SavageMan – a race that puts fear into even the most hardened Ironman. The bike course may be only 55.7 miles – but in that distance you will find over 6,000 feet of climbing, including a 31% grade known as the Westonport Wall. For a race like this, your average tri bike may not be the right tool for the job. Instead you’ll likely look for something that’s almost as aero but a whole lot lighter. And certainly the last thing you want to do is strap on a pair of heavy clip-on aerobars. That’s where the Bontrager Race X Lite Clip-On bars come in.
With a claimed weight of 425g (we measured an actual 432g), the Bontrager bars are one of the lightest options on the market. Comparatively, Profile Design claims 620g for their Carbon T3+ and Vision’s Carbon Clip-On CSI come in at a claimed 756g. If you are a weight weenie looking for a pair of aerobars – you need not look any further.
But clip-on aerobars are obviously about more than weight alone. First and foremost they are about helping you get down into an aero position for the entirety of your ride. The Race X Lites use a wrist-relief shape similar to Profile Design’s T3 shape, which we are particularly fond of. Over the extent of our review period we consistently found the Bontragers great for long distance cruising. A very comfortable bar that you never felt you had to fight with.
It is obvious that Bontrager had fitters in mind when it designed the bars. The pads offer eight different positions, and the bars are clearly marked for both length and position. Ironically, though, fit is also one of the places where the Bontrager does have a few minor issues. First, you cannot pedestal the bars. For most that probably will not be a problem. However, for those looking to get a position above their drop bars, they may find this problematic. Second, the bar requires not one or two, but three separate Allen Wrenches to service it. And while this is not a serious problem for most, we did find it to be a bit of a pain.
The only other gripe we had with the Race X Lite was a (very) minor detail regarding the RXL logo on the end of the bars—it was upside-down. And while most riders will cover this with bar tape, it was something that stood out to us while we were shooting the bars for this article. Yes, it is definitely minor. But when you want your bike to be perfect, it just gets to you.
Sometimes we are forced to compromise to find the balance between aero, comfort, and weight. But the Race X Lite never made us feel like we actually lost anything in the quest to find all three. The bar is one of the lightest out there, but by virtue of its shape, also one of the more comfortable. And when it comes to what we use to build our bikes, finding two out of three isn’t bad. But finding three for three? That’s nearing perfection.