The Importance of Bicycle Bar End Plugs

imagesWhat’s the one thing that every athlete should know before a race begins? The USA Triathlon competitive rules! Nobody wants to receive a penalty on race day. If you’re a seasoned triathlete or a newbie contemplating your first race you’ve probably already heard that “drafting is prohibited, always ride on the right, no right hand passing, make sure you do the entire course, start in your assigned wave,” etc. These are all important things to follow.

Beyond these, however, one of the most important things that triathletes can do on race morning is to make sure that their bikes have bar end plugs. “What the heck is a bar end plug?” you ask. They are those little plastic or rubber pieces that fit into the little holes at the ends of the handlebars. Not just a pretty accessory to make sure your handlebars look cool or streamlined, bar end plugs could save your life. Without them, the naked end of your handlebars might just perform an emergency liver biopsy out on the road if you crash. And nobody wants that!

unknown It’s not unusual for a bar end plug to pop out while en route to the race. So when you arrive, inspect your bike. If you don’t have an extra bar end plug with your gear, check with the folks in bicycle support; they’re sure to have some. Pop the plug in and you’re good to go!

A failure to have bar ends plugged by the start of the race will result in a disqualification—something nobody wants. A missing bar end plug is a safety violation and must be corrected. If, after all efforts have been taken to correct the situation and a bike still has a bar end plug missing, the USAT official will disqualify that athlete and ask the race director to pull the bike from transition and not allow the athlete to go out on the course.

It’s up to you to make sure the repair is made. As soon as you arrive at the race site, check your bike and make sure the handlebars are solidly plugged. Remember, USAT officials are not permitted to repair bikes or provide repair parts.

A couple of nights before your big race, take a little time to read through the USA Triathlon competitive rules. That time spent before your race might just save you the added time of a penalty or a disqualification. Then go out and enjoy your race.

Think you might enjoy being a USA Triathlon official? If you’re interested in becoming a referee, please email Tom Reilly, the Florida Regional Officials’ Coordinator, at


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