The TTBikeFit BLOG:
We don’t post that often these days, but there is a ton of good archived info here and when we have something REALLY SMART to say, look no further!
Goggles are a very small yet extremely important part of your Tri-arsenal. They can turn an otherwise great swim into a zig-zagging, eye burning debacle. I have been searching for goggle nirvana for 20 years, and maybe, just maybe I found it on the Kona pier this am. Tyr’s new “Special Ops” polarized goggle is by far the best I’ve tried. Lis and I swam out from DigMe Beach into the swell and chop this morning, and after a few hundred yards we both looked at each other and shouted in unison, “Best goggles ever!”.
The Special Ops goggles have unmatched visual clarity, and did an amazing job of cutting the 7am Kona glare. Sighting buoys was dramatically easier. Underwater clarity was great too. But it’s not just the lenses that rock – the fit and comfort does too. The gaskets are quite soft, and seal perfectly while not sucking your eyeballs out of your skull. Lis and I usually need different goggles, as she has a small face and I have a larger one with much bigger eye sockets. Amazingly, the Special Ops fit us both perfectly. Not one drop of leakage and no raccoon-eyes after the swim.
What’s the downside? You can’t get them til Spring 2012. At least that’s what we hear. They will retail for $30 – well worth it. But if you really want a pair now, you can try bribing me. It’ll take well into the 3 figures though.
Another great day at IM USA 2011, with fantastic efforts by all and excellent results for TTBikeFit athletes and Fuel Belt Race Team members. It got pretty hot on the run, but the wind on the bike course was apparently not as brutal as it had been in the days leading up to the race. I shot some high-speed video footage of the top pros on the bike and run. The first video looks at winner TJ Tollakson’s unconventional bike setup. For more on TJ’s 15 yr-old bike click HERE. The second looks at Women’s winner Heather Wurtele on her Blue Triad SL, and the third shows men’s 2nd and 1st finishers Ben Hoffman and TJ on run.
I am lucky to be able to work with a lot of fast athletes – the pointy end of the age groupers, and some pros. Of course it is gratifying to help them get even faster. What many folks don’t know is that I work with many other kinds of athletes too. And just because they aren’t necessarily looking for a Kona slot doesn’t mean it is any less gratifying to achieve good results.
Take Maryann G for example – she will be moving to the 70-74 age group this season, and has been racing about 15 years with the last 10 focused on long course. Unfortunately she has missed the bike cutoff in her last two Ironman attempts. Nothing to be ashamed off, especially when one of those races was Lake Placid (I know a thing or two about not finishing that course).
I had worked with her son Marc both online and in the studio, and he sent me some videos of Maryann, with the goal of getting her more comfortable and powerful on her bike so she can easily make the cutoff this year. When I saw her video, two things were immediately apparent. She was very fit and flexible, but had a terrible bike setup. To my eyes, it was her fit that was holding her back – nothing else.
Maryann has a road bike and a new tri bike was not in the cards this year, so we would make do. I felt it would be possible to improve both her comfort and power while keeping her reasonably aero. Even though she will be riding at mid-teens speeds, I felt there was no reason to have her set up like a door going down the road – there are plenty of spots on the Placid course where aerodynamics would help her achieve her goal. But my first task would be to get her comfortable and able to put full power to the pedals. I could clearly see that her saddle was very low, her seat angle too slack, and her hip angle too tight, so plenty to improve upon.
After a few back-and-forths with Marc, a switch to an Adamo Typhoon saddle, new stem, and much tweaking, we got her into a much better position:
Maryann has been riding her new setup for a while, and here is some really great (unprompted) feedback I just received from her:
“Up to this point all your communications about me and my bike fit have been with my son Marc. Well I’ve been riding more and more since the final adjustments and just have to let you know how comfortable I am. It’s not only comfort. I just feel stronger, that’s the only way to express it to you. I’ve said to Marc that now all I have to do is put in the time to make it pay off. So thank you so much. I’ll be doing Eagleman 6/12; Tupper Lake 6/25; and then Lake Placid 7/24. I’m 69, but as you know will be racing 70-74 – so time will tell. I just wanted to let you know personally, how very much I appreciated your expertise in my behalf.”
After receiving that email, it has to be a great day, even if it is cloudy foggy and damp for the 30th day in a row here in New England! We will be in Placid cheering her on, and I think she has a great shot at doing it this year. Thanks Maryann!
Smaller riders can be difficult to fit properly into a good aero position, yet we have achieved good fit results with quite a few riders of smaller stature – those shorter than 5’4″, and especially athletes 5’2″ and under. Aerodynamics are actually quite important for smaller riders, since their absolute power output is relatively small. Hence on a flat road, their lower power means they have a tougher time fighting wind resistance. Sure, they have a smaller frontal area than a big rider (and hence less drag), but the decrease in frontal area is typically not nearly as large as the power decrease. They also tend to be lighter than big riders, and hence their weight doesn’t help them as much when descending. But a decent aero position can go a long way in overcoming these handicaps, so that the smaller rider can get to the bottom of the climb with the big guys – and then really shine with their excellent power/weight ratio.
Smaller riders are frequently sold bikes that are too large for them. Now, too large can take on many forms – but commonly the stack height of the bike it too tall for the rider, making it impossible to achieve an aggressive position. Certainly the reach can be too long as well, but it seems that many of the small frame designs, especially “women’s” bikes, are built way too high in front. This occurs in both road and tri frames. If you use a saddle height of say 60cm, which I see commonly in women of 5’2″ or smaller, you need a low stack frame if you have any designs on getting into an aggressive aero position.
Most of the bigger name tri frames have stack height of around 46-47cm in their smallest sizes. This will limit the amount of drop the a small rider can easily achieve. If we take the 60cm saddle height mentioned above, such a rider would only be able to get about 5-6cm of drop to their aerobar pads – and that assumes low-stack aerobars and a horizontal (-17 degree) stem. Since most bikes are sold with a smaller drop -10 to -6 stem and higher stack bars, this rider often finds that the max achievable drop is 0 to 3 cm. While this may be appropriate for some, it is rarely acceptable for a solid aero position.
It should go without saying here that if you are around 5′ 4″ or less and want to be aero, you should be considering bikes with 650c wheels. It is essentially impossible to build a bike with a stack below about 48 cm or so if it has 700c wheels. Many riders in the 5′ 4″ + range can also fit well on a low-stack 650c frame. In any case a smaller rider should be fit on a fitbike initially so that a particular bike design’s limitations do not restrict their positioning. Once the ideal fit coordinates are found, the fitter should be able to tell you what the max stack height is that will allow that position. Often times the same small rider with short legs has a relatively long torso, so they also need a relatively long reach frame.
The Kestrel Airfoil in 47cm is simply the lowest stack production frame available, and should be on any smaller rider’s list. It is literally the only production bike that will work well for certain athletes. At 43.7cm stack, it is a full 2.4cm+ (1″) lower in front than the 46+cm stack bikes that represent the lowest bikes made by most manufacturers. It also has a very low headset cap, so in effect if it typically 3cm or more lower than many other “smallest” bikes. It will give a 5′ rider the most flexibility in fit, bar choice, etc. Even the saddle height can get lower than most other bikes – down to about 55-56cm from center of BB. The 50cm Airfoil, which also has 650c wheels, provides the longest reach of any bike with a stack below 47cm. So once again, it can be the only good choice for a smaller rider with short legs.
We recently fit a 5′ rider on a 47cm airfoil that had been previously riding a 48cm Cervelo, with a 46cm stack and higher stack aerobars. She had the Cervelo seatpost all the way down and it was barely low enough. We outfitted the Airfoil with a flatter, longer stem than stock, and were able to position her at a steep effective seat angle of 81 degrees thanks to the Airfoil’s adjustable seat post. She went from looking like she should have a flower basket on her aerobars to looking like a pro.
A custom frame can occasionally be the only option for VERY small riders, but beware! I have worked with several custom frame owners and they unfortunately have generally been a disaster. Please make sure the fitter REALLY knows what he is doing, and that he has tri-specific experience. The worst cases often arise from fitters who only know road fit and try to spec a custom tri frame based on road fit parameters. A good example is shown below – this is another approximately 5′ athlete who was told that she MUST have a custom bike. Clearly that was wrong, and the custom fit was terrible. The right stock frame with the right bars worked just fine.
I should also mention that any small rider should be on 165mm (ideally smaller but good luck finding them) cranks. This will allow a higher saddle, less knee and hip compression at the top of the pedal stroke. If we look at an average rider, maybe 5′ 10″ with a 74cm saddle height on 172.5mm cranks, the crank length is 23% of their saddle height. For the rider with the 60cm saddle height on 165 cranks, the crank arm is over 27% of their saddle height, meaning their foot is proportionately higher at the top of the pedal stroke, which results in a tighter hip angle. This would be equivalent to the average rider using a 200 mm crank!! To be equal, the small rider really needs 140mm cranks. So it is also typically important to position a smaller rider with a very steep seat angle to help open the hip angle.
There are things that can be done to your existing bike even if it is higher than ideal in front. Get a level, or even a negative drop stem (25 or 30 degrees). Use low stack aerobars (Vision Tech, Zipp Vuka integrated, 3T Mistral, Oval A900, etc – but also be aware that the reach of each of these bars varies greatly). A good fitter should be able to calculate exactly what you need to achieve the desired fit.
The good news is small athletes CAN get just as good a fit as average ones. And in most cases, they don’t need a custom frame. They do need to obtain good fit coordinates from a fit bike session with a knowledgeable fitter, and then have the proper frame and/or components specified. In all cases this must take into account sufficient drop and reach, as well as hip angle so that the athlete can be aero, powerful, and comfortable.
We just received our first Adamo Time Trial saddles – ISM’s latest offering. So far I have ridden it twice on the trainer, and another teammate is also testing it out. I have been a long-time Adamo Race user, and although all Adamos are excellent, for me I haven’t found one I like better than the race and neither has Lis. The Race is well suited to an aggressive aero position where the rider rolls his pelvis forward and hence sits mostly on the pubic bone as opposed to the sit-bones.
The new TT saddle is VERY similar to the Race as you can see from the pics. The big difference is the nose profile, as seen from the side. The TT has a sloped, curved nose while the Race is square. Otherwise the saddles are essentially identical. You would think it might be hard to tell them apart on the bike, but they really do feel quite different. For me, the jury is still out. For you, you will like the TT if the corners of the Race’s nose cause chafing or irritation. Hence I think if you tend to sit far forward on your Adamo Race or Road and have an aggressive position, the TT may be the saddle for you.
The TT also appears to have bigger gel pads on the noses which make the noses look wider – but doesn’t make them feel that way. They do seem to change the feel of the nose some, and I felt that I had to tilt the saddle down a tiny bit more than my Race to prevent the “nosy” feeling.
Look for future reports on the TT if I ever get to ride outdoors again…
Yipes I have really been neglecting my blog. But fitting comes first, and another reason I have been too busy to type is the popularity of our Kestrel bikes. If I’m not fitting I am building! For 2011, the 4000 tri/tt bike is latest and greatest, but let’s not forget two of Kestrel’s stalwarts: the Airfoil and the Talon. For 2011 both bikes get Oval Concepts components including nice carbon clincher wheels with aluminum braking surfaces. These are 45mm deep, so race worthy or just very nice as training wheels.
The 2011 Airfoil sports a striking black/white/yellow scheme that has been receiving much praise around our shop. As always, the Airfoil remains a long/low shape best suited to short-legged long-torso riders, or else any rider that really lays out on the bike with lots of drop.
Also don’t forget that the 47cm airfoil is THE lowest-stack production tri frame. I recently was able to fit a young lady on one who was notably under 5 feet tall. If not for the Airfoil, she would’ve had to go custom.
The Oval A900 bars are very adjustable and very aero, but also work best in a low-stack configuration. So again, don’t expect a high front end with the Airfoil. The flat base bars seem very comfortable with good hand position options.
Another new twist for 2011 are the Oval A700 brakes. These are similar to some of the super-lightweight brakes out there in design. They utilize a roller cam to apply force to the calipers, which are skeletonized. So they appear quite light.
But since there is no way to ride outside around here in the winter wasteland, braking ability will have to be tested in the future. Maybe the very distant future at this rate. For 2011 there is only one version of the Airfoil as seen above, equipped with ultegra. Msrp is in the low $4’s.
The Talon has also been a foundation of Kestrel’s lineup for years, and has gone through a few frame updates. For 2011, the components are the main changes. As always, the Talon is available as a road or tri configuration – the difference being the front end components. So it either serves as a very nice aero road bike, or hybrid road/tri bike.
The adjustable seat post allows the saddle to be pushed forward a few cm, which will achieve a full 78+ degrees on small frames or more like 76 degs on bigger frames. So it can work well as a tri bike for those who need a high stack and prefer a slacker seat angle. As a road bike, the Talon is full-on race geometry – long and low. The new Rt-1000 will fill out the Kestrel road bike line with a shorter reach – higher stack geometry suited to less aggressive road positions. We expect these to be available in late March.
The Talon Tris get Profile front ends again this year. So this adds to the already high stack. The SL version gets ultegra and the nice Oval 745 carbon rims and Ultegra.
The road SL gets sharp-looking carbon Oval stem and bars.
All models get the same Oval A700 brakes as on the Airfoil. The SL’s paint job is quite striking – white and clear carbon with navy and gold trim. Once again, it is receiving rave reviews here at the Lab. The Sl’s list in the mid $3’s while the regular 105-equipped versions, which are red and black are in the low $2’s.
What of the 4000? The 2011 ultegra and Sram Red versions are starting to hit – all equipped with Oval wheels and components (although some may be receiving Profile CX-3 bars instead of the Oval A900’s). The Di2 equipped version seems to still be a ways off though. Stay tuned for further updates.
Finally got around to finishing my review of Kona Pro bikes – so let’s dive right in. (click on pics for full size images)
The Commerz Bank crew were very prominent with their new matching Scott Plasma 3’s done in in matte gray with yellow highlights. These are the same frames used by Pro Tour Team Columbia HTC in TT’s, and feature “sunken headsets” so that the trailing edge of the stem blends into the top tube. This works especially well with a level stem, but Mattias Hecht used an upright stem along with tall elbow risers. Hecht chose an Adamo like many pros this year, in this case a Podium. It also looks as if he opted for a Vittoria Pit Stop canister instead of carrying a tubular spare.
Normann Stadler’s Plasma was very similar, but sported very neatly coiled tubular spares under the saddle. Also note the aero rear derailleur jockey wheels, made by Berner. This looked to be the same setup used by Lance on his Trek TT bike.
Eneko LLanos’s BH sported Hed Jet 9 clinchers and an unusual stem cap water bottle mount. This is probably a Hed Lollipop, but the bottle seems mounted even higher than the stem cap. Perhaps this is a wind tunnel revelation: maybe the high water bottle helps direct flow away from the rider’s torso, or maybe it’s just more comfortable. Completing the Hed suite are the Corsair aerobars.
Timo Bracht was the renegade of the Commerzbank team, opting to ride a Giant Trinity. Timo used Q-rings, Di2, and like Hecht relied on a Pit Stop instead of a spare.
TJ Tollakson is by now well known for his one of a kind aerobar setup and mantis position. TJ has incorporated athletic supporter cups and shin pads to support his elbows and forearms in a nearly vertical position. He also has two water bottles mounted between the aerobars, for a grand total of 5 bottle cages. My guess is one or both of the aerobar bottles are decoys used for aerodynamic purposes. TJ has spent time tweaking this setup in the tunnel, and he must have found something worthwhile to bother with all this stuff dangling from his bars.
Aero-wise, once you have your frontal area minimized, the only thing left to exploit is shape. Remember that two objects with the same frontal area can have very different drag coefficients. An empty ice cream cone will have much less drag pointy end first vs. flipping it around open end first, even though the frontal area is the same. Downhill ski racers keep their hands up in front of their faces to make themselves more streamlined. TJ is trying to achieve the same thing with his high hands and bottlles filling in the gaps between his arms. It still looks super uncomfortable… Also note his helmet – no aero tail and in fact it doesn’t look like a road helmet at all. This could be an attempt to minimize drag via frontal area reduction. MIT studied aero helmets in the wind tunnel, and found that a bare head was actually more aero due to the greatly reduced frontal area – most aero helmets are much bigger than your head. So there is a case where reduced frontal area beats the more aero shape attached to a greater frontal area.
Yesterday Lis and I visited Coach Al Lyman and Kurt Strecker’s Gait Lab in Old Saybrook, CT. Al has coached Lis to both of her Kona wins and made her a faster runner than ever in her mid 40s. Kurt is also a triathlete and Chiro. Between the two of them you have an incredible wealth of knowledge that was not just derived from some quick certification course. Both are students of the human body and athletic performance optimization. For Al much of this was driven, as it has been for me, through a desire to improve as an athlete over many years of competition. Al’s palmares include more than 20 marathons (2:39 best) and 9 Ironmans. In a world full of “coaches” whose qualifications include a few years of racing and a few certification courses, Al stands head and shoulders above the crowd.
This wealth of experience and insight finds an excellent home in the PAP gait lab. Not only will you find out EXACTLY what your deficiencies are, WHY you have injuries, and WHY your performance is sub-par, you will leave with an education and understanding that will give you a new path forward in sport.
For our friend Becky who visited from Alaska, and who had been to ALL of the “big names” in an attempt to fix her chronic training-related pain issues, a visit to PAP fixed her issues once and for all. And she knew exactly WHY and WHAT was going on. Of course, her visit to TTBikeFit and time on the TTFitBike also helped – as she wound up with a new off-the-shelf bike to replace her “custom” disaster.
For Lis and I, we quickly learned why we are both good relatively strong cyclists but relatively weak runners. And I do mean WEAK. The process starts with a table exam by Dr. Strecker, followed by a movement screen by Al. At the end of these two assessments, they already know what you will look like on the treadmill. But you get on the treadmill anyway, and high speed video is captured from 3 angles for analysis is Medical Motion software.
Then, the journey begins. Al and Kurt will fill your brain with a torrent of valuable information as to what specifically you need to do to improve YOUR personal deficiencies. This is no cookie-cutter program. From here on out you will be given tailored exercises and workouts to FIX yourself. Even for Lis, as the fastest over-40 age grouper ever in Kona, she has a lot she can improve on – which is scary for anyone competing with her. For me, my running form is actually pretty good. I sure have studied it enough. It is good for a few minutes on a treadmill – but check back 60 minutes into a hard run – not pretty.
Both of us have to start with some very basic improvements to our movement skills and strength balance. And I do mean BASIC. The stuff we need to work on is far removed from running. We’ll get to that point one day, but it will be a long path. So this stuff is nearly impossible to work on during the season – now is the time.
One of the many things you will quickly realize is that it is a complete waste of time to try to change your foot strike or cadence or knee drive, your running “technique”, from the ground up. If your foundation is crumbling, it doesn’t matter how pretty the structure on top is. It won’t hold up under stress – e.g., the latter portion of an IM run. You will likely learn that there are some fundamental weaknesses that don’t even hold up in slow floor exercises in the lab – so how on earth can they hold up through 4 hours of dynamic running after 5+ hours of biking?
Some of you may have seen my analyses of running form in Kona pros last year. Well guess what? It is relatively easy to see WHAT is wrong, WHAT Chris Lieto is not doing and Crowie is. But you can’t see WHY. AL and Kurt will tell you, and tell you WHAT needs to be done. Don’t expect it to be easy, and don’t expect it to involve lots of running miles. You will have to earn that. And only a sound foundation will provide the platform to move forward. I would guess that very few triathletes, especially amateurs but certainly not exclusively, have sound strength and movement skill foundations. The very nature of our training, especially long course, works daily to tear them apart. Why did Macca look great running down Palani – why could he easily pull away from Raelert? Well I can tell you it was NOT BECAUSE he was running with a certain technique. His technique was a RESULT of his solid foundation which resulted in an incredible performance.
You may be thinking here that if you follow someone’s video or online program for “strengthening”, you are good. Maybe but unlikely. The fact is that most people do most “strength” exercises WRONG. Very subtle differences in muscle activation order can make huge differences in outcome. I thought I was pretty good at performing a simple bridge. Turns out I have been using the wrong muscles. The human body gets the job done in whatever way it can – doesn’t mean it is the right way.
So in visiting Al and Kurt, you will find out exactly WHY you have injuries, or break down during the run, etc. And, you will find out WHAT to do about it. It’s like learning to walk all over again. Once you have that relearned, then you can run. We’ll see how Lis and I progress this winter. I know my running has become worse with long course training. I now know why, and am optimistic I can return to my former speeds, and make it through long course without my 200 lbs pounding me into submission. As for Lis, she could get silly fast. Time will tell. In the mean time, I urge you to visit Pursuit Althletic Performance, stop wasting your time jackhammering your foundation, and start on a new path forward towards injury-free speed.
Continuing with my look at the rigs the pros ran in Kona (click on pics for full size):
Faris Al-Sultan: I ran across Faris’ bike at the Powerbar breakfast. The Abu-Dhabi team all had these interesting matching Storcks with Di2 shifting. You can see the battery mounted behind the seatpost. The rear brake on these bikes is integrated into the rear stays and uses a carbon leaf spring. The front brake is also hidden within the fork, but unfortunately the cable routing is pretty ugly. The headset is set down low into the top tube so that with the right stem it provides a clean flat transition from stem to bike. Faris however uses a conventional stem. His Xentis aerobars are anything but – very cool looking, but I wonder if all those sharp edges are really a good idea for aerodynamics. Since the brake levers are integrated, Faris does not get the benefit of using Di2 brake levers with a second set of shifter buttons. For a hilly course like Placid for example, you would really want these shifters on the base bars. Faris also chose a very simple but aerodynamically questionable two bottles on the frame for hydration.
Andreas Bocherer: Faris’ lesser known teammate had the same bike, but chose to use the integrated stem and Di2 brake lever/shifters. But he went low tech with the duct tape spare tubular mount (I wouldn’t want to have to remove that adhesive after that bakes in the Kona sun). Plus – who need compression socks? Drug store compression hose work just fine thank you!
Andreas Raelert: The runner up rode a fairly unremarkable Blue Triad with full Di2. He used an aerobar cage and one frame mounted cage for hydration. Note how the Triad’s bayonet front end is similar to that pioneered by Felt, but Blue’s system results in a fairly high stack and short reach whereas Felts tend to fall into the low stack long reach category. The Triad combines a conventional front brake with a hidden sub-BB rear brake, and the very low seat stays are a unique design element of this frame.
Andy Potts: Potts’ Kuota also had Di2, but Andy is one of the few pros using a ski-bend aerobar. The Kueen-K is a very long-low frame geometry, and we can see here that Potts is using a good deal of lift to get his front end high enough: up-turned stem, 3cm of steerer spacers, and 2cm of spacers under the elbow cups. I talked to Andy after the race, and he had switched down a frame size this year to bring the reach more in line with his needs. And even though he has also worked to get lower in front, the smaller frame resulted in a low stack requiring all these front end spacers. Assuming he is at the optimum drop setting now, a higher stack frame would work better. He did use a Fuel Belt Fuel box to fill in the gap behind the steerer. Once again, we see the frame mounted bottles, but he also has an aerodrink mount on his aerobars. Note that Andy chose to run the easier-to-handle-in-crosswinds 50mm deep rims vs Raelert’s 75mm.
Linsey Corbin- The Scott Plasma 3 was one of most interesting new bikes in Kona. Certainly it has proven itself in TT’s with Columbia HTC on the Pro Tour. The frame looks very aero with the integrated stem, hidden rear brake, and broad aero section frame members. The one “disappointment”: a conventional front brake. Corbin chose conventional SRAM shifters and a set of Zipp 808s, which may have been a lot of wheel to handle for her around Hawi. I give up on the frame mounted bottles.
Part 3 coming soon…
The bike check-in in Kona is bike geek heaven. It is worth standing out 5-6 hours in the blasting sun to see if anything new, unusual, or innovative pops up among the world’s best Ironman athletes, pro and amateur. Sure it is cool to look at the bikes as whole, but I really enjoy seeing how folks deal with the essential elements of nutrition, hydration and flat repair while trying to be as aero and comfortable as possible (and with the realization that it may be impossible at times to take a hand off of the bars).
Common themes this year: lots of Di2 electronic shifting, R2c shifters for the non-Di2 crowd, lots of bottle cages on the aerobars, and many more ISM saddles. The aerobar bottle cage seems to be a pro standard these days. Advantage: hides a water bottle from the wind, while making it easily accessible. In fact it could even improve the aero profile of your arms as it fills the gap between them. Disadvantage – can make steering a little wonky, can rub on your forearms, and hand-off bottles often don’t fit snugly in the cage and hence like to fall onto your front wheel. Also, it can be difficult to find a place to put your computer/powermeter head unit. For bottle mounting, X-lab makes the Torpedo mount, and profile and Hed have solutions too, but many riders used a home-made zip tie or Velcro solution. X-lab now also offers a computer mount that attaches to your stem cap which places the computer above the bottle.
So here are some of the more interesting setups (click on pics for full size images) I saw among the pros checking in during the specified check-in window (as opposed to those who snuck in early…).
Macca’s Shiv– remarkable in its simplicity. Nothing to look at here folks, move right along. Ok – maybe the straight aerobar extensions – otherwise known as the “carpal tunnel” bend. The reason they work for him is the low elbow cups relative to the bar tips, which saves his wrists from too much bending. Note that with all Shiv sizes there is one stack height, so any drop adjustment must come from shims under the aerobars. This can put the base bars very low relative to the aerobars. Good for short TT’s where even in the base bar position you want to be super aero, maybe not as good for IM where the base bars should provide a little relief from the aero position. Note Macca didn’t even bother with R2C shifters.
No behind-the-saddle hydration for Macca either- he ran a simple aerobar cage and down tube cage. I don’t get the round bottle on the down tube though. You ride a leading edge aero frame designed in the wind tunnel to be super slippery, then you mess the whole thing up with a big fat round bottle in the middle of the frame. Now I do recall that two frame-mounted round bottles can make a non-aero frame more aero, but in the case of a finely tuned aero frame, I can’t imagine it improves flow. I would think behind the saddle must be better if done right. Cervelo’s Phil White seemed to think so when we discussed this a couple years ago. Macca’s a smart guy and so is the Specialized crew so maybe they know something I don’t. Note the two Salt Stick dispensers in the aerobar extensions.
Dibens’ Speed Concept – Trek’s new offering was certainly one of the hottest and most visible new bikes in Kona. Dibens adopted the Lieto setup of using a Bontrager aero bottle with a straw between her aerobars, and a single cage under the saddle. But, she has two cages in the frame – once again the round bottles on a very aero frame. Dibens also chose ISM’s podium saddle. Note that Lieto does not dirty up his Speed Concept with round bottles – he has a Bontrager bottle in the frame and in the aerobars, and his trademark nearly horizontal bottle under the saddle.
Tissink’s “Shiv4” – Raynard Shivmofied the front end of his P4 with a custom built, SA-themed hydration unit. The “Tissdrink” shrouds the P4’s conventional front brake much like the Shiv’s nosecone which was outlawed by the UCI. Timo Bracht tried something like this last year on his Giant, which already has a nose cone. But since his bottle shroud was a little less integrated than Raynard’s (i.e., a piece of plastic zip-tied and taped around an Aero-drink), it was either scrapped or disallowed as a fairing before the race. Note that Ray’s bottle even wraps around the tire for a very clean and custom fit. Tissink also chose straight extensions, this time 3T with Profile rubber grips and Sram R2C shifters. Once again, his elbow cups are very low relative to the bar tips, providing wrist relief. Ray chose the ISM Adamo race saddle, the model that Lis and I prefer.
Big Sexy’s Wilier – Chris Macdonald’s front end setup reminds me very much of the one I used on my old P3 – closely-spaced Zipp Vuka clips and a Fuel Belt aero fuel box to fill the gap behind the steerer. With extensions this close together, it is easy to zip-tie a bottle cage between them. Chris solved the computer placement problem by slotting his Joule between the bar tips. This prevents wrapping his hands around each bar, but with close tips like this it lends itself more to a hand-over-hand grip anyway. One of the other perennial questions is where to stuff your spare tubular. I always hate having the thing hanging off the back of my seatpost or hydration unit, so here is one alternative – under the aerobars. Chris chose an ISM Breakaway saddle, complete with behind-the-saddle trucker hat mount!
Speaking of frame-mounted bottles, note the position of the cage on the Wilier’s down tube: it’s low and the bottle sits at a relatively flat angle. This will both reduce the frontal area of the bottle, and improve its aerodynamic shape. As you angle a cylinder more, the flow “sees” the cylinder as a more oblong cross section improving its drag coefficient. Since the WIlier was designed by John Cobb in the wind tunnel, I am certain this bottle placement was no accident.
Look for part 2 coming soon!