9 Jan 2015

8th January 2015 Profile Design 'Legacy' Aero bars.


Thursday 8th 40F, 4C, windy, heavy overcast, rain. Not much chance of cycling in the next few days. Winds up to storm force with rain are forecast. 25m/s or 55mph gusts are likely. It rained for most of the morning. Then I had a busy afternoon. Another rest day.

A pair of  Profile Design 'Legacy' aero bars have arrived in quick time from Cykelpartner.dk. None of my recycled stock of aero bars had fitted 31.8 handlebars. These older and heavier bars were bought from flea markets and charity shops for small change but only fitted 26mm 'bars.

I spent some time researching the cheaper aero bars before choosing the Profile Design 'Legacy.' They lacked some features I would have liked but which I thought I could fix. Or just learn to live with. I would have preferred the elbow rests to be further back. If only to ensure that my elbows were suitably bent and the rests came fairly close to my elbows in use. I decided that I needed to shorten the cockpit anyway so will be looking for a shorter stem.

My increasingly stiff lower back won't comfortably allow me to reach very far to the brake hoods. I have already gone from a 125mm to an 80mm stem in less than a year of owning the Trykit. In a perfect world I would have had a shorter stem handy but again the short ones bought for the Higgins were all for 26mm bars. I'll see how I get on before deciding whether I need to go shorter still than the present 80mm. The next step is 60mm. It is well accepted that an "aero position" requires a shorter reach. With the saddle well over the bottom bracket compared with a "normal" road racing bike. Though I am certainly not planning on doing any racing.

I discovered the other day that I can hardly reach the bottom of my kneecaps with my fingertips when bending at the hips. Never mind trying to touch my toes! This is a very poor state of affairs and has nothing to do with having an apron of fat because I really don't have one. I may have to start doing back flexing exercises.

I seem to be in constant slight pain right across my lower back these days. Suggesting muscle tension rather than skeletal problems. Lifting any weights, like moving loads of 10 kg bags of fuel for the stove, often gives me back pain. Perhaps I just don't do enough lifting these days? I spent a decade repeatedly lifting heavy weights at work before retiring. Even heavier work before that while rebuilding our old cottage. Not to mention excavating and landscaping the grounds entirely by pick, shovel and wheelbarrow. Not to mention clearing a 20 hectare field of large stones working entirely alone using a wheelbarrow. Two builder's barrows really because I completely wore one out. It's amazing I can still walk let alone chew gum. Not that I would want to chew gum. ;-)

Fighting a headwind seems to be the daily norm on my trike rides. Denmark seems to have constant wind all year round. The prevailing autumn, spring and winter wind is from the SW. Which means I must always fight it to get back home. Living on the "bottom left" of an island leaves little choice other than riding with the wind to leave home. So I have finally decided to invest £40 in aero bars to reduce drag.

I also ordered PD's clever 'Legacy' computer mounting device. Helping to move the computer head away from the top of the stem where it can be seen properly. By carefully marking the required length from their 60mm long model I was able to cut the body to exact length. Then jam it perfectly between the parallel section of the aero bars with the clever screw-strap clamp simultaneously fully tightened.

I suppose I could have adjusted the spacing between the aero bar clamps first. Before pushing them back together again to a fit tightly on the computer mounting. Or, I could even have radiused the far end of the body. To fit the curve of the opposite [parallel] section of the aero bar. Oh, for the wisdom of perfect hindsight! For those interested the Legacy computer mounting system is a hollow plastic tube. Coarsely threaded one end and smoothly hollow the other. With a closing, decorated cap for appearance. I sawed the capped end off. Leaving the threaded section for the strap which clamps around the bars by screwing the body around the threaded, double-ended strap. Two straps are provided to cater for for different bar diameters. It cost me about a £5 in real money but proved to be very good value.

Trying to hang the Sigma shoe/docking station between the aero bars, via tie wraps in mid air, was a complete non-starter. The shoe is far too flimsy in tension but fine under compression onto any self-reinforcing bar. The PD Legacy computer mounting system is nicely rigid. Meaning that setting buttons can be pressed positively regardless of gloves being worn. And, without the computer head wobbling about uselessly and causing selection errors. Though, somewhat ironically,  PD's own instructions would have twisted the head on the far end of the aero bars. Or had forced the parallel sections of the bars further apart.

They also do a shorter bodied model and the clamping power provided is fine. So there is no real need to try and improve further on the computer mounting's stability like I did. Though this was more for appearance to give a 'finished' look. I thought the shorter body might have looked "half finished" fitted off-centre between the aero-bars. Which is why I chose the longer body. You'd think PD would put both body lengths in the same pack and charge [say] an extra squid. But who am I to quibble? No doubt they can sell two complete packs at full price when the original length proves unsuitable for the application.

Having the computer further forward is a vast improvement compared with having it fixed to the stem. It means I can be watching the road ahead instead of constantly having to look straight down. It also means I can easily see the computer when I am standing on the pedals. It was always impossible to see the screen when I was climbing out of the saddle. The computer head sits completely free of the normal hand position on the aero-bars where I can easily read the Sigma screen between my wrists.

I have placed the aero-bar clamps as near to the stem as possible without them actually touching it. It was vitally important to me that I could climb with my hands on the handlebar tops without the elbow rests getting in the way. Several of my previous aero bars have forced me to grip the elbow pads themselves instead of the tops. Which is patently ridiculous! As well as being rather unsafe and not offering a firm and comfortable grip to pull against on long climbs.

I now have compact handlebars fitted on my trike. These bars have much sharper bends than typical road models. These bends help to provide a greater length of straight bar either side of the stem. Usually referred to as "the tops" and is where most riders grip while climbing. Since this forces the rider to sit more upright they can breathe easily without compressing the chest and stomach. Few riders climb fast enough to worry about the increased drag of sitting more upright. Changing position from the tops to the [brake] hoods provides a change in rider position and body lean. Helping to reduce fatigue on longer rides.

The pictures I have added here will hopefully show the aero bars in sufficient detail. The handlebar clamps are solid alloy and extend sideways as continuous units to support the arm rests. No extra joints or bolted, sub-assemblies to work loose. The entire setup weighs about 500 grams or about a lb in old money. Given my propensity for carrying shopping for miles on end, another pound is not the end of the world. The equivalent of half a carton of milk is neither here nor there. Unlike my complete and rather heavy set of alloy T3 triathlon bars the Legacy aero bars seem to have no affect on steering or feel. Not even while walking the trike across the lawn to take more pictures.

The tubular aero-bars themselves are fixed permanently to their own handlebar clamps. So have no provision for rotation or linear adjustment. Only their spacing apart [on the handlebars] and the lateral position of the elbow rests is possible. Three optional screw holes are available to adjust the spacing of each arm rest independent of the spacing of the clamps on the handlebars. The elbow pads rest on firm plastic mouldings. Which allow the rests to be rotated to taste, locked in place and and then firmly clamped with the central, socket-head, fixing screw. There is a complete absence of individual parts simply bolted together. Which I liked over competitor's products and my own 'junk' 26mm aero bars in the shed.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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