How and why I mount cycling gadget devices on my aerobars

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I’ve always gotten questions as to why I mount various gadget devices on my aerobars, primarily from the belief that in doing so, I’d be blocking my ability to use my aerobars.  So, I figured I’d take a moment to explain my logic in this area.

First, is the reality that on most triathlon (time trial) bikes there are actually very few good areas to mount any bike computers.  The most common location on a road bike tends to be the stem, which is the piece that connects the handlebars to the for  (as seen below in the center of the photo).  However, with a triathlon bike the stem area is often overlapped by the aerobar pads/mounts, or it may have an extremely short stem on it (perhaps only an inch in length) – which may not be enough for the device at hand.  Meaning, you may be able to mount an Edge 500 or Timex Cycle Trainer there, but not an Edge 800 or Joule GPS.

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So that removes the stem as a viable option.  Next up is either outermost edge of the main handlebar, the area not covered by the aerobar pads.  I used to use this area to mount my Garmin FR305 back in the day, but I try to avoid this area otherwise these days.  Though today I’ve got the Polar CS600x on there.  At the time I mounted it there, it was primarily because the unit sorta fit snugly there, and I knew I’d have it on my bike quite a while since it was a longer term test.

The problem here though is that from a safety standpoint this is bad location.  If you’re quickly moving your hands back from the aerobars to the main handlebars to then grab the brakes, you don’t want your hands to slip on a unit, or somehow swipe your unit off the bike.  Both results would suck.

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Which then leaves the aerobars and associated airspace in between them.  Within this camp, you’ve got two main options: On the bars, or the space between the bars.  In between the bars is great when you have aerobars that are spaced wide enough to accommodate any of the various bike computer mount systems that can leverage the small rounded tube that simply tightens onto your aerobars, like below:

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This does work well, and puts it right in plain sight for most folks.  Except, not all aerobars have a wide enough gap.  Or, you’ve got a short aerobar mount and it’s too short for your bike computer.  In my case, my position (as in, bike position), is fairly closed since at the moment most of my races are shorter distance.  Thus with a more closed racing position (meaning the front of my body isn’t as wide open), my bars are actually too short to accommodate many of the in-between options (without a hack saw).

Some folks have asked about the below photo, which is part of my FR910XT review.  This is actually a great example of not having the bars wide enough for the particular length mount I had, but they were actually tight enough that I could really wedge just the tube (without the normal mount piece) in between my bars and it was solidly stuck there:

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Which, brings me to my final solution – simply sticking them on the bars.  At first glance, many folks believe this blocks my arms.  But the reality is, my arms don’t rest on the aerobars themselves, but rather just off to the side of them.  In fact, if you look at the top pro triathlon positions (that gallery from Kona is awesome for this purpose), almost all of them are the same – with their arms just off to the left/right of the aerobars.  Thus my arm just wraps naturally around the unit – which is no different than if no unit were there at all.

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Additionally – and this is specific to me – this allows me much for flexibility in comparing multiple units at once, so I can load more units up.  Obviously, not exactly a problem most people have, but a somewhat real problem for me.  I only have so many rides each week, and I need to make the most of them from a product review standpoint.

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Now going forward, what we’re seeing is bikes simply acknowledging this upfront.  For example, the new 3T aerobars on the Cervelo P5 have bike mounting location built into them (the image below from one of the Team Garmin bikes at the TdF this year shows a standard Edge cycling mount then added to it).

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And of course, some companies (again, 3T) are actually building in mount systems that are specific to vendors like the Garmin quarter turn systems.  And we’ve also seen a ton of Garmin-compatible custom mounts come out in the last 4-6 months.  I suspect we’ll continue to see that trend continue.  At some point though, folks will realize that the 3rd party mounts (mostly for road bikes) as being produced today are overpriced – and hopefully we’ll see the prices go down.

So there ya have it – my simple logic explanation of how and why I mount things on aerobars, as well a as a bit of a tour as to the most common mounting locations.

Thanks for reading!

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11 Comments

  1. very concise explanation

    Reply
  2. I’d also add that a conventional stem mount requires you to look back towards your toes whereas on the extensions is more in your eyeline in a tri position.

    The problem I’ve had is compatibility with a BTA bottle – solved with a mounting similar to Ray’s 910 image. In this case it’s really easy to make your own mount from an offcut of some old tube (steerer in my case), cut to length so it fits snugly between the extensions. Then loop some zipties through the tube and round the extensions to ensure it can’t work loose / fall off, and mount the conventional mount straight onto that.

    Reply
  3. Barry

    Check out the Aero Tray for use on the TorHans aero bottles. I’ve got this setup and it works really well with my FR910xt.

    link to torhans.com

    Reply
  4. I’ve used an off-cut of a piece of plastic electrical conduit (round), filed the ends to match the curvature of the bars, and used a large/long cable tie to secure it in place between the aerobars to build a bridge mount. I’m on the road at the moment so can’t get a photo up to provide a visual reference.

    Reply
  5. Michael Arcilla

    I remember I did some altitude training at a mountain resort. I ran 15K worth of 9% hills in 11-degree C (that’s about 50F) cold! I ran the whole way without sweating, but as soon as I closed the door behind me in the house it came out by the bucket!

    Reply
    • Michael Arcilla replied

      Oops. Sorry! I accidentally posted this on the wrong page! (obviously!) :-(

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Haha…no worries Michael! I’ll clear it out later tonight.

      Have a great weekend!

      Reply
  6. Ed

    thanks for the detailed post and photos. I also ride a Cervelo P3 (same year as you) and the traditional aerobars that came with it. Your mounting options are very helpful. I just purchased a Timex Cycle Trainer and will see what I can do to mount it. Agree on the problem of looking backwards to your stem (taking your eyes off the road) vs mounting it between your shifters. I use a Between The Aero (BTA) bottle mount so I need to see how I can make all that work. The things we do for our hobby.

    Wondering if you’ve ever come across a better mount for the Timex Cycle Trainer than the one they provide?

    Reply
  7. Steve

    As mentioned before by Thor, I used black PVC tubing cut with a 7/8″ bit to match the curvature of my aero bars (22 mm). The size is just a bit longer than the distance between the bars for a snug fit. Then I use a zip tie through drilled holes in the PVC at each end to help stabilize and reinforce it. Depending on the spacing between the bars, it has room for two computers/devices.

    Reply
  8. Great post. I agree about the cost of the 3rd party mounts being overpriced. I think that if they don’t come down (they are getting cheaper through amazon etc.) that good hacks will become more popular. On a side note if you need any small custom plastic pieces I have a 3D printer, though with you now living in Paris, I’m sure you could find one much closer to you. :)
    Speaking of hacks, have you seen any good affordable hacks for device mounts, handlebar extensions, etc.?

    Reply
  9. Anthony

    I have a question regarding the picture with the Profile Design UCM and 910XT mounted between your aero bars.

    If you use the strap to mount the UCM to the aero bar and then attach the Garmin bicycle mount kit and the 910XT, is there any chance of the bicycle mount kit sliding off, due to the weight?

    Reply

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