Find and Compare Aero Bars for your Cycling Rides & Competitions
First of all though, there is the increased strength to weight ratio, so compared to an alloy bar of the same size and shape you are pedalling less weight on the bike. An additional advantage of using carbon in the manufacture of an aero bar is that less vibration and shock is transmitted through to the rider, which can be a significant gain on long rides, where fatigue of various kinds is always possible.
Using carbon for aerobars also makes it easier for manufacturers to make single piece lightweight base bars as the processes used lend themselves more to one piece than those used for alloy or aluminium bars. An added benefit of this is that the bar can be profiled in various ways by the designer; more complex shapes can be accommodated.
This means that aerodynamics can be given more consideration, with the profile of many carbon aerobars changing in various ways as you move along the bar. This change of radius and profile is much more tricky with the forming of alloy handlebars.
Obviously for the competitive rider these twin advantages of a lightweight bar which is also highly efficient aerodynamically can add up to something significant.
To some extent, cost will dictate your choice as carbon aerobars all cost considerably more than the equivalent alloy bar. If you've got an alloy base bar, then the weight saving of having a clip on carbon bar might not justify the expense.
However, once you have an all carbon base bar, the case for carbon aerobars changes and there is no point in adding heavier aero bars to a light handlebar !
Clip on carbon bars are the first option and you just need to be careful that the base bar is suitable for taking them, in strength and in size.
Secondly and often the best option for adaptability is to buy the base bar with the stem and the extensions in one package. That way you can sometimes get a huge number of adjustments in the different aspects of the aerobars, which makes a big difference on longer competitive cycle rides.
With the integrated carbon aerobars you also get brake levers and shifters, where the whole package is designed to minimise weight and maximise aerodynamic performance, which is much easier if the designer doesn't have to make the bar adaptable to different other components. However this comes at a big price difference !
To some extent it is always 'safer' to buy a complete system when buying carbon aerobars, purely because you know the clamping system and the base bar have been designed to complement each other. ie. buy the base bar, stem and extensions as a kit.
Also it may seem a little obvious, but check the diameter of the clamp versus the diameter of the handlebar, particularly because a carbon base bar may have unusual profiles along its length.