March 24, 2010

How Much Are Those TT Handlebars In The Window?

So now that I have the TT bike (well I don't actually have it yet, but I did pull the trigger on a deposit on the frame) it is time to equip it. I joked at the end of the last TT post about the handlebar decision. Talk about foreshadowing.

Two major issues. Number one: Are those handlebars UCI-legal? Time trial handlebars have been hit even harder than frames by the UCI. Handlebars that were in use for quite a long time became illegal. Now new handlebars are coming out that claim to be UCI legal, but some of them look pretty iffy if you think about the 3:1 rule. Basically, the handlebar has to be at least 1/3 as thick as it is wide. You can see that unless the 3T ventus is monstrously thick in the vertical plane, it isn't legal. It isn't monstrously thick or legal (and does not claim to be legal, but makes a good illustration for this point). Nice looking piece of shwag, but don't show up to a UCI event with it and assume you are good to go. So, uncertainty about handlebars with currently only a few officially claiming to be UCI legal.

Issue Number Two: Holy crap are those things expensive! At least for something reasonably light, and often for something unreasonably heavy. Spending several hundred dollars for handlebars was causing me grief.

Being a thrifty person at times, I thought back to the whole discussion about time trial frames and how much time they save over 40 km (about 60 secs compared to a non-aero frame). Then I thought about how much smaller handlebars are compared to frames and how your arms are sticking out there creating turbulance ahead of the handlebars. Then I thought, this is really poor value as the difference between the most radical UCI-illegal handlebars and aluminum bullhorns with clip-ons is probably what? 5 to 10 seconds for a 40 km TT at most? Probably more like <5 seconds? And that made me feel much less grief.

What did I do? For the time being, I just bought a cheap bullhorn for $24 and am using my clip-ons from last year which cost $105 this year. Note that the extensions are also on top of the base bar which is considered a desireable feature if you want to emulate your heroes. My bullhorn is slightly aero, but definitely UCI-legal. Brake cable routing is partially internal and I think I can rig something to make them aerodynamically minimalist the rest of the way using an amazing invention called electric tape. Shifter cable routing is entirely internal.

If you believe the weights, this setup weighs 265 g plus 180 g equals 445 g for $129. A pretty light cockpit in terms of both weight and my pocketbook. And a far better gram:dollar ratio than the bars I was looking at. You can get yours today at Jensen. And this system has a high level of adjustability, something the costlier carbon versions sometimes lack and something important to me with my screwed up hockey shoulders.

I am thinking the money I saved could go a long way to providing most of the payment on a disk wheel which will gain me more than 5 secs in a 40 km TT (depending which carbon one-piece aerobar I pretend to have purchased). We shall see how this system works this year and perhaps re-evaluate the whole handlebar issue when the UCI dust settles. I expect that although it is not nearly as bling, this setup is just as fast. Time will tell. TTs start next month.

No comments: