Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday - Getting Aero

Hello Triathlon Peeps!  It's another edition of Tri Talk Tuesday.  Join myself and my co-hosts Courtney of the Tri Girl Chronicles and Cynthia from You Signed up for What? as we chat about all things triathlon related.  Today's topic is all about getting "aero".

Being aero doesn't just apply to the bike.  It can apply to all disciplines in triathlon.  Being aero is all about reducing drag.  The less drag you have the faster you can go.  Reducing drag also means you don't have to work as hard to move forward so it helps conserve energy.  A wetsuit makes you more "aero" as it puts you in the most optimal swim position in the water and it covers your clothes, which reduces drag, wearing tight fitting clothes on the run also helps with that as you don't have things blowing in the wind.  All of those things help but since the bike leg is the biggest component of a triathlon and the one most affected by things like wind, it stands to reason that there have been many inventions over the last few decades that have focused on getting the bike and the rider as aerodynamic as possible.

Here are 5 ways to get more aerodynamic on your bike.  Unfortunately most of them are pricey.  But good technology ain't cheap.  I'll start from the least expensive to the most expensive.

 1. Aero bars.  If you're on a tri bike then you don't need to worry, your bike came with these.  But if you're on a road bike, then these would be a worthwhile investment.  It will give you the opportunity to tuck into the wind vs. sitting upright in the wind.  It makes a big difference in the amount of effort you're putting out.  All for about $200.

2.  Aero Helmet:   I'm pretty that at event the smallest triathlon, there will be at least ONE person wearing one of these on the bike.  You know, the pointy helmets that make you look like a praying mantis?  Well, good news, they no longer have to be pointy looking!  Aero helmets these days are getting rounder.  Giro, Kask and POC have made some good ones that don't make you look like an alien. 

These can run you anywhere from $250-$350.  Many people have said that an aero helmet gives you the most bang for your buck.

3.  Clothing.  If you watch the riders in the Tour, they are almost all wearing these one piece skin suit type outfits now, not just for the Time Trials but during the race itself.  Cycling jerseys are no longer these semi fitted tops that go over bib shorts.  This seems to be the way of the future for the pros:

If you've seen Lionel Sanders race at all, you've also seen him wearing one of these.  Apparently covering up your shoulders and the top of your arms reduces your drag coefficient ever more.  Who knew?  These retail for about $350.  How much time will it save you?  I'm not really sure but you'll look pretty bad ass. 

4.  Bike Fit:   Making changes to your bike fit can also help you to get more aero.  Watching the pros race I'm always amazed at how aerodynamic they look on the bike.  Their backs are fairly flat, and their position is quite low at the front end - they're tucked as much as they can be.  I don't know about you but I can't bend that way.  If I could, I'd slam those bars as low as possible.  If you're lucky enough to be really flexible, especially in the hip, lower back and hip flexor area, then you might want to look at lowering the height of your your aerobars.  Talk to your bike fitter and see what they think is possible.  You may try it and not like it.  In the end for us age groupers, it's all about what our bodies will let us do.  Especially for us over 40 people.   Bike fits range anywhere from $250-$500 depending on the type of fit.

5.  Wheels:  These are the BIG ticket items.   But they can also help you pick up 1-2 kilometers an hour so the dividends are also pretty decent.   Even just forking out the $$ for a more aero front wheel will help.  Wheels come in a variety of different depths depending on how aerodynamic you want to get.  The deeper the rim, the more aero the wheel.  Thus disc wheels are considered to be the most aerodynamic wheels as long as you're not dealing with crosswinds.  Then they just become dangerous.  A decent carbon wheel set (front & back) usually starts around $2400 and goes up from there.  I saw a Campagnolo wheel set for $3300.  You could buy a decent bike for that price!   A front wheel on it's own usually starts around $700.  There are plenty of second hand wheels on the market as well so if you know what you're looking for, you can get yourself a pretty good deal.   And of course there is the "cool" factor.  Triathletes are always checking out gear.  I know when I roll into transition, I"m always ogling bikes, especially ones that are totally done up. 

The ever popular Zipp 404's

A disc wheel.  Source

Do you have anything else you'd add to this list?   What item would you choose to spend your money on?

Join us every other Tuesday to chat about all things Triathlon related!  The next Tri Talk Tuesday is Tuesday July 28th and we'll be talking about hot weather training. 


Unknown said...

I'm glad to hear that aero helmets are getting less dorky looking... my wife has banned me from ever getting one! :-)

Smitha @ FauxRunner ... No More said...

I Want them wheels ....
Not sure about the helmet although "they" say helmets are the best bang for buck.

Kelli said...

There are some less expensive skin suits out there. I have a LS suit from Voler that was part of an order my race team put in. Betty Designs also has one.