Free speed on the bike – Aidan Rich
The new technology over the last few years has enabled measurement of every variable possible, so we can see exactly how much time/power we save with a new set of tyres, wheels or even an aerodynamic straw (yes – that’s a thing)!
Some of the traditionalists may say ‘just ride harder’ – but using technology and training/racing harder are not mutually exclusive.

Here are some ideas about how to save time in your next race. I’ve used power numbers here so just to add some context, most people will be generating between 150 and 350 watts in their races this year, varying from front of pack sprint race to back of pack half Ironman.

Bike position
This is the big one, and probably more important than most other things combined. Find a setup where you can hold aero position for the entire race. Getting lower at the front (a more horizontal torso) is generally better but going too low can be uncomfortable and also more difficult to generate power. Also keep that head down! – ‘periscope head’ in triathlon will slow you down a lot.

Tyres
Soft, supple tyres have less rolling resistance. While Continental Gatorskins will almost certainly get you through winter without any punctures, unfortunately they will slow you down come race day.
Probably the best all-rounder option is the Continental GP 4000S II. These have good puncture resistance but also minimal rolling resistance. There are a few new tyres including the Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ which has amazing improvements in rolling resistance but are a bit more puncture-prone.
Interestingly wider tyres are actually quicker than narrower (as well as being more comfortable!) – So choose 23 or 25mm tyres where you can.
Rolling resistance is about 19 watts (Gatorskin), 12 watts (Continental GP4000S II) and 8-9 watts (Vittoria Corsa Speed G+)

Cost ~$50 and savings ~7 watts (~2 minutes over an Olympic distance race and ~12-13 minutes for a typical Ironman ride)

Tubes
Normal tubes that come with a bike are butyl tubes. These are fine but converting to latex tubes will save you a bit extra. The downside of latex is that they are a bit trickier to install (they are thinner) and they deflate quicker (you will need to pump up before each ride). However they are pretty cheap.

Cost ~$10/tube and savings ~2 watts (30 seconds over an Olympic distance race and ~3 minutes over an Ironman

Helmet
Aero helmets look ridiculous… however they are much quicker than a standard road helmet. The tricky thing is different helmets are quicker for different people depending on your bike position. Helmets that test well for many people include Giro Advantage 2, LG P09, and Giro Aerohead. Rudy Project are pretty slow!

Cost $80-$300+ and savings variable but ~40 seconds over Olympic distance and 3-5+ minutes over an Ironman

Kit
Main messages here: skin and loose clothing are slow. Get the tightest top you can. Sleeves are a lot better than singlets. You’ll probably benefit from covering those calves with calf guards (although it looks ridiculous!). Some companies including Castelli and Fusion make long sleeved tops that work well for long course. For short course just find the tightest sleeved (Nuna kit!) that you can.

Cost $100-$300+ and savings 10-25+ watts (not a typo, this is a massive area for free speed)

Wheels
Everyone loves the flashy carbon wheels. They are faster but come at a higher cost. Generally – go as deep as possible with rims. Use a disc (or a disc cover) on the back). The exception is super windy races where having a deep front > rear wheel will make bike handling difficult.

Cost: $500-$3000+ and savings ~1 minute over Olympic distance and 3-4 minutes over Ironman.

Shave down
Yes – keeping those pins smooth doesn’t just look good, it’s quicker too! A study by Specialized bikes showed an average of 50 seconds savings over a 40 km bike ride. It’s more if you have hairier legs – I estimate our club president may save a lot more!!

Cost: 1 new razor blade and savings 50+ seconds over Olympic distance and 4 minutes+ over Ironman.
So, that’s most of the big ones. There is more time to be saved with drink bottle placement, chain lubricants, pedals etc. but it might be best to leave those for another day.
Posted on 16 Sep 2017 by Anna
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