Whether it’s because you’re shopping for new aero bars for your tri-bike or looking to improve your time trialing abilities, you’re hunting for a new set of clip-on aero bars. Shopping for these specialty handlebars can be confusing.
Which clip-on bars are compatible with your bike?
What should you look for in a quality set of aero bars?
Don’t Worry. You’re at the right place.
Below, we’ll present our list of the best aero bars you can buy. We’ll also review the features you should care most about when considering which set works best for you and your bike, so you can get the most out of your purchase.
Here are our favorite clip-on aero bards for road bikes.
Specialized Venge Clip-On Aero Bar
Specialized would rather you rode it’s Shiv time-trialing bike in your triathlon competition than purchase a set of clip-on aero bars.
Unfortunately, the Shiv does not comply with the ITU’s (International Triathlon Union) rules. So, Specialized has developed the Venge clip-on aero bar, which it expects you to use with its Venge aero bike (the bars are only compatible with the newer MY19 Venge cockpit).
Specialized goes with a J-bend handlebar style for the Venge. It’s a bit more compact than other clip-on aero bars at 200mm, which may require some adjustments in your seat position in order to get the best aerodynamic position.
Since it’s made to be compatible with the Venge headset and stem, the bars fit perfectly with the drop bars and include a carbon routing option, allowing you to add shifters to the nose of the bars if you wish. The carbon armrests have four positions for adjustment.
2. Enve SES Aero Handlebar Extension
This versatile set of handlebars from carbon components specialist Enve gives you plenty of options to choose from. The bars come in three different shapes: J-bend, S-bend and straight with the S-bend bars being the lightest at 445g.
Enve designed these bars to work with its SES Aero road bar, so they aren’t compatible with any other handlebars.
The SES Aero clip-ons use a mix of carbon and aluminum in its construction for strength, performance and durability. Carbon forearm pads are padded with molded neoprene for comfort.
Since Enve designed SES Aero’s to be compatible with one set of handlebars, they include an option to add shifters to the bar extensions. The SES Aero’s also offer plenty of adjustability with eight different hole positions and 10º of rotation for the forearm pads.
3. Profile Design T5+
This set of clip-on aero bars from Profile Design is an excellent option for those who don’t own a set of handlebars compatible with brand-specific bars on the market.
The Profile Design T5+ focuses on performance with plenty of customization options. Carbon comprises the base and bar extensions, providing plenty of road dampening while keeping things light: the T5’s weight is about 575g.
The T5’s profile is almost completely flat with a slight 15º rise near the tips, providing a nice balance between aerodynamics and ergonomics.
For those who like to tinker with fit, the T5+ offers plenty of adjustment. Bar extensions can be shortened or rotated by loosening a single bolt. And, the armrests are designed with 15º of rotation with three fore/aft positions. The extensions offer 30mm of length adjustment.
The T5s fit two handlebar sizes; 26.0mm and 31.8mm.
4. Bontrager Race Lite Aero Clip-On Bars
Trek offers a value-option aluminum set of bars with its Bontrager Race Lite Aero Clip-On bars.
Although a bit heavier than its carbon rivals, the Bontrager Race Lite offers much to like including loads of adjustability. The Racer Lite’s employ a muted S-bend, providing just enough angle to add comfort while maintaining excellent aerodynamics.
A 65mm arm pad height allows you to switch between a normal handlebar position and the aero bars when mounted to a road bike. And the extension bars offer 60mm of length adjustment by loosening two bolts.
The pads are also easily adjustable by loosening an Allen wrench bolt, which allows them to be slid forward or backward. Another set of bolts under the pad allows for rotational adjustment. This set of bars is compatible with 31.8mm or 26mm drop bars. Two more bolts allow you to adjust the width of the bars.
5. Vision Trimax Clip-On Bars
The Trimax set of clip-on bars from bike components specialists Vision are an excellent all-around aero bar that offers lightweight performance and loads of adjustability.
Let’s start with the materials. Carbon extensions provide plenty of road dampening while molded pads on the arm rests add comfort. The S-bend bars offer a nuanced profile that allows improved grip while maintaining aerodynamics.
Adjustability abounds with this set of bars. You can truly customize them to suit your demands. The extension arms can be adjusted from 210mm to 360mm in 15mm increments. The width of the armrests offer 40mm of adjustability while the angle of the arm pads can be rotated by up to 13º.
Additional features include internal cable routing and aerodynamic clamps. The Vision Trimax clip-on bars are compatible with 31.8mm diameter drop bars.
Clip-On Bars Buying Guide & Tips
In this section, we’ll review the most important characteristics you should consider when it comes to clip-on aero bars. We’ll discuss the parts that go into a set of clip-on aerobars as well as shape, material, and adjustability.
Anatomy of a Clip-On Bar
Clip-on aero bars are handlebar extensions that mount to your existing drop bars and extend out over the front wheel of the bike.
Their purpose is to put you in a more aerodynamic position.
Unlike drop bars, aero bars provide armrests as well as a place for your hands to go. While the style and shape of an aero bar may vary considerably, clip-on bars consist of two horizontal bar extensions with grips for your hands and padded areas to rest your forearms.
J-Bend vs S-Bend
Aerobar designs vary significantly. Bar shapes range from straight to curved.
Curved bars are categorized as either S-bend to J-bend bars depending on the profile of the curve.
Whereas straight bars extend straight over the front wheel with no bend, J-bend bars, including the Specialized Venge, flare upwards at the end, creating a more ergonomic place for your hands to grip.
S-bend bars, such as the Vision Trimax clip-on bars, curve upward at the end, before curving again to a near-level position, creating an s shape. The degree to which J-bend and S-bend bars bend can vary significantly from bar to bar.
The effect of bar shape on performance is hotly debated in the triathlon and time trialing disciplines, but it generally goes like this: straight bars are considered to be the most aerodynamic.
J-bend bars offer more comfort, which can certainly affect performance, while s bend bars allow for more leverage, which improves power.
Aero bars are designed to be adjustable in order to fit a broad range of riders. Both the forearm rests and bar extensions are typically adjustable on clip-on bar sets.
The length of clip-on bar extensions can be adjusted to make them shorter or longer.
Forearm rests typically offer multiple positions that move them fore or aft on the bike. They can also be adjusted for angle.
Carbon vs Aluminum
Clip-on bars generally come in two material options: carbon and aluminum.
Carbon is stiffer and lighter, making it the preferred material for aero bars. Carbon aero bars, such as the Enve SES aero bars, can weigh about half of an aluminum clip-on bar. Carbon also has better road dampening qualities than aluminum. Some cyclists also claim that, due to their lightweight, carbon bars are more responsive than aluminum bars.
And, as with most things carbon, carbon aero bars simply look sleeker than aluminum bars.
Aluminum does have its advantages. It’s more durable and significantly cheaper. A set of carbon bars, such as the Bontrager Race Lite bars, can cost considerably more than aluminum aero bars.