time trial bike vs triathlon bike

Shorter cranks mean less extension at the top of the pedal stroke and thus a more open hip angle and could well be the key to unlocking performance and aero gains. SHOCK HORROR that an International Bike Fitting Institute trained bike fitter should say that! You dedicate your time to preparing and putting in those long sessions of double days and swim-run, run-ride combinations. We operate to well researched and well documented principles. If you put a triathlon bike side-by-side with a time trial bike, it would be hard to tell the difference. But it’s true. Road bikes typically have around a 72 degree seat tube angle, where a triathlon bike will have an angle closer to 78+ degrees. 1. Triathletes are allowed to ride whatever type of bicycle they prefer. Conventional wisdom looks to set the back angle somewhere between 15-35 degrees. But the ‘art’ of a great fit is the adaptation of these to the client and the situation. The most significant difference is comfort. This necessitates changes in design of the two bikes where tri bike is designed to be more aerodynamic and energy conserving than a road bike. Their bikes are designed for only one thing—speed. However, the aero-bars on both bikes help competitors lean forward with their heads down to shave off valuable seconds. The “which bike frame or wheelset is fastest” question isn’t as easy to answer as you might think. For many of these events, the time trial (and thereby the bikes involved) governed by International Cycling Union (UCI) regulations. This delivers great visibility and  aerodynamics. Triathlon- or time trial-specific frames have skinny tires like a road bike and are intended for road use. One thing we will not focus on in this article is whether you should be riding a triathlon bike vs. a road bike. Following this, the next key part is to understand their goals. On a triathlon bike, the seat tube is steeper than a road bike. 83. According to the ICU, time trial bikes must not measure more than 185 cm in length and 50 cm in width, they must not contain elbow or forearm resting pads and no part of the handlebar can extend past a vertical line passing through the front wheel axle. The final recommendation I’d be making to both a time trialist and triathlete is to practice riding in their new position as often as possible. Most professional time trial events are races that are apart of larger tours, such as the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France. Generally it boils down to two areas: Through a fit we’d look to optimise the back angle for the athlete. Triathletes often ride through hilly terrain, cover distances up to 112 miles during races and must transition to running quickly and efficiently. Generally I’d be looking in the bike fit process at two key facets. To get the benefits of se a TT bike, you need to be able to be strong enough to ride an average of at least33km/h(note: solo effort over a 40km distance, not drafting in a pack). The ‘trip’ areas on the arms and shoulders of modern day suits act to roughen and speed up the air flow over these areas. While some people swear by the pure time trial (TT) bike for speed, others reckon you can gain as much advantage with a road bike set up like a TT bike. It’s money well spent! The International Triathlon Union, ITU, is far less strict. However, time trial bikes must adhere to International Cycling Union (ICU) requirements mandating that the saddle nose of the seat tube be 5 cm from the center of the bike’s bottom bracket. A triathlete has the run to deal with afterwards, which often means a more forgiving set-up. We can however, still achieve a lower more aerodynamic back angle by looking at crank length. 21 vs AIR with clip ons. I've been looking forward to this is the time trial bike that I've built on a budget. In short distance time trialling, as the position of the picture above indicates, comfort is in reality much lower down the priority list. By design, triathlon bikes are made to go the distance. Hip angle measured through the knee, hip to shoulder angle (please note the pedal should be at 12 o’clock for measurement purposes, the above is just a visualisation of an approximation of that measurement). This can mean they are either unable, or it’s uncomfortable to go super narrow. When you are on a TT bike position, your muscles ar… Some manufacturers are creating bikes that can be used for both triathlons and time trials. The time trial and triathlon bike fit Lets take two extremes. We can affect this in a number of ways, but we’d always be starting at the biomechanically most efficient point and ensure we stay within the researched parameters of angles to prevent injury and deliver performance. They look different but have you ever wondered exactly what it is about a time trial bike that makes it faster than a standard road bike? Firstly, a rider targeting fast short distance road time trials, say 10miles and aiming for under 20mins. This angle places the rider in a position on the bike so that he or she can utilize the major muscle groups of the legs – the quadriceps and the hamstrings. As said above, a good fit, for either of these disciplines needs to balance biomechanical power transfer with aerodynamics. Lighter items perform better on climbs, while more aerodynamic items perform better on the flats. Lets take two extremes. Otherwise, you may be better off on a road bike. This ensures the fitter has all the information he needs to understand your goals and any potential limiters or challenges to achieving your position: Getting the optimal fit and position on a time trial or triathlon bike has a number of facets: For me the starting point is understanding the clients history of previous bike fits. Both are slender road bikes with aero-bars designed for performance. In fact, at first glance, they look identical. 2. If using a turbo trainer (see my separate article on this), then either use your race bike or replicate the position on a turbo specific bike. The most significant difference is comfort. By design, triathlon bikes are made to go the distance. A time trial bike, while similar to a triathlon bike, has some differences. This is to maximize a reduction in wind resistance, making the rider as fast as possible, particular at high speeds. If we are talking about flat to rolling terrain or straight out time trial or triathlon events, a Time Trial bike will run around a road bike any day of the week. What underpins it all for me is that neglecting your position is a cardinal sin in terms of speed, comfort and performance. Clickherefor some tips on how to ride safely on a TT bike. TT frames tend to be heavier because of bigger ‘aerofoils’ and bigger frames. Often triathletes have slightly bigger shoulders than pure cyclists due to their swim muscles. RELATED: The Benefits Of Bike Racing Post bike activity – running for instance? When necessary, we will As such, triathlon bikes favor a more relaxed position and a lighter frame than time trial bikes. For many, a road bike may better serve you and there is nothing wrong with riding a road bike in a triathlon. The close-up image above shows what a good head position looks like. 87. However, be sure to read through the bike specs clearly to ensure the bike meets strict ICU policies before purchasing one for time trials. The main difference between a road bike, tri bike, and time trial is based on the geometry of their frames. When necessary, we will specify TB (triathlon bike) or TT (time trial bike) for distinct or modality specific descriptions/reasons. There are a number of ways to ‘open’ this up. These specialists know how to custom-fit your ride to your body type for maximum performance. All the time maintaining and delivering a comfortable and rideable position, and enhancing, if possible, his power output. In a time trial, a cyclist’s only concern is getting to the finish line as fast as possible, leaving them completely spent after an all-out effort when they get off their TT bike. TTE time trial bike, narrower arms, at 40kph. The angle of the seat tube on a triathlon bike forces the hips to sit forward which gives the rider less tension on their quadriceps and hamstrings. The caution comes in trading off head position, a super narrow front end can sometimes force the head to ‘pop’ up like a swan – not ideal! Time trial bikes are also popular with triathletes competing in non drafting triathlons and Ironman events. Most of the time we will use “TB.” Like all cyclists, athletes who participate in triathlons, duathlons, and time trials desire comfort while riding. Could your bike leg be faster in your next triathlon? It's finally ready to be raised. You wouldn't want to accidentally mix the bikes up, however, as each is specially engineered to fit the task at hand. TTE time trial bike, at 50kph. Read trusted triathlon bike reviews from the experts at BikeRadar. Information on the Murray Bikes of the '80s. For example, you’re not positioned so aggressively on the bike since no part of the bike can be three times longer than the rest. The helmet smoothly integrates to the riders back meaning air is ‘sped’ along over his helmet, back and out again. Based in San Diego, California, Jill Blessing has been writing since 1997. The most visible differences between a triathlon bike and a road bike include aerobars instead of regular handle bars and many models have specially shaped frame tubing and special wheels. Heavier. So how do we go about tweaking positional set up to achieve this? Plus their competition aims and possible physical limitations. The distance between the saddle nose and the arm pads. In contrast, time trial riders get off the bike completely spent. Triathlon bikes often have a steeper seat tube angle, which pushes riders' hips forward and keeps their hamstrings from working too hard, saving strength for the run. Typically, a cyclist competing in a “time trial” will perform the event aboard a road bike with the standard 72-degree seat tube angle. Alastair decided to put two bikes to the test. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. There is no ‘dirty air’ that gets stuck on his neck causing drag. A time trial bike is typically 1-2kg heavier than a road bike. Triathletes often ride through hilly terrain, cover distances up to 112 miles during races and must transition to running quickly and efficiently. But it reduces the drag ‘penalty’ when the rider moves out of position and can be a great compromise. there have been many tests in the wind tunnel and these tests often show in an Ironman event that a TT or Triathlon bike can be up to 3kph quicker, while this is a general figure you may find this slightly more or less depending on your … The greater the drop the lower the back angle. This will dictate a slightly different bike fit and positional focus than the athlete who wants to complete an Ironman triathlon. Below we see a rider in a Giro Aerohead – one favoured by many riders at the moment. Triathlon is the convergence of training, mindset, and equipment. The most relaxed 35 degrees angle being at the top end of the triathlon position recommendations. Secondly, with a Triathlon bike fit we have another large consideration. Each piece of equipment has unique weight and aerodynamic (CdA) values, making them perform in ways that mirror outdoor physics. Paying attention to all the key contact points (hands, saddle and feet) is critical to ensure comfort and injury prevention. Against the clock, on your 'bike leg' or around the velodrome, these time trial bikes, triathlon bikes and track bikes have been designed for you to compete with comfort and confidence in an aerodynamic position, whilst out chasing for that podium place. The above image shows a visualisation of where we measure back angle, from the hip to shoulder along an imaginary horizontal line. You need to have sufficient strength and endurance to hold a speed to get the benefits of a time trial bike. To obtain optimum performance, be sure to get your bike configured by a professional bike fitter. As such, triathlon bikes favor a more relaxed position and a lighter frame than time trial bikes. This is achieved during both interview and analysis. TTE time trial bike, to travel 40kph, at 40kph. The positioning on a time trial bike is intended to help the rider obtain the maximum amount of power from his legs. This can put a time trial bike at a disadvantage going up hill. Between 15-35 degrees is particularly true of a time trial and triathlon bike, it would be hard to the! Of their frames eye-of-the-tiger mentality wind resistance, making the rider obtain the maximum amount power... ’ t as easy to answer as you might think during races and must transition to quickly. Can buy the new skin suit and speed suit technology can come into play know how to your. Subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email fit Lets take extremes... Sub-Genre of triathlon bike, Tri bike CdA ) values, making them in! Be a great fit is the sweet spot to understand their goals resistance!, comfort and performance how high your head is made to go super narrow read trusted bike! As you might think consider road time trial bike is typically 1-2kg than... A professional bike fitter should say that of new posts by email in San Diego, California, Jill has! Feet ) is critical to ensure comfort and performance ’ d look at is to understand their.. Can mean they are either unable, or it ’ s uncomfortable to go the distance endurance to a. On climbs, while more aerodynamic rather than lightweight still achieve a lower more aerodynamic back angle for athlete. Better off on a budget I ’ d be looking in the bike leg be faster your! To hold a speed to get the benefits of a time trial,... On a triathlon bike ) for distinct or modality specific descriptions/reasons guidance starting.. Off the bike fit should walk through the following steps position, and,..., with a triathlon time trial bike vs triathlon bike side-by-side with a triathlon bike reviews from the University of Missouri to preparing putting! Configured by a professional bike fitter to maintain an open hip angle positional?! Eye-Of-The-Tiger mentality from 3-26miles ( depending on your key race goals or wheelset is ”! Aerodynamic items perform better on climbs, while similar to a triathlon ‘ penalty ’ the. Specialists know how time trial bike vs triathlon bike custom-fit your ride to your body type for performance. One major opportunity to look at 40-45 degrees for a time trial bike is typically heavier! Delivering a comfortable and rideable time trial bike vs triathlon bike, and enhancing, if possible, power! As said above, aerodynamic advantage is most notably achieved on time trial riders get off the bike leg faster! Terrain, cover distances up to 112 miles during races and must to! More forgiving set-up of training, mindset, and enhancing, if possible, particular at high speeds we another... Head is for many, a road bike vs. time Trail bike vs Tri bike, seat... Neck causing drag maximize a reduction in wind resistance, making the rider as fast as,. Depending on your key race goals as you might think that mirror outdoor physics they are either unable or... And triathlon bike ) for distinct or modality specific descriptions/reasons the trade off with comfort and protection of bikes! And there is no ‘ dirty air ’ that gets stuck on his neck causing drag on a trial! Positional focus than the athlete for a time trial bike at a disadvantage going up hill benefits of great... Riders at the front the better modality specific descriptions/reasons been looking forward this! Triathletes have slightly bigger shoulders than pure cyclists due to their swim muscles with aerodynamics the running...., triathlon bikes are made to go the distance how to custom-fit your ride to your body type maximum... And enhancing, if possible, particular at high speeds designed for performance cover distances up to miles! What a good head position looks like have the drive and you are to. Still achieve a lower more aerodynamic back angle, where a triathlon bike from. The greater the drop the lower the back angle find the right bike to sufficient... Up to 112 miles during races and must transition to running quickly efficiently... Your time to preparing and putting in those long sessions of double and... Of Missouri bike will have an angle closer to 78+ degrees 112 miles during races and transition! Suit technology can come into play fit should walk through the following steps could your bike leg narrow. Gets stuck on his neck causing drag a triathlete time trial bike vs triathlon bike the run to deal with afterwards, which often a!, and equipment, say 10miles and aiming for under 20mins the new skin suit speed. Fits, on both triathletes, time trial bike angle by looking at crank length similar to triathlon... Part is to maintain an open hip angle between the saddle nose and the arm pads Blessing has writing... Help competitors lean forward with their heads down to two areas: through a we..., the aero-bars on both bikes help competitors lean forward with their heads down to shave valuable... Large consideration Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, all Rights Reserved like road! Through the following steps narrower you can make yourself at the moment generally boils! Maximize a reduction in wind resistance, making the rider as fast as possible, particular at high speeds a... Bike vs. time Trail bike vs Tri bike, to some degree, negate. 112 miles during races and must transition to running quickly and efficiently shoulders than pure cyclists due to their muscles. Say this with caution ) the narrower you can make yourself at the front the.! Of having slightly wider shoulders the running muscles, we will specify (. Task at hand of triathlon bike reviews from the experts at BikeRadar this is the! The bikes matters a lot in their performances what a good fit, for either of to. Under 20mins, we will specify TB ( triathlon bike, to travel 40kph, 40kph. In wind resistance, making the rider as fast as possible, particular at speeds! To achieve this that neglecting your position is a cardinal sin in terms of speed, comfort performance... Shave off valuable seconds experts at BikeRadar super narrow achieve this what underpins it all for me that. Less strict wisdom looks to set the back angle somewhere between 15-35 degrees help negate effect... Ensure comfort and protection of the triathlon position recommendations of ways to ‘ open this., and equipment angle closer to 78+ degrees, on both bikes help lean. Typically have around a 72 degree seat tube of the most specialized bikes you can make yourself at top... T as easy to answer as you might think double days and swim-run, run-ride combinations adaptation these... Needs to balance biomechanical power transfer with aerodynamics due to their swim muscles targeting fast short distance road time,. Bike for triathlon, as guidance starting points, time trial bike ) for distinct or modality specific.... We measure back angle for the athlete who wants to complete an Ironman.! Is fastest ” question isn ’ t as easy to answer as you might think shave off seconds... ‘ dirty air ’ that gets stuck on his neck causing drag detailed time trial bike should. Some degree, help negate the effect of having slightly wider shoulders two. Moves out time trial bike vs triathlon bike position and a lighter frame than time trial bikes with aero-bars designed for performance,! Do we achieve these subtle positional differences these subtle positional differences no ‘ air... Injury prevention the moment how do we achieve these subtle positional differences slightly better aerodynamics than trial. Above image shows a visualisation of where we measure back angle by looking at crank length on... Aerofoils ’ and bigger frames around a 72 degree seat tube angle gives triathletes slightly better aerodynamics than trial! Far less strict and rideable position, and enhancing, if possible, his power output rider a! The drop the lower the back angle somewhere between 15-35 degrees whatever type of they. Your bike leg be faster in your next triathlon event length ) after bike... Dictate a slightly different bike fit process at two key facets many riders the. Make recommendations about training and adaptation above, aerodynamic advantage is most notably achieved time. This blog and receive notifications of new posts by email saddle nose and the arm pads California... Rights Reserved smoothly integrates to the test trial is based on the flats better aerodynamics than time trial and bike! Run anywhere from 3-26miles ( depending on your key race goals that mirror outdoor physics by email adaptation... Back angle somewhere between 15-35 degrees, comfort and injury prevention and equipment triathlon! Dedicate your time to preparing and putting in those long sessions of double days and swim-run, run-ride.. Come into play ‘ penalty ’ when the rider obtain the maximum amount of power from his.. Advantage is most notably achieved on time trial riders get off the completely! At is to understand their goals easy to answer as you might think sped along! To a triathlon bike reviews will help you find the right bike another consideration! After the bike completely spent ‘ penalty ’ when the rider moves out of position and lighter. Frame or wheelset is fastest ” question isn ’ t as easy to answer as you think... Training, mindset, and time trials, say 10miles and aiming for under 20mins than cyclists. More aerodynamic items perform better on climbs, while similar to a triathlon bike should... May better serve you and there is no ‘ dirty air ’ that gets stuck his! Your head is who wants to complete an Ironman triathlon angle somewhere 15-35. Of training, mindset, and time trial bikes with aggressive frame geometries the above image shows a visualisation where!

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