.
- Brake Levers & Gear Shifters – A bike’s braking and shifting system is a major consideration, especially when upgrading to full aero handlebars.
- Total Weight – Aero bars are mostly made of lightweight carbon fiber and/or aluminum material, but total weight can vary per unit.
See more information and science supporting the benefits of aero bars versus drop bars and other traditional cycling positions.
3 Clip-on Aero Bars Worth a Look
Like most cycling equipment and gear, the marketplace for clip-on aero bars continues to advance with newer and more progressive technology. To help you keep pace with some of the best options available, below are some of our favorite clip-on aero bar products worth a look.
Syntace C3 Clip
Featured here are the aluminum-made Syntace C3 Clips, which have a unique-shaped design that caters well to an aero bar hydration setup. The aluminum C3 Clip (Large) is a lightweight option weighing in at 378g (366g for the Medium). You save a few grams with the carbon extensions, but not by much.
Due to the limited adjustment capabilities, the Syntace C3 Clip’s come in several sizes – small, medium, and large (all at the same price), as well as two material options – aluminum and carbon (+$70 for the carbon).
For aluminum aero bars, the Syntace Speedcutter tool allows athletes to adjust extension length. Still, actual fore/aft-like adjustment like other clip-on aero bars is not an option with Syntace products. However, this “compromise” saves significant weight, shedding ~300g compared to comparable alternatives.
Syntace is a widely-recognized leader in the world of aero bar products, and for good reason. The C3 Clip’s start at $250 and escalate to $675 for the carbon.
- Scope out the C3 Clip aero bars at Syntace.com.
Zipp Vuka Clip (Alumina Race Extensions)
The Zipp Vuka Clip aero bars are standout performers for the price. In addition to being highly adaptable on almost any type of bike, the Vuka Clips with Alumina Race Extensions offer 52mm of rise (compared to the Vuka Alumina Evo, which offers a 70mm or 110mm rise.)
The bend of the Alumina Race Extensions places the wrists at a more natural angle, enabling athletes to attain a highly tucked and race-optimized aero position.
Zipp’s Vuka Clip with Alumina Race Extensions comes at a combined weight of 780g for the entire unit (the above-bar system weighs 310g, the below-bar system 295g, and 175g for the Vuka Race extensions.)
Although it’s not among the lightest aero bars of the bunch, it delivers SRAM/Zipp-quality performance for $140.
- Take a closer look at these aero bars by visiting SRAM.com.
Profile Design Supersonic Ergo 35c
One of the newest products to come from Profile Design is the Supersonic Ergo 35c. These aero bars provide a simple and adaptable system that offers a greater fit range for a variety of applications.
Recognized for its versatile fit options and comfort, the Supersonic Ergo 35c aero bars are incredibly easy to install. The Supersonic bracket is the result of years of fine-tuning and product refining. Combined with the Ergo platform, athletes can leverage up to 80 different positions with this aero bar setup.
The 35-degree extension caters to an arrowhead hand position, providing an aero bar that’s well suited to athletes who want something moderately aggressive and ideal for long hours in the saddle.
Profile Design Supersonic Ergo 35c delivers significant bang-for-the-buck returns with an attractive price tag just below $250. The only potential downside from competitive athletes is that the total weight of the units is 673g.
- Check them out at Profile-Design.com.
Final Word on Aero Bars
In simple terms, the human body is not very streamlined and poses the greatest force in terms of aerodynamic drag. Positioning on the bike is critical for reducing drag and maximizing speed and efficiency, and the simple installation of clip-on aero bars is a simple way to get there.
Whether you’re new to triathlon and want to convert a beginner road bike into a time trial-friendly speed machine or plan on racing a multi-day ultra-cycling event and seek greater comfort and efficiency on the bike, clip-on aero bars are a low-cost investment that provides significant ROI.