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Time trial racing is a type of racing where the rider has to race against the clock on short, flat courses. Because of the nature of the race, time trial bikes are designed specifically to maximize speed. Other considerations like comfort and handling are considered to be secondary.
When it comes to speed, the biggest obstacle is wind resistance. When a rider goes past 15 km/h, drag becomes a significant factor. The higher the speed, the more drag the rider has to contend with. As a result, TT and triathlon bicycles are made to withstand wind resistance/drag. They are able to do this by having unique features that set them apart from other types.
The rider is the biggest part that is exposed to wind and resultant drag. This is why the best triathlon bikes are designed to expose less areas of the body to the wind than would be the case with other types. They also position the rider further forward so that they can use their back, leg, and core muscles for sustained efforts at speed.
If you are looking for a ride primarily focused on speed, then you should consider a time trial bike. Read on to get more information on what makes them unique so you can make your choice of the time trial and triathlon bikes for sale here at Bike Chaser.
Time trial and triathlon cycles are designed to enhance airflow and reduce wind resistance. Their frames often have a teardrop tube profile that has an aerofoil effect, just like the wings of a plane. This design helps to cut through wind with little effort.
Another unique feature is the large teardrop profile downtube. It is also unique for its aero profiled forks and seatposts. A lot of manufacturers add vented forks to improve the airflow around the wheels. They also use dimpled paintjobs, like the ones on a baseball, to reduce drag and improve stability at high speeds.
As already stated, the biggest contributor to drag is the rider. To minimize the drag, manufacturers implement designs that place the rider in the classic aero position so as to leave little for the wind to catch. This means that the rider’s back would be flat and low, the head would be down, while the elbows and hands would be placed together.
Designs usually have short wheelbases, low stack heights, and shorter top tubes. You’ll also find that most have special forward facing bars instead of the standard drop bars. There are also some with forward facing tri bars that have gear shifters on their extensions.
One key factor for many riders is that they come with a steeper tube angle compared to other bike types. The result of this is that it positions the rider further forward and over the bottom bracket. This position helps to reduce drag and utilize the muscles in your leg, back and core.
Although the aero position would be ideal for riding in a straight line, it is not so ideal for normal racing or group riding, so take that into consideration if you’re looking for something with multiple uses.
In order to make bicycles that are aerodynamic, a lot of manufacturers have integrated different components of the bike. For example, the brakes are recessed into the forks while the cockpit has integrated bar combinations. Although elite racers may enjoy having integrated components, it makes looking for component parts harder. It also adds a level of complexity to maintenance.
The frames of TT and Triathlon bikes have oversized tubes and big bottom bracket shells. This makes sure that the system translates every pedal stroke to forward momentum. But this stiffness comes at the price of reduced comfort for riders.
A lot of manufacturers try to increase comfort by tuning the carbon layups or using thinner seatstays. However, you can’t have the best of both worlds, as the comfort levels are still relatively low compared to other types. You shouldn’t be planning to ride one of these on a long trip or on rough terrain.
The stiff frame and huge tubing also add a bit of mass. This means that they usually have an added 2 kg compared to other race options. Fortunately, when at top speed, aerodynamics would neutralize the added weight. In the end, they are simply not ideal for normal riding or climbing.
Both might seem quite similar and interchangeable to someone who is unfamiliar with the niche sports. This is primarily because they are both for competitive uses and put aerodynamics first and foremost.
However, the major difference lies in the regulatory body for these two kinds of bicycles. The regulations for them affect the way they look and operate.
Time Trial models are governed by the regulations of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). Its regulations state that they have to use a double diamond frame design; they shouldn’t have additional aero fairings, and must adhere to the guidelines regulating the positioning of bar extensions and saddle.
Triathlon models are governed by the rules of the International Triathlon Union. The rules are more relaxed compared to the rules of the UCI. They allow for unusual frame designs that allow riders achieve an aggressive position. They also let bikes have features like aero fairings and integrated storage/hydration.
Before deciding to buy a time trial or triathlon cycle, you need to be sure of what you want to use it for. If you want to use it for a one time race, you can just fit your regular road bike with clip-on tri bars, power meters, and deep section aero wheels.
On the other hand, if you want to go into long term racing of this specific kind you should get a dedicated design. There are a lot of options from different brands. Examples include Felt tri, Trek triathlon, and Scott TT bikes.