Carbon Wasp might not be the first name you associate with time trialling but the Yorkshire-based company has been producing high-end carbon-fibre components for many of the best time trial bikes of current WorldTour teams since 2018 already. The brand has only recently, however, started making in-house products under the Carbon Wasp moniker. The result is the bar system you see here, designed to unlock better performance and on-the-bike comfort for both non-UCI and UCI-sanctioned events.
We’ve spent the past two months testing the Carbon Wasp Aero Bar system under both race and training conditions and have yet to unearth any drawbacks. Read on for the final verdict.
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Visually, the Carbon Wasp Aero Bar system makes a convincing case for itself. It’s bold and stealthy, utilizing the raw carbon-fibre weave to maximum effect, and will complement most bike colourways as a result. The in-your-face, yellow Carbon Wasp logo might not be to everyone’s taste and, while it’s an obvious branding exercise to help build awareness, we would have much preferred a less brazen, black-on-black treatment.
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Specifications and installation
For many triathletes, time trialists and track racers, aerobar adjustment on stock set-ups can be quite restrictive but Carbon Wasp has created a personalized approach with bar angles that are infinitely adjustable from 0-30-degrees (most stock set-ups max out at 15-degrees rise). Available in two distinct options – Non-UCI and UCI-compliant, the Aero Extensions fit flush against the basebar, and provide superior ergonomics and leverage while closing the gap between the hands and head. Manufactured from different types of pre-preg, both high strength standard modulus (Toray T700) and 2×2 twill weave, the extensions are incredibly strong but also provide some degree of compliance which aids in comfort.
Carbon Wasp offers it in both an off-the-shelf and fully customisable option. The system pictured here is the regular off-the-shelf Non-UCI specification package, complete with U-shaped armrests. It weighs in at 850g including all the hardware. My time trial bike’s Vision Metron TFA cockpit utilises a layout quite specific to its proprietary spacers and extension system which made things a little tricky in terms of installation. Thankfully, the spacer extrusions were flat enough to play nicely with the Carbon Wasp wedge anchoring brackets which are secured in place from below the bar. From there it was just a matter of sliding the extensions onto the wedge anchoring bracket and fastening the screws. (I suggest tightening one at a time to get the desired rise, which I found was 18-degrees for my particular set-up).
The balance of the installation is pretty straightforward. Fitting the Shimano Di2 shifters was easy and, despite some excess carbon inside the extension itself, the wires plumbed through without any hiccups. (They are also compatible with SRAM shifters and an eTap blip box will easily fit inside the extension). Once you’re happy with the placement of the U-shaped armrests, the last thing you’ll need to do is cut the foam adhesive to shape before sticking it in place. It’s a very intuitive installation process although we do advise getting your local bike shop to help install the system if you’re unsure in any way.
Pro tip: It’s worth cutting a brace of holes into both foam pieces so you can remove the armrests without ripping the foam.
Before I drill down into the performance details, it’s worth mentioning the range of adjustability this system brings to the experience. The extension length is adjustable by over 90mm from the rear base bar bolt hole to the end of the tips, while the angle or tilt can be adjusted from 0-30 degrees. Not only can you also manipulate the ‘toe-in’ which can arrange the bars from a parallel position to tips touching, but the armrest cups also offer 15mm of fore-aft travel. That’s a lot to take in but it essentially allows you to streamline and settle on a position that works – for me, it was about closing the gap between my hands and face without interfering with anything else.
Out on the road, the system feels rock solid. Even over expansion joints, bumps, and road imperfections, everything stays in place, which is reassuring when you’re moving at high speed. The U-shaped armrests were a huge upgrade coming from more traditional flat-shaped items. This arrangement allows more stability, less core compensation, and lets you stay focused on your position. The only issue I found came from leaving the armrests to apply the brakes, which required me to pull up rather than slide out.
In terms of the arrangement itself, I’ve managed to close the gap between my hands and face quite significantly. While I have no scientific aero testing data to back up my results using the Carbon Wasp Aero Bar system, I’ve managed to produce the same performances over 10- and 25-mile time trials using fewer watts than before. This equates to savings of around 5-9-watts over 25 miles. For me, however, it’s more the comfort and trust afforded by the adjustability and strength of the carbon-fibre construction that makes it a clear winner in my eyes.
At £795 /$1,050, it’s hard to ignore the fact that this is a pricey system. That said, all time triallists – regardless of ability – will know how deep the aero rabbit hole can get, and finding a system this adjustable and compatible is like hen’s teeth. Based on that alone, the Carbon Wasp Aero Bar System makes a strong case for itself so it’s best to think of it more as an investment: a one-off purchase that you can easily move from bike to bike.
The beauty of this system is the broad range of adjustability and the ease at which you can tweak things without it becoming overly complicated or restricting. So forget that wheel upgrade as there’s more to be lost when it comes to a poor bike position.
|Aesthetics||Beautifully designed, featuring raw carbon weave. However, the visual package would look more refined with black-on-black Carbon Wasp logo||7/10|
|Compatibility||Compatibility is the Carbon Wasp Aero Bar system’s USP. It plays nicely with all stock base bars. Full marks here||10/10|
|Adjustibility||With myriad adjustment points spanning fore/aft for both the armrests and extensions, not to mention 0-30 degrees of tilt, the Carbon Wasp Aero Bar system is the most complete item of its kind on the market||10/10|
|Performance||Rock solid stability coupled with top-drawer ergonomics makes this system a no-brainer for the ardent time triallist||9/10|
|Value for money||At £795 / $1,050, it’s certainly not cheap but the level of adjustability, comfort and confidence afforded by this arrangement puts it head and shoulders above all stock set-ups. We’d prioritise this over a wheel upgrade||7/10|
Tech Specs: Carbon Wasp Aero Bar system
- Price: £795 /$1,050
- Weight: 850g (including all hardware – screws and armrests)
- Colors: Raw carbon, yellow logo
- Length: Over 90mm, adjustable from 280mm – 374mm
- Angle: 0-30-degrees
- Armrests: Two positions (or custom drill to fine-tune)
- Computer mount: Garmin or Wahoo