Before 1989 nobody had ever heard of Tri Bars! Then come the end of July that year, everyone was rushing out to buy them!
A certain Greg Lemond on his comeback from being shot 2 years previously, had just won the Tour de France on the final day time trial by a record nail biting 8 seconds, from a superb Laurent Fignon! Lemond also set a record average speed for the final Time trial.
So what was one of the main advantages Lemond had over Fignon? Tri Bars!
Lemond had developed Tri Bars with the help of SCOTT products who were primarily manufacturers of Ski poles and goggles. The idea of the use of Tri Bars came from the Tuck position in Downhill Skiing.
The following season every Pro Cyclist and budding amateur Time Trialists were using Tri Bars. It has long since been proven that Tri Bars make a huge difference to riders when set up correctly in a time trial (or bike leg of a triathlon)compared to just a normal road set up on a bike.
The biggest barrier to a rider during a Time Trial (Apart from Fitness of course!!) is wind resistance, 75% of a riders power output is used in overcoming wind drag.
It has been proven in many tests that using a set of Tri barsset up well compared to a normal road position could save a good rider nearly 5 minutes over a 40km course. So it is pretty much a no brainer! However a number things need to be taken into account when using and setting up clip on Tri Bars onto your normal road bike.
It’s important to Push your saddle forward as far as it will go. Tri barsdrag you forward a lot so you need to compensate by bringing the saddle forward, also another benefit of bringing the saddle forward with the useof Tri Bars is that you transfer more Power directly into the transmission.
You also need to drop you handlebar stem down as low as it will go. This is because Tri Bars actually lift you higher at the front by a few centimeters, so you need to compensate for this by dropping the stem downwards.
It is important to purchase tri bars that have a lot of adjustment especially ‘fore’ and ‘aft’ adjustment. It’s likely that clip on tri barswill stretch your position, even with the saddle forward, and be uncomfortable. When you’re sitting in the Tri Position ideally you should have almost an L shape on your arms and not a stretched out position. If you have a stretched out position then you need to bring the Tri Bars back closer to you. If you cannot do this by adjusting the Tri Bars it is possible then to put a shorter handlebar stem on the bike.
You should ideally train at least once a week in your Tri Position to get used to it and learn how to control the bike when using them. However, I would not recommend using your tri position for all your training. it is to radical and uncomfortable and dangerous on open roads to be riding in this position all the time, but as said you do need at least once a week to set your bike up in your tri position. Also 4-5 weeks before your main competition you could then set your tri position up and train for this period in your tri position.
Remember mark your normal road position on your bike, so that you can put your bike back into this position when not using the tri set up.
There are many adjustments and tricks you can do to save yourself time in the Bike leg of a triathlon or a Time Trial but by the simple use of clip on tri bars onto your road bike you will save more time than anything else you can ……Apart from Training of course!!!!
Article by Aidan Hammond of Bike Fitting Ireland
The Perfect Bike Position.
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