You may or may not remember the Cinelli Spinaci extensions from the 90s, but the UCI does, and still seems to be opposed to any aero bar extensions for mass start road races. But at the same time it isn’t at all uncommon to see roadies hunched over their handlebars, trying to get a bit of an aero tuck while resting across the bar. While the UCI banned the extensions for road racing over safety concerns as they took racers hands too far away from the brakes, Swiss bike and alternative component maker Zirbel thinks they could come in handy again with they way many of us ride our bikes these days. And besides offering more comfortable hand positions, their new Zirbelaci take on the clip-on bar extensions can be combined with their rotating grip style shifter to control whatever electronic derailleurs you are currently running…
I have to admit that I myself do a good bit of over the bar riding on my cross and gravel bikes when facing into a headwind on those relatively smooth sections of road rolling back home after a long ride. Without anything to hold on to, it’s pretty much just a game of pressing your forearms into the bar enough to keep the bar straight, while spreading your weight as evenly across the bike as possible. So maybe there is some merit to bringing the design back to market, combining both better grip and the ability to shift electronic groups.
Certainly with the growth of electronic drivetrain options, the mere fact that the Zirbel Racer twist shifter existed was nice to have some more options available. Then combined with the rebirth of adventure riding, cyclists really can benefit from the availability of more places to put your hands and overall more flexibility of position on the bike for long days in the saddle. I mean if you look at the bike ridden to win events like the Transcontinental or Tuscany Trail, all of the bikes are dominated by alt-bar setups. So maybe the Zirbelaci will find its place on some adventure bikes?
The Zirbelaci extensions are a direct evolution of the original Spinaci. The extensions offer up to two electronic twist shifters, at first just for Di2 (although the Racer is said to be made to work with EPS or eTap as well), with one shift position available close to the bar or placing them at the far end for shifting in your aero tuck. The 31.8mm machined alloy hangers are narrow and meant to sit close to the stem, with enough offset from the bar that you still get plenty of room to ride on the tops for a more upright position.
The integrated shifters are the key element and keep the cost pretty high, but therein lies the added functionality as well. With one shifter the set sells for 180€, or 240€ with front and rear remote Di2 shifting. They are made in small batches by Zirbel in Switzerland, with a handful in stock now.