Roadies vs triathletes
Initially, when I began doing bike fits I was very intimidated with tri bike fits. I am not a triathlete so there was a lot about the sport that I did not understand. The cycling portion of a triathlon is not the same as a road race. In road races there more variability in intensity. If you are within the peloton you can draft off of other riders and ride at relatively low intensity at times during the race. During a road race there are bouts of high intensities during sprints breakaways and climbing hill when riders change position on their bike. During a triathlon it is important to maintain steady state intensity throughout the duration of the ride. Triathletes want to maximize their aerodynamic position and ideally spend the majority of their time in the aerobars.
Trek Speed Concept 9.9
I have a love hate relationship with tri fits. Depending on the bike, there are a lot of modifications that you can do to the bike to customize the fit. The drawback of high customization equates to a relatively long fit process. This fit was done on Trek’s Speed Concept 9 series. This is an amazing bike! I’m no tri athlete but I wouldn’t mind riding this bike. The bike is outfitted with Shimano’s Di2 electronic shifting. Initially, I thought Di2 shifters were a bit overkill but after riding the bike I definitely appreciated the ease and responsiveness of the shifting. From a fit aspect, I really like the handlebar that comes on this bike. You can adjust the fore/aft position of the bar extensions, the rotation of the extensions and the width of the forearm pads which allows you to dial in the fit at the cockpit.
My customer bought her bike used. The saddle height was adjusted for her but she had not adjusted anything on the handlebar yet. She was having complaints of discomfort at the saddle and reported that she was not happy with arm position.
The first thing I noticed with her fit was that her arms with relatively stretched out. The quick and dirty with a trifit is to have a 90 degrees angle at the shoulders and elbows. Her shoulder angle was at 105 degrees and her elbows were at 120 degrees.
After her fit we tightened her shoulder angle up to 92 degrees and her elbow angle to 110 degrees. Ideally, I would like to bring her elbow in a bit closer to her body as she evolves as a cyclist. This is was her first tri bike and it takes some time getting used to the aero position when coming from a road bike. Making too many changes at once to a rider’s position can result in pain and potentially injury if the body is not ready.
Bike fits are dynamic
It is important to reassess your fit over time. As you spend more time on your bike your body will adjust. You may notice that are able to tolerate more aggressive positions over time. Your fit should adapt with your body. On the other hand, if you had a fit done several years ago and then took a hiatus from riding you may have to alter your fit to a less aggressive position as you get back into cycling.