Bontrager XXX Aero – First Ride

Triathlon is a sport that is, at its core, about not growing up. Not getting old. Triathlons are the very embodiment of the idea that just because our age gets goes up another notch doesn’t mean our belt loops have to – that we can be forever eighteen and beating the world at anything we choose. Part of being eighteen, however, was a certain… attitude about things around us. And Bontrager has rekindled our love of being not-quite politically correct with the designation for their latest drop bar – the XXX Aero – and all of the other thoughts about things with that designation that our eighteen-year-old selves would have come up with, too.

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We submit, however, that the dirty, unwholesome things that the name suggests are right at home with Bontrager’s latest. Like those smirks of youth, equipping this bar is a bit like legally cheating. An all-carbon affair, the XXX Aero tips the scales at a scant 220g (our bar was 44 cm in width) while providing 125mm drop and 85mm reach with a 31.8mm clamp section and employs the Kammtail Virtual Foil (KVF) tube shape from the top of the drops and into the clamp section, saving a claimed “23 seconds per hour of riding over traditional round-profile bars” but maintaining UCI legality by using a 3:1 cross-section.

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What does this mean to the average rider, especially the average age-grouper? For starters, the bar grants significant drag reduction on the leading edge of your control surface—thanks to the KVF tops. After which, it is impossible not to note how wonderfully comfortable it is to use the ends of the ramps as wrist-wrests for a flat-back position with your palms resting on the back of the brake hoods. Lastly, there is an intrinsic quality to carbon road bars that let them gently communicate the road surface to you without needing to announce it over a megaphone like aluminum bars do. The XXX Aero lets you know the surface is less than ideal without beating up your hands and arms over it—something we think incredibly highly of right after the swim and T1 has exhausted them for the time being. These are bars that aren’t just fast, they’re also comfortable.

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We do feel it notable that these, like all flat-top drop bars, are sensitive to their positioning relative to the level of the ground in a way that round-profile bars simply are not. Therefore, when installing this bar on our test bike, it took some trial and error to get the leading edge of the bar perfectly parallel to the ground. Further, the bar being internally cabled both cleans up the front end of the bike immensely and contributed to the trickiness of the installation in no small part. We shall have to see in the months ahead how maintenance on the cabling is affected, though.

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In all, Bontrager’s XXX Aero is a cockpit that we are incredibly impressed with – it is undeniably aero, incredibly comfortable for both sprinting and long-haul riding, and is a gorgeous addition to any bike setup. We are enjoying our time with it immensely and look forward to putting more miles in and seeing what it’s like living with Bontrager’s latest wind-cheater.

One response to “Bontrager XXX Aero – First Ride

  1. Pingback: 11-17-2013 WiR | AeroGeeks·

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