Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gear Review: Profile Design Carbon Stryke Aerobars

It's been said that the fourth discipline of triathlon is shopping. Choosing a set of aerobars has been one of the hardest decisions I've had to make on the bike side of things so far. After much agonizing, I decided on the Profile Design Carbon Stryke.

Before I go into it, let me pause for some self promotion... Hey! Look at all this free advertising Profile Design! I sure do wish I had a Tri-Stryke saddle to review as well! :) I get lots of hits. *crosses fingers*, anyway...

Choosing aerobars is kind of like choosing a saddle. The choice is based on comfort, trial and error, and your own individual anatomy. So why did I pick the Profile Design Carbon Stryke?

Well, the process looked like this:

Step 1: What did I want? For now, I wanted a good but reasonably priced set of clip on aerobars that would make my road bike tri friendly, until I end up with a tri specific bike in the future. I didn't want to replace the entire cockpit, because I wanted to retain my road bike's roadiness.

Step 2: Which vendor am I going to choose? There were several good options here, including Profile Design, Vision / FSA, and Syntance. I already use alot of FSA stuff, including my OCR2's crank, seat post, and handlebars, but I couldn't find a convenient retailer for Vision / FSA aerobars. Syntance looks to be very popular, but I thought their product looked less adjustable, since it had to be ordered to rider size. Profile Design is everywhere, and they were available from my LBS should I need replacement parts.

Step 3: What model did I want? Here is where things really got ambiguous. My options were the T2+/T2+ Cobra, the Jammer GT/CGT, the split second, or the carbon stryke. After asking around, and trying a few pairs, I ruled out the T2+ series. Those things were way to aggressive for my clydesdale body, and I wouldn't have been comfortable in that much of a tuck. The Jammer GT/CGT was great, but it was almost the opposite. Not tucked enough. Those bars would be optimal for a century rider or someone that needed a draft legal bar however.

Step 4: Carbon or Not? This left the Split Second and the Carbon Stryke. The difference in weight in nominal in my opinion. 722g vs. 520g. That makes the Carbon Stryke about 7 oz heavier. The Split second retails for around $120 and the Carbon Stryke is around $250. There is no way that 7 oz is worth $130. So why did I go with the Carbon Stryke? After searching the internet I was able to find the Carbon Stryke on sale for the same price as the Split Second, which made the choice alot easier!

On a side note, the Split Second comes with Profile Design's flip up ZB brackets, which let you use your top bar. The Carbon Stryke's brackets are fixed. Having access to more of the top bar would have been really nice, but I read multiple reviews that said the flip up brackets had some durability problems. Consider that if you're making this same choice.

Installation: Pretty easy really. They just bolt on. You will need a torque wrench to get everything properly tightened however. I had to undo some of my bar tape as well. Also, because my handlebar tapers from 31.8mm to something much smaller really quickly, I had to flip the brackets from how they were sent. After I figured that out, it was a piece of cake to get them on.

Quality: The product's quality seems superb. The instructions could use some work, but the hardware was all perfect.

So, how does it work? They feel really great, and I'm definitely faster than I was without them. Aerobars are certainly the second best thing you can do for yourself, if you want to go faster. The first? Peddle faster of course!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mike. Nice review of these Carbon Strykes. I'm currently in the same process that you were in deciding between a couple of Aerobars. I'm more of a Century Rider who likes to dial it up for some time trialing as well. I've narrowed my choices down to The Profile Design Carbon Strykes and The T1+ Vipers. They are very similar in a lot of ways. One main difference is the Extentions on the Viper sit atop the road bars where the stryke's hang below. Is there any advantage to either configuration? To me, the Vipers look like they are very adjustable side to side/forward and back. How are the Strykes in that aspect? Thanks in advance!