My Thoughts on Gear
When looking at your gear setup you should be really looking at a few different things as you make your decisions on what is best for you and your event.
I’ve spent time with squads where gear was put very low on the priority list for performance, I’ve spent time in the bike racing scene where gear is everything and I’ve spent a bit of time in between where finding the balance for the individual and the needs of the event is leveled out.
First a little rant: Ladies…
Know enough about your equipment so you can be self-sufficient. You don’t need to know how to build a bike from scratch and you may not need to use your skills often, but you need to know the basics so if you are alone you have the skills to fix, build and fend for yourself with your gear.
You should know your ability and your course. Here are some things I consider when being asked about gear for races and what I’ve learned over the years.
People look at the Tour riders for inspiration on their position to ride aggressive and fast. There are some flaws in that:
Firstly, bike racers have UCI requirements they have to be within or they don’t get to start their time trial. Those positions are not suitable for triathlon and I can tell you most roadies wouldn’t put themselves in that position if they didn’t have these rules over their heads. Consider that when you dream of looking like Lance while TTing.
Next is the obvious point — often overlooked — that Tour riders don’t have to run after their rides.
Roadie time trials are also short… very short… and one 100th of a second can mean the difference between 1st and 10th.
Choose a position that is fast but comfortable enough and powerful enough for your event. Look at your flexibility and the length of time you are able to stay in your position. If you are set up super aero but are sitting in your hoods most of the time because you're uncomfortable then you aren’t so aero anymore.
Choose wheels that are suitable to you! If you are a big fast dude then consider a disc. The thing about discs is they are stiff and if you struggle with feeling good enough off the bike to run well, a disc may not be for you.
Choose a front wheel you can handle. This is the wheel that affects the handling of your bike, especially in the wind. So if you’re little or struggle to handle your bike well in your TT position then a shallower front wheel is best. Choosing a shallower front wheel will also help the handling performance of your bike.
My favorite wheel set up for me as a small female doing long course triathlon is a 404 front and an 808 rear. Most fast men (under five hours for IM bike split) will choose an 808 front and a disc rear.
An aero helmet is the piece of gear that the money you’ll spend will save you the most seconds over a long race. But if it’s hot or you tend to overheat it is a poor choice. If you overheat on the bike your run will be affected. So consider your speed, the length of time you’ll be out there, how hot it is and how you handle heat before choosing your aero helmet.
This is free speed. Road cyclists spend hours planning the right gearing ratio for their event. Over-gearing can cost seconds and seconds cost many, many placings. I feel in triathlon we should really pay attention to choosing the right gearing for our ability and our courses. This can save you energy and minutes in a course. Educate yourself on gear ratios!
I could go on about gear for a while. I’m one of those chicks who loves gear, loves making her bike go fast and loves making it look fast. That said I also recognize that, in the end, it’s you who has to go fast for eight or more hours, so choose equipment that suits you, your course and your event.
Educate yourself to go fast!