An improper bike fit can cause you to develop pain in your body, especially in the lower back and knee. Your bike fit is one of the most important aspects of success in a triathlon. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned cyclist, you must learn how to fit a triathlon bike.
A triathlon bike fit isn’t just about making you fast. It’s also about making your ride pain-free and efficient, allowing your body to function at optimum levels.
In this post, we’ll talk about what a triathlon bike fit is and how to fit a triathlon bike to achieve the best position for you.
Let’s get started!
What Is a Triathlon Bike Fit?
Every cyclist is different. Some have short torsos and long legs, and some people may pedal differently than others. With so many differences in our bodies, you need to set your bike to maximize comfort, power, and efficiency. Like most bikes, a triathlon bike has many adjustable parts. You can change, alter, or move any touchpoint on the bike to fit your better.
Although there are different theories regarding a triathlon bike fit, the main idea is adjusting the bike’s components considering these goals:
- Reducing or eliminating pain and numbness
- Preventing injuries
- Improving overall performance
- Enhancing comfort
- Reducing fatigue
The Elements of a Triathlon Bike Fit
Getting a professional bike fit is important if you don’t know how to fit a triathlon bike. When you buy a new bike, the shop will likely perform a basic fit analysis to make you more comfortable, increase your power and keep you from being injured. Achieving the proper bike fit can take some time, and that can test your patience. However, it would improve your riding experience greatly, even more than any other improvement.
Depending on the issues you have, the following are the main adjustments made to a triathlon bike during a fit:
- Saddle height and tilt
- A new saddle based on your body position and anatomy
- Stem length and height
- Handlebar width
- Crank length
- Brake lever adjustments
How to Fit a Triathlon Bike
Performing a bike fit isn’t rocket science, and all it takes is some research, bike fitting tools, and time. If you’ve gotten a professional bike fit before, then you’ve probably picked up a few things. Learning how to fit a triathlon bike can save you money and time, and you can even do it for other triathletes.
Besides, your bike fit can change because of injuries and changes in weight, flexibility, and skills. So, you won’t always want to visit the shop for a bike fit. So, here are the basics you should know:
1. Bike Size
Don’t just buy the bike that looks good. Work out your correct fit on an existing bike or shop before buying so you don’t struggle to achieve the best fit.
2. Saddle Height
Sit on your bike with your arms on the bar and your weight central on the saddle. Check if your saddle is the right height by placing one leg at the pedal’s bottom and then straightening your knee. If the saddle’s height is right, your shoe’s sole should lean downwards, and the heel should be 1 cm to 3 cm lower than the toe. Have someone take a side picture of you to check your saddle height.
3. Aerobar Height
The easiest way to alter your aero bars’ height is to flip your stem over or swap to a new one, remove headset spacers and adjust the height of spacers between your base bar and the aero extensions.
You can change the distance between your saddle and aero bars by changing the stem or moving the saddle forward on its rails. If you don’t like the design, you can swap seatposts to alter the clamp position.
5. Helmet Position
To improve streamlining and reduce drag, you need to reduce the area your body occupies from the front. Adjust your head position to compensate for your torso. This adjustment might be uncomfortable, but it’s a compromise you must make to improve aero efficiency.
Bike Fitting Tools
To fit a triathlon bike, you’ll need some bike fitting tools to help you insert new gears, light, handlebars, seats, and other equipment. Three essential bike fitting tools can solve most of your problems:
1. XY Bike Fit Tool
XY bike fit tools help with angle measurement using their X and Y-axis coordinating feature. However, you’ll be the one doing the measuring, so the accuracy will depend on you. This tool will still offer you the best efficiency, and you can easily flip your bike’s handlebar.
2. Bike Fit Goniometer
A Goniometer helps you fix your bike’s motion. You can use it to measure the distance between the seat and the knee position and adjust accordingly. You can also use it for extended purposes, such as fixing the imaging mirror and determining proper stem height and alignment.
3. Plumb Bob
A plumb bob is a string with a weight attached to the bottom to create a straight vertical line. It is one of the best bike fitting tools with no alternatives. It serves as a vertical reference line during saddle and lever adjustments.
4. Other Tools
There are more tools other than the essential tools available for different situations. They include:
- Measuring tape
- Body Targets
Our Final Thoughts
Learning how to fit a triathlon bike is an important part of your training. You cannot perform at your optimum level in a bad triathlon bike position. Or worse, you may injure yourself during the race and not be able to finish the event.
A proper triathlon bike fit can help you find the right mix of comfort, power, and aerodynamics, which could take you from finishing to winning.