Aerobars on Group Rides = Bad Idea

It seems that whenever I show up for an organized ride, the pre-ride announcements always include a caution not to use aerobars in a group. And then, a few miles into the ride, I usually get passed by riders down on their aerobars. That’s not a great idea, as this video illustrates:

In the slow-motion replay, it’s pretty clear that the rider who crashed was on his aerobars. They gave him a little edge in speed, and he was about to pass the second rider in line when the second rider moved slightly left, to pass the lead rider. Aerobar man couldn’t control his bike and grabbed the drops, but his momentum caused his front wheel to overlap the second rider’s rear wheel, and they touched. The rider behind always comes out worse in these situations than the rider in front.

In this case, Mr. Aerobars almost saved himself. It looks like he got things back under control until he veered off onto the gravel shoulder and did an endo. But that’s not the whole story.

In the slow-mo, we see that the two bikes touched wheels not once, not twice, but three times before the rider slowed enough to separate himself from the other bike. And the force of those touches — especially the third — was enough to do serious damage to the front wheel. Half the spokes on one side of the wheel had broken. In a blowup of the video, we can see how the third touch knocked the wheel askew. The rim is clearly out of line with the hub.

So, two no-nos are apparent after watching this incident:

1. Don’t use aerobars on group rides (or in a paceline).

2. Don’t overlap the rear wheel of the bike in front.

A couple of my biking friends also noted that riders should consider sturdier wheels, too. One suggested 36 spokes on the rear and a minimum of 32 on the front. I don’t know how many fast roadies would go for that, but after seeing the video, I’ll continue to be happy with my relatively heavy rims.

It looks like the rider was not seriously hurt, I’m glad to see.


  1. Bintang says

    It seems to me that Mr Aerobars slowed down enough to make a safe full stop, but that his attempt was hampered by the broken spokes. It looks to me that the broken spokes caused the endo.

  2. Richard W. says

    Biggest no-no in by book is the group ride to start with. Skip the group, slow down a bit and enjoy the ride and surroundings. Then you don’t have to deal with jokers like AeroMan who chose not to follow the group rules. Haven’t been on a group ride with more than 3 others I’ve enjoyed yet. :)

  3. says

    Hear,hear! It’s hard to come up with a good defense for sitting on aerobars in tight conditions. Callous disregard for oneself and those around him.

  4. says

    Aero bars are used in two disciplines: time trials and triathlons. Time trials and triathlons are different to road racing in a peloton. The focus is on the individual in time trials and triathlons. In road racing, the focus is on the team.

    Wanna road race? Then get yourself a road racing bike that complies with UCI Cycling Regulations. Wanna ride in a peloton on a Sunday morning ride? Then ride your UCI compliant road bike. Don’t ride your tri-bike or your TT bike.

    In any case, group rides are for sissies and bullies like LA. Riders who want to learn how to become a real man should emulate the greatest cyclist of all time, of any sex or gender. Eddie Merck? Nope, her name was Beryl Burton, OBE (12 May 1937 – 8 May 1996).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *