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In the light of the recent UCI aero-tuck ruling brouhaha, the Farr Aero Bolt-On Alloy could be the perfect accessory if you're keen to emulate that casual pro look and yet still have something to hold onto safely. It also offers mild aero gains without the scaffolding usually associated with tri bars, and if you cover significant distances on your bike you might value the different hand positions this bolt-on little loop bar can offer.
Fitting is quick and easy to any 31.8mm handlebar via four Torx bolts. While it's not the prettiest thing you can put on your bike, it is tidily executed, and compared with other aero bars, with their sometimes clunky combinations of bolts and clamps and spacers and arm rests, it's positively elegant and minimal. Farr produces a carbon version, which is a significantly swisher and more refined affair but also costs significantly more.
The Aero Bolt-On Alloy doesn't have the forward reach of a traditional aero bar – it's only about 110mm from the centre of the handlebar to the centre of the extension, putting your hands about level with the mid point of your brake hoods, so you're not in a proper arms forward and stretched out wind tunnel tested aero tuck position. Any aero benefits come from your hands being in the middle of the bar and hidden in front of your body, and your elbows being in a bit rather than catching the wind spread on the outer reaches of the handlebar.
While on the Aero Bolt-On your control over the bike is compromised – steering is twitchier and requires more concentration, and you're nowhere near gear and brake levers – so I don't need to tell you it's probably not best to use the Aero Bolt-On in traffic or in the middle of a group ride. It's fine on clear roads into a headwind, though.
You'll want to fiddle with the angle of the Farr unit to find your comfy place. For me it was pretty much level, even pointing slightly down worked well on the road bike. If you want more control, especially over rougher terrain, then a more upward tilt helps as you can brace yourself against it.
While the clamps of the Aero Bolt-On are slim, the 142mm-wide squoval shape of the overall bar takes up a lot of the airspace your essential ride devices might normally occupy in front of your handlebar. Flat bar riders will have a bit more scope, but finding somewhere to fit your usual hardware alongside the Farr is likely to be tricky on drop bars.
You could clamp things to the Farr bar, but as the diameter of the tubing is 22.2mm your usual device mounts won't fit unless you get busy with shims and bodging. Farr does produce a dedicated 22.2mm alloy clamp that provides a mounting space for a Garmin or Wahoo GPS, but that's extra.
It takes a ride or two to get used to the Aero Bolt-On. Bike handling requires more concentration as, with both your hands in the middle of the bar, steering is a lot more nervous. Finding a position that works for you both in angle of bar and where to put your hands takes experimentation. You need to use your arms and core more to support your body as there aren't any arm rests to take your weight, as you would find on a traditional aero bar setup (although these are available, for an extra AUS $140). Spreading your weight, some on your handlebar and some on the Aero Bolt-On, helps.
By moving your hands around on the Aero Bolt-On loop you can achieve differing levels of comfort and control. I found holding onto the sides and wedging my wrists against the front of the handlebar was best for holding me solid when putting in a steady effort along a straight road or into the wind, while stretching out and hooking my thumbs under the very front of the Farr extension was good for long lazy cruising sections. Having these and other hand positions to choose from over the course of a long ride is a real benefit, and the aerodynamic gain is a bonus.
The Aero Bolt-On does benefit from a wrap of bar tape as it can get a little slippy with moisture, be that from yourself or the elements, and the added comfort of a layer of padding also helps.
How it compares with others is a little tricky, as there's not much like it on the market really. The Deda Elementi Parabolica Due Clip On Bars tested a long ways back (now £128.99) are proper aero bars with arm rests and everything, so an entirely different and more dedicated beast. The Farr's rrp of £89 does still seem spendy for a bit of bent tube, but that seems to be the way with aero bars.
Looking at the pricier carbon version, it addresses a few of the issues with the alloy Aero Bolt-On. It has a 31.8mm diameter bulge in the middle to help with mounting your usual handlebar bits and bobs, and has flat wings on either side which look like a more comfortable platform to place your hands and wrists. Farr has added grip areas that make it easier to use without gloves, and it's also 35g lighter. All of these things might be worth the price premium to you, but at £150 it's quite a hike.
It's probably better to consider the Farr Aero Bolt-On as another place to put your hands rather than concentrate too much about any aero benefits and how much you can smash off your PB, although cutting through the air with extra speed or maintaining the same speed for less effort will definitely come into the equation.
Having that extra position – or extra positions as the loop offers several places to shuffle your hands – really does help on lengthier rides, especially when faced with a long, straight road into a headwind, but maintaining the position can get tiring after a while, as can the more nervous handling from steering from the very middle of the handlebar. If you're after eking out all of your aero gains on the bike then this isn't really for you.
Anyone can bolt this to their bike, but the more miles you do, and the more day on day miles you do, the more you'll appreciate it. The possibility of different hand positions really is a bonus when you're bored, tired or a bit achy, and the wind-cheating effects of having your hands front and centre can take the edge off that long, straight road.
Given all this, the Aero Bolt-On should pique the interest of the current crop of long distance and adventure riders, both on and off road, who will value the alternative position(s) and aero benefits. The loop also makes a handy place to strap bags and outdoor nick-nacks to, all of which makes the Aero Bolt-On worth considering.
Small, tidy bolt-on aero loop that's more about different hand positions and comfort than finding windcheating speed
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Farr Aero Bolt-On
Size tested: Suitable for most 31.8mm diameter handlebars
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Farr says its Aero Bolt-On Alloy is a lightweight, ergonomic addition to your cockpit, providing added hand positions and comfort whilst offering an aero-tuck position for those wanting to focus on pure speed.
That's about right, mentioning more hand positions ahead of any aero gains makes sense.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Farr lists these features:
Designed to fit 31.8mm handlebars and weighing just 133g they are the ultimate comfort upgrade for your bike.
Ergonomic bend and shape
Easy to fit in under 2 minutes
Lightweight Alloy construction
Suitable for most 31.8mm diameter handlebars
Gravel / Racing / Touring / Bikepacking / MTB and more
Weight : 133 grams ( including hardware )
It's not the most sophisticated component but it's well made with decent fixings.
It does what it says on the tin, providing extra hand positions and a bit of aero, but also taking up space that your performance-related devices might usually occupy.
Early days, but it should go on a while – it's well made with decent fixings.
Light but solid.
It offers additional hand positions to those of a normal bar but the lack of arm support can get weary. Benefits from bar tape.
Aero bars tend to be expensive for bits of bent tube and some bolts, and this follows that trend. For what it is, it's not a cheap add-on; it's a niche low-volume market, but still...
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Mild aero gains and extra hands position for easing out the miles.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Small, a bit aero, different hand positions.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Takes up handlebar space usually occupied by useful devices, position makes steering twitchy and can get tiring, pricey.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
This does seem spendy for a bit of bent tube, but that seems to be the way with aero bars. There's not much like this on the market really – the Deda Elementi Parabolica Due Clip On Bars tested a long ways back are proper aero bars with arm rests and everything, so an entirely different and more dedicated beast. They're now £128.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Kinda. It wasn't as comfortable or aero as a proper bolt-on tri-bar setup, but it was significantly smaller, less obtrusive and didn't make the bike look like a triathlon bike. I'd put it on for longer adventures.
Would you consider buying the product? I think so. I've been thinking about bodging a set of old Spinaci bars to fit more modern handlebars for a while now...
Would you recommend the product to a friend? There would need to be a long chat about their needs and desires.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Farr Aero Bolt-On has its pluses in that it's compact, doesn't look like the usual bolt-on aero bar clutter and offers different hand positions to add comfort and variety to any ride, and the aero benefits are also quite handy. But it seems to add a few problems and compromises as well. It's good rather than very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.