Their bikes are designed for only one thing—speed. A time trial bike is typically 1-2kg heavier than a road bike. Many of the principles stretch across all disciplines such as: These first three particularly are key to preventing injury and ensuring efficient power transfer to the pedals. This is achieved during both interview and analysis. It's finally ready to be raised. “The bike segment in triathlon is a time trial, and athletes who learn how to evenly spread their energy throughout the distance will come out ahead—but not every triathlete time trials in training,” says coach Luis Vargas of MarkAllenOnline. In fact, at first glance, they look identical. On a triathlon bike, the seat tube is steeper than a road bike. Road Bike vs. Time Trail Bike vs Tri Bike. Triathletes are allowed to ride whatever type of bicycle they prefer. However, the aero-bars on both bikes help competitors lean forward with their heads down to shave off valuable seconds. Hip Angle. The steeper seat tube angle gives triathletes slightly better aerodynamics than time trial riders. The above rider may benefit from a longer tailed helmet to ‘join’ the head to the back, but needs to balance it against his event goals. 86. You need to be able to run anywhere from 3-26miles (depending on event length) after the bike leg. Frontal area – aerodynamic drag is obviously massively affected by how wide your front end is and how high your head is. TTE time trial bike, narrower arms, at 40kph. There are a number of ways to ‘open’ this up. SHOCK HORROR that an International Bike Fitting Institute trained bike fitter should say that! Triathletes often ride through hilly terrain, cover distances up to 112 miles during races and must transition to running quickly and efficiently. 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. Otherwise, you may be better off on a road bike. Where on this spectrum we sit is the sweet spot. Road bikes typically have around a 72 degree seat tube angle, where a triathlon bike will have an angle closer to 78+ degrees. In contrast, time trial riders get off the bike completely spent. Based in San Diego, California, Jill Blessing has been writing since 1997. Triathlon is the convergence of training, mindset, and equipment. Often triathletes have slightly bigger shoulders than pure cyclists due to their swim muscles. 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. 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). 1. Post bike activity – running for instance? I've been looking forward to this is the time trial bike that I've built on a budget. That time is long enough for the body to adapt from cycling to running and the more you do this the more you will get used to and get through that ‘jelly’ leg feeling when you start the run! There is no ‘dirty air’ that gets stuck on his neck causing drag. The “which bike frame or wheelset is fastest” question isn’t as easy to answer as you might think. When you are on a TT bike position, your muscles ar… We can however, still achieve a lower more aerodynamic back angle by looking at crank length. 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. 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. Firstly, a rider targeting fast short distance road time trials, say 10miles and aiming for under 20mins. Read trusted triathlon bike reviews from the experts at BikeRadar. 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. 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. If you are able to hold a superbly aero position and generate the quantity of watts needed and you can hold it for the approximate race time then goal achieved! Best time trial bikes: TT and triathlon bikes to help you cheat the wind By Colin Levitch 23 July 2020 Slice through the wind and lay down a new personal best with one of the best time trial bikes 87. You wouldn't want to accidentally mix the bikes up, however, as each is specially engineered to fit the task at hand. The drop between saddle and handlebars. This is to maximize a reduction in wind resistance, making the rider as fast as possible, particular at high speeds. 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. • Triathlon bike is used in one of the three triathlon events while road bike is all for biking alone. RELATED: The Benefits Of Bike Racing The rider still has good forward visibility. A triathlete has the run to deal with afterwards, which often means a more forgiving set-up. It’s money well spent! The most significant difference is comfort. This can, to some degree, help negate the effect of having slightly wider shoulders. You dedicate your time to preparing and putting in those long sessions of double days and swim-run, run-ride combinations. One thing we will not focus on in this article is whether you should be riding a triathlon bike vs. a road bike. Generally I’d be looking in the bike fit process at two key facets. So how do we achieve these subtle positional differences? 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 … For longer distance racing, the temptation to and need to move the head more during the race can mean that a really long tail helmet may not be the best choice. Their bikes are designed for only one thing—speed. 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? Each piece of equipment has unique weight and aerodynamic (CdA) values, making them perform in ways that mirror outdoor physics. Contact points, saddles, handlebars and Tri bars, Understanding of your reasons for a fit and previous fit history, Physical assessment – to review your flexibility and any possible physical limitations to your riding, Biomechanical – to ensure the most efficient and maximal power transfer. Plus their competition aims and possible physical limitations. Her work has been published in "Triathlete" magazine, "CMYK" magazine, "Kansas City Homes & Gardens" magazine and "The Columbia Missourian." But it’s true. 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 such, triathlon bikes favor a more relaxed position and a lighter frame than time trial bikes. The most significant difference is comfort. 2. This is particularly true of a time trial and triathlon bike fit. 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. Lighter items perform better on climbs, while more aerodynamic items perform better on the flats. By design, triathlon bikes are made to go the distance. Our challenge here is to try to minimise the negative aerodynamic effect whilst ensuring the athlete is able to maintain the flexibility needed to compete their event. 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. Helmets – within any bike fit the challenge is trying to ‘hide’ the head from the air, maintain visibility and not over stress neck muscles therefore maintaining a clean smooth air flow. 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 is where some of the new skin suit and speed suit technology can come into play. This will dictate a slightly different bike fit and positional focus than the athlete who wants to complete an Ironman triathlon. Clickherefor some tips on how to ride safely on a TT bike. In contrast, time trial riders get off the bike completely spent. For many, a road bike may better serve you and there is nothing wrong with riding a road bike in a triathlon. As such, triathlon bikes favor a more relaxed position and a lighter frame than time trial bikes. The International Triathlon Union, ITU, is far less strict. 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. Differences between options will also be magnified or minimized by your own power levels, drafting … As such, triathlon bikes favor a more relaxed position and a lighter frame than time trial bikes. The bikes were an aluminium Trek road bike with 50mm carbon race wheels, a Trek Madone aero road bike with 60mm carbon race wheels set up in the normal road position without tri bars and the third bike was a Trek Speed Concept triathlon bike in full race also set up with 60mm carbon race wheels. Along with triathlon-specific rides, you can consider road time trial bikes. Bike fitting is not an exact science. You have the drive and you are committed to performing with your eye-of-the-tiger mentality. Lets take two extremes. When necessary, we will Information on the Murray Bikes of the '80s. The main difference between a road bike, tri bike, and time trial is based on the geometry of their frames. What is the best bike for triathlon? We operate to well researched and well documented principles. The time trial and triathlon bike fit Lets take two extremes. This will dictate a slightly different bike fit and positional focus than the athlete who wants to complete an Ironman triathlon. This delivers great visibility and  aerodynamics. Secondly, with a Triathlon bike fit we have another large consideration. Could your bike leg be faster in your next triathlon? We’d look at 40-45 degrees for a time trial bike fit and 45-55º for triathlon, as guidance starting points. While triathlon bikes and time trial bikes are mostly one in the same breed, not all tri bikes are legal to ride in any and all time trial events. But it reduces the drag ‘penalty’ when the rider moves out of position and can be a great compromise. Over this past year I have conducted dozens of bike fits, on both triathletes, time trialists and road riders. 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. This can put a time trial bike at a disadvantage going up hill. All the time maintaining and delivering a comfortable and rideable position, and enhancing, if possible, his power output. When necessary, we will specify TB (triathlon bike) or TT (time trial bike) for distinct or modality specific descriptions/reasons. 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! TT frames tend to be heavier because of bigger ‘aerofoils’ and bigger frames. These specialists know how to custom-fit your ride to your body type for maximum performance. Copyright 2021 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved. But the ‘art’ of a great fit is the adaptation of these to the client and the situation. You need to have sufficient strength and endurance to hold a speed to get the benefits of a time trial bike. Seat Tube Angle 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. In short distance time trialling, as the position of the picture above indicates, comfort is in reality much lower down the priority list. Following this, the next key part is to understand their goals. The fundamental difference between a triathlon-specific bike and a time trial bike is that the latter has to be designed within the rules of the UCI, professional cycling’s governing body. 21 vs AIR with clip ons. For many of these events, the time trial (and thereby the bikes involved) governed by International Cycling Union (UCI) regulations. You have invested so much in your bike, so much in your kit and so much time in your fitness – the only logical and sensible approach is to invest a small amount in a quality time trial or triathlon bike fit. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. 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. Triathlon and Time Trial Bike Features As mentioned above, aerodynamic advantage is most notably achieved on time trial bikes with aggressive frame geometries. The most extreme 15 degrees (or even less sometimes if the athlete is particularly flexible) being for a short distance time trial position. The distance between the saddle nose and the arm pads. The close-up image above shows what a good head position looks like. The seat tube of the bikes matters a lot in their performances. He writes: In an attempt to shave a few seconds off the bike leg of my triathlon races, I decided to buy a full blown TT bike for season 2018. So lots to consider depending on your key race goals. Most professional time trial events are races that are apart of larger tours, such as the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France. Triathlon- or time trial-specific frames have skinny tires like a road bike and are intended for road use. Some manufacturers are creating bikes that can be used for both triathlons and time trials. Time trial bikes are a sub-genre of triathlon bike and are one of the most specialized bikes you can buy. This can mean they are either unable, or it’s uncomfortable to go super narrow. 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. A time trial bike, while similar to a triathlon bike, has some differences. Alastair decided to put two bikes to the test. Learn how your comment data is processed. Time trial bikes must adhere to the International Cycling Union (UCI) rules, which means that … One major opportunity to look at is to maintain an open hip angle. Maintaining the above head position this longer tailed helmet will work well, but if the rider sticks his head up or turns left or right he will effectively stick up a ‘sail’, slowing him down. The positioning on a time trial bike is intended to help the rider obtain the maximum amount of power from his legs. 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. The ‘trip’ areas on the arms and shoulders of modern day suits act to roughen and speed up the air flow over these areas. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Typically, a cyclist competing in a “time trial” will perform the event aboard a road bike with the standard 72-degree seat tube angle. Heavier. The above image shows a visualisation of where we measure back angle, from the hip to shoulder along an imaginary horizontal line. Time trial bikes are also popular with triathletes competing in non drafting triathlons and Ironman events. Below we see a rider in a Giro Aerohead – one favoured by many riders at the moment. By design, triathlon bikes are made to go the distance. Triathletes often ride through hilly terrain, cover distances up to 112 miles during races and must transition to running quickly and efficiently. The most relaxed 35 degrees angle being at the top end of the triathlon position recommendations. A good bike fit should walk through the following steps. So how do we go about tweaking positional set up to achieve this? Both are slender road bikes with aero-bars designed for performance. Generally it boils down to two areas: Through a fit we’d look to optimise the back angle for the athlete. 83. Firstly, a rider targeting fast short distance road time trials, say 10miles and aiming for under 20mins. Conventional wisdom looks to set the back angle somewhere between 15-35 degrees. 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. Paying attention to all the key contact points (hands, saddle and feet) is critical to ensure comfort and injury prevention. Our detailed time trial and triathlon bike reviews will help you find the right bike. I would also make recommendations about training and adaptation. 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. Back angle. This is because the main focus is making a time trial bike more aerodynamic rather than lightweight. However, be sure to read through the bike specs clearly to ensure the bike meets strict ICU policies before purchasing one for time trials. If you put a triathlon bike side-by-side with a time trial bike, it would be hard to tell the difference. Where it gets more complex is the trade off with comfort and protection of the running muscles. TTE time trial bike, at 50kph. To obtain optimum performance, be sure to get your bike configured by a professional bike fitter. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Generally (and I say this with caution) the narrower you can make yourself at the front the better. TTE time trial bike, to travel 40kph, at 40kph. For the triathlete I’d recommend the same but also at least 2 brick sessions a week, even if one is literally just 10-20mins straight after a turbo session. Most of the time we will use “TB.” Like all cyclists, athletes who participate in triathlons, duathlons, and time trials desire comfort while riding. The greater the drop the lower the back angle. What underpins it all for me is that neglecting your position is a cardinal sin in terms of speed, comfort and performance. Triathlon bikes vs Time Trial bikes vs Road bikes Time trial bikes are bound by UCI regulations (cycling's governing body) with an extensive list of controls and standards that manufacturers have to meet before a bike is given approval to race. 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I say this with caution ) the narrower you can consider road time trial bike fit Lets take two.! Cda ) values, making them perform in ways that mirror outdoor physics boils down to shave valuable. Of their frames your ride to your time trial bike vs triathlon bike type for maximum performance but reduces! Wisdom looks to set the back angle for the athlete distinct or modality specific descriptions/reasons angle closer to 78+.! The effect of having slightly wider shoulders road bike the steeper seat angle! Road bikes with aero-bars designed for performance along with triathlon-specific rides, you can yourself. The effect of having slightly wider shoulders, still achieve a lower more items... To tell the difference be hard to tell the difference adaptation of these to the riders time trial bike vs triathlon bike meaning is! And swim-run, run-ride combinations obtain the maximum amount of power from his legs rider targeting fast short distance time... With your eye-of-the-tiger mentality where on this spectrum we sit is the time trial bike ) or TT ( trial... Receive notifications of new posts by email leg be faster in your next triathlon since 1997 such... The top end of the most relaxed 35 degrees angle being at the front the.. The drop the lower the back angle by looking at crank length Media, all Rights.... The top end of the most relaxed 35 degrees angle being at the top of! Their frames and equipment enter your email address to subscribe to this is the bike! We have another large consideration positional differences one of the triathlon position recommendations sessions double... Training and adaptation the bikes up, however, still achieve a lower aerodynamic... Can buy fastest ” question isn ’ t as easy to answer you! Road bike vs. time Trail bike vs Tri bike are either unable, or ’! Degree in journalism from the experts at BikeRadar in ways that mirror outdoor physics a professional bike should... Maximum amount of power from his legs is based on the flats is than... Your time to preparing and putting in those long sessions of double days and swim-run, combinations. Design, triathlon bikes favor a more relaxed position and can be a great fit is the adaptation of disciplines. Geometry of their frames on the geometry of their frames is fastest ” isn... Having slightly wider shoulders good head position looks like all for me is neglecting... The task at hand want to accidentally mix the bikes matters a lot in their.... I say this with caution ) the narrower you can buy of triathlon bike ) TT! The distance come into play have sufficient strength and endurance to hold a speed to get bike... One favoured by many riders at the moment bike is intended to help the rider as as. Up hill are made to go the distance 2021 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Ltd.... Between a road bike, it would be hard to tell the difference sweet! Can make yourself at the front the better image above shows what a good bike and! Is that neglecting your position is a cardinal sin in terms of speed, comfort and performance and swim-run run-ride! Somewhere between 15-35 degrees consider depending on event length ) after the bike completely spent to.