This summer Farr debuted a new set of alloy Arm Rests designed to deliver comfortable aerobar-style support in a tucked position, without necessarily having aero bars out front. The idea was to create a modular support setup so ultradistance, endurance, and bikepacking cyclists could tinker with their cockpit setups to stay comfortable longer and ride farther.
We’ve been playing with the Arm Rests for the past few months, seeing how they might help us Ride Farr together with a Carbon Aero Bolt-On loop and its dedicated GPS mount…
Review: Farr modular armrests & mini customizable aerobars
The Farr Arm Rest setup is actually a second generation of the clip-on kit, adapted to higher volume production than the original fully CNC-machined setup, to try to bring pricing down to a reasonable level. The standalone arm rests are still not super cheap at $115 without any aero bar out front, but they offer a nice modular fit that can be customized to expand the comfort and versatility of many other alternate handlebar and cockpit setups…
Or of course, you can combine it with Farr’s own alloy or carbon bolt-on extension loops, or Farr’s Aero Gravel bar or Aero MTB bar that build loops out front of otherwise normal aluminum handlebars.
The complete setup I have been using most, is a set of the Farr Arm Rests bolted to the Farr Carbon Aero Bolt-On loop (and its own out-front GPS mount.)
The great benefit of this setup, is that they were designed to bolt together. So you actually remove the aluminum clamps that secure either individual element to a regular 31.8mm bar, and bolt the two elements together around your regular handlebar.
This complete setup is light & self-contained, and can be quickly swapped from one flat MTB bar or road/gravel dropbar with minimal fuss or need for readjustment. The trick of course is that it requires a 31.8mm diameter clamping area that is at least 80mm wide, something I have found is quite rare with all the aero & ergo shaping of most modern dropbars.
The entire Farr Arm Rest, Carbon Aero Bolt-On & GPS mount setup weighs just 321g, making it one of the lightest adjustable aero bar setups possible, including the optional GPS holder. Without that computer mount, it’s just 280g.
You even save 43g by combining them. It doesn’t quite compare to a conventional aero bar setup in overall aero tuck fit, but it delivers a wide range of position adjustability.
And it likely will be a platform for endurance racers to further customize their race setup.
Farr Arm Rests a light, modular, customizable aero bar support
The benefit of the Farr Arm Rests themselves is the ability to support your weight while riding with your forearms rather than your hands, a huge benefit for endurance cyclists who need to rest their hands without stopping. Of course, the Arm Rests alone don’t offer much bike handling control, so you really need to combine them with something out front.
Here, I am using Farr’s bolt-on mini aero bar loop, but I even got a tiny bit of a sense of control resting my arms on these with a rigid handlebar bag like the latest Ortlieb Handlebar Pack – experiment at your own risk. Without a proper aerobar out front to hold onto, it’s important that riders use these arm rests only in terrain and situations where stability and quick reactions are not a major concern – this is not a setup for riding in busy car traffic or even in a group ride setting.
The really nice thing about Farr’s Arm Rest Kit is its adjustability… and really how they are a bit overbuilt to the point that I feel like I could file away bits of alloy if I wanted to adjust them beyond their intended range. Farr admits that they know ultra-endurance riders are going to tweak whatever setup someone creates off the shelf.
Height-wise, as you can see in the photo over cobbles stones (two above), there are graduated lines that let you adjust up or down around 2cm. In the narrower pad position I have picked, that is limited to ~1cm of vertical adjustment, but cutting a small bit of the alloy base under the velcro would let me get lower – flush with my handlebar or lower if I needed.
The thin 7mm EVA foam pads feel supportive enough that they don’t squirm and you don’t sink into the padding, but still they are comfortable for extended periods over smooth or rough roads. It is held on securely with 3M velcro that the user sticks on to suit them.
Underneath, you can see how the bracket of the Arm Rest mounts directly to the carbon body of the aero bolt-on.
The Arm Rests have a slightly flared outer edge that bend up ever so slightly to help keep your forearm sliding off to the sides. But more important is probably setting them to the width your arms will already comfortably rest in your forward aero tuck.
I have the pads essentially in the middle position (15cm center-center), using the outer of three bolt holes on both rest & support. You can definitely set the pads either +/-18mm closer or farther apart using two adjacent holes.
The Farr Arm Rest kit on its own weighs just 223g, including its standalone clamps. Pulling these silver clamps off with their 4 bolts, and then attaching it to the Carbon Aero Bolt-On with its bolts let me drop 31g of this setup off. And since I didn’t need the Aero Bolt-On’s alloy clamps, that netted me another 12g savings.
So, separate they weigh 223g +100g. Combined together and they weigh just 280g.
Just as an availability update, the new Farr Arm Rest Kit v2 is still officially sold as a pre-order. But Farr has the final production parts in-house now and is finalizing assembly right now to get them out to distributors starting this week. They’ll be shipping to buyers very soon.
Farr Carbon Aero Bolt-On, mini aero bar extension
The mini Farr Carbon Aero Bolt-On is certainly not limited to conventionally narrow road and gravel bike cockpits. In fact, it might even make more sense when you have a much wider bar like a mountain bike bar, where adding a bit of control in a more narrow hand position would have more aerodynamic benefits.
I actually first mounted the Carbon Aero Bolt-On to the massively wide Walmer 60 drop bar on my rigid Moots singlespeed mountain bike. (It’s 75cm wide outside, even making fitting between trees an issue on singletrack.) There, it offered a welcome extra hand position for spinning along the flats, back and forth to the trails.
Now, combined with the Arm Rests it gives more positions to my do-it-all Bombtrack Audax gravel bike.
(While it does take away the ability to wrap my hands around the tops next to the stem, I can rest my palms on the armrests and still curl my fingers around the bar. And there’s still room for my hands on the regular bar, in the corners of the tops.)
Generally, with the $165 Carbon Aero Bolt-On itself, the most comfortable hand positions involve either wrapping your hands around the sides and resting your palms on the flat-shaped sides of the extension – either with thumbs hooked inside (like you can see a few photos below, focusing on the GPS mount) or thumbs sitting on top (above, right).
But paired with the armrests that usually put weight too close to my wrists and my elbows in the way of my knees.
I ultimately settled on a less secure grip (above, left) with my wrists bent, my thumbs wrapped around the support of the GPS mount placed out front, and my fingers curled back under the front of the carbon extension.
The takeaway from my using the Carbon Aero Bolt-On is probably that I wish it were a bit longer (it extends just over 10cm in front of your bar), maybe even 5cm more. (Farr suggests a longer reach alloy aero bolt-on could be in the future development pipeline.) It does certainly add more possible hand positions.
If you are looking for more secure hand positions, it certainly seems more suited for shorter periods of time to stretch out and move your hands somewhere else. Even without the armrests, you can also lean out over the Aero Bolt-On directly on your forearms, but you have no real sense of control in that position, even if it does feel more secure than just leaning forearms on a regular handlebar, imaginary aerobar style.
The tiny carbon extension isn’t cheap, but at only 100g on its own, it won’t add much weight either.
A nice little v3 update this week… the top now gets textured graphics that offer more grip. I never really had an issue, but it could get a bit slippery when my hands are wet without gloves.
Farr GPS Mount for their Carbon Aero Bolt-On extension
If you do get the mini Carbon Aero Bolt-On extension, you might also consider Farr’s specific GPS mount that they developed for it. The Carbon Aero Bolt-On does have a bulb at the front where you can attach any standard 31.8mm accessory mount, but most of those are designed to be offset to the side of your stem.
If you can’t handle having your GPS off-center, this may be your best option.
The $85 Farr GPS Mount (yikes, that’s pricey!) for their Carbon Aero Bolt-On aerobar is made of aluminum in three pieces. It can be mounted facing forward or back, extending your GPS computer back inside the loop of the extension, over top of the front loop of the extension (above), or out-front of the Aero Bolt-On (below).
The issue I had with the GPS mount is that its sharply machined edges extend into the tight space you have at the front of the Carbon Aero Bolt-On to loop your fingers on for secure grip. Any bump or vibration sent a nice sharp pain into my thumb. Ouch.
FYI, this is technically the ‘incorrect positioning of the mount (above) with the silver dogbone link facing back towards my hand, as I was experimenting with having the GPS further back, inside the Aero Bolt-On loop. When flipping it forward to the ‘correct’ position where I ultimately settled on my preferred setup (below), it still pushed into my thumb a bit, hence my wrapped solution.
The solution was simple, though.
Once I found the position I wanted for my GPS and the angle of its screen, I just wrapped the entire clamp and the silver dogbone extension arm with a short section of bar tape. No more sharp edges, minimal impact on space available inside the loop for my thumbs, plus an extra bit of material to comfortably hold onto.
The Farr GPS mount weighs just 41g, and includes both Garmin & Wahoo inserts – a nice touch since my Wahoo almost fits into Garmin mount if you rotate them 90°, but the fit isn’t very nice or secure. This GPS mount ONLY fits the Carbon Aero Bolt-On extension, but Farr also makes other versions that fit their wild Headspace stem, one that fits any regular 22.2mm round bar or aero extension, and one that attaches to the top of your steerer with a special headset cap.
Farr Arm Rests & Aero Bolt-on: Parting Thoughts
With all the details laid bare, are the Farr Arm Rests the right solution for you? And what about their Carbon Aero Bolt-On mini aero bar?
To be honest, my initial thought after installing the Arm Rest Kit was, “Oh crap, these things are going to have me constantly hitting my elbows with my knees!” (They did, at first.) And then it turned into, “How am I supposed to hold on?” (That took some getting used to, as well.) The thing is, this is a setup that will surely require some trial and error to get dialed in. (I swapped to a 10mm longer stem, I lowered the armrests to be even with the top of the front loop, and flipped the GPS around front, wrapped with bar tape.)
But once it did get it dialed, I’m quite happy.
The setup doesn’t look quite as crazy or scary as a full-on aero bar setup (and is easy to remove without losing my adjustment, for when you don’t want/need it). It’s quite light. And most importantly of all, it’s comfortable.
I haven’t yet done any multi-day rides with it, but taking the pressure off my hands during even a 4+ hour mixed-surface road & gravel ride has been great. I actually injured my palm & wrist a few weeks back in a mountain bike “incident”, and this meant I could keep riding with no hand pain at all. That one week of recovery riding itself justified the Farr Arm Rest Kit & Carbon Aero Bolt-On combo to me, and it could equally save a longer tour if any similar pain or injury popped up along the way.
So that’s it. There are still some setup kinks for me to iron out and dial in over time. But there’s plenty of adjustability possible, and I’m down with the aero tuck.