Aero-road Frames: Worth the Money?

Giant, Trek, Cervelo, and Specialized are all selling road bikes with features such as aero-tubing, hidden breaks, and internalized cable housing. While these new machines are beautiful, are they worth it?

The answer in short: it depends on your budget and needs.

From a performance standpoint, the benefits far out way any costs. The typical cost of making a frame more aerodynamic is adding material and making the frame heavier. Since the vast majority of resistance comes from aerodynamics (except when in the mountains) any additional weight probably will only add marginal resistance. Interestingly enough, Trek’s revamped aerodynamic aero madone is actually lighter than its non-aero predecessor. The verdict: if money is not an object than going aero is the way to go unless you are climbing more than a few thousand feet vertically in a given training ride.

From a price standpoint, aero road bikes are almost always carbon fiber and rarely start below $2000 and often start at price points closer to $3500. Even with the aerodynamic engineering, a triathlon bike is still much faster than an aero road bike due to its better positioning for any non-draft legal racing. Buying the bike doesn’t mean one can save by not buying a triathlon bike. However, if you are looking for a road bike and are already looking to spend over $2000, than you are better off getting the aero frame.

-Aaron Lidawer, YoungTri Executive Board Member