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My TT bike fit needs improvement

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

January
20
2016

I did a basic “at home” fit when I built up my Scott Plasma TT bike in November, and I’m pretty comfortable on it. I’ve done quite a few long training rides on the Plasma, and I’ve got no serious complaints about my comfort on the bike.

Comfort is very important, but so is performance.

One thing I neglected to do after dialing in the Plasma’s fit was photograph myself from the side. I always felt like I was extremely aero on the TT bike–especially after I slammed the stem–so I guess it never occurred to me to actually check.

When I saw this photograph from Monday’s race, I was pretty shocked:

Coming across the finish line after a solid hour in the hurt locker.

Coming across the finish line after a solid hour in the hurt locker.

 

Putting aside the unfortunate fact that the photo was snapped while my belly was distended from deeply inhaling :|, my position on the bike looks less than ideal for my physiology. I am very limber, and so there’s no reason I should be riding around in the aero position with my upper body up high like that. My chest should be pretty much parallel to the ground.

Take a look at Tony Martin, arguably the best time trial racer on the planet:

Tony Martin's aero position

Tony Martin’s aero position

 

I’m wasting power. I averaged 300 watts at Monday’s 40k TT race, and my time was 59m19s (25.1 MPH average). I think with that kind of power output I could (and should) have a significantly faster time.

I don’t own a Goniometer (I should probably get one), but looking at the picture from the race it seems like I could raise my saddle to improve my position and pedal stroke. I’ll take a look at that first.

I’ve already slammed my stem, so to lower the bars any more I’d have to go with a negative rise stem.

I’m a do it yourself kind of guy, but I really think a professional bike fit is what is called for. I know a couple local guys who are experts, and have all the equipment and knowledge to do the job right. Unfortunately my bike budget is blown at the moment, so I’ll just do the best that I can for now.

John Stone Fitness Comments

16 Responses to “My TT bike fit needs improvement”
  1. Given your level of fitness and goals, I think having a fit session is a great idea. You know already that the results won’t be gospel, but they will allow you to see how you compare against the benchmarks and what the options are.

    Personally I think that tinkering with the stem first makes more sense than raising the saddle position. Your “problem” isn’t power: it’s position. But, than again, you might find “new” power with a slightly higher saddle.

    Question: How far back is your saddle?

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    • Agreed about the stem, I suspect that’s where I’m going to see the most difference and drop. If my saddle is too low, it’s not by much.

      Looks like I’m going to have a pro fit done. I’m still working out the details, but I’ll keep everyone posted. If I do have the pro fit done, that should make for a really interesting blog. It will also be interesting to see how it affects my time at the next TT race in this series.

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  2. (NOTE: The following observations are from an untrained observer. Use the information with caution.)

    I totally get what you’re saying, and I think you may be on to something with regard to the seat height. Looking at Martin’s left leg and your right, you seem to have more bend/angle in the knee than he does at the bottom of the … stroke? Rotation? I don’t know the terms. But it seems like raising the seat shouldn’t — at least from the way I understand how this stuff works — impact your cadence/power output in a negative way.

    I will say, though, that his hands also appear closer to his front wheel than do yours. I don’t know if it’s the design of his bike or a negative rise stem (because I don’t know anything about either).

    All I DO know, is that I completely agree with a commentator from yesterday’s blog — you aren’t far from competing with the best in your age group nationally, I’d think. I don’t know what your goals are, but they SHOULD be pretty far-reaching, because you’ve proven your mettle when it comes to pushing through anything.

    Again, kudos on yesterday’s race!

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    • It’s really tough to tell that sort of thing (saddle height) from a photograph, especially a single photograph. Improper saddle height can drastically affect power output. I think my saddle height must be fairly close to correct, as I’ve set quite a few new power PRs on the Plasma.

      I just wrote in my comment to abuseguy (above) that it looks like I’m going to have a pro fit done, so that’s awesome.

      With regards to the comments about competing Nationally, I appreciate the votes of confidence, but I’m a long way from that. I’ve still got a lot of work to do before I’m going to be competitive at even the highest State level. For example, last year’s Cat 1 State TT Champion, Owen Shott, won it (on the same exact course I rode on Monday’s race, in fact) with an incredible time of 53:10, and an average wattage output of 390 watts. That’s insane. Inspiring, but insane!

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      • And THAT, my friends, is why I make sure to state I’m an untrained observer. LOL.

        I looked up that Shott feller, figuring he was a young’in. He is (about 35, I believe), but if I found the right guy — holy cow. He’s run sub-16 minute 5Ks and a 2:41 marathon. Egads. Decided to try his hand at triathlons a few years ago, and now he’s evidently a state champion TT’er. Dang, bro. SOMEONE’S pretty fit. LOL.

        Still — you’re JUST getting into time trial racing, which you’ve said is quite different from the group racing. I know you haven’t technically done the latter, but you’ve also done some century rides where you’ve basically raced by staying with the lead group and going hard the whole time. TT racing probably takes some specific training. I’ve got every confidence you’ll get there, if that’s what you want to do.

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