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Adam Hansen: “Hey, everyone, check out my 36 cm-wide handlebars! They’re way more aero.”
Speeco: “Hold my beer.”
It’s long been known that a narrower handlebar can pay big dividends in terms of aerodynamic efficiency, especially in situations where you’ve got a single rider doing most of the work cutting through the wind. Going along with that, it’s also been understood for some time now that you’re most aerodynamic position on a road bike with your arms outstretched, your forearms level to the ground, your back long and low, and your palms out on the lever hoods — not down in the drops.
Dutch aero specialist Speeco has taken that idea to the next level with its new ABB (Aero Breakway Bar) integrated one-piece carbon fiber handlebar and stem, working together with former Roompot-Charles pro rider Jan-Willem van Schip (now with UCI Continental team BEAT Cycling Club), who previously used to run 32 cm-wide Japanese track handlebars that bested Hansen’s setup by another 4 cm.
Rather than use a long stem and a handlebar with a relatively short reach and shallow drop (as is common even in the pro ranks), the ABB instead uses a stubby 70 mm-long stem with the rest of the length incorporated into the radically-shaped bar. Speeco says the lever position is actually the same as usual, but with that long section of level handlebar behind them — along with a subtly concave upper profile — you can now comfortably rest your forearms in a pseudo-TT position. This theoretically not only earns the rider better control relative to just draping your hands out on the hood tops, but might even allow for a more stable platform for producing power.
While images of the ABB suggest that it’s as exceptionally narrow as you’d expect, the actual dimensions are up to you since each setup is custom molded. Down below, the flared drops provide a little extra leverage for descents and sprints, and the precise shape is customizable as well.
Other neat features include a tidy computer mount positioned directly in-line with the stem (for maximum aero efficiency, of course) and internal cable routing that the company claims is compatible with most modern headtube designs. According to Speeco, the ABB is also UCI-legal — at least probably until the governing body figures out a way to ban it. As for the weight? Who knows. Speeco doesn’t provide a claimed figure, but given the proportions and the one-off custom construction, it probably isn’t very light.
Want one? Go figure — it’s expensive. Since each one is built to order, Speeco quotes a price of €1,500, with a €500 deposit required up front.
Outside may be “free,” but aero gains like this clearly are anything but.