TRIATHLON SEASON IS STARTING – TIME GET YOUR BIKE FIT DIALLED IN!
Updated: Jan 18, 2021
With Triathlon season getting underway, it’s well and truly time to get your bike fit dialled in.
Why? Your body needs time to adapt to your optimal position, to develop the muscle memory for maximum efficiency and speed. This is especially true for a time trial bike or if you are using clip-on aero bars. You want all of your training and build towards your big race to be in your optimal position to help you achieve your personal best on the big day.
Here are my top 5 tips for you if you are thinking of buying a new time trial bike for the season:
1. PLAN AHEAD: GET A PRE-PURCHASE BIKE FIT FIRST. It’s a quick 30 minute appointment that will potentially save you thousands of dollars when it comes time to purchase. You will be the educated buyer who specifies exactly what frame size, aero bar and crank combination you require, and won’t be fooled into buying the wrong things simply because they are floor stock ready to go today. In this fit I can also identify if you have the musculoskeletal attributes required to actually benefit from a TT bike, or whether you will cause yourself an injury trying to get into an aggressive position your body simply can’t handle. This again will save you from a purchase that is best off delayed until such time as you have improved your own body to be able to perform on a TT bike.
2. GET SPACERS & SCREWS FOR YOUR ELBOW PADS. Insist that the bike shop includes a set of pad stackers and the matching screw lengths so that you can actually adjust the position of the elbow pads. Without this you are stuck! There is the option to buy spacers / stackers (usually in 10mm increments) but these can be surprisingly expensive after-market. Look to get at least 3 different height stacker and the matching longer screws.
3. GET YOUR CRANK LENGTH RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. This is a very common mistake where athletes simply take whatever cranks the bike came with, without considering what their individual body needs. This is especially important for triathletes, who very often have tight hamstrings that limit their ability to get into the aero position (the hamstrings work pretty hard in all three disciplines and are prone to becoming tight). It is not uncommon to ride shorter cranks on your TT rig compared to your road bike.
4. CONSIDER IF YOU REALLY NEED AN INTEGRATED AERO BAR & STEM, OR AERO BRAKES. If the stem and aerobar are an integrated (one piece) item, there is zero adjustability, or best case modifying and improving your position on the bike is incredibly difficult. This can be a huge issue if you buy the wrong combination! Much easier with a stem and separate aerobar. Similarly, brakes hidden under aerodynamic cowlings are hard to adjust (which is often needed when changing rim widths from training to race wheels), and they expensive to service or alter the caliper width (the internally routed cables are literally cut off at the bolt on the brake and prevent you lengthening the cable to make the caliper wider for a wider tyre or rim). Standard brakes are far easier to adjust and use, so think carefully which option is best suited to your goals and accept that adjustability may be sacrificed for marginal aerodynamic gains.
5. GET A TIME TRIAL SADDLE FOR YOUR TT BIKE. There are specific time trial saddles designed for the radically different time trial posture. I have some of the more successful models available to trial in the studio, including the ranges from ISM and Sella SMP. A regular road saddle is designed for a different cycling posture and almost always results in some serious saddle sores / pain when used on a TT bike.
My final tip is to get a full bike fit once you have organised your new weapon, whether this is a road bike with or without clip-ons, or a TT bike. I can help you optimise the position relative to your body, and assist in saddle selection which is a crucial component that often takes a little trial and error to get right.