Triathlon Magazine Canada

Aero helmet vs. Tri suit vs. Bike fit


Best Bang for the Buck Bike fit

All three of these potential speed-savers can be found in the same price range, but it’s hard to find any expert who would put the helmet or tri suit ahead of a quality bike fit.

Dean Phillips, elite masters cyclist, coach and owner of Fit Werks studio agrees: “I would absolutely rank a bike fitting from a reputable fitter in your area as the most important upgrade which can typically be done in the $300 range. A bike fitting may amount to more time savings than all the other upgrades combined and can also result in a more powerful and comfortabl­e position on the bike.”

Worried about spending $300 on a bike fit for a bike you might upgrade in a year or two? It’s still money well spent. A fit will optimize your position on your current rig, making you more aerodynami­c and more comfortabl­e, but it will also give you terrific insight into what brands and models might work well for you in the future. The measuremen­ts taken at your bike fitting are going to be “your numbers” for years, so a coach or shop can help you match those specificat­ions to bikes in your price range.

A quality bike fit goes well beyond adjusting the saddle height. Look for:

• 90 MINUTES TO 2.5 HOURS WITH A FITTER: a quality fitter will take their time with you, with no distractio­ns.

• A THOROUGH INTERVIEW: your fitter will ask about the events you do (or want to do), existing pain or discomfort, nagging injuries and more.

• AN ASSESSMENT OF YOUR BODY: we all favor one side or the other and have asymmetric­al body parts. A fitter takes that into account.

• TIME ON A FIT JIG: most top fitters use a “jig” – a contractio­n that barely looks like a bike, but is set up with infinitely adjustable geometry to dial-in your position.

• FOLLOW-UPS: the best fitters include a follow-up to see how you’re doing on the fit, including tweaking adjustment­s to solve any remaining issues.

Find a fit studio or bike fitter by asking around. Word of mouth from other local triathlete­s and cyclists is the best way to find a good match for your needs.

Runners-Up Aero helmet

If you already have a good fitting bike, consider a race helmet for your $300. Phillips says that he’s seen 10 to 20 watt savings (which means more speed for less effort) just by switching to an aero helmet. However, Clint Lien, assistant coach for the National Performanc­e Centre, adds that an aero helmet will only make a difference if you’re riding at speeds more than 32 km/h, so slower riders might put that money elsewhere.

Tri suit

If you’ve been making do with a two-piece kit, you’re in for a surprise. One-piece suits, for most people, are far more comfortabl­e, but they can also be faster. “A good fitting and comfortabl­e triathlon race suit that covers the upper arms and uses top quality material and seam placement will often save 10 to 20 watts compared to traditiona­l two-piece triathlon clothing,” adds Phillips.

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