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Help !!! Dodgy balance

I have done a few events on a borrowed Specialised bike and my wife (God bless) seeing how much I am loving it wants to buy me a proper tri bike. The only problem is I seem to have losuy balance, the Specialised had bolt on aero bars which are quite narrow and frighten the bloody life out of me. I havew tried stopped pedalling a nd trying to move my arms over but I go all over the place. On the time that I have got down I am bricking myself as it seems very unstable and it also seems to affect my breathing as the narrow position squeezes my chest.

I can quite happily adapt a low position on the Specialised using the normal bars and feel the extra speed from that so it is obviously advantageous but cannot sustain this for 20 or 40Km. Aero - or in may case aero'ish is the way to go.

I had a go on a friends Trek tri bike and he had Vision aero base bar and TT or T2? ski type as opposed to S type ? shifters, now the the pads on these are 25 cm centre to centre as opposed to 15cm on the Specialised bolt ons. Might be better you may thinks but again my steering was pitching all over trying to 'assume the position' Is this normal at first or is my balance that bad?.

Thepads/shifter extension bar things can't be moved any further to the edges as the base bar has a wing. To me it seems if I could get a bar like a straight bullbar with the brakes on the ends and position the shifter bars quite close to the edge of the bars i.e.something like 35cm centre to centre then to move from the brakes to the shifters I am only moving my hands a short distance rather than my arms and indeed my upper body which is sending my baalnce all over the place.

Has anyone done this or am I talking complete twaddlers?



  • bryanbryan Posts: 45
    Hey hugh, i just got my first set of tri bars and i am experiencing the exact same thing!! nearly came a cropper big time my first time out. hopefully it improves with practice.

  • transittransit Posts: 163
    I'm not quite sure about all the details you've put in, tried drawing a diagram with all the measurements but became too confused [;)]

    Aero bars by there nature dictate that you must steer the bike with your elbows, hence, it is inherently unstable. Have you had much experience riding a road bike in general? If not then it might just be a matter of building up some hours in the saddle. After that you get the aerobars on and find a nice quiet flat road and practise practise practise - both riding in the aero position so your body can adapt but also getting on the bars and back off as that is potentially when you are least stable.

    In terms of the options for different bars/shifters, they can be endless. You should easily be able to get a wider configuration of bars but it sounds like it will require a new set of bars - might be a worth while investment in the early days then might be able to refit narrower (hence more aero) bars in the future.

    On the other pt of your chest feeling squeezed, as per the instability, this is also very common. First thing, it sounds like the bars might be too low. Your body has to adapt to these things so as per the pt above, try and build up the amount of time you spend on the bars in training. Start with them quite high then move them down once comfortable, then judge how it feels and how it affects your breathing etc.

    Aerodynamics compromises the amount of force you can apply to the pedals due to the body position so whilst ideally you may think you want to be as low as possible it may be more effective to be slightly higher but able to drive the pedals more efficiently. You can also adjust your bike position, there are some articles on line if you search around (sorry, I don'thave links to hand) about the specifics of TT positions - quite often people bring there saddle fwd to open up the chest. I wouldn't go rushing into this as it may compromise other parts of your cycling.

    Well that's my take on it, sure others will be able to add and offer alternative advise but thought I'd start the ball rolling.

    Sorry I couldn't help more on the specifics of the bars but couldn't work out, it's late!!!
  • Recently read something online somewhere - will try and find it again later if required about aerodynamics and compromises on the bike. This stated that the least Aero position is an upright position on the bike with wide grip on hoods, tri-bars provide a slightly more aero position but not as significant as lowering handlebars (flipping stem and removing spacers). Taking these steps to lower your shoulders and bring your back closer to parallel with the ground (apparently) reduces drag considerably by reducing frontal area (specifically frontal height), only once you have reached this aero position do tri bars make a significant difference as beyond a certain back angle lowering the upper body leads to impaired pedalling (knees hitting chest!). Once you have reached this position (recommended to slowly work your way down over several weeks of training to prevent lower back pain) then tri bars are a good idea as they reduce your frontal width. It's all about reducing total frontal area as much as pos so reducing both width and height are useful, therefore if you are going to use tri-bars do so with minimal possible (comfortable) width between arm rests.

    Point to note - watching elites at a number of sprint and olympic races it is surprising to see how few actually use (or even have fitted) tri bars. Not sure whether this is because drafting is allowed in their races or becuase they find the improved pedalling efficiency from being upright and comfortable outweighs any gains aero would provide.

    Thats my 2p's worth but I am only as good as my sources (and I don't know what they are!!!)
  • hughjarcehughjarce Posts: 6
    Thanks for all your replies. Another thing I forgot to ask, is ther any way I can make the steering less light, know that's not proper English. The steering is so light compared to my bog standard £50 mountain bike (there again that could be the narrow tyres)

    Thanks all
  • MGMG Posts: 470
    Hello all,

    The reason you see very few elite triathletes with aero bars is that, because they can draft, for saftey reasons, they cannot have clip on bars protruding any further than their brake levers. Therefore the aero bars would have to be quite short and stubby and a bit uncomfy, most of them just use the drop handlebars instead.

    I remember when I first put aero clip ons on my bike, it took a bit of practice and adjustment before I could fully exploit the potential of them. Bike felt very twitchy at first but you learn to relax, keep your upperbody still, dont have a death grip on the bars and eventually you'll be fine!

    Good luck!
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    I am always having this arguement about aero bars & the inevitable power compromise vs using your drops to lower frontal area with little power compromise, add in that instability & the fact I am never gonna win one of these races, then road bike & bars it is. Altho if I were to buy a Specialized Transition...
  • Free WillyFree Willy Posts: 63
    I had a similar problem when I first tried tri-bars, in fact the first set were ornaments for at least a season until on one particular stretch of bumpy road one of the arm rests dropped off! After that ride the remaining bits went in the bin, however as I rode more and felt a lot more comfortable handling the road bike I decided to try another set, as stated in an earlier posting in this thread the height does have implications with the comfort factor and I had to alter my bars and the width if the tri bars, and I also played around with my saddle position as well. It is worth perservering as once you do get used to them it does appear to improve the speed, my average speed has improved considerably in time trials since working out how to use them.

    If you are not confident about trying them on the open road, put the bike on an indoor trainer and try and get used to them with a few sessions of spinervals (or something similar or a good movie).


  • transittransit Posts: 163
    hugh, you're a bit limited to changing the handling of the bike. The only adjustment you could make would be to change the length of the stem, however, I wouldn't both as on a road bike it is the length it is based on your body dimensions (opposed to a mtb when the stem might be adjusted dependent on the discipline e.g. xc v downhill). You should be pleased it is so light/responsive.
  • hughjarcehughjarce Posts: 6

    Mate of mine is a keen biker, told him about my balance problem and he Googles 'tank slapping' - hairy videos of (motor)bike racers coming to grief. He has a steering damper fitted to his bike and swears he will never ride a bike without one. He rigged up some washers and fitted them in the headset, result steering is still responsive but not featherlight doesn't fly off at 90 degrees like it did before at the slightest knock.

    For me the bike handles much better, felt solid and stable, able to steer left and right with little effort, handlesbars didnt want to fly out of my hands if it hit a stone etc tried the aero bit and after a few wobbles started to get the hang of it.

    I really can't see why bikes are made with steering so light, cars have progressive powers steering i.e. assistance tapers off with speed as last thing you want is to have your car veer to one side at 70mph if you sneeze

    Will likely get crys of horror but my mate assures me the bearings are ok and that they will not jam up the works.


    Dare say that as I get more used to it could remove the washers but will see how i go

  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    Hi mate,

    I love riding in aero, but i do sometimes wish my front end wasnt so twitchy, as I dont have bar end shifters, so when i have to switch over to the shifters it gets a tad unstable.

    so i was just wondering what your mate did exactly? so i can have a go!
  • hughjarcehughjarce Posts: 6
    My mate made a big washer washer 5centimters long out of a plastic ingot (helps if you have your own machine shop) that fitted over the stem it was not loose so it wouldnt spin around if you flicked it but not too stiff, basically sort of hand tight. This was a snug fit between the stem and the inside of the headset. When you picked the bike up instead of the wheel flopping to one side remained pointing forward.

    I find the handling to be much betteri can point it into a crner and it goes I am not having to recorrect it if it oversteers. It is not silly light like it was before. When I tried the aero bars ok I am still sort of wobbling but getting better but the wheel is not shhoting off at right angels like before

    I have found a link to a steering damper for mtb's http://store.hopey.org/ so the theroy is sound

    I do want to point out though that this works for me on this particular bike and dont want anyone going crashing on my account I suppose if you did some hunting round you could get some plastic pipe of the right size that would do the same job

    Hope that helps but I am very happy now with the handling it is much better even with a normal riding position and am now able to use the aero bar where before I was ending up with me wheel going off to one side almost at right angels so yeah for me it is now a safer bike

    Hope that helps
  • BARNYBARNY Posts: 157
    makes good sense - the extra weight of the clip ons throw the balance of the bars / steering out and so the steering can become less stable.

    The other thing poeple shodul consider however is that when adding clip ons to a normal road bike the geometry isnt quite right for getting onto the aero position (fo me the top tube was too long)... I have finally managed to get a comfy stable position by using some of the draft legal aerobars = They didnt require me to over stretch forward and for my weight to be so far forward over fornt wheel and seriously efecting the balance of the bike i.e. all weight over front wheel. It is extremly important that weight is distributed evenly over both wheels and as much of your weight teken up by core mussles - not on your elbows.

    Quite simply if you are not comfy - You are wasting your time in aero pos and should go with the drops.
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