Triathlon bike fitting means that you can race faster, longer and more comfortably. It’s also cheaper than most of the new equipment that you can buy for your bike Here’s how to do it well
An perfect triathlon bike split is fine combination of performance, comfort and aerodynamics. Sadly, triathletes often focus on one or two of these areas and focus little or no time on the other aspects. As a triathlete it’s important to find the perfect balance for your unique needs to ensure you’re as fast as possible on the bike and fresh enough to finish strong once you’re off it.
Find a Harmony
As mentioned earlier, a harmony of comfort, performance and aerodynamics is a must on the bike. If flexibility is an issue you’ll have some serious comfort problems on the bike over the length of the course.
Whether you’re a distance triathlete spending considerable amounts of time on the bike or a sprint triathlete looking for optimal power over a shorter distance, you need to have an ideal position on the bike that maximizes pedaling efficiency without putting the hurt on your lower back, shoulders or neck.
An experienced bike fit specialist will be able to find your areas of weakness and help you either remedy them with specific workouts, stretching or fit changes.
Look for Adaptable Frames
As a F.I.S.T certified fitter with years of experience in road and triathlon bike fits we’ve seen years of problematic frame designs, riding positions and equipment limitations. Luckily, frame builders are starting to develop frame designs that adapt to the unique demands of riders instead of forcing them to comply with the limitations of the frame itself.
These frames are great for riders who are improving their flexibility and will need to change their position as they become more flexible, or those looking for one frame to perform in a variety of different race situations where different positions may be needed. You don’t have to accept the limitations you once did in frame designs.
Get a Professional Fit
Far too many bike shops offer “bike fit” offerings. Often these fits focus on pre-determined angles of leg, ankle and hit bend. A professional bike fit should be unique to you and optimize your unique biomechanics and personal preferences.
The only way to truly be fast on the bike as a triathlete is to be comfortable in the saddle, putting out power. A professional fit will ensure you’re making the most of your equipment and show pieces of equipment that may need altered.
A poor bike fit can cause you to be inefficient and even lead to serious tendon pain, numbness of contact points or on bike instability. Just because a shop offers “bike fits” doesn’t mean they are performed by an experienced professional that will help you find the ideal position for you with comfort and performance as the focus.
Focus on Contact Points
As mentioned above, triathlon performance is a harmony of comfort and performance. Having the right gear is extremely important.
The initial points of interest are contact points between you and your bike. The majority of on-bike discomfort, lacking performance and injuries starts because of one of these points.
Shoe technology and fit has increased substantially in the past few years. A proper bike fit will maximize cleat placement. Also, custom orthotics or custom shoe molding can help improve pedaling comfort and efficiency.
Like shoe design, saddle improvements have been made recently to reduce injury and increase riding comfort. While reducing weight will lead to some increased performance, proper saddle shape and placement in relation to your unique biomechanical demands will far exceed the benefit a lightweight saddle would have produced.
Finally, the third contact point with the bike in the handlebars. Again, many new design advances have been made to make bars more aerodynamic while improving comfort. Often triathletes strive for an overly aerodynamic riding position they simply can’t maintain over time. Having an adjustable aero bar will ensure you’re maximizing aerodynamics while leaving possible fit changes as your posture improves.
Establishing a lower riding position requires hip flexibility shoulder muscle acclimation and hours and hours of training in that position. Don’t jump into a drastically aerodynamic position you simply aren’t read for.
Professional triathletes spend substantial time adapting to their positioning changes. With concerted effort and some proper gear purchases at your contact points you can slowly improve your riding position, comfort and overall performance over time. Incremental improvement is how you become a successful triathlete.
4 Tips on How to Find a Good Bike Fitter
Knowing your professional bike fitter is quality before you invest valuable time and money into their services is important. Here are a few ways to spot check their fit potential before you ever invest in their work.
- Ask questions – One of the best ways to know a fitter is quality is to ask them very specific questions. If you’re having problems in a handful of fit areas, a lot can be told simply by talking with them. If they’re able to diagnose some problems before you ever invest in their services that’s a good sign they know what they’re doing.
- Be educated – Quality fitter should work with you on what you want and need. Again, it’s a balance of comfort and performance and they should be able to help you meet both needs. Educating yourself on areas you don’t want your fit to be changed can help guide them to specific areas of change. A quality bike fitter will engaged educated riders to help them most, and being educated will allow you to evaluate the proposed changes.
- Equipment being used – There have been some major fit advancements over the last few years. A quality bike fitter will use the best fit technology possible. While some may have financial confinements, they should still be using some fit aid to help you get into a comfortable position that you’ll be able to perform in. RETUL fit systems, and a handful of other technologies exist and really should be used for true tri fits.
- Certifications – Bike fit specialists are starting to distinguish themselves from their mechanic counterparts. Many bike fitters today carry certifications that have been earned through substantial education and time. Ask potential bike fitters if they’re certified by a legitimate entity.
A perfect bike split can mean everything for your personal results and everyone has the capability to improve their performance. Discomfort and bad gear choices and can reduce your overall performance on and off the bike and lead to avoidable injuries. With a little effort and minimal investment you can be on the track of improving your bike split this season.