Aero Bars on a long distance / touring bike?


New Member
Oct 31, 2010
Why do I never see aero bars on touring bikes? I am currently building a bike / training for a long distance tour (at least South CA to WA) and I like aero bars for this application. They are comfortable for long distance and they provide less wind drag, which over 1200 miles will not be negligible. I am going to end up with a bike just under 8000 grams with the frame and forks being the oldest and heaviest (1987 Cannondale and threaded forks) The groupset will be SRAM Red. So, is a set of aero bars on a touring bike a bad idea for some reason? Let me know. Thanks
The original idea for aerobars came from the huge armrests that Pete Penseyres used back in the mid 80s for the Race Across America... So by default there's nothing wrong with putting aero bars on a touring bike. If any tri or time trial guys give you some grief about it just remind them that it was them that copied the idea ;)
Quote: The original idea for aerobars came from the huge armrests that Pete Penseyres used back in the mid 80s for the Race Across America... So by default there's nothing wrong with putting aero bars on a touring bike. If any tri or time trial guys give you some grief about it just remind them that it was them that copied the idea ;)

Well there you go thanks, swampy1970, for the bit of history and the response. It's much appreciated. I will stick with the aero bars then.
Heck Profile makes a set called the Century. An easy and cheap addition to the bike. I usually see the closed loop style bars (like the Century) on any touring bikes with aerobars. I do like the option of multiple seating/resting positions on long rides.
Just be careful, with the aero position, if you carry any load on front panniers. It could be tricky to handle that. I have also seen more often the closed loop style bars on touring bikes.
That's a good point about the front pannier weight. Well, I will keep training and getting stronger in that position. Of course I will test out weights around the bike before I take off on a long distance trip.
Yes, for touring you would want the closed loop style ie the Profile Century bars or better yet the Airstryke. I like the Airstryke as the pads flip up when not in use giving you total use of the bars. There are plenty of shorter aerobar options though as the ITU demands this style be used in Triathlons that are draft legal.
this one is the butterfly style for touring


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The butterfly ones are probably best for touring. They are comfortable, yet they don't have your weight hanging off the front too far. I have decided on a standard "TT" set because I use my bike for more than strictly touring. They do have a short reach so I am not too far forward. It's not comfortable anymore anyway when you are completely sprawled out over the front tire.
I used them on a 30-day ride across Australia, but it was 'flat as!', like they (might) say in OZ. I used them a lot, but in retrospect it was probably because I didn't have many other choices for hand position. If the route is flat you'll feel it in your wrists much more than in hills, simply because of the steady stress.

If your route is flat and straight, I don't see any problem with aero bars, but you might see how stable they feel under a heavy load.

You already have plenty of answers here, but I'm definitely for aero bars on tour. There can be some long, windy patches out there where you won't want hands on the bullhorns for hours at a time. In response to above I can also assure you that they're fine on both flat and hilly roads -- and why not?

As for the weight issue, be very aware of that. When you transfer into or out of the aero bars make sure you're doing it one hand at a time so that there's always a point of contact between you and the handlebars. This would be a given procedure on any day, but with the gear on the bike there are added balance concerns which could cause a crash if you're not careful. I've given myself a start when trying to be slick and just popping into the positions. It's easy to make a simple mistake at the end of a long day!
I cycled around south america years back with aerobars attached to the flat handlebars. They were great. The ones I had were padded at the elbow so I could rest very comfortably. I put them on my road bike though and I get funny looks from other cyclists in the city.
I'm building a touring bike for my first multiday tour, the BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia) in June. I was able to pick up a pair of slightly used Profile Design Airstryke bars. I think having the additional hand positions will take some pressure off stress points when riding 60 miles a day for 6 days. If I don't find them helpful, they'll be back on Craigslist in July.
Originally Posted by vspa

this one is the butterfly style for touring
Those are nice bars, I use them on an old Cannondale I'm converting for touring. They give you a range of hand positions and plenty of space for needed accessories. They also allow just enough reach to be comfortable in the aero or upright position, and can be adjusted by tilting them up or down to achieve a comfortable fit and position on the bike. Where I got them from, they were called "Trekking Bars".


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Not sure how many miles per day you want to put on, but typically the average tourists puts on 40 if mountains are being climbed, to 60 miles a day, of course there are some diehards that will put on 120 but remember I said average. If you're on a bike for just 60 to even 100 miles I don't see the real need for aero bars unless for some reason you're in a rush then the aero bars may be useful. I ride a lot of times in excess of 100 miles and never had the need for aero bars...but different strokes for different folks. Also keep in mind this being more aero on a touring bike is complete nonsense since you have panniers shaped like boxes preventing you from being aerodynamic anyways! The aero bars are more about for some being a bit more comfortable for resting a bit on something, but if you need to stop suddenly you have to move off the bars to the brake levers which could be a problem to do that quickly. Keep in mind that a loaded bike is more unstable and moving your body position into that type of position could cause handling issues you may not be prepared for especially hitting a rough spot on the road, personally after doing even a moderate weighted (25 to 35 pounds of weight) touring trips I would not want aero bars, they may be fine if you're doing ultralight or credit card touring, but not for anything over 25 pounds and definitely with no panniers and/or handlebar bag on the front. Just my opinion.
[SIZE=10.5pt]I usually see aero bars in tri-bikes or racing bikes which are used for long-distance racing to be able to do a “resting” position for the arms and body and also lessen air resistance. I don’t see anything wrong with putting aero bars in touring bikes especially when they are modified for racing or cycling long distances. My father has one and attached an aero bar on it and sometimes he uses it for local and friendly triathlon events. [/SIZE]
Lots of mixed answers in this thread. I suggest you use Aero Bars if you ride more than 100 miles, and you are focusing on time. Other than that, I do not really see a use in using them. If they are readily available to you though, go ahead! Cycling is cycling, whichever bars you use.