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educate me : TT vs. Road Bike

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educate me : TT vs. Road Bike

Old 02-04-09, 07:05 AM
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educate me : TT vs. Road Bike

sorry if this has been covered before, still new here, in search for answers:

road bike magazine last month posted an article where someone wind tunnel tested (and real world tested) road bikes vs. TT bikes. The results showed that less watt output was required to go the same speed on a TT bike than a roadbike due to better aerodynamic profile. of course for the same watt output, a rider could push a TT bike at faster speeds than the road bike.

my question is obviously an uneducated newb one : why not ride the TT bike all the time? why wouldnt the pro's (where the $$ issue is not the problem) just ride those cool aero tt bikes in every state of the TDF??

clearly i am missing some critical part of the equation?
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Old 02-04-09, 07:15 AM
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UCI rules.
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Old 02-04-09, 07:28 AM
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They are not allowed in mass start races.
They do not handle well.
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Old 02-04-09, 07:28 AM
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TT is not comfortable and aero bars are forbidden in the peloton due to less stable steering.
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Old 02-04-09, 07:30 AM
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TT bikes are a bit heavier, don't wanna climb a lot with one. don't wanna sprint with one
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Old 02-04-09, 07:46 AM
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Ever ridden with a "try"-athlete in a group ride?

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Old 02-04-09, 08:40 AM
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"TT is not comfortable"


A common misconception but not true with a proper fit. My Tri bike is just as comfortable as my road bike. My hip angle is even about the same - just rotated forward. The upright seat post and forward positioned saddle (totally different geometry) allow me to be in almost the exact same body position on both bikes. It is more difficult to steer and control the bike though with the tri bike.
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Old 02-04-09, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Ever ridden with a "try"-athlete in a group ride?

I resent that I started with cycling/running and now I'm going to try a triathlon I cycle just fine thank you.
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Old 02-04-09, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by AngryScientist View Post
why not ride the TT bike all the time? why wouldnt the pro's (where the $$ issue is not the problem) just ride those cool aero tt bikes in every state of the TDF??

clearly i am missing some critical part of the equation?
Dragsters are the fastest race cars, so why not use them in the Indy 500 too...
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Old 02-04-09, 09:59 AM
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One of the biggest reasons is that it's harder to ride a TT/aerobike in a fast, tight peloton due to no brakes on the aerobars and decreased lateral handling while on the aerobars - both of which are critical for fast group riding.

On true racing TT bikes, the brakes are NOT on the aerobars, but on the drop-horns, which means that while you're tucked away into your TT-aero position, you have NO brakes. This is fine for solo racing with no drafting such as a tri (draft illegal), but you can imagine what a disaster it would be if riding 25-35mph in a tight peloton with <10cm of gap between you and the rider ahead - you wouldn't have the time to move your hands from the aerobars to the brakes if the guy in front of you slowed. In road racing, you MUST utilize the advantage of drafting at high speeds (this will more than compensate for the loss of aero positioning), so a TT bike would be unwise.

That said, while I'm still relatively new to roadbiking, I think the amount of vitriol folks here throw at triguys is pretty ridiculous. I don't know anyone who is foolish enough to ride a pricey TT/tri bike at high speeds in a group on their aerobars - it literally is analogous to the feeling you'd get if you asked a roadie to ride the peloton without brakes. It doesn't require any "special" knowledge or experience to know this - you put your hands on the aerobars, and instantly think "woah - I've got no brakes."
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Old 02-04-09, 10:03 AM
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Okay, then why don't we all ride aero TT-frames with drop bars?
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Old 02-04-09, 10:13 AM
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Pro riders sort of do that now with aero downtube road bikes. Many bikes now with aero downtubes that are UCI-legal and winning world-championship caliber races.

Cervelo S2 (pcad's new hot ride) is one obvious example with an aero-cut downtube.

http://www.competitivecyclist.com/ro...paign=Datafeed

Note that the S2 still has "roadie" fit despite the TT-frame. A true TT bike like my Cervelo P2C has a forward-thrown seat so you can maintain an aggressive forward position on the aerobars, or a "TT fit". Without aerobars though, the forward position cannot be properly maintained on the horns, which are further back, and thus you'd end up with a slightly more unstable position with no aero advantage. The S2 attempts to maximize the TT aero advantages while maintaining road fit.

Last edited by agarose2000; 02-04-09 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 02-04-09, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by ^oZ View Post
Okay, then why don't we all ride aero TT-frames with drop bars?
I'm no expert with road cycling or tt/tri cycling, but from what I can tell the frames of the two bikes are designed to work with the type of posture being used. So drops on a tt frame wouldn't really work. As for aerodynamics, for the money you can pay, the more aerodynamic either type of bike can potentially be.
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Old 02-04-09, 10:15 AM
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The main reason is handling and lack of comfort. The seat tube angle on a tt is especially steep (78 degrees vs 73 on a road bike). That keeps the rider forward. That forward position is where you want to be on a tt frame because the aero bars position you forward. If you switched the bars with drops, you are going to feel crunched. To compensate, you need a very long stem which would make for some bad handling.
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Old 02-04-09, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by ^oZ View Post
Okay, then why don't we all ride aero TT-frames with drop bars?
We basically do if you look at some of the frames that are available now days.

There are many differences for many reasons.
Weight - (road frame advantage)

Aerodynamics (road frames are improving here, but it is still a balance of weight, and need...don't really need heavy aerodynamicly efficient features while climbing at low speed...you need low weight)

Regulations/rules (UCI got snippy about 15 years ago and started telling everyone what they thought a road bike should look like, and what TT bike should look like)

Geometry - you need different seat tub and head tube angles to allow for the bikes to be ridden comfortably and still steer safely depending on what types of bars being used. Remember that aerobars are illegal for mass start events...because they're dangerous in mass start events.

I like the dragster comment. Ever wonder why different motorsports vehicles look and function differently? It's because they are purpose built. Just like road vs TT frames.
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Old 02-04-09, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Pi**{ie View Post
I resent that I started with cycling/running and now I'm going to try a triathlon I cycle just fine thank you.
The comment is directed towards "try"-athletes that think they can ride a bike so they jump into mass start events and group rides and ride in packs while in their aerobars. Death and destruction can quickly follow. They do it because they know no better.

If you ride drop bars in these events then no one could give a **** if you also happen to run and occassionally take a dip when you're off the bike. Just stay off the aerobars when in a group.

Also...doesn't count if you're riding a standard road rig with clip-ons...handling is not as compromised as when on a TT bike.

OT - I finally tried out some rollers the other night. Mainly never tried them because of lack of access to a set. I was intimidated because of the horror stories I had heard. I caught on in a few minutes. So much so that about 1/2 hour later I put my TT bike on them....and then rode in my TT position on the bars....THAT is what you call mad handling skillz. Take notes you "try"-geeks.
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Old 02-04-09, 10:27 AM
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For a detailed explanation of TT vs road bike with real-world testing, see this previously posted link:

http://www.bikeradar.com/news/articl...-is-aero-19273

Of note is the final comment in the concluding paragraphs:

". The difference between the Specialized Tarmac SL2 (roadie) with clip-ons and the Transition (TT bike) was 18.5W or 19.3W. Finally, the difference between a road frame and one with a set of clip-ons on it was a whopping 29.4 watts. This difference is due to rider position (in the drops vs. in the aerobars)."
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Old 02-04-09, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
The comment is directed towards "try"-athletes that think they can ride a bike so they jump into mass start events and group rides and ride in packs while in their aerobars. Death and destruction can quickly follow. They do it because they know no better.
How often does this actually happen? I've read blogs and blogs of races and races, and this has never come up. Unless you can cite specific examples, I'm not really buying it.

One of the first things a triathlete learns, even the most clueless ones, is "what's the deal with aerobars, and why would I even need them?" If someone doesn't tell them, they learn it instantly by experience when they take their very first maiden ride with it and realize that steering is harder on the bars and there are no brakes there.

Of note, what does come up routinely are roadies who overestimate their bike handling skills, and do silly things including peeling bananas, eating CLIF bars, and other non-race related strange behavior that does cause wipeouts. If you don't believe me, this is straight from Rahsaan Bahati's (USA national elite pro crit 2008 champ) most recent blogppost - I didn't even need to go digging to find stuff like this.

"Also, Justin Williams took a nasty spill as some pansy tried eating a cliff bar in a 90min race with 20 minutes to go...yeah that would give you some energy...Idiot. The guy tried one handing the bard in the head wind section and when the flow of the group shifted, the guys swerved and took out Justin. Justin wasn't that pissed about even loosing skin, he was pissed about destroying his national Champion kit. "

http://bahatiracing.com/blogengine.net/default.aspx

Last edited by agarose2000; 02-04-09 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 02-04-09, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by agarose2000 View Post
How often does this actually happen? I've read blogs and blogs of races and races, and this has never come up. Unless you can cite specific examples, I'm not really buying it.

One of the first things a triathlete learns, even the most clueless ones, is "what's the deal with aerobars, and why would I even need them?" If someone doesn't tell them, they learn it instantly by experience when they take their very first maiden ride with it and realize that steering is harder on the bars and there are no brakes there.

Of note, what does come up routinely are roadies who overestimate their bike handling skills, and do silly things including peeling bananas, eating CLIF bars, and other non-race related strange behavior that does cause wipeouts. If you don't believe me, this is straight from Rahsaan Bahati's (USA national elite pro crit 2008 champ) most recent blogppost - I didn't even need to go digging to find stuff like this.

"Also, Justin Williams took a nasty spill as some pansy tried eating a cliff bar in a 90min race with 20 minutes to go...yeah that would give you some energy...Idiot. The guy tried one handing the bard in the head wind section and when the flow of the group shifted, the guys swerved and took out Justin. Justin wasn't that pissed about even loosing skin, he was pissed about destroying his national Champion kit. "

http://bahatiracing.com/blogengine.net/default.aspx
botto has lots of nice pictures to illustrate for you. Personally I have run into far more "try"-athletes that can not hold a line in their bars to save their lives than those who can. Of those that can I have no problems riding with them in easy paced groups. ....but I am more accepting than most.

You know that handling and visibility are compromised while riding a TT bike in position. Those do not go well in group rides and are asking for accidents to happen. The fact that they were banned by just about every licensing group that puts on just about every mass start event would imply that the insurance carriers would tend to agree with this point of view. Didn't they even ban them for Paris-Brest-Paris?

....but since when did eating become a "silly thing...non-race related strange behavior"?? Bahati can talk all the **** he wants about the appropriateness of that rider deciding to eat in that particular event and at that particular time, but to call eating in a race a "silly thing...non-race related strange behavior" is just simply incorrect and, well, silly.
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Old 02-04-09, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Regulations/rules (UCI got snippy about 15 years ago and started telling everyone what they thought a road bike should look like, and what TT bike should look like)
UCI's been snippy for longer than that. We (Trek) sponsored a women's cycling team back in 1983 (Rebecca Twigg, Laura Pake, etc.) and built frames for them to use at the National competitions. No problems, they did well and went on to compete at the World's. About a week before the events, UCI took a look at the track frames we built and said "uh-uh, no way." UCI had a rule that the front center distance (center of BB shell to center on front hub) could be no shorter than 56cm. Now, these women were no large riders. I think the biggest frame was about 55cm, Twigg's was ~48cm IIRC. To build a 48cm frame with a 56cm front center was just ridiculous, but rules are rules and we had a mad dash to build and ship UCI-compliant frames with only a week of lead time. Grr. But they did well, at least.

At least one of those frames survived but I suspect the small ones got rightfully junked:

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Old 02-04-09, 11:35 AM
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....but since when did eating become a "silly thing...non-race related strange behavior"?? Bahati can talk all the **** he wants about the appropriateness of that rider deciding to eat in that particular event and at that particular time, but to call eating in a race a "silly thing...non-race related strange behavior" is just simply incorrect and, well, silly.


I think Bahati was referring to the fact that the person might have been able to ingest a Cliff Shot/Gu or something that didn't require a prolonged absence from the bars in a short race. Not that eating at all during a race is wrong.
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Old 02-04-09, 11:49 AM
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thanks for the responses all, very interesting stuff. i don't ever see myself owning a TT style bike, but the article i read really peaked my curiosity, there is a wealth of knowledge on this forum and i appreciate you all sharing.
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Old 02-04-09, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
botto has lots of nice pictures to illustrate for you.
I actually went and did a search on user "botto" and "triathlete", "aerobars", "crash", and didn't get any pics. There was one post about a bad crash from a triathlete - but he was riding a regular roadie, and this comment was from someone who knew him:

Here's the deal. He's a pro-ish triathlete. I know the guy, he's cool. He has to do his 10 races to get upgraded to a 4, though, so that's why he was out there in the 5's. No idea why he went down, but I would assume it's a fluke -- he has tons of handling experience.

Texas isn't any more sketchy than any other state. There were a *ton* of racers out there (like WR said), and so it's only inevitable that there will be a few more crashes. Yeah, it was a bad weekend, but it's not normally like that.

Pace Bend is (and was again this year) always well organized and a great race! A couple of things just didn't work out quite right this year, and I'm sure they'll be fixed for next year.


I did see a comment from Botto reprimanding 2 trifolks from being on their aerobars in a paceline, but no wipeout there.



Pretty, much, since aerobars are "illegal" equipment in road races like crits, you won't seem them mass-wiping out folks since they're obviously not there. I definitely agree with you about handling being compromised in the aeroposition, to the point that roadies should reconsider if they intend to draft off someone in their bars (happens a lot here when a triguy pulls out in front), but from what I've seen here, in riding, and on the blogs, the whole "dangerous triathlete" thing is wayyyy overhyped and mostly based on hearsay. Every weekend in LA, there's always a mix of tribikes and roadbikes with hundreds of riders of all abilities, and very few problems - I'm always welcomed to the group rides with my tribike, and if anything, I get sympathy as we climb some really big mountain climbs and I suffer due to the TT positioning and the big gearing!
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Old 02-04-09, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by travkat View Post
....but since when did eating become a "silly thing...non-race related strange behavior"?? Bahati can talk all the **** he wants about the appropriateness of that rider deciding to eat in that particular event and at that particular time, but to call eating in a race a "silly thing...non-race related strange behavior" is just simply incorrect and, well, silly.

I think Bahati was referring to the fact that the person might have been able to ingest a Cliff Shot/Gu or something that didn't require a prolonged absence from the bars in a short race. Not that eating at all during a race is wrong.
Yea, and actually nothing you ingest will make it's way out of your stomach in 20 minutes. It is not stupid to eat on a bike (essential for longer races, actually), but it is stupid to eat in such a short race, stupider to eat so close to the race end, even stupider to eat a cliff bar in a short race, so close to the end, and stupidest to crash yourself and/or someone else out while eating a cliff bar in a short race, so close to the finish.
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Old 02-04-09, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by agarose2000 View Post
How often does this actually happen? I've read blogs and blogs of races and races, and this has never come up. Unless you can cite specific examples, I'm not really buying it.
Most of the top tri guys around here train with the hardcore road racers so they are not an issue. Its the guys/gals that train mostly solo that cause problems. They lack the skills needed to ride in a pack going 25+ MPH when you are elbow to elbow with other riders (paceline rotation, etc), dont know or cant handle pack surges, let gaps open up so they can get in their TT bars, and worst of all.... RIDE IN THEIR TT BARS WHILE IN THE PACK!
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