Are Aero Bars Suitable for Mountain Biking

Are Aero bars suitable for mountain biking?

Aero bars, or clip on aerobars, are handlebars that attach to your existing handlebars and provide relatively low-profile aerodynamic benefits in cycling events. They have been popular for road cycling, triathlons, and touring for many years. However, are aero bars suitable for mountain biking?

To answer this question, it is necessary to understand the basic principles behind clip on aerobars and how they are typically used in cycling. Aero bars generally provide a more aerodynamic profile, which allows for less wind resistance, and a more ergonomic posture that often increases overall performance.

In road cycling, time trial racing, and triathlons, Aero bars are beneficial, as they promote a more aerodynamic profile which provides riders with increased speed. But mountain biking has some key differences in terrain and conditions that must be taken into account when looking at whether Aero bars are suitable.

The primary concern for mountain bike riders should be their safety. Aero bars allow riders to keep their hands on the bars while also keeping their torso low and aerodynamic. While this may provide a high-performance benefit on flat surfaces, it can be dangerous when descending on steep terrain or riding around blind corners. It is also very difficult to navigate tight trails with a lower body position. The safety risk of using Aero bars while mountain biking should not be taken lightly.

In addition to safety, the terrain of mountain biking is much more varied than the terrain typically encountered in road cycling or triathlons. Unpredictable terrain necessitates constant changes in riding position and bodyweight distribution, something that is not possible in a low, static position such as those provided by Aero bars. Therefore, Aero bars are not particularly well-suited to mountain biking.

Finally, the power output necessary on mountain biking trails is much greater than on roads or triathlons. When using Aero bars, the rider is in an aerodynamic position, but does not have access to the full range of muscle groups needed to generate significant power output. This reduces a rider’s ability to accelerate out of a corner with maximum efficiency.

Overall, Aero bars are generally not suitable for mountain biking. The low body position provided by the bars can be dangerous when navigating tight trails, and the terrain and power output requirements on mountain biking trails are very different from roads or triathlons. Thus, it is recommended to leave the Aero bars off the mountain bike and instead opt for wider, more upright handlebars that allow you to safely navigate the trails.

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