The Aero Gravel is a superb addition for any rider looking for a handlebar suited for long distance riding where comfort and multiple hand positions are almost prerequisites. The extension really does work and provides not only that much needed extra hand position but also added area to bolt things to. It is heavy and very light riders might find it a bit stiff but I certainly will be keeping it on my personal bike for a long time.
Comfortable companion for long distance cruising on and off road
Wide flare provides excellent off-road control
Aero extension actually works
Stiffer than usual
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Farr's Aero Gravel handlebar is designed to meet the needs of long distance 'adventure' riders and gravel tourists with some unique and neat features mainly focussed around rider comfort and fatigue reduction - but how do they stack up against the best handlebars for gravel bikes?
Getting the basic information out of the way, the Farr Aero Gravel is constructed from good old 6061-T6 aluminium alloy and is available in three popular widths: 42, 44 and 46cm. It utilises a 25 degree flare for the drops, spacing out the lower hand position to 51, 53 and 55cm, corresponding to the three widths mentioned above.
The top section has a slight ergo profile so is a little bit elliptical rather than being a straight gauge round tube, presenting a slightly more pleasant hand hold. A reach of 80mm and 124mm drop complete the numbers. All pretty much standard fare for a typical gravel focussed handlebar.
How is the Farr Aero Gravel bar different?
But then it gets interesting. The Aero Gravel deviates from the norm by way of the inclusion of an additional shaped extension rising from the front of the handlebar, forming an angled semi-circular loop joining at points either side of the stem. The reason for this protuberance? Comfort and aero gains.
Farr had already seen the rising popularity of its Aero Bolt-On system - designed to provide additional hand rests towards the centre of the bar (think of a mini set of time trial extensions). From this it figured that a complete bar with extensions integrated would be the way to go.
Does it work?
I had initially had experience with Farr's Aero Bolt-On and whilst it certainly delivered an additional hand position I felt it was a little too closely set and short to comfortably spend a lot of time in - I normally use a set of Profile TT extensions for long distance trips. However once I fitted the Aero Gravel bar and got past the quandary of how to bar tape and which parts to wrap I clicked with it almost instantly.
The extension is much wider and juts out a further 20mm than the bolt on version and gives enough room and length to happily grip with your hands and rest your arms on the main bar. This position feels so like second nature that I find myself jumping straight into it whenever I find myself on the tarmac. The 15 degree upsweep of the extension and generally higher cockpit position of my gravel bike places everything in a real sweet spot, conducive to its use.
I'm running the widest 46cm Aero Gravel bar and it provides a really neutral position at the hoods, with the flare placing the shifters at an almost perfect angle for regular cruising. The 55cm drop width also lends a great level of stability when descending.
If I am to fault the Aero Gravel bar it would have to be the fairly hefty weight penalty the complicated construction provides. The 46cm weighs in at a whopping 510 grams, well over 200 grams more than most 'normal' bars. But one thing to consider is that weight is still considerably lighter than a combination of handlebar and extensions.
Another by-product of the construction is the Aero Gravel is noticeably stiffer than other wide and flared bars. I quite liked this completely solid feel as it provided direct handling and positive feedback when man handling through rocky trails. I did however find it needed a softer bar tape to compensate for the increased level of vibration that can be felt through the bars, and even with that in mind, the added firmness won't suit all riders.
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