I spent lots of time on the original Airstryke in the 1990s. It was my aero bar of choice for long rides such as centuries and brevets for one simple reason: the spring-loaded armrests automatically popped up when not being used, giving back the hands-on-bar-top position that other aero bars eliminated.
With my hands increasingly giving me trouble and a long time trial coming up, I decided to go aero again with the latest Airstryke incarnation. I was happy to find several improvements over the model I’d used for several years.
The most important is more room under the armrests when you cruise or climb with hands on the bar top near the stem. The old Airstryke had pointy supports under the arms that sometimes snagged gloves or skin. The new model eliminates the need for supports.
In addition, the pads are improved — more comfortable because they’re a bit larger and cushier. They attach securely with hook-and-loop material so they can be removed when grungy and tossed into the washer.
Adjustment Pros & Cons
The Airstryke fits oversize 31.8-mm handlebar centers and, with the supplied shims, conventional 26.0-mm centers. There is more length extension than any rider is likely to need, and armrest height can be increased 12 mm by inserting the spacers provided. Tilt is altered simply by rotating the Airstryke on the handlebar before tightening.
The one adjustment shortcoming I found involves armrest width. The narrowest configuration puts the pads 24 cm (9.45 inches) apart, measured center to center. If you prefer your elbows closer together, as I do, you’re out of luck with this Airstryke. The original version allowed a narrower position.
One other armrest problem: They rattle when they’re in the up position. This is a constant annoyance if you prize a quiet-riding bike. Both armrests rattle on every bump if you’re riding with hands, say, on the brake lever hoods. Whichever armrest you’re not using rattles if you take an arm away to reach for a bottle, signal a turn or wipe your nose. The old Airstryke was just as noisy and it’s disappointing that Profile Design has done nothing to address the problem.
But when you’re laid out on the Airstryke, it’s quiet . . . and fast. By assuming the aero position you feel less headwind and see your speed rise by as much as 2 mph without increasing effort (proved by your cyclecomputer, which, by the way is best mounted atop the stem when using this product). You may often find yourself clicking to the next higher gear to get even more from the aero advantage.
Free speed is good on any ride, and the benefit multiples as the distance increases. Plus, there’s the back, arm and hand comfort that comes with supporting upper-body weight on forearms. Fingers don’t go numb when they’re lightly gripping the loop of an Airstryke. Your neck will need to adapt to tilting back in the lower position, but that shouldn’t take too many rides.
Weight? It’s not a disaster at the advertised 692 grams (24.7 ounces) when compared to the Airstryke’s advantages. The extra load should only make a difference on climbs, and any time lost going up will be a lot less than what’s gained between hills.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.