Talk me into a handlebar

So as a “planner”, I’m already thinking about my next bike (for fall 2024). For the first time, I think I’m going to build one up. I’m currently debating handlebar choice - primarily a standard, round style vs aero style (not TT aero or aero bars) and I seem to change my mind daily.

I race cyclocross (cat 2) and the bike will be built for that purpose. It will also be my road bike but I don’t race road. 90% of my road rides are low-intensity rides and the other 10% are spirited group rides. So it’s all about cyclocross performance.

On one hand, I get that the aero gains are optimized at higher speeds and I likely won’t get above 20 mph too often but it does happen. But it isn’t a light switch, right? There has to be some benefit in the 12-15 mph range? And although I don’t race road, I very much enjoy going fast on those group rides

On the other hand, would it be too pretentious of me to be out there on a cx course with aero bars? Especially if the benefit is negligible?

But on the third hand, I don’t really care what people think if I’m faster than they are on race day. I’ve certainly lost races by a few seconds and I’ll take any advantage I can get. Just trying to decide if aero bars provide an overall performance advantage at cyclocross speeds.

Just for example, looking at some Ritchey handlebars, the cost is the same and the weight difference is basically negligible. But if aero bars aren’t worth it, I’m sure I could find traditional bars that are much lighter and/or cheaper.

Any thoughts and insights are appreciated!

I’m not a cross rider or racer, but I imagine you’ll essentially lose the tops of the bars as somewhere you can reliably grab onto with confidence of grip.

Between the shape and the unwrapped carbon, there’s not much traction. Add water or mud and forget it.

I’m not sure how often you’d need to grab the tops during dismounts, so this is perhaps a moot point.

Maybe your gloves are good enough or you could add grip tape.

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Hey, thanks for your thoughts. I’m honestly not that worried about the tops or the mud. I’m almost never on the tops and historically, maybe 1-2 races during my season involve rain/mud and even then (as I do some mental imagery), I rarely use the tops for mounting/dismounting/carrying.

thanks again

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Is that a typo? You are researching bars for a purchase a year from now?

If I’m reading this right as weighing speed v. pretentiousness… be fast and pretentious. Slow and humble is boring.


it’s a never ending process!:slight_smile:

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Granted it’s considered a road bar, but I have these on my CX and gravel bike and love them! I tested them on a my 2015 Crux years back and have stuck with them since. I currently run them on my Pivot Vault and Trek Crockett. The 35mm top diameter is is awesome to grab onto in conditions like CX or rough gravel rides, but the drops are still a traditional diameter. Aero wise they may not stack up to flat bars, but the lack of flair in the drops I feel makes my body position narrower and thus more aero. You do need the matching stem to complete the build because of the diameter. Good luck on your build. Building bikes is fun!

Is it strange? I have excel full of configurations for bikes I probably be able to buy 2024/2025…


not that it matters but I don’t get new bikes very often. This one will be my 45th birthday present to myself so I’m extra excited about it

Thanks! I’ll check them out

IMO, aside from cost, this is one of those things with benefits, and zero drawbacks.

It will be some measure of faster on both the road and CX course.

Might be close to zero benefit on the CX course, but not zero.

IMO, I wouldn’t want a carbon bar for cyclocross, simply because of the higher risk of damage. Maybe I’m paranoid, but falls and contact are more common during 'cross and snapping a $300+ bar stinks. Of course, I’m nowhere near elite enough for the few grams to matter, so YMMV.

I’m currently using Zipp XPLR bars on my two bikes. Slightly flattened tops, but still alloy and affordable.

I do like the look of the Coefficient carbon bars, especially the aero road version. But, I’d likely only install it on my gravel bike, but not my 'cross bike.

Nope. Perfectly normal. We both totally sane. :rofl:

I have a spreadsheet of stuff I want… one sheet for frames, another for build kits, another with handlebar details (weight, sweep, flare, etc). Also has a sheet for my bikepacking kit details, so I can monitor my base weight, organized by sleep system (tent+bag vs hammock).

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I’d be a lot more worried about the carbon frame than the carbon bars…

That said, my understanding is that carbon is actually less brittle, and less likely to break than aluminum is.

Depends on the bar. Some aero bars are comfy on top - nice flat spot to rest your hands. Probably not someplace to keep your hands when working hard off-road, but usable when spinning up a hill or similar.

Agreed; was trying to think of cyclocross mounts and off-bike handling, especially in wet and/or muddy conditions. I don’t CX, though. It appears to not be a factor.

For most people, it’ll be a non-issue. Typically, mount/dismount is from the hoods. Suitcase carry is the hood and TT. And a one-armed shoulder carry with reach-through uses the drop (to stop the wheel/bar flopping around).

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