Review: BP4 Handle bars
By Scott Mares | Published Jun 11, 2015
“So what’s up with those funny bars?” Is what is usually said to me these days. These bars remind me of the old Modolo X8 bend bars from back in the day. However these bars are made with one purpose only. To put the rider in a more aerodynamic and ergonomic position while riding their bike all the while being legal with any governing body.
After Greg Lemond won the Tour by 8 seconds with funny aero bars the cycling industry has been looking to make the average rodie more aero with out having to have Tri bars. There were several companies that made add on bars. All of them worked to a point. Some became illegal. Cinelli Spinaci bars were a really good idea but were made illegal for mass start events as they were deemed too dangerous. Scott made drop in bars and also
BP4 took a different approach to doing aero dynamics than most. Everyone else is interested in getting the rider lower. Well that is all fine and good BUT, the lower you get the rider the more restrictive the breathing becomes, so BP4 noticed that the riders frontal area could be decreased if they just brought in their elbows. To make it natural they needed to rotate the hand up or supinate the hand to about 45 degrees. By rotating the hand the elbow naturally came in and closer to the body thereby decreasing the the frontal area. All with out bending the rider over and that meant that you have a decrease of drag but NO increase of breathing restriction. Its like getting a bigger carburetor!
- Light weight
- Climbing Oxygen
- True road aero bar
We Didn’t Like
This may not be the same for everyone but for us it dramatically change our position. Because of the bend there is a 51mm drop from the top of the bars to the hoods. So BP4 told us that some people keep their stem in the same position and others raise it up to compensate. We had to do the latter. But for us it took a little getting use to after 30+ years riding a standard shaped bar. So our advice is if you get a pair go back to your fitter and get refitted for the bars.
The Final Say
So our first impression of the bar is that its kind of a gimmick and we are approaching this with some skepticism. But that is what we do. We try new stuff and then report on what we find, think and feel. We ask questions and give feedback in the hopes that it will help the companies make their products better. So the concept of the bar is to put the rider in a more aerodynamic and comfortable position. Sounds like a simple enough task right? Well, others in the past have gone after this by initially starting with aerodynamics and then working comfort into it. Aero bars were the start of the whole thing and they work great except for mass start events. So you can’t road race with them. Then someone got the great idea to clip something on that would help the rider be aerodynamic when they are on a break away off the front. Two companies that come straight to mind are SCOTT and Cinelli. The SCOTT bars were legal but put the rider in a very aggressive position. This is great for aerodynamics but not so much for breathing. The Cinelli bars were cool and they did help put the rider in a more aerodynamic position but the UCI came in and said that they were dangerous and made them illegal for mass start events. This is where BP4 comes into the picture several years later. Most of the companies were looking at decreasing the frontal area position of the rider but were only looking at it from a vertical stand point. Basically lower the rider to decrease the frontal area. BP4 reduces the frontal area by making the rider narrower. To do this you need to change the hand position. When you put your hands on the tops of a bar with palms down your elbows flare out. This exposes more surface area and also increases your frontal area. By rotating the hands 30 degrees you move the elbows in. Its like the 10 and 2 position on a car steering wheel. Traditional aero bars do the same thing with the elbows by having the hand grips either vertical or tilted in to get the 10 and 2 position. So the bottom line? It does exactly what it says it will do. So for climbing, it rocks. The bar will put your hands in the 10 and 2 position and you will even find some other little places to put your hands. It does take a little getting use to and a little more time in the set up because of the radical shape and bend in the bar. I see this bar as being a big hit for climbing and breakaway specialists. I even see this as a great bar for the track. This position means better climbing and breathing which translates to more oxygen, and that means more power. On the track, the speeds are high and its an aero bar for mass start events. For breakaways specialist it’s again an aero bar, and so, as speeds goes up aerodynamics become more and more important.