Halfway through our review of TriRig’s Alpha aerobar we were informed that we were no longer testing the Alpha. Now, with the introduction of the Alpha X, we were testing the Alpha Classic. At first, we were a little confused by the new title. We always think of Classic referring to older generation products, or simply implying that something is “past its prime.” Although when we decided to check with dictionary.com, we found a much different definition, and one that is much more applicable: “serving as a standard, model, or guide.” And after quite a bit of time, we think it’s easy to call the Alpha the guide that all aerobar manufacturers should be following. But we are getting ahead of ourselves…
The TriRig Alpha Classic
Anyone who knows Nick, the owner of TriRig, knows his obsessions when it comes to bikes; it needs to be fast, it needs to be light, and it need to be easy to work with. These are the goals he sets for himself anytime he builds a new product, and we knew the Alpha (Classic) was going to be no different.
The Alpha is defined by its ultra-deep and ultra-thin airfoil. With its 6-1 ratio, UCI legal the Alpha is not. The Alpha is an integrated bar with the extensions being attached via mounts on the wings of the basebar. The pursuits on the end of the basebar are flat rather than upturned and forward of the stem clamp.
The Alpha basebar uses a standard 31.8mm clamping area and should work with any standard stem on the market. TriRig’s reason for going for a standard round clamp was pretty straightforward. According to Nick, round clamps are simple—they’re everywhere and just work really well. Similarly the Alpha works with a standard 22.2mm extension diameter, so you should be able to use your favorite extensions with it.
The pads and bars are attached to the basebar via just two bolts per side. Pad stack, pad reach, pad stance width, and extension stack are all adjustable and independent and can be adjusted via these two bolts. One of the impressive features of the Alpha is that while a second set of bolts needs to be used to set extension reach and roll, these bolts are always accessible regardless of the pad positions – there is no bolt occlusion with the Alpha. This is a huge win for those among us who find the need to make incremental adjustments from time to time. Additionally, all of the bolts are hidden away from the wind, so there are no unsightly fasteners in view when showing off your bike.
The pad stack and extension stack can be adjusted independently of one another. Spacers can be inserted anywhere in the stack—above or below the clamp—with the top of the stack being your pads, and the extensions sitting anywhere beneath them in the stack or even under the base bar.
The pad stack itself can range from 71mm above the pursuits to 36mm when the extensions are mounted above the basebar. When mounted below the pad stack, they can be adjusted to just 10mm.
The pads can be set +30mm ahead of the stem clamp, +10mm and -10mm and from a maximum width of 312 mm (tip to tip) to a minimum 219mm. One of the things we noticed as soon as we mounted the Alpha Classic was that while the pads did not look like they would offer a great deal of lateral support with their flat design, they actually offered quite a bit. We never found ourselves slipping out of the pads.
To determine what your stack and reach setup needs would be with an Alpha Classic, you can head over to the fit guide at http://www.tririg.com/store.php?c=alphaclassic&page=fit. Simply select your bike brand, model, size, and your stem. From there, the system will calculate the base stack and reach numbers. Then all you need to do is find your position on the chart. For us, all that meant an additional 40mm of pad spacers and 20mm of stem spacers.
Keeping with Nick’s quest to create the lightest bikes around, the Alpha Classic weighs in (complete with mounting hardware) at 530g. The basebar alone is a svelte 244g.
We built our Alpha with the optional BTA mount. The mount is made of solid, unidirectional carbon fiber and weighs just 20g. The mount fits in line with the Alpha’s spacers and is kept in place with the two bolts that are used to lock the pads and spacers to the bar (no additional hardware). The mount has two positions for bottle placement, and can be flipped forward or backward—giving you four different mounting options for your bottle.
As an additional benefit, the BTA mount acts as a bridge between the pad stacks and adds structural strength to the spacer stack of the bar. Because of this, you can add an extra 10mm or 20mm of stack height via additional spacers that would not have been possible without the BTA mount.
So what makes this Alpha the “Classic?” The answer is the lack of an integrated stem. The new Alpha X is really the Alpha Classic with an integrated Sigma stem. Want to stick with your current stem, or have a superbike that cannot accept a standard stem? The Alpha Classic is what you need.
So is it fast? TriRig sent the Alpha to the tunnel (FASTER) (http://www.tririg.com/store.php?c=alphaclassic&page=windtunnel_1) and put it up against some of the fastest and most common aerobars on the market – the original 3T Ventus, the PRO Missile Evo, the Felt Bayonet 3, the Zipp Vuka Alumina, and a set of traditional road drop bars with clip-on extensions (taken from the Felt Bayonet 3). All were mounted on a Specialized Shiv frame kitted with a TriRig Omega brake, Dash Cycle saddle and seat post combo, Sigma stem, and Mavic CXR 80 wheels.
When installed, each bar was setup as closely as possible with the same pad stack and, where possible, pad stance width. TriRig measured each bar twice: once by TriRig during bar prep, and again by FASTER staff after each bar was actually mounted on the test bike. Pad stack was measured at the trough of each pad (where your arm actually sits). Each setup measured within 5mm of the baseline (a 14.5cm drop from saddle to pad trough). The brake lever holes were plugged with identical hemispherical bar plugs, except for the 3T Ventus, which has non-removable brake lever blades attached.
In the name of consistency, TriRig attempted to use the same extensions for each test. However, the PRO Missile Evo has integrated extensions with a proprietary bend and an inward canting, which cannot be swapped for standard bars. To normalize them, TriRig truncated the Missile extensions just before their bend, effectively turning them into straight extensions with no canting. For every other bar, they then used straight extensions of the exact same length (21.5cm).
The wheels were spun up to 30 mph during testing. The tests were conducted from -20 to +20 degrees of yaw at 2.5 degree intervals with a 30mph wind speed. As the bike was rotated for each data sample, the winds were allowed to settle for 30 seconds before the data was collected over a period of 30 seconds.
Knowing TriRig, the results are predictable. And don’t get us wrong, that isn’t a bad thing. The Alpha Classic is as fast as anything they tested in the tunnel. In the graph below you can see the line representing the Alpha, which is mirrored by the lines for the 3T Ventus and PRO Missile Evo.
TriRig also produced a pair of weighted-average drag charts that show similar trends. Needless to say, the Alpha Classic has no issue competing with the best.
Our only remaining wish for the aero data? We would have liked to see both the ENVE SES Aerobar and Zipp Vuka Stealth bars included as part of the test. Both of these bars are made by some of the most aero-obsessed companies on the planet, and while we didn’t find their ease of adjustability to be up there with the Alpha, we would like to see how their aero qualities compared.
We were continually impressed with the Alpha Classic from the beginning to the end of our review process. One of the first things we appreciated was how easy it was to make major fit changes. With its 2+2 bolt design on each side of the bar, we were able to easily make changes for all fit dimensions. One of its most appreciated details was the fact that you did not have to cut and re-cable when making any fit changes. When we have had to make changes to stack or reach with other bars, in some cases we have had to do a complete re-cabling, even when all we needed to do was move the extensions from inboard to outboard of the stack spacers. With the Alpha, you just remove the bolts that hold the stack down, and swap. We were also able to easily adjust the extensions while keeping the pads on (something that has not been seen until recently on most any other bars).
Getting the original BTA mount on was a slight challenge as the first design was completely flat with no indentations to match the stack spacers. When tightening, it tended to move around a touch. The good news is that TriRig believes in an iterative design process and created the BTA v2.0 that included indentations to match up to the spacers and eliminate this issue.
Once we started riding the Alpha Classic, we found it to be comfortable both on the pursuits and in the extensions. The AeroGeeks editors tend to be fans of flat pursuits, and the Alpha’s were comfortable when we needed to be in them for long periods when riding with the local pelotons. And when we got a chance to lead out on the extensions, the pads provided excellent lateral support.
From a fit \ comfort perspective, the only concern we had was that the pursuits are farther forward relative to the stem clamp than some of the other products on the market. For us, this meant that we wanted a shorter stem so that we weren’t stretched as far forward when getting into the pursuits. With the range of adjustability on the pads and extensions, spec’ing a shorter stem and pushing the pads forward worked well for us.
There was only final issue we had with the bar—the original sticker backing for the Velcro used to attach the pads to the bar was weak and came off easily. We reached out to TriRig about it, and they sent us an updated set of pads that solved our issue. Again, we see this as evidence of the continuous development approach that TriRig is taking with their products.
We enjoyed our time with the Alpha Classic from beginning to end. For a team that regularly switches riders between bikes, the Alpha was easy to work with. It was comfortable for the long haul, and we raced quite extensively on it, including at least one editor’s ‘A’ race.
At just $749.99 without extensions and $849.99 with extensions, the Alpha Classic is priced competitively with other products in the market. And considering both its aero credentials and its ease of use, we have no problem saying there is a huge amount of value in this bar.
Really our biggest question would be whether we would go with the Alpha Classic or spend the extra $150 for the Alpha X preorder that gives you the integrated stem as well for just $999. But the Alpha X is a review for another day. So for now, we have no problem “settling” on a bar that is the guide that all other bars should be following. In other words, it’s a Classic.