Aero is now big business. Lightweight bikes are as light as they can go due to UCI regulations. So, the only way to carry on getting those marginal gains is for bike manufacturers to look at their aero ranges, or in some cases start having an aero range.
Aero bikes essentially take the aero features found on most manufacturer’s time trial bikes and try and apply it to a bike that people would like to ride.
Time trial bikes are not the most fun or comfortable bikes to ride. You’ll only ever ride one to race or train. If you use one to commute on, I will tip my hat to you.
For 2021 aero has gotten a lot faster. Given that a bike will make up about 20% of your drag there is enough of a margin there for engineers to help you shave time off your rides.
It is also probably easier for you than trying to gain the core strength to hold a great aero position for any time. There is nothing wrong with learning and training to do this though.
As these bikes are designed to make you faster, it is worth noting that when you are doing speeds of over 20 mph, then 90% of your effort is overcoming air resistance.
Editor’s Note: The article was updated in April 2021. Luis added a few of his recommendations: Trek Madone SL 6 Disc and Felt AR Advanced Ultegra DI2 2020 which should replace Pinarello Dogma F10 SRAM and Colnago Concept eTap, models that are hard to find these days. We still left descriptions of those two in the article.
That figure might make you realize how important aero bikes can be, particularly for pro riders who can win races due to the energy savings.
To make it easier for you to decide which one of these new aero bikes you need we went and checked them all out.
We looked for bikes that worked rather than just selling you a marketeer’s vision. We found 5 aero bikes that we feel can set your world alight and all are worthy of your cash.
Cervélo S5 Dura Ace Disc
As we have already mentioned Cervelo pretty much created the aero bike idea and they were in danger of being usurped by other brands so the new S5 had to be pretty special and it is.
The 4th generation S5 has one of the most unique front ends you will see on any bike currently available. The full frontal view only just beats the side on view. There is what appears to be a big gaping hole in the one piece bar and stem.
Cervélo says that this hole is to allow air to pass easily through the stem. A more traditional stem will want the air to pass around it. When passing around your stem, the boundary layer of air is disrupted, and we get a much more turbulent airflow.
With their new stem approach, the air that is disrupted quickly settles back down over the top tube. Helping to reduce drag as you are riding along. The air behaving so seemingly also helps to stay smoother over your rapidly spinning legs as you go for that Strava KOM, marginal gains and all that.
To make your local bike shop mechanic happy, and yourself as a home mechanic, the new bar and stem combo also helps to make the fully concealed aero cable and hose routing that little bit easier.
Your disc brake cables will also like it as there is nowhere for the hose to get kinked and to save you from losing any power from those Dura Ace disc brakes.
You also don’t need to worry about bike fit as Cervélo has made sure that stem and bar have enough adjustability to fit everyone. They have also managed to do this and make the front end stiffer, again.
They have done this by eschewing the standard fork steerer tube. What you will find is a set of tensioning rods at the front of your new bike.
Most of the changes you will see at the front of the bike, but although it is harder to see, there have been changes and improvements made at the back of the bike.
The seat stays have a new shape, and they have redesigned connection to the seat tube. The seat post has also had a little bit of reshaping work. All of this helps to make you faster and save you a further 42g of drag (5.5 watts).
Have Cervélo done enough to keep their title as the masters of aero or have any of the 4 bikes below come into steal that title away from them?
Trek Madone SL 6 Disc
Trek Madone SL6 Disc is the new model that the American manufacturer has presented for its Aero range. It is a bicycle very similar to the higher-end models, but the price has been sustained mainly by the materials of its composition, which are still carbon but of slightly lower quality.
Manufactured in 6 sizes, from 50 to 62, they have a 500 Series OCLV carbon frame and fork with Kammtail Virtual Foil tubes that cut through the wind.
The Trek Madone SL 6 mounts a Shimano Ultegra 2×11 groupset (50/34T and 11/30T crank and cassette respectively). The rims it equips are Bontrager Aeolus Comp 5 tubeless ready.
It also incorporates IsoSpeed technology which dampens the small vibrations produced by the wheel when rolling on uneven surfaces, providing a very smooth feeling while pedaling.
The Madone SL6 has a disc brakes system, preserving what has become a reasoned tradition on Trek’s part. They opt for hydraulic Shimano Ultegra. For the handlebar, they have also chosen a Bontrager Elite Aero VR-CF, an ideal alloy for aerodynamics.
Finally, it should be pointed out that this bike weighs only 8.63 kg. Not bad for being the smallest of the Madone family.
With this bike you will feel as if you were flying on the road, you will reach high speeds and you will feel different sensations than on any other bike.
A great choice if you want to join the world of Aero bikes with a great brand like Trek. If you want to know more features of this Aero, you can find more information in the following link.
Bianchi Oltre XR3 Ultegra DI2
If you are wondering what Countervail is it is a “patented viscoelastic carbon material with a unique fiber architecture that cancels up to 80% of vibrations while increasing the stiffness and strength of carbon frames and forks.”
In short, it means the Oltre XR3 is a comfortable aero bike to ride. The reason for this is that Bianchi believes that as you account for up to 80% of the drag when out on a ride, you should want to hold an aero position.
Holding an aero position is not fun and can be tough on your body, especially as you probably do not have a team of masseuses to help knead away your aches and pains on a daily basis.
Bianchi has designed this technology in line with the Lotto NL – Jumbo team, because believe it or not pros and amateurs like a little bit of help to hold aero positions.
That is not all they have done to help make the Oltre XR3 aero though. The frame and fork are designed to blend into one another, to help smooth the airflow over them as they slice through the air. Bianchi has taken this design from their Aquilla time trial bike.
Felt AR Advanced Ultegra DI2 2020
The American brand Felt has updated its Aero bike for 2020 and presented the new Felt AR Advanced Ultegra DI2 2020, a really fast bike.
The frame and fork are made of Felt Aero Road UHC Advanced and TeXtreme carbon fiber which gives it extreme rigidity as well as great lightness, only 8.2 kg. It has an internal electronic-specific cable routing, and high-frequency vibration-reducing seat post insert.
It is time to analyze the transmission of the aero bike. This aerodynamic machine manages to transmit the power of each pedal stroke through a Shimano Ultegra R8000 52/36T crankset and an 11/30T 11-speed cassette. This set will make you fly over the road.
Another essential element to reach vertigo speeds are the wheels. In this case, the Felt AR Advanced equips a Reynolds AR58 DB Custom carbon tubeless-ready wheelset and complements it with Continental Grand Prix 5000 folding 700x25c tires.
Finally, it should be noted that the brakes are hydraulic disc Shimano BR-R8070 and that the shifters and derailleur are Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8070.
Honestly, a truly aerodynamic and lightweight bike with a geometry that provides an ideal posture for triathlon and time trial.
You can find more info about this aerodynamic monster in the link below.
3T Strada Team Stealth
When Vroomen left the company, some felt that Cervélo lost a little of their shine, perhaps just a little of their magic. For those people, we bring you the Vroomen designed 3T Strada.
The 3T Strada can best be described as a radical bike. A bike that is pushing road bike design and particularly aero road design. It makes you think about what you do and doesn’t need on a bike, especially with its 1x front end. Who needs double chainrings anyway?
So how is the 3T Strada radical? Looking at the headtube is the same hourglass style profile as other bikes in this review. Now look closely at the fork and the down tube that is not an optical illusion the tire is really that close.
To get the tire and wheel that close to the bike the fork’s crown is thin, really thin. Doing so drops the headtube down and brings the down tube in towards the wheel.
The design here is the logical conclusion of the bikes above that have tried to blend their frames and forks into one. It is the best way to guide the air around the front of your bike.
The fun doesn’t stop here at the front end though. The fork legs have a very different profile from the fork legs you may be used to seeing. 3T have called their fork leg design Sqaero.
You might be able to work out what the profile is like from that name. You might also know another bike company in this test with a similarly named tube profile.
Like some of the other bikes here the 3T has a downtube shaped to hide your water bottles from the wind. Now that it is becoming common it seems like something bike companies should have long ago thought about featuring on their bikes.
You may also notice that the dropped seat stays are different from all the other seat stays on the bikes in this review.
The dropped seat stays, by the way, are the aero way to do seat stays. The 3T has thin pencil seat stays. These seat stays add comfort as they will flex as you ride, like mountain bike suspension.
Pinarello Dogma F10 SRAM Red Disk Pro
Not only is the Pinarello Dogma F10 Disk Pro is a very aero road bike, but it may also have one of the longest names of any bike model available. If you know of a bike with a longer name, then leave a comment down below.
As you would imagine the Dogma F10 is designed in conjunction with Team Sky, indeed Chris Froome won the 2017 Tour de France on it. You will no longer have any excuses then when out in the local chain gang.
The Dogma F10 makes a lot of use of Kamm tails with almost every tube having a Kamm tail profile. Pinarello, call their version of a Kamm tail a FlatBack tube profile.
It works so well that the one on your downtube will help hide your water bottle from the wind, saving you from buying one of those aero water bottles that never hold enough fluid. It makes the bike 12.6% more aero efficient than the previous F8 model.
Even the wavy Onda fork that we have come to love from Pinarello gets the aero treatment. The fork nestles into a cut out in the frame to help keep the air smooth.
Looking down the fork, you will find little flaps at the end of them. Again this is to help direct the air and keep things smooth and non-turbulent.
Colnago Concept eTap
It is also the first bike in this review feature to not have disc brakes, with the Italian manufacturer preferring direct mount brakes.
Colnago went with the idea that your fork will be the first part of your frameset that hits the oncoming air and started their aero project from there.
It is also worth noting that they took years over this design, as they need the Concept to have the legendary Colnago ride quality.
Colnago went wide with their new fork design as they found this to be more aerodynamic. There is more good news as this allows you to fit 28mm wide tires in there.
The crown of the fork was designed to have a trailing edge which then helps to smooth air transfer over onto the frame itself.
To make the headtube aero and still give the required Colnago ride, Colnago had to design a new headset. You may want to remember that if you purchase a Concept. The headtube took as it’s basis the Colnago k.zero time trial bike.
The headset design is where Colnago put their designers to the task to make sure the bike stays comfortable. They created cups that are a mix of carbon and a proprietary polymer (a blend of nylon and elastomer). These cups then isolate the frame from the fork and should not transmit road vibrations at your arms.
Looking down from the headtube to the downtube you notice where it attaches to the head tube it is a different shape from when it connects to the bottom bracket.
The new design like the Pinarello is to help shield your water bottles from the wind. You will also notice that there are 3 water bottle bolts on the downtube, this is to enhance your aerodynamics.
You use the bottom two bolts if you are only using 1 bottle and the upper mounts if you are using 2. The lower position is the more aero setting, worth remembering if you are just going out for a quick blast.
All of these bikes are pushing the aero envelope. Some of them may take a little getting used to, but it looks like aero bikes are here to stay and the good news is that they are getting better and better.
They are all getting lighter. They are all getting more comfortable; they are all looking cooler.
Tell us below which one you prefer.
I’ve spent way more time in the bike trade than anyone should reasonably want to. In that time I’ve wanted to make cycling jargon and marketing easier to cut through to help people get the bike of their dreams.
When I’m not writing about bikes, I can be seen out bikepacking on single speed bikes or teaching kids how to ride.