BIKE Triathlons are all about speed, endurance, and efficiency. Time management is super important and most triathletes do whatever it takes to save even a few seconds off their time. Apart from good time management such as super-swift transitions, triathletes need to make the most out of their tri gear. When you buy a tri bike from a shop, you should get a basic fit to make sure you’ve got the right size frame, that you’re comfortable, and it’s safe to ride. Once you’ve started to get familiar with your bike, it’s time to look into your position in a little more detail. And this is where a professional bike fit can come in handy.
Unlike with most road bikes, tri bikes only require a few minor adjustments to dial down your exact position on the bike. So you won’t have to worry about changing components on the bike as long as you’re on the right size frame. With a time trial bike, it’s often a compromise between comfort, power production, and aerodynamics.
So, if you’ve invested in a new triathlon bike, you want to make the most of those aerodynamic features and working on your position is vital. Several small tweaks can end up making a significant difference. There are many tools and software that can be used by bike fitters, but they still require an expert eye that can interpret them, but also listen to your individual needs.
Sizing a tri bike is not as complicated as suggested by some. However, sizing takes a slightly different trained eye than road bike sizing. Fitting a triathlon bike comes down to the contact points between the cyclist and the bicycle. These FIVE contact points:-
- Forearm pads
- Aero bar extensions
- Base bar
The location of your feet, pelvis, forearms, and hands dramatically impact comfort and efficiency on the bicycle. Several pieces of equipment on a bicycle are adjusted to find your ideal position on your bike:
Setting up an aerodynamic position is a little bit like balancing a set of scales. The further forwards you go, the less power you’ll be able to output, but the more time and more effort you’ll save because your position is more aerodynamic. It’s different for every person and there’s a point on the bike beyond which you are losing more than you are gaining. This is why it’s important to have your bike fit done by an experienced bike shop.
Like on most bikes – even more so in the sport of triathlon, comfort starts with the saddle. The proper pairing of you and your saddle will allow the right amount of skeletal support, and soft tissue clearance, while also allowing the appropriate amount of pelvic rotation. With these established, you are able to relax your core and skeletally support yourself on the pads and extensions, and achieve an aerodynamic position that is sustainable for longer.
COMMON BIKE FIT MISTAKES
- Riding with knees flared out. Keep them close to the top tube. If you can’t, something is wrong with your setup—probably cleat position and/or a footbed tilt.
- Loose clothing of any kind is harming your timing. Anything else that flaps forms a rough surface and scoops open in the wind—this is bad. This is why time trial cyclists wear skinsuits and shoe covers. Triathletes can’t be as smooth, but it pays to eliminate anything that obviously drags. Aero helmets also help out a lot here.
- A common problem we see often with bad cleat alignment is when the toe-in/toe-out is not setup correctly causing additional stress to the knees.