Friday, August 31, 2007

New tri bike? Who needs a new tri bike!

Still pumped from my first triathlon I have committed to doing 3 sprint triathlons and my first Olympic distance tri next year. With all the cycling I will be doing I thought that I would need to get a new triathlon bike. The bike I have been using is awesome, but it is a road bike and can not give the rider the advantages that a true triathlon bike can.

I good friend of Gerry's named Gewilli had some great advice.(Thanks buddy!) He recommended upgrading some key components on my current road bike to match the geometry of a tri bike. So I did some research and for under $350 I can upgrade my bike to perform "like" a tri bike, but without the 2-3 thousand dollar sticker price. SWEET!

So here is my off season shopping list:

  1. Profile Design - Fast Forward Seat Post: This changes my seat post angle form a road bike angle of 73 deg. to 75 degrees. Although it may not seem like a big change, it pushes the hips forward and allows less strain of the muscles used for running.
  2. AirStryke Aero Bar: Allows rider to keep upper body low, allowing for increased aerodynamics and speed while reducing overall drag and energy output.
  3. Profile Design- AeroDrink: Aerodynamic water bottle with built in straw. Bottle attaches to Aerobar and allows rider to rehydrate without slowing pace.
  4. Wind Tunnel tested Tri Helmet:Increase aerodynamics, but man it looks silly!
  5. Profile Design - Tri Styke Saddle: Triathlon specific design, Transition rack friendly with areas on both the front and rear that make it easier to rack your bike, Cut-away with vents for comfort and easier moisture transfer after the swim, Additional padding for all day comfort.
While searching for the theory of why these upgrades work, I found this well written explains the science of cycling better then all the others I read.

Can you put aero bar on a road bikeProper
Hip Angle on a Road Bike Over millions of years of evolution the bike/rider system has evolved to create certain joint angles to yield the best combination of power generation and comfort. Take a look at a rider in the tour in a long, solo breakaway. His most likely riding position is with hands on the hoods, forearms parallel to the ground. Or he may be riding with forearms on the tops of the bars, hands grasping the brake cables, forearms parallel to the ground. If we drew an angle, centered on the ball of the hip, with a line running forward from this point through the shoulder, and another down his straightened leg to the pedal spindle, this hip angle would be approximately 90 degrees. The geometry of the bike frame supports creating this 90 degree hip angle. Add Aero Bars If we add traditional aerobars to this bike (ones where the elbow rest is basically located on the tops of the bars) the athlete is forced to reach a bit forward to reach the bars. They are stretched out over the top tube. Two considerations here: We’ve closed up this optimum hip angle, created above. If you take a close look at roadies hammering on a long breakaway, you’ll often see them riding on the nose of the saddle, as their body seeks to regain this hip angle by riding closer to the front of the bike and opening up the hip. Jump back to the position in the first paragraph. On a well fitting road bike, forearms on the tops, hands lightly grasping the cables, your torso and upper arm form a 90-100 degree angle. More importantly, you weight is supported by bone, not muscle. This is a comfortable, well supported riding position. However, now you are stretched out over the top tube, opening up this upper arm/torso angle. You are now supporting your weight partially with your lats and lower back. Add a Forward Facing Seat Post Recall how I described the rider scooting forward on the nose of the saddle to regain this hip angle. A common solution is to add a forward facing seat post, with a sharp bend in the post to help the rider move the seat much farther forward. This will open up the hip angle again. However, your bike was designed to be ridden with x% of the weight on the back wheel and y% on the front. You’ve now essentially moved your body significantly forward over this frame, changing the handling characteristics. Can you be powerful and comfortable? Yes. Have you compromised the handling of the bike? Yes, but only a minicule amount and you gain far more.
Enter the Tri Frame The term “triathlon bike” should only refer to the geometry of the frame, not the handle bar system attached to the stem. This geometry is characterized by a seat tube that is kicked forward, thus shortening the top tube. This “steeper” seat tube angle allows the rider to: Ride in the aero position and retain the optimum hip angle. Do so while retaining a comfortable torso/upper arm angle. Do so while keeping the optimum weight distribution on each wheel and therefore maintaining the safe handling characteristics of the bike. “Shorty” Bars In my opinion, the better solution for adapting a road bike to a time trial position is a ‘shorty’ bar, such as Profile’s Jammer GT bars. With these bars the rider supports their weight on the forearms, not the elbows. The rider is less stretched out, retaining the proper hip and upper arm/torso angles. I have a pair that I toss on my road bike for long, solo rides where I’m pushing my own wind. The added speed gets me home faster J. As a reminder, Brandon Heflin and I are offering bike fits at Incycle in Pasadena. We will take great care to explain all of this to you in detail, so you know what and why we are making changes and understand a plan for changing things as you adapt to the position. Cheers, Rich Strauss USAT Certified Coach A Joe Friel Ultrafit Associate

1 comment:

gewilli said...

you got it...

heck look around used/ebay and you'll do even better $$ wise...

but still $350 for stuff ya can take to other bikes ain't such a bad price...

and all that together should take HEAPS of time off your cycling leg...