Is there anything better than new bike day? Whether you’ve picked up your new whip at your local bike shop or it’s arrived on your doorstep, the first thing you want to do is get out there and ride. It’s like Santa brought you that new bike for Christmas!
But hold up there! While the wheels may roll and the pedals may turn, it’s not a good idea to go out and ride a few dozen miles.
A proper bike fit is essential for new and experienced riders alike. Not only do you want to be efficient and produce power, even more important is comfort. If you’re not comfortable on your new bike, those miles are never going to happen.
Not having the right bike fit can also lead to overuse injuries, a painful saddle, and just a bad time on the bike.
And while you may be able to tweak a standard commuter or road bike to make it work, a triathlon bike, which has a unique cockpit setup to attain that super aerodynamic position, is harder to adjust yourself.
We’re here to take you through the basics, and then point you in the right direction to make sure your new Speed Phreak triathlon bike is exactly what you need to win races and knock out personal bests.
The Bike Fit Basics
There are some elements of a bicycle fit you can do yourself. It’s likely you’ll have to address these while you’re testing bikes before making a purchase.
Getting the right size bike frame is essential. If you are stuck with a bike frame that’s too big or too small, there’s no amount of adjusting on the seat post, crank arm, or handlebars that’s going to make it work.
Your LBS can help you determine the right frame size depending on brand (each bike brand is a little different). A-Squared will help you figure out your frame size on the product page, or you can contact us with questions. We’ll ask for your height and inseam, and what size you ride in other brands to help narrow down whether you need a XS, S, M, or L frame.
The height of your saddle is key to comfort and injury prevention. You don’t want your knees up near your chest, but you don’t want to be reaching for your pedals on every stroke either.
A simple way to get close yourself is to line up your crank arm vertically. With your foot on the pedal at the bottom of the stroke, if you can't reach it, lower the seat a bit. If your knee is bent, raise the seat post a bit.
Reach to Handlebars
The reach to your handlebars is also essential for overall comfort, but especially important for bike handling. You should feel no pain when you reach for your handlebars, and you should be able to rest your hands comfortably on the base bars/bullhorns of your triathlon bike. When sitting up on your base bars, your elbows should be slightly bent, not locked out.
When affixing the cleat on your bike shoes, first place them where you think the ball of your foot will be. Tighten the cleats down so they don’t move, and then do a quick test spin. If the position feels good, tighten the bolts down, or adjust until you find a comfortable position.
Once you’ve found the magic spot, you can outline your cleats with a silver permanent marker so you’ll know exactly where to place the cleats when it’s time to replace them. You’ll likely replace your cleats more often than you’ll replace your shoes.
Triathlon Bike Fit
Getting a professional fit for your new triathlon bike is incredibly important, especially for a new A-Squared Speed Phreak. The Speed Phreak doesn’t mess around - we’ve brought you an aggressive frame setup so you can get aero and take that pro or age group win.
Finding the perfect aero position and staying in it is all about being efficient and comfortable, and that comes with the fine tuning only a professional bike fitter can provide.
Finding that Aero Position
Getting aero isn’t just about slamming the stem and staying tucked. Many elements come into play including the length and position of the aero bars, the location of the elbow pads, the height of the seat tube, and even your hydration setup.
Getting as low and tucked as you possibly can may work on the trainer for a bit, but keep in mind that you’ll be racing in that position for 20 to 100+ miles. If your position is so aggressive that you have to sit up on your base bars often, you’ve completely lost the advantage of having that aggressive setup.
The perfect aero position is the one that you can hold comfortably for hours. As you develop as an athlete, your fitness and musculature will change so your bike fit will change as well. Increased strength and flexibility will allow you to ride in a more aero position so don’t be dismayed if you don’t look like Jan Frodeno yet. It’ll come.
Efficient Pedal Stroke
While the focus for TT bike fits tends to be the aero position, an efficient pedal stroke is just as important to get you through those long miles with max power and reduced risk of injury. This is where the tools of the trade and the eye of an experienced bike fitter really come into play.
Efficient pedal stroke is maximized through finding the ideal hip angle and crank length. Hip angle is hard to determine on your own, without the tools available to those who practice Precision Fit, Retul, Guru, or Shimano bike fits. Bike fitters using these systems have sensors that determine the best angles for you, and make adjustments accordingly.
The crank arm length is also important, and it may be surprising to learn that longer isn’t always better. It’s quite common to use a shorter crank arm length on a triathlon bike than a road bike. Discuss this with your LBS, bike fitter, or with A-Squared before ordering your Speed Phreak so we can make sure we send you exactly what you need.
Where Should I Get My Bike Fit?
Now that we’ve established the need for a professional bike fit, where should you get one? There are a few options. You can reach out to our partners at velofix who will be happy to assemble your Speed Phreak and fit you.
Check with your local bike shop. They are a great resource for all things bike related and will likely have a preferred bike fitter they use. Ask your cycling friends, especially the fast ones :)
You can also search online for bike fitters in your area, and do some research into the different types of bike fits listed below.
- Precision Fit
You’ve made the investment in your bike. Now it’s time to make the investment in yourself to get the most out of your bike. Remember, a proper bike fit will allow you to ride harder, longer, and faster with fewer injuries. The wrong bike fit leads to pain, injury, and no fun on the bike.