Cervelo – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com The place to learn about triathlon. Mon, 15 Aug 2016 22:21:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6 https://university.trisports.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-tsu-button-32x32.png Cervelo – TriSports University https://university.trisports.com 32 32 Leanda Cave’s Pinarello Graal: The Next Kona Winner? https://university.trisports.com/2012/09/17/leanda-caves-pinarello-graal-the-next-kona-winner/ Mon, 17 Sep 2012 22:29:39 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6060 It's a new race for the women in Kona. We look at top contender Leanda Cave's Pinarello Graal with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 here. The question is; are we reviewing the Kona winning bike for 2012? See it here in TSU. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com

Leanda Cave's Pinarello Graal with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Easton wheels and Easton cockpit may be the next Ironman World Championship bike this October.

Editor’s note – 10/14/2012: She won!  Read more about Leanda here.

It’s a new race for the pro women at the Ironman World Championship for 2012. Following perennial champion Chrissie Wellington’s retirement from Kona the women’s race hits the reset button. With four weeks to go before the start cannon in Kailua-Kona the focus on the women’s race includes two major combatants; Leanda Cave and Mirinda Carfrae. We take a look at Leanda Cave’s Kona bike here.

Leanda Cave is sponsored by TriSports.com in Tucson, Arizona along with K-Swiss, Easton, ISM Saddles, Oakley, Pinarello, Torhans, Blueseventy and Giro. Her Pinarello Graal was assembled and is race tuned at the TriSports.com retail outlet in Tucson by top mechanic Mark Lee. Lee is a pro level race tech having worked for the U.S. National Team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He is also a custom frame builder and has engineered some of his own specialty tools for race and shop service. Along with TriSports.com technicians Jack Johnson (now a Product Manager for TriSports) and Kurt Levy the tech team maintains bikes for top pros like Leanda Cave and Angela Naeth along with local TriSports.com customers.

“Every customer gets the same service and attention to detail as our pros”

“Every customer gets the same service and attention to detail as our pros” Mark Lee told me. “We’re a race shop. Every bike that leaves here has a lot of training, travel and ambition riding on it. It’s different than working on bikes for a Sunday ride. Peoples’ goals and dreams are riding on these bikes. There is no margin for error.” Lee is calm and analytic. He works quietly with a soft techno soundtrack in the background. His area is meticulously clean. His key tools are housed in a rustic leather tool roll hand made in England. It looks like it could have come from the work bench of a mechanic for Eddy Merckx or Bernard Hinault except for the digital calipers and wiring tools for servicing new electro-mechanical Di2 drivetrains.

TriSports.com bike Tech Mark Lee glues tires for Leanda Cave's Kona bike at TriSports.com.

Starting from the front of Cave’s Pinarello her cockpit is an older version of the Easton Attack TT aerobar. This one piece aerobar is extremely light largely due to an absence of adjustment hardware and the full carbon fiber construction. This early version of the Easton Attack cockpit has fixed length “lazy ski bend” extensions. Subsequent versions feature a collet adjuster that allows the use of different extensions and bends. Cave has replaced the original Easton elbow pads with Profile Design pads that enable a more rearward elbow posture and larger surface area than the Easton pads which are much smaller.

Leanda Cave's cockpit is an early version Easton Attack TT one piece integrated aerobar with non-adjustable extensions and Profile Design elbow pads.

Since Cave is using Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 with electro-mechanically actuated shifters her cockpit features two complete sets of shift controls, one on the aero extensions and another on the base bars. This enables Cave to shift from either position, a primary advantage of Shimano Di2. Cave’s controls are thoughtfully adjusted to compliment the ergonomics of the Easton extensions with the aero bar mounted controls rotated slightly upward for easier use with her thumbs.

Cave has a TorHans aero bottle mount zip tied to her extensions for use with the TorHans aero bottle refillable drinking system. Brake controls are the integrated Dura-Ace Di2 levers and the bars are wrapped with Easton foam handlebar tape. The Profile Design elbow pads are the only major modification.

Cave uses the Shimano Di2 dual controls on her base bars and extensions. Notice the rotational angle of her shifters for better ergonomics. The Profile Design F19 style elbow pads provide more surface area and comfort as well as a more rearward base for her forearms. Her TorHans mount between the aero extensions is oriented in the rearward position.

Under her cockpit Cave uses two full size SaltStick dispensers. The patented, rotary dispensing SaltStick dispenser holds 6 capsules for electrolyte supplements. The dispenser keeps capsules dry. A number of top pros including Cave and Ironman winner Craig Alexander use these dispensers since they are simple, lightweight, aerodynamic and easy to use at top speed without leaving the aero position.

Cave carries two patented SaltStick dispensers under her cockpit for dry carriage of capsules and easy dispensing while in the aero position.

The Pinarello Graal uses a TRP aerodynamic styled brake mounted behind the fork blades. While some bike brands, most notably Cervelo, have contended the rear mounted front brakes do not offer a tangible aerodynamic benefit compared to a well designed conventional front mounted brake caliper or integrated designs such as Cervelo’s P5 this design does not appear to create any drawbacks for Cave. With good cable routing, length and careful tuning the brakes work well.

Cave is typical of top pros who go minimal with hydration accessories on their bikes. Leanda’s bike has one X-Lab carbon fiber Chimp bottle cage on the down tube. This cage, combined with her TorHans handlebar mount hydration system, may be the only bottles on her bike as she relies on aid stations for the majority of her fluids, refilling her TorHans and grabbing fresh bottles for her downtube cage when needed since aid stations on the bike at Ironman are only 5 miles apart.

Left: The aerodynamically styled, rear mounted TRP front brake caliper. Right: The X-Lab Chimp carbon fiber bottle cage on her downtube is the only bike mounted hydration carriage other than her TorHans on the cockpit.

Leanda sits on a an ISM Adamo Podium saddle. The Podium uses the innovative split nose design with a moderate profile and distinctly rounded front section. This full length 27 cm saddle suits Cave’s height and long legs well. The slimmer nose design compared to other ISM designs also works well with Leanda’s slim build. Cave’s saddle is oriented moderately forward, with its nose just barely in front of the bottom bracket and angled slightly downward.

The ISM or "Ideal Saddle Modification" Podium is a full length, 27cm long version of the iconic ISM saddle concept. It works perfectly for Cave and is oriented in a moderately steep position with a very slight nose-down attitude.

Cave’s position on the bike has evolved slightly from bike to bike corresponding with the release of new Pinarello models. While Cave is a strong cyclist, she is not a stylist, often appearing ungainly and hunched in still photos, choked up on the aero bars and relatively compact in the torso. Her position may not look perfect but seems to work despite its compact appearance. If you pass a line through the humerus bone of Cave’s bicep area it frequently falls well behind her elbow pad. She appears to rely on her grip of the aero extensions to maintain the position of her torso, presumably at an energy cost as opposed to relying on skeletal support of her torso through her humerus bones. In this posture Cave must reach forward several centimeters to actuate her shifters. At first look it would appear that Cave needs shorter reach or at least elbow pads slightly farther back to support her humerus. Like many top pros, her position may not appear textbook but she makes it work well.

Like a lot of top pros, Cave's position is not exactly textbook perfect but she seems highly adapted to it. Notice her cramped style and choked up grip on her extensions. The bike on the left is from 2011 and her current bike and newer position is on the right.

When you observe Cave’s set-up without her on the bike it tells the tale of a long-limbed rider with a short torso who may benefit from a slightly higher head tube. There are a series of spacers under her stem and a substantial seat tube extension above her top tube. It is a practical concern that top professionals do a good job adapting to the equipment provided by sponsors and Cave has done an excellent job on her Pinarello despite its geometry being slightly different than what may be ideal for her. This adaptation is part of being a top pro.

Cave’s positional set-up is fairly typical of pros when you look at her effective seat tube angle, saddle attitude and cockpit drop. While we didn’t have time to measure her effective seat tube angle its likely within a degree or two of 80 degrees effective seat tube angle. Her long humerus/bicep area facilitates a lot of drop but the very short head tube of her frame dictate the spacers under her stem.

A. Cave's effective seat tube angle places the nose of her saddle very slightly in front of her bottom bracket. B. Like many riders with substantial drop Cave's saddle is oriented slightly nose down. C. Her substantial drop from saddle to elbow pads is mostly a function of her long bicep area. D. Cave moderates her drop on the ultra-low head tube Pinarello with a series of headset spacers, a minor aerodynamic compromise.

The drivetrain on Cave’s Pinarello is standard Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 turning a Shimano 7900 series five spider crank. As of her departure to Kona Cave did not have the newer four arm 9000 series crank. Cave uses a larger than typical 54 tooth large chainring over a 42 tooth small ring. This turns a Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7901 10-speed chain. We did not count her cogset but believe it is an 11-23, just enough gear to get her up to Hawi even if the Mumuku headwinds start whipping up.

Leanda's drivetrain is a fairly stock Dura-Ace Di2 configuration with the older five spider crank and slightly larger 54/42 chainrings.

The pedals on Leanda’s bike are well worn Look Keo Blade Aeros, a new generation of Look pedal that relies on a flat carbon leaf spring or “blade” for retention and uses a compressed full carbon fiber aerodynamic pedal body. The underside of the pedals looks like the bottom of a Formula 1 car. Look claims the Keo Blade has the largest pedalling surface area on the market.

Cave uses the Look Keo Blade Aero pedal system with its flat, carbon fiber retention springs and racecar-like carbon fiber bottom surface.

Cave’s bike received its final tuning with an Easton EC90 TT carbon fiber, tubular rear wheel and an Easton EC90 Aero 56 mm deep front wheel with Continental Grand Prix 4000 700X22 tubulars. These tires use the Vectran Breaker flat resistant belt, a good tactical decision given the potential for time loss from a puncture. These handmade, German tubulars hold tire pressure longer than lighter cotton casing tubulars and many clinchers.

Cave uses Continental 700X22 mm Grand Prix 4000 tubular tires with Vectran Breaker belts built in. This is her rear tire glued to an Easton EC90 TT 90mm deep wheel.

Leanda Cave goes into Kona 2012 as a favorite and her bike set-up is well suited for the difficult, hot, windy and rolling Kona course. Her experience shows in the set-up and component selection. It’s impossible to predict her performance in Kona other than to say she is one of two or three serious contenders for the overall win. Regardless of her performance she has put time and experience into her equipment selection and it is likely to perform well for her on the Queen K.

Leanda Cave's Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Easton equipped Pinarello Graal configured for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii on October 13, 2012.

Check out all of Leanda’s gear on TriSports.com here

Speedfil Hydration: The Evolution of Hydration Systems https://university.trisports.com/2012/09/11/speedfil-hydration-the-evolution-of-hydration-systems/ Tue, 11 Sep 2012 23:27:17 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=6032 Speedfil proves their responsiveness to new wind tunnel results by developing their A2 aerodynamic drink system and updating previous models. They've also married elegant design, simplicity and economy on the new A2. See it here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com

Speedfil's A2 is a practical and effective hydration system for improving bike and rider aerodynamics and making hydration on the bike easier.

During previous seasons Inviscid Design has expanded their line of hydration systems from their original, frame mounted Speedfil now called the “standard”  to their frame mounted, conventional bottle cage carried Speedfil F2. The Speedfil A2, a handlebar mount unit, is one of the simplest, least expensive and most efficient hydration systems in the industry.

The Speedfil A2 is more than a well engineered bike bottle top threaded to screw onto a standard bike water bottle. The new top integrates a patent-pending fill port that is likely the envy of every other hydration system manufacturer. The simplicity and elegance of the refill-on-the-fly closure continues with the easy to drink from straw design and the high degree of flexibility for mounting the system.

The fill cap on the Speedfil A2 is simple, elegant and foolproof. You simply rotate it open, fill from another water bottle, then rotate it closed. It is the industry best design and 100% slosh-proof.

Speedfil begins the design of the A2 with a standard threaded water bottle cap as its basis. This is the threading standard found on Specialized brand water bottles and virtually every other plastic bike bottle in the industry. There are a few bottles that do not work with the Speedfil F2 top including Polarbottles insulated water bottles. Incompatible bottles are in the absolute minority though, making the Speedfil A2 cap as close to “universal” as anything in the bike industry. The Speedfil cap works on 21 and 24 ounce size bottle and is supplied on a larger 24 ounce bottle.

This cap houses the unique, patent-pending “fill ball” opening. This ingenious design is effectively a rotating ball with a hole in it. Rotate the ball smoothly with one hand to open it, rotate it the opposite way to close it again. There is absolutely no sloshing or leaking and actuating the opening to quickly refill the system after passing through an aid station is easy. Once you learn to use the system you simply rotate the filler ball opening to the “open” position as you approach an aid station, grab a full bottle from the aid station volunteers on the fly, squirt the contents into the Speedfil A2 through the open cap, quickly discard the bottle back into the approved/race legal bottle dumping area at the end of the aid station and then easily close the cap. With this system you could do an entire Ironman distance race using only a Speedfil A2 and one standard bottle cage on your bike.

With the Speedfil A2 you do not lose time by leaving the aero position to reach your drink system as these athletes do using removable handlebar bottles and behind the saddle systems.

The Speedfil A2 bottle mounts horizontally between the aero extensions on your cockpit. Wind tunnel tests conducted by, among others, Cervelo found this orientation to be the optimal way to carry hydration from an aerodynamic perspective. Some wind tunnel findings suggest carrying a bottle horizontally between the arms is actually more aerodynamic that carrying nothing at all in the same space. In addition to being the most aerodynamic orientation for the bike itself, it also keeps the rider in the aero posture. While it is difficult to test how much aerodynamic benefit this may provide at a given distance, it is easy to suppose that never leaving the aero position to drink will net a substantial time saving over the entire length of a bike course. The longer the bike leg, the greater the time savings.

The Profile Design HC Mount carries the polymer/composite Profile cage and will mount the Speedfil A2 well forward on the cockpit. Other options enable a more rearward mounting orientation.

Speedfil does not supply mounting hardware with the A2 and this is a good decision since there are already so many cockpit hydration mounting options available. Different mounts can carry the bottle in a forward orientation, as with the Profile Design system we rigged or a more rearward orientation as with the elegantly simple King Cage system that replaces the top cap on your stem and angle the bottle very slightly upward facilitating easier filling and emptying.

The King Cage top cap mount for a bottle cage combined with the excellent X-Lab Gorilla Carbon Cage provide an excellent rearward mount in the cockpit. The mounting tabs on the King Cage mount can be bent carefully to slightly alter the angle of the Speedfil.

Assembly of the Speedfil A2 is simple. The system is supplied with a long length of tubing and a right angle elbow connector. You slide the tubing into the bottle and leave enough protruding for the elbow connector to slide into. The rest of the tubing goes on the other end of the ninety-degree tubing elbow and will protrude upward. This section can be covered with the neoprene sleeve. A bite valve style mouthpiece attaches to the end of the drink tube and keep fluid in the tube so your first “pull” on the drinking tube delivers liquid into your mouth.

Assembly of the Speedfil A2 is simple. This is cutting the tubing to insert the ninety-degree elbow.

Another benefit to the Speedfil A2 design is a non-rigid straw. While there may be an aerodynamic cost to this design versus the more rigid, airfoil shaped drink tube on a Torhans system there may be some benefits to the straw being flexible. There certainly is a benefit to the bite valve design since you do not have to suck fluid up from the fluid level inside the straw.

To fit the bite valve you simply cut the drink tube to length and insert the bite valve assembly.

The Speedfil A2 is a simple and elegant design with the industry best refill cap. Speedfil deserves credit for a well executed design with the A2 that not only improves bike and rider aerodynamics but is also easy and quick to fill and does not slosh or spill. Additionally, the system is not reliant on any one mounting optioin but highly adaptable to a wide range of mounting systems already available. You may already have a cage mount hydration system on your aerobars that a Speedfil A2 will fit. In every regard this is elegant engineering, and the A2 moves Speedfil to the top of the short list of industry best hydration options.

Speedfil's A2 is simple, elegant, functional and inexpensive. It is among the very best hydration options in the industry.
Cobb Cycling Gen 2: The New Paradigm for Saddle Design. https://university.trisports.com/2012/08/27/cobb-cycling-gen-2-the-new-paradigm-for-saddle-design/ Mon, 27 Aug 2012 22:24:55 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=5963 John Cobb is one of triathlon and road cycling's greatest innovators. His newest introduction may revolutionize how we think about saddles for road and triathlon. Take a seat on the new combined Road AND Triathlon Cobb Cycling Gen 2 Saddle here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com

Cobb Cycling's new Gen 2 saddle is designed for road and triathlon use for riders who sit in the "middle 80%" of triathlon and road cycling positions.

Triathlon saddle evolution has tracked with our understanding and misunderstanding of how we sit on a triathlon and road bike. With the influx of new athletes and better understanding of bike position saddle design has moderated and improved. Riders and bike fitters are finally finding the best way to be positioned for comfort and performance. John Cobb of Cobb Cycling has designed a saddle for that real world best road and triathlon position. Cobb cycling’s new do-everything combined road and triathlon saddle is called the Cobb Cycling Gen 2.

He is the Father of American Bike Fitting. John Cobb has the most eclectic background in road and triathlon bike fit of anyone. His insights across all ability levels provide a unique perspective on product development.

No discussion of a Cobb Cycling saddle is complete without meeting Mr. John Cobb. John is a brilliant, affable man with a penchant for southern charm and good barbecue. His smile is genuine, his handshake firm. Cobb could be regarded as the father of American bicycle fitting. His early work with wind tunnels and bike positions was sought after by many Ironman World Champions and Tour de France Champions. Nearly every significant U.S. Ironman World Champion and Tour de France winner has consulted with John Cobb. Perhaps of greater relevance is Cobb’s work with the “everyman” triathlete. The newbie, the age grouper, the middle of the pack rider. Cobb has fit thousands of them. His work with road and triathlon fitting provide an eclectic level of insight no other fitter can match. Add to that John Cobb’s knowledge of manufacturing within the bike industry and he is uniquely qualified to rethink the bicycle seat. The new Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is the result of that rethinking.

“The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is designed for how most road and triathlon cyclists actually sit on their bikes”

John Cobb was instrumental in the development of other saddle designs like some of the excellent ISM saddles. These shorter saddles from ISM, some only 25cm long, are good problem solvers complimented by longer triathlon saddles such as the Profile Design Tri Stryke (top right) with its heavily padded nose, rearward oriented rails for a forward position and 30 cm overall length. A new Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is shown lower right for comparison.

John Cobb was a part of earlier saddle designs that used two forward protrusions and were shorter at about 25 cm (a standard road cycling saddle is 27 cm). These saddles were shorter to relieve pressure on the nose of the saddle by effectively removing it. This design evolved into the ISM Adamo saddle under different ownership. The ISM Adamo is such a good design, albeit a legacy design, that it remains relevant today with many top pros using it. Especially for riders with substantial saddle to handlebar drop, the ISM Adamo has remained an optimal choice.

Since the development of the ISM Adamo the demographic of triathlon cyclists has expanded and changed, along with our understanding of how to fit bikes for road and triathlon. A new paradigm has emerged, road and triathlon cyclists positioned on road and triathlon bikes in a more functional, practical and more upright position than the top pros. The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is designed for that rider, a group that likely represents the majority of riders not only at the local triathlon but also high level events like Ironman.

The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 works for both road and triathlon bikes since it incorporates the nose design that was so successful on previous Cobb Cycling triathlon saddles and a new rear section inspired by traditional road saddle designs.

How Can One Saddle Work for Road and Triathlon?

The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is effectively two saddles: The forward portion of the saddle, where riders will sit during hard efforts in the aero position, mimics the design of tri-specific saddles like the Cobb Cycling Max. There is a distinct relief cut-out and moderate width that transitions to a nearly concave midriff as viewed from above for thigh clearance, another acknowledgement that this saddle is built for people who may not be elite-athlete skinny. The relief cutout section of the saddle is convex as viewed from the side, with a generous amount of dense, high end memory foam. This foam is stiff enough to maintain the open relief section under rider weight, unlike many saddles with cut-outs that actually close up under rider weight.

Business in the front, party in the back: The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 feels like one of Cobb Cycling's nice triathlon saddles in the front and a nice, comfort oriented road saddle at the rear. Notice how the comfort cut-out in the nose stays fully open even under rider weight. Most other saddles with cut-outs close up when you sit on them, rendering them useless.

The rear of the saddle benefits from the forward cutout since it provides ventilation, directing cooling air at speed onto the pad of your trishorts or cycling shorts. In triathlons this speeds the drying of your shorts out of the water. For road cycling this provides relief during long, seated climbs. As viewed from above the rear of the saddle is an ode to classic road saddle design with its support for the ischial tuberosities.

No single saddle shares this combination of nose design and rear configuration optimized for both triathlon and road cycling along with the unique rail design of the Cobb Cycling Gen 2.

The Rest of the Story: Unique Rail Design.

The rails, the two bars under your saddle that the seatpost clamps onto, are one of the most often ignored saddle design areas. Saddle rails act like leaf springs to absorb road shock. The deeper and longer the rails, the better the shock absorption. The rail depth on the Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is among the greatest of any performance saddle in the industry. This provides better shock absorption and vibration reduction than lower profile saddle rails. The benefit of the deep rails is immediately noticeable and especially nice on bad roads.

The additional depth of the rails on the Cobb Cycling Gen 2 provides exceptional shock absorption and ride quality, and innovative approach to improving saddle performance.

Cobb Cycling does well to attach a sticker to the Gen 2 saddle reminding you to measure your saddle height carefully before installing the Gen 2 since these rails are much deeper than most other saddles. The total depth of this saddle is approximately 7 cm or 70 millimeters (2.75 inches). If you were to remove your old saddle and install a Cobb Cycling Gen 2 you would inadvertently raise your saddle height since this saddle has greater distance from the bottom of the rails to the top of the saddle. If you own a bike with the seatpost lowered mostly into the seat tube of your frame you may find the Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is too deep for you. This will mostly be the case if a bike frame size is too large for a rider. The overwhelming majority of riders will have more than enough seatpost showing to use the Cobb Saddle easily.

Be sure to measure your overall saddle height before mounting the Cobb Cycling Gen 2 since the extra rail height on the Gen 2 means you'll have to slide a little more seatpost into your frame.

Cobb Cycling has also designed an integrated bottle cage and spares carrying mount sold seperately for use on the Cobb Cycling Gen 2 that bolts to the underside of the saddle using two mount points covered by a brand name plate when you buy the saddle. We haven’t seen the spare carrier but will update this review when it arrives.

The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 does feel different than previous triathlon and road saddles. It is plush and supportive, with the “plushness” coming from the deep rails, not squishy foam that wears our quickly. The profile of the saddle is superb on the nose and feels like any good Italian road saddle at the back with perhaps a little more width. This is a great choice for medium to larger riders due to the supportive rails, high quality foam and overall shape. Smaller riders will benefit from the inward contours to prevent excessive chafing. After riding the saddle the mix of subtle shape and material features, like the higher end foam- something you can’t see from the outside- and the conspicuously deeper rails make this saddle feel very different than any previous saddle design I’ve ridden. It’s wide range of adjustment and versatile design make this a good e-commerce saddle since it is so versatile.

The new Cobb Cycling Gen 2 measures approximately 70 mm in total depth, is 27 cm long and our test saddle weighed 293 grams actual measured weight.

There will never be one saddle that is perfect for every cyclist but the new Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is a significant step forward in saddle design that marries road and triathlon design requirements with unique features like the extra-deep rails for a much nicer ride. This is a new “go to” standard in saddles for the middle 80% or riders and an obvious choice for long distance riders either road or triathlon. The benefit of having one saddle to get accustomed to for both your road bike and your tri bike is worth acknowledging also.

The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 comes with a reminder sticker to measure your saddle height prior to installation so you can reduce the height of your seatpost to compensate for the extra height of the saddle. The bolted-on end plate can be removed to mount the upcoming spares/hydration rack from Cobb Cycling.

Cobb Cycling got a lot right with the Gen 2 combined road and tri saddle. It is a saddle that only Cobb Cycling could develop given John Cobb’s early work on the Adamo designs and his latter practical experience that lead to the shape, foam density and rail configuration on the Gen 2. Hopefully Cobb Cycling stocked up on the Gen 2’s. While no saddle works for everyone, the Gen 2 will work for more people than any other single saddle I’ve seen so far. That will make demand and sales brisk on this new offering from Cobb Cycling.

This view of Cobb Cycling's new Gen 2 shows its proven John Cobb triathlon position friendly nose design and a blurry impression of its road friendly rear end. The Cobb Cycling Gen 2 is an innovative design that does effective double duty as a road and triathlon saddle.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

KASK K.31 Crono Helmet. https://university.trisports.com/2012/03/01/kask-k-31-crono-helmet/ Thu, 01 Mar 2012 22:41:40 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=4259 KASK is an Italian manufacturer of cycling, climbing and industrial helmets. We pull on their new K.31 Crono aero helmet and find some impressive features and benefits unique to this brand that make it the new Top Gun in aero helmets. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com.

"Tower, This is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby." The KASK K.31 Crono brings fighter pilot design themes to aero helmets.

Italian helmet manufacturer KASK has introduced their new K.31 Crono aerodynamic helmet to the U.S. market. KASK, located 37 miles from Milan, Italy in Chiuduno, makes helmets for cycling, skiing, alpine climbing and industrial applications. The 20 year old company does all its own manufacturing in Italy, much of it by hand. Their cycling helmets are revered by European pro cycling teams and their alpine helmets have gained a reputation for performance among European mountain guides.

The KASK K.31 Crono uses a slightly different tail design than other aero helmets. The tail of the helmet forms a vertical “fin” like the tail of an aircraft. This may offer some advantage when a rider lowers their head, as with reading a cyclometer or reaching for a bottle. Some other aero helmet designs feature a more conical tail fairing, potentially creating more drag in the head-down orientation.

The K.31 is built on the platform of KASK’s K.10 DIECI road helmet. The K.31 Crono uses the internal design of the K.10 DIECI with an aerodynamic shell co-molded onto the outside. If you wear the KASK K.10 DIECI as a road helmet, and some pro teams do, switching to the K.31 aero helmet means the aero helmet will fit and feel exactly the same.

The K.31 Crono helmet uses the chassis of the K.10 DIECI (right) as a basis for it construction. Notice how the interior is nearly identical.

Using a conventional road helmet chassis for the K.31 Crono is a strong idea since it fits and feels like a road helmet. The helmet uses the KASK “Up & Down” adjustment system, an occipital lobe retainer that extends around the back of the helmet similar to other cycling helmets like Bell and Giro. A big improvement over Bell and Giro is the hinge on each side of the retainer to fit the helmet on different head shapes or facilitate a ponytail. The Up & Down system stabilizes the helmet on the head and improves fit, preventing it from moving when you hit rough roads, during flying mounts in T1 or are running in the transition area. The hinges on the Up & Down System also move with you, so when you change the angle of your head the brace at the back of your head moves too. This angle-adjustable, pivoting retention system works better than any other helmet retention system I’ve used, and is more comfortable once adjusted also.

The KASK "Up & Down" adjustment system means the helmet stays put on your head and moves with you. This system is used in the chassis of the K.31 Crono and improves comfort, safety and performance.

Hatband adjustment for the helmet is done with a ratcheting wheel that rotates clockwise and counterclockwise to tighten and loosen circumferential fit. You can adjust the helmet easily with one hand while riding. 

A lot of practical thought went into this chinstrap.  The section under your chin uses smooth “Eco-Leather” . This non-abrasive synthetic is more comfortable than a traditional nylon webbing chinstrap. The chin strap does not rub you raw or produce raised bumps under your shin when you sweat heavily. The buckles under the ear are self-adjusting and help keep the chin strap in the right orientation under your ear for best helmet retention in a severe crash. When you wear this helmet on a hot day the benefit is obvious- and welcome.

A rotating knob allows on-the-fly one hand adjustment. The smooth Eco-Leather chinstrap is very comfortable in extreme heat and does not retain perspiration or irritate your chin.

Like many helmets their is a structural polystyrene cage molded inside the EPS foam crush chassis. This holds the helmet together in the event of a severe impact providing protection from secondary hits. The interior pads of the helmet use Coolmax fabric to wick perspiration away from the skin.

Speaking of perspiration: A criticism of most helmets is poor management of perspiration flowing into the eyes from the forehead. The K.31 Crono is no exception. The KASK K.31 Crono and the K.10 DIECI both have three small points at the front. This funnels sweat down your nose and eventually, into your eyes. On a long climb in hot weather this is awful. Several aftermarket sweatbands such as the Sweat Gutr prevent this, but it is one more thing to put on in a triathlon. Helmet manufacturers need to be more proactive about keeping perspiration out of our eyes.

The ear fairings on the KASK K.31 are flexible enough to allow pulling it on and off quickly in transition.

The visor on the K.31 Crono is the best design I’ve used so far. Like a motor racing or fighter pilot’s helmet the visor hinges upward on the fly with one hand. This is useful while taking nutrition or drinking from large water bottles on the fly. Aero helmets that use a non-moving visor lack the ability to raise the visor while riding. The visor on the K.31 Crono is also removable. The pivots unthread from the helmet, you remove the visor, then re-thread back in place to plug the hole. If you notice the optical quality of the visor seems oddly good it is because a major optics manufacturer makes the visor for KASK. The helmet comes with a mirrored, tinted visor with a roughly G15 color-neutral gray tint. This visor doeseffectively replace high end sunglasses on the bike with similar optical quality and very low aspherical distortion. Since using a visor on an aero helmet makes the helmet much more aerodynamic it’s important to have a good one- and this one is the best.

a key feature of KASK's excellent visor on the K.31 Crono is the hinge that allows you to raise and lower the visor with one hand on the fly.

The arrangements of vents on the KASK K.31 Crono is good with a large chevron-shaped vent at the top of the helmet. This vertical vent facilitates heat rising out of the helmet when you are going slow, and the chevron shape helps produce a venturi effect at higher speeds. Great design.

The underside of the fairing on the KASK K.31 is open, not faired-in as it is on the Spiuk Kronos. Closing the underside of the the helmet tail improves aerodynamics, especially in the head down position.

The main vent is venturi or chevron shaped and works well when grinding up a climb at low speed and while going fast in the aero position.

Triathletes need an aero helmet that can be pulled on and off quickly in transition and the KASK K.31 Crono is perfect for quick transitions. The ear fairings are flexible enough to pull to the helmet on and off quickly.You can adjust the helmet to full-open with the rotating knob in the back, pull it on very quickly in transition and reach back to snug it up once you are out of T1 for a precise fit.

Finish and assembly quality on the K.31 Crono is better than most of the other aero helmets I’ve used, and I’ve used most of them. There are two colors in the KASK K.31, a white carbon-fiber look pattern and a black carbon fiber look pattern.

Aero helmets aren't usually lightweight and the KASK K.31 Crono tips the scales at a hefty 495 grams. In this case I'll suggest the performance features are worth the exra weight.

The helmet packs a lot of features into its 495 gram weight but it isn’t a lightweight leader. The KASK website claims 280 grams helmet weight. That is incorrect. The features on the helmet are so good though I’ll trade a little weight for a great retention system, superior comfort and protection and the best visor design I’ve tried.

The helmet is sold in size name “U”, presumably for “universal”. We fit-tested it on a 7.5 hat size male and two very small females to see if the size range is truly universal. It is. The helmet adjusted precisely across all helmet size ranges. That’s impressive. The adjustable feature means triathlon clubs can order a few of these and all members can use them on race day regardless of head size. It also means if you order the helmet from an online retailer it will fit when you get it.

The KASK K.31 Crono has an adjustable fit that spans a wide range of head sizes making it versatile for club use.

KASK did a good job of including a number of details such as precise fit adjustment, a very wide size range, a more comfortable chinstrap, the best visor in the category, extremely comfortable and secure fit across a wide range of head shapes and excellent finish on the K.31 Crono. The few nicks against it such as the non-faired underside of the tail, the lack of an effective sweat management system and relatively heavy weight don’t detract much from the helmet. It’s still very impressive. At $349.99 it is more expensive than the Lazer Tardiz, Giro Selector, Bell Javelin Giro Advantage 2, Gray Aerodome and all of the Louis Garneau helmets but arguments can be made the extra cost is worth it.

The KASK K.31 Crono pulls together an impressive list of features to lead the aero helmet category.
2012 Zoot TT Trail Running Shoe. https://university.trisports.com/2012/02/10/2012-zoot-tt-trail-running-shoe/ Fri, 10 Feb 2012 22:54:35 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=4172 Zoot combines two specialty footwear categories, the triathlon run shoe and the off road run shoe, into one new model for 2012. Take the new Zoot TT Trail shoe for a run here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com.

Zoot expands their running line with the new 2012 TT Trail running shoe, the first off-road shoe from Zoot.

Zoot continues their expansion into specialty running with the unique, new Men’s TT Trail Running shoe, the first off-road specific running shoe in the Zoot line.

The TT Trail reinforces Zoot’s commitment to the run specialty market and forges new ground with a multisport capable shoe designed for off road use. For the X-Terra athlete this is a boon.

Given that Zoot is a relative newcomer to the specialty run category the company deserves credit for rapid strides. Their first effort in running shoes going back to the triathlon specialty market was good. Their expansion into specialty run was even better and their first foray into off road shoes continues the trend of innovative designs for underserved footwear categories.

The new 2012 Zoot TT Trail combines existing and proven Zoot design themes with some new directions for Zoot to provide off-road capability.

Trail shoes span a wide range of user requirements. Some trail runners are minimalist “moccasins” that are more like socks with a thin outsole. The opposite end of the spectrum is like a low top hiking boot. The Zoot TT Trail falls toward the lighter, run-specialty end of the spectrum.

The chassis of the Zoot TT Trail uses a buttressed stability bar that harkens to Lowa’s hiking boot designs. The medial and lateral sway bars, the blue thingies that come up on the heel counter of the shoe, prevent twisting at the heel and provide an added level of control. They also protect the outer of the shoe from rubbing against rocks, etc. Add this design to a nicely made internal heel cup and the back of the shoe fits and feels great.

Zoot uses a stability feature seen on Lowa hiking boots, the external exoskeleton that helps hold the heel in lateral alignment with the shoe sole. It adds stability, control and durability.

Zoot didn’t ignore the upper when building a true off road design. The mid foot of the shoe uses a polymer body armor layer to protect the shoe and the mesh outer. This polymer treatment lends a little stability to the lower part of the shoe where it connects to the midsole. This feature gives way to a traditional mesh running shoe upper on the way to the lacing system.

A true trail shoe: Zoot reinforced the midfoot on both sides with a polymer armor to improve durability and stability.

Moving forward on the shoe the off road theme continues with one of the nicest toe bumpers we’ve seen. Toe bumpers are as much a design theme that screams “trail shoe” as they are function but Zoot didn’t go overboard here. There is enough bumper to protect your toes and make the shoe last but not enough to strap crampons onto.

All trail runners need a toe bumper but some are absurdly overbuilt. Zoot built a nice light, functional toe guard on the TT Trail.

Moving to the upper one of the most conspicuous design themes is the asymmetrical lacing. This is as much a styling theme as it is a functional one. Different brands have different ideas about the direction the lacing should curve. The asymmetrical lacing on Brooks racing flats used by Chrissie Wellington curves the opposite direction. The asymmetrical lacing on the TT Trail also improves shoe ventilation since the lacing area is very open and runs all the way down to the midsole at the medial forefoot.

The curved lacing system on the Zoot TT Trail also assists with ventilation.

Zoot started life as a triathlon company and then grew into being an authentic running brand. Their triathlon roots are apparent on the TT Trail though since the shoe comes out of the box with the best stretch lace, high speed donning system in the industry. Like many of Zoot’s triathlon shoes this is a one piece upper. There is no separate tongue. The lacing system spans the upper and terminated on the lateral side of the shoe with a built in lace lock system that is super lightweight and just plain elegant. In T2 of an X-Terra you simply pull the shoes on, reach down and snug the laces, tugging them up into the locked position and you are on the run. Brilliant.

Quick donning features on the TT Trail: A simple, elegant elastic self-locking lacing system and quick donning tongue and heel tabs.

Tread blocks under the shoe have an octopus tentacle-like application at the forefoot that doesn’t clog and felt great on hard packed and sandy desert surfaces. I wager this will also work well in wet conditions. One problem with some trail shoes is too much traction. The Zoot TT Trail seems to strike a good balance between traction and debris clearance.

An unusual forefoot tread design facilitates flexibility and maintains good traction.

How do the shoes feel running off road? There is a bit of a battle between the lightweight, one piece mesh upper and the relatively stable midsole and outsole design. As a result there is the occasional sensation of your foot “running off” the sole to the side. Regular trail runners won’t notice this since they are skilled at balance and foot placement. Clodhoppers like me may notice it a little. It is a reasonable exchange for the light overall weight of the shoe and the quick donning features. For X-Terra style off-road triathlons this shoe is absolutely superb.

Zoot's new TT Trail fills a niche in a quick-donning trail shoe with proven Zoot design features.
Orbea Ordu Dura-Ace Mix Tri Bike. https://university.trisports.com/2012/02/07/orbea-ordu-dura-ace-mix-tri-bike/ Tue, 07 Feb 2012 20:07:27 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=4115 Working with TriSports.com partners Orbea, we pulled together a special value oriented build of the proven, Ironman winning Ordu triathlon bike with a Shimano Dura-Ace mix component kit. See how we speced the bike for a special buy here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com

Orbea's Ordu carbon fiber aero frameset with a Shimano Dura-Ace mix component group and nice wheels, cockpit and saddle represents solid value.

TriSports.com, along with Orbea USA, has released a value-oriented version of the successful Orbea Ordu aerodynamic styled bike with a Shimano Dura-Ace “mix” component group, Shimano wheels, a Profile Design aerodynamic cockpit and Selle Italia saddle. The complete bike package is built on the same frame design used by Craig Alexander to win the Ford Ironman World Championships two times and the 70.3 World Championships.

This version of their successful Ordu bike, based loosely on the professional versions used in both Tour de France time trials and Ironman World Championships, is on sale for $2499.95 from $3499.95.

Orbea was founded in 1847 making it one of the oldest bike brands in the world. The Basque collective company owns an impressive dossier of competitive cycling victories that include their race team Euskaltel-Euskadi’s successes in the Tour de France as well as Alexander’s Ironman victories.

Craig Alexander won the Ford Ironman World Championships on an Orbea Ordu in 2008 and 2009. Photo: Courtesy Orbea.

Front to back on the Orbea Ordu Dura-Ace mix bike:  

The Profile Design cockpit is reliable and simple. The aerobars and base bars are all 6061 T-6 aluminum. Aerobar extensions are “S” bends bolted to a wing shaped aluminum Profile Design base bar. The aerobar extensions are not adjustable for length but the position of the elbow pads can be varied at their mount points for sizing. The advantage is lighter weight and less hardware compared to an adjustable length aerobar, the drawback is less sizing adjustment. The Profile ZBS S-Bend aerobar is available in three sizes from Profile Design, 225mm, 245mm and 265mm. Most frame sizes in the Orbea Ordu mix are specing the middle-of-the-road 245mm length aerobar. The ZBS bracket is relatively low out of the box and can be adjusted for height using Profile Design’s existing aerobar adjustment hardware available at most Profile Design dealers.

The Profile Design aluminum cockpit is complimented by excellent controls including genuine Shimano aero brake levers and Shimano Dura-Ace 10 speed shifters.

Controls on the Profile Design aero cockpit are very good: Shimano BL-TT78 alloy brake levers with a strong return spring provide snappy braking performance. The shifters are the proven 10-speed Shimano Dura-Ace SL-BS79 index alloy shifter.  Expect excellent shifting and braking from these controls. The cockpit is mounted with a very conventional alloy stem that is easily interchanged for accurate sizing and positioning.

The fork on this version of the Orbea Ordu is a bladed, carbon fiber leg, aluminum alloy steer tube with conventional brake mounting. While this is heavier than a carbon fiber steer tube fork it is easier to travel with because of the reliable metal star nut inside the fork steer tube. It also uses easy to work on and more dependable conventional brake mounting. No surprises here- and no problems either. It is classic, dependable, proven design.

The fork on this build of the Orbea Ordu uses bladed carbon fiber legs with an aluminum steer tube.

The Ordu uses aerodynamic styling with a conical head tube and blade-shaped down tube. Cable routing enters the frame at the down tube and uses housing the entire length to make installation and cable changes easier and to prevent intrusion of water and road grit. This is a good design for triathletes with poor bike maintenance habits since it keeps the inner brake cable clean over its entire length maintaining good braking performance.

The Ordu uses a conical head tube design and nicely done internal cable routing.

The main frame continues the aero styling theme with a Cervelo-esque curved seat tube fairing in the rear wheel and blade shaped seatstays. There is one water bottle mount on the down tube. Long distance athletes will need an additional hydration system such as a handlbar mounted or rear saddle mount system. Craig Alexander’s Ironman bikes used both an X-Lab rear hydration rig and a Profile Design aero bottle mounted on the aerobars.

The aero styled frame on the Ordu uses a single bottle mount on the down tube and a curved seat tube.

Moving up the frame the seatpost binder assembly is one of the most secure we’ve seen. There are three seatpost binder bolts, one in the front and two in the rear. The front bolt is concealed by a shaped rubber plug. Use a torque wrench to snug each of these to 4 Newton meters torque. Unlike some aero seatpost bikes it is almost impossible for this seatpost to slip if your torque settings are accurate. The redundant nature of this design also makes this bike more flight case friendly.

A super secure seatpost binder assembly means your seatpost adjustment will stay put.

The drivetrain on the Orbea Ordu Dura-Ace mix build is typical of so-called “Dura-Ace mix” bikes. There is just enough Shimano Dura-Ace to use the words “Dura-Ace” and not much more. In the case of this version of the Ordu the rear derailleur is a Shimano Dura-Ace RD-7900-SS, the short cage version of the new mechanical Dura-Ace rear derailleur. This excellent Ironman and Tour de France winning rear derailleur uses a carbon pulley plate, sealed bearings in both the guide pulley and the tension pulley and a cold forged main body for excellent durability. It’s unlikely you can find a better rear derailleur. This derailleur will shift up to a 28 tooth sized large cog from an 11 tooth small cog so you have plenty of capacity for all course profiles including mountains.

The FSA crank is a 130mm bolt pattern turning a 53 tooth large ring and 39 tooth small chainring. The crank is aluminum, not as alluring as some carbon cranks but stiff and dependable. Early versions of these FSA chainrings had a spotty reputation for upshifts from small ring to large. The chainrings on this component kit are a more recent build and provided at least consistent upshifts for us. While not top shelf, they work. We’re spoiled by the incredible front shifting on the new Shimano Dura-Ace hollow-forged cranksets.

Drivetrain on this build of the Orbea Ordu uses a Shimano Dura-Ace rear derailleur, Ultegra front derailleur, Shimano 105 level 11-25 cogset and KMC 10S chain turning FSA 53/39 chainrings.

Another owner-friendly spec detail on this build of the Ordu is the truly common bottom bracket. There is no such thing as a “standard” bottom bracket now with a number of manufacturers developing their own bottom bracket format and claiming it will be universally adopted as the next great thing. While we wait for the consensus on what the best bottom bracket format is, and we’ll be waiting a while, the common bottom bracket format on this Orbea build is readily available in bike shops and is easy to service. It is also easy to make a change to an upgraded crank with this bottom bracket format since most other bottom brackets, such as Shimano, simply thread into this frame.

This build of the Ordu uses a common bottom bracket format with proven durability and ease of maintenance. Nothing unusual here: any bike shop can service it.

Frame details on the Orbea Ordu make the bike uniquely “ownable”. The rear dropouts, where you remove and replace the rear wheel, are adjustable with a pair of set screws. These allow you to adjust the proximity of the rear tire to the seat tube of the frame allowing for small changes in tire size. The rear-facing dropouts can be a handful for new athletes removing and replacing the rear wheel. This version is at least as good as most rear dropouts and better than some.

The front derailleur mount on the Ordu bolts to the frame, a thoughtful design that allows a bit of tweaking for derailleur angle and replacement in the event of breakage. It’s another thoughtful feature that makes this bike very user-maintainable and durable.

The rear derailleur hanger on the Ordu is modular and replaceable. The front derailleur hanger is a bolt-on style allowing a very small margin of angular tuning and replacement in the unlikely event of a failure.

Brake calipers on this build of the Ordu are original equipment manufacturer (OEM) spec alloy calipers with cartridge brake pads and a polymer quick release lever and barrel adjuster. The calipers are OK, but only OK. They feel good when stopping and hold adjustment well but are admittedly value oriented. No sex appeal here, only function.

The workman-like OEM brake calipers work well but aren't very fancy.

 Fit and geometry on the Orbea Ordu provides four frame sizes; 48cm, 51cm, 54cm and 58cm. The variable geometry seatpost has indexing for a 74-degree range effective seat tube angle in the rear mounting position and a 76-degree in the forward seatpost mounting position. The bike comes with an excellent Selle Italia SL T1 triathlon specific saddle that is 27 cm long, standard length for most saddles. The SL T1 has a glossy polymer cover that won’t chafe your inner legs when racing in short trishorts or a swim suit. If you need to sit steeper than 76-degrees effective seat tube angle for a more open, relaxed angle between your thigh and torso at the top of the pedal stroke you can use a longer 30 cm. saddle such as the excellent Profile Design Tri Stryke or Fizik Arione Tri.

The seat clamp on top of the bladed seatpost uses a knurled wheel and Allen bolt for fore/aft and angular adjustment. It is a little fumbly to reach the knurled wheel under the saddle. With saddles that have very deep sides, such as some Cobb Cycling models, it is going to be tricky to reach this adjuster knob.

Saddle angle is infinitely adjustable within its range on the seatpost head but reaching the rear adjuster knob will be tricky with some saddles.

There are two color schemes available in the special buy configuration of the Orbea Ordu, one is predominantly black with silver metallic accents and the other is a traditional red, white and black color palette that matches nearly everything in our sport. Both finishes are executed flawlessly with truly remarkable attention to detail and finish. The paint and graphics work on these bikes is industry best, a refreshing change from some popular triathlon bike brands that seem to subordinate finish quality to nearly everything else.

The paint and graphics on both color schemes of the Ordu special build are clean and precisely done.

As a special build for our Orbea Ordu photo shoot we mounted a pair of the 2011 Zipp 404 clincher wheels featured on sale from 2011. The pairing of the Zipp 404 wheels and the Orbea Ordu special build make for a smart buy at reduced prices, especially with the Zipp 404’s which seldom go to discount. This combination rides well and looks great. Add a good bike fitting and you have a lot of performance at a strong discount. If the Ordu fits you it’s a smart way to buy.

We mounted a pair of 2011 Zipp 404 clincher wheels on this Orbea Ordu. The Zipp 404's from 2011 represent a special buy along with this build in the Orbea Ordu.
Mavic Plasma and Synchro Helmets. https://university.trisports.com/2012/02/03/mavic-plasma-and-synchro-helmets/ Sat, 04 Feb 2012 00:16:18 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=4098 Mavic is a proven innovator in cycling with impressive high-end quality. It's no surprise their new helmets move to the very top of the category leapfrogging some legacy helmet brands for fit, feel and protection. See how Mavic got these two new helmets so right here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly for TriSports.com.

Premier cycling brand Mavic expands their line with two helmets for the 2012 season: The Synchro (left) and the Plasma (right).

Mavic has released their new helmets for 2012, the Plasma and Synchro. Mavic, a legacy cycling brand dating back to 1889, enters the helmet market with several key technologies; Ergo Fit Pro Pads, Ergo hold Retention and the Ergo Shape.  We rode in both helmets across a wide temperature range from 34 degrees Fahrenheit to 72 degrees Fahrenheit in our tests.

The Mavic Plasma (left, $179.95) is 323 grams measured weight in size Medium and the Mavic Synchro (right, $124.95) is 304 grams measured weight in a size Medium.

Mavic’s Plasma helmet is $179.95 and weighs 323 grams measured weight in a size Medium. The less expensive Synchro is 19 grams lighter at 304 grams measured weight for a size Medium. While the more expensive helmet being slightly heavier seems unusual the $179.95 Plasma provides more coverage, a more aerodynamic appearance and larger vents. If you compare the weights of the helmets on Mavic’s website, the site states the weights for both at “150 grams”.

The Plasma and the Syncro both come with removable visors that snap into place. There are snap-in covers for the visor mounting points when the visor is not installed. We used the helmet with the visor on one ride and it provided a nice level of sun protection without obstructing the field of view. A removable visor is also useful in bad weather since it prevents heavy rain from hitting you directly in the eyes.

The removable visor on both the Plasma and Synchro (shown) attaches and detaches easily, provides good sun and bad weather protection and uses small covers for the visor mount points when not in use.

In our road tests of both helmets we felt the $179.95 Plasma offered slightly better ventilation than the Synchro at $125.95. Both helmets had very good ventilation but the slightly heavier, $179.95 Plasma was noticeably cooler and also appears to provide greater head coverage. If you look closely at the helmets side by side it is easy to see that the vents on the Plasma are slightly larger than the Synchro.

The Mavic Plasma at $179.95 features large vents that are well positioned to draw cooling air through the helmet.

Both helmets use an adjustable internal hatband device Mavic calls the Ergo Hold Retention System. Ergo Hold adjusts the helmet size internally with the turn of a wheel, an easier system to use that Giro’s Roc-Loc system. The adjustment wheel turns in both directions, one direction tightens the helmet, the other loosens it. Since the attachment point for the Ergo Hold Retention System is well forward inside the helmet this adjustment effectively changes the shape of the interior of the helmet in contact with your head, making the fit feel very precise and keeping the helmet in place on your head. This helmet sizing adjustment system is among the best we’ve tried from any brand.

The Mavic helmets adjust for precise size with Mavic's Ergo Hold Retention System, a hat-band style adjustment controlled by a two direction wheel that reaches forward for a contoured fit.
The Ergo Hold Adjustment System uses a two direction wheel for adjustment on the fly. The internal hatband extends far forward inside the helmet allowing the fit to conform comfortably to your head.

The chin strap on the Mavic Plasma and Synchro are fully adjustable for precise fit, a refreshing feature some helmet manufacturers have eliminated to save weight and cost. It is important to have a fully adjustable chin strap harness for precise sizing when you wear a thin hat under your helmet on cold days, then take the hat off as the temperature rises. Between the adjustable Ergo Hold System and the fully adjustable chin strap harness it is easy to tailor the fit of both Mavic helmets for good comfort.

Mavic uses a fully adjustable chin strap on both helmets, a nice feature to make the helmet fit precisely and improve helmet retention.

Both Mavic road helmets are sold in three sizes; Small, Medium and Large. We found the helmets trend slightly small. This reviewer with a size 7&1/4 hat size wears a size “Medium” Giro brand road helmet but needed the “Large” in both Mavic models.

The key difference between the two helmets is coverage and ventilation, with the more expensive Plasma road helmet using the larger vents. It may seem curious that the more expensive helmet is a trifle heavier. Helmet brands have been on a race to the bottom with weight being the metric some consumers have focused on. That is a mistake when buying a helmet. The primary purpose of any cycling helmet is protection. Mavic’s designs provide excellent coverage and protection, especially at the back of the head, to exceed both U.S. consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and EN1078 standards. As importantly, the Mavic helmets are built to last with reliable, adjustable hardware and durable full-coverage hard shells to protect the helmet when being transported.

The Mavic Plasma (white, left) at $179.95 has larger vents than the Mavic Synchro (black, right) at $124.95.

Having ridden in the Mavic Plasma for about 2 weeks across a wide temperature range I am impressed with its fit, comfort and ventilation. The size run is slightly different from U.S. brands Bell and Giro causing me to “size up” to a Large Mavic helmet from my usual Bell and Giro Medium. Ultimately, the fit and feel are nicer than Giro and Bell and the adjustment seems more robust; only time will tell.  On warm days the ventilation is superb at high speed and at very low climbing speeds. Another thing I appreciated about the Mavic Plasma was it did not dump perspiration in my eyes even when the interior got wet from sweat, a thoughtful design feature.

Based on Mavic’s strong legacy for high end cycling innovation and proven quality we aren’t surprised the new Mavic Plasma and Synchro helmets are so good. The dedicated helmet brands should take notice of these two introductions as Mavic has stolen the show from dedicated helmet brands with the Plasma and Synchro. They are true stand-outs in the helmet category.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

Bell Javelin Aero Helmet. https://university.trisports.com/2012/01/26/bell-javelin-aero-helmet/ Thu, 26 Jan 2012 22:45:27 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=4071 Bell's new Javelin is the aero helmet designed for triathlon users. With an integrated visor, ear fairings and a host of practical, quick donning features Bell may have just moved to the front of the triathlon aero helmet category. Try on the new Bell Javelin here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly.

Bell's all new Javelin enters the aero helmet category for the U.S. market with new SeamFlex ear pieces and removable visor.

Bell Sports USA has released their new Bell Javelin aerodynamic helmet in time for the 2012 race season. The Javelin is a lightweight, integrated visor aerodynamic helmet with design features for quick donning and removal, making it an option for multisport users.

“The older Bell Meteor is not CPSC approved, the new Bell Javelin is CPSC approved for triathlons.”

Our first look at the Bell Javelin was at Bicycle Dealer Camp 2011 before its release.

The Javelin joins the massive Bell helmet line-up for the U.S. market. It is not to be confused with the Bell Meteor, a different Bell aerodynamic helmet intended for the European retail market. The Meteor is an earlier design that lacks the new U.S. Javelin’s integrated visor and SeamFlex ear fairings. The Bell Meteor is not CPSC approved, the new Bell Javelin is.  Some U.S. consumers bought the Meteor and used it in U.S events. According to most sources, the Bell Meteor complies with USA Cycling helmet rules with it’s European CE EN1078 certification (http://www.usacycling.org/news/user/story.php?id=2109). However, according to USA Triathlon rule Article 5, 5.9A, “a. Type of Helmet. All participants shall wear a protective head cover, undamaged and unaltered, which meets or exceeds the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)” , the Bell Meteor is notlegal for USAT sanctioned triathlon use. This information is according the .pdf document “USAT Approved Helmets Notice” using USAT Commissioner of Officials, Charlie Crawford, as the source.

As aero helmets go the Javelin is relatively light weight, especially compared to longer tailed versions. The new Bell Javelin weighs 442 gramsactual measured weight in a size Large with the removable visor attached. Aero helmet pundits use helmet weight as an argument against aero helmets on hilly courses but the aerodynamic benefits above 18 M.P.H. substantially exceed any drawback from weight than a non-aero, ultra-lightweight helmet. Director of Marketing for Bell Sports, Don Palermini, told me;

“I think a more apples-to-apples comparison of weight would be to remove the shield and then put it on the scale. Most other TT helmets don’t have a shield, making them lighter by virtue of omission. If you weighed competitive helmets with a pair of sunglasses that would be somewhat equivalent, though our shield is heavier than most sunglasses as it is large for optimal aerodynamics—something you don’t get with separate eyewear. My personal size medium helmet weighs 408 grams without the shield (a little better than most CPSC TT lids) and 436 grams with the shield installed.”

At only 442 grams measured weight for a size Large with visor the Bell Javelin is relatively light for an aero helmet.

The Bell Javelin features a tinted visor that eliminates the need for donning sunglasses in the transition area and improves the overall aerodynamics of the helmet. The visor is removable via a series of snaps that worked well when we carefully removed and replaced the visor on a production Javelin. The visor is lightly tinted so should provide enough sun and glare protection for most conditions.

The tinted visor on the Bell Javelin snaps on and off the helmet easily, but do use reasonable care during removal and installation.

When we opened the box on the Bell Javelin we initially thought the ear covers were also removable, like the Giro Selector. The ear covers are not removable on the Bell Javelin. They are, however, a slightly different polymer than the main helmet shell. The ear covers are relatively flexible, allowing much faster donning than other helmets we’ve tried with ear covers. This quick-don feature of the ear covers along with the fairing and other features make the Javelin a strong option for triathletes.

The ear fairings on the Bell Javelin are flexible polymer that allows you to quickly don and remove the helmet in the transiton area.

The expanded polystyrene or EPS impact absorbing material in the Bell Javelin extends all the way to the tail of the fairing. This adds durability and stiffness to the helmet. There are three large vents in the helmet shell. The vents are oriented to help heat rise from the helmet at low speeds, as with climbing a hill, and vent through the helmet at high speeds.

(Left) The ear fairings on the Bell Javelin seem like they may snap off, but they don't. The ear flaps are permanently attached. (Right) The EPS foam extends all the way to the tail of the helmet.

Another quick-donning feature of the Bell Javelin is the adjustable helmet fit hatband. Almost every modern road helmet has some type of size adjustment but some aero helmets lack this useful feature. If you are a Bell Helmet owner already this adjustment wheel will be familiar. For transition you can just open the hatband up for quick donning and then snug the helmet down with the adjustment wheel with one hand on the fly. The ratcheting adjustment is easy to use.

An adjustment wheel enables quick helmet fitting on the fly.

Overall the new Bell Javelin is more comfortable than other aero helmets I’ve worn. The ventilation worked well even in a quick test ride at low speeds. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this helmet even in hot conditions. There are a boggling five color schemes in the Bell Javelin. The helmet is sold in three sizes, Small, Medium or Large. At a 7&1/4 hat size I took the size Large. The helmet runs slightly small compared to Bell road helmets, in which I wear a Medium.

Mr. Don Palermini of Bell Sports, USA mentioned “The Javelin goes on with less “ear impact” if you put it on back-to-front pulling the straps and ear flaps open as you do so.” We tried this high speed donning technique, pulling the helmet on from back to front, and found Palermini was right. This is another feature that makes the helmet work well for triathletes.

Most CPSC approved aero helmets look enormous as viewed from the front and the Bell Javelin has that slightly “martian” appearance. That said, an aero helmet is one of the least expensive ways to save substantial time on the bike.

Bell has achieved one of the most practical, comfortable and overall “wearable” helmets in the new Javelin. At $199.99 it is in line with most other high end aero helmets with a visor and less than Giro’s Selector. The Bell Javelin is an aero helmet intended for multisport athletes, as opposed to the Giro Selector which is better suited for bicycle time trials where quick donning is not a concern. In only one ride I would add the new Bell Javelin to my very short list of favorite aero helmets that includes the Spiuk Kronos, a longer tail helmet with no visor provision and fewer sizes. Bell did a very good job with the Javelin aero helmet, a welcome addition for multisport aero helmet users.

Bell's Javelin helmet addresses the quick donning and ventilation features needed by triathlon aero helmet users while retaining the aero benefits of a smooth shell and integrated visor/ear fairings for best aerodynamics.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

Book Review: Tucson Spokes. https://university.trisports.com/2012/01/09/book-review-tucson-spokes/ Mon, 09 Jan 2012 21:44:12 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=3939 Tucson is officially named by city government as "The Winter Training Capital". Stefan Walz and Chris Mooney's new book, "Tucson Spokes: A Photo Collection of the Tucson Cycling Community" Shows why. Take a peek into this great new title here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly.
Designer Stefan Walz and Photo Journalist Chris Mooney compile a wonderful photographic insight into the Tucson cycling community in their book "Tucson Spokes".

If you conceived a city around the sport of cycling Tucson, Arizona would be a likely result.  The roads, the weather, the cycling clubs and the terrain are conjured from a bike rider’s dream. Like Boulder, San Diego, Seattle, Davis and Madison, Tucson is a rich cycling community filled with bike history, landmarks and most notably- cycling characters. Unlike other cities Tucson has weather so perfect it seems like the bike and triathlon clubs control it: 350 days of sun, warm, low winds, no clouds.

Capturing the essence of such a vibrant and authentic bike community is a tall order. That was designer Stefan Walz’s concept for Tucson Spokes: A Photo Collection of the Tucson Cycling Community. Walz partnered with noted Tucson photographer Chris Mooney for the photo collaboration on Tucson Spokes. Mooney has an insider’s perspective of the cycling and multisport community as a triathlete, cyclist and artist. He has shot photos around the world, including a cover photo for the Land’s End catalog that featured a live kangaroo modelling Land’s End apparel. Mooney works out of a 5500 square foot studio with fellow local photog Balfour Walker. His local knowledge and athletic experience combined with his impressive technical and creative style lend a rich visual quality to Tucson Spokes.

The people who contribute to the Tucson cycling and multisport culture are expertly showcased in "Tucson Spokes". It's a "Who's Who" of cycling in Tucson.

Tucson Spokes showcases the cycling experience in Tucson by focusing, literally and editorially, on three perspectives: The people who ride bikes in the Tucson cycling community, The venues that make Tucson a cycling destination and the events painted by the characters on this backdrop. The three elements weave together for a very complete story.

Beginning with the characters Walz and Mooney found insightful ways to show you in a few photos and some tight text the quirky personalities that seem to be a staple of every cycling community. The portraits are fun, insightful, inspiring and original. You want to meet the characters. A gem is “The Hairy Guy”, Mr. Leslie Prentiss, an eccentric cyclist known for riding in cut-off jeans, running shoes and no shirt. Every cyclist in Tucson can tell you about Prentiss, and he’s shown in all his unique splendor in Spokes.

There is also homage to the Tucson cycling backdrop: the desert, the cactus, the roads and all the static features of the Tucson community that the cyclist play on. Having lived in Tucson for two years and doing it without a car I’m struck by how Walz and Mooney show the city from how a cyclist sees it from their saddle. It’s a cyclist’s perspective.

The places that make Tucson a cycling paradise fill the pages of "Tucson Spokes". It's a guide to the rides, routes and characters of the Winter Training Capital.

Finally, the events that put Tucson on the map as a cycling Mecca also color the pages of Tucson Spokes. From the (literally) world famous “Shootout” Saturday morning group ride attended by local hot shots and top European professionals to the eclectic B.I.C.A.S. meetings (Bicycle Inter-Community Art and Salvage) Tucson Spokes shows an insider’s perspective on the local cycling events and culture.

Since Tucson has become such a winter training destination Tucson Spokesis a natural promotional tool for athletes coming to Tucson to train in the The Winter Training Capital and a great souvenir that takes the look and feel of the Tucson cycling community home. Tucson Spokes is more than just great photos of the Tucson cycling culture, it captures the very essence of what makes Tucson a cycling paradise.  

A great primer to Tucson cycling and a fun souvenir of The Winter Training Capital: "Tucson Spokes".
Sidi 2012: New T Series Triathlon Shoes. https://university.trisports.com/2011/12/30/sidi-2012-new-t-series-triathlon-shoes/ Fri, 30 Dec 2011 21:33:58 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=3781 With more cycling footwear innovations than any other cycling shoe brand Sidi sets the bar for performance triathlon cycling footwear. We take a look at Sidi's history and new line up for 2012 here. ]]>

 By Tom Demerly.


Sidi's latest versions of their "T" series triathlon shoes continue the classic Italian theme but with well learned refinements for 2012.

If you don’t like to read, I can save you some time: Sidi makes the best cycling shoes.

Acknowledging the sweeping nature of that statement, no one footwear brand works for everyone. It is worth educating yourself about one of cycling’s truly great brands. Like any educational process there is a great story here.

Dino Signori is, quite obviously, Italian. He lives in the Bassano de Grappa region of the Italian Alps. As a lad Dino did what most boys his age did; mountaineering, cycling, skiing. At 15 Signori began racing bicycles. And winning. But Italy is full of champions and Signori was a champion in a crowd of champions. He found escape on the bike and in the mountains though, and especially alone with his leather working tools crafting the local hides into hand made boots for climbing and skiing.

In 1960 he started a handmade specialty footwear company named for his initials, “Di” and “Si”, reversed in some traditionally Italian manner. “Sidi”.

This legacy sets Sidi apart from most other cycling and triathlon footwear brands. It isn’t some Euro-style thing, something aesthetic or subjective. Signori grew up differently, thinks differently, works differently. Because of that his shoes are different.

Sidi cycling shoes are hand made with almost no automation at a small factory in the Asolo hills of Italy. If you are a hiker or mountaineer you recognize the name “Asolo” as the famous climbing footwear brand- also born in the Italian Alps.

Dino Signori, Sidi's founder, grew up in a world of pastoral mountain settings and weekly club runs through the mountains largely unchanged today. This is where Sidi shoes were born, and are still made, by hand.

 Signori’s approach to shoe design and manufacture is built around how a shoe can be made by hand, with hand tools. In the design process they do not consider what machines can work most efficiently to turn out thousands of shoes at the lowest cost per unit. Sidi craftsmen and women interface the care and quality control of hand processes with the full range of modern capabilities from CAD design to the most advanced carbon fibers and molded synthetic materials. Add to this the eclectic knowledge gained from hand making and fitting ski boots and the Sidi perspective on shoe design and manufacture is tangibly unique. No other cycling shoes are designed this way or built this way, completely by hand, in Italy, old world meets new.

“Nearly every modern cycling shoe innovation came from Sidi, from adjustable cleat position to Velcro closures- Sidi invented it.”

The list of cycling shoe innovation Sidi owns is amazing. Nearly every significant development in cycling shoes, from having an adjustable cleat position shoe to Velcro closures on cycling shoes, was invented by Sidi.  A list of Sidi’s most conspicuous cycling shoe innovations looks like this:

  • 1973: First adjustable cleat: Riders can fit their shoes to their pedals for better efficiency and reduced injury.
  • 1979: First synthetic nylon upper cycling shoe: Lighter, more consistent quality, More durable.
  • 1983: First Velcro hook and loop closure: Quick to don and easy to adjust while riding. Durable, lightweight.
  • 1985: First mountain bike shoe: Designed for off-road clipless pedals, provides traction when walking.
  • 1989: First ratcheting/ski boot style closure: Insures shoes are tight enough, can be adjusted while riding. Modular and durable. Helps customize fit.
  • 1993: First monofilament style closure/adjustment: Lightweight and durable, adjustable on the fly, durable and maintainable. Spreads even adjustment over shoe at each adjustment point.
  • 1999: First Replaceable lug system on MTB/Cyclocross shoe: SRS/MTB sole makes shoes last longer.
  • 2002: First High Security Velcro: An enhanced, flexible, lightweight closure system that is adjustable on the fly and more durable than traditional Velcro.

Sidi boasts of additional innovations in cycling footwear, some they invented, some seen on other brands such as an adjustable heel system on road shoes. At the competitive level more bicycle races are won world wide in Sidi shoes than any other brand, an impressive metric considering Shimano’s vast distribution reach through their component business. Sidi only does footwear.

(Left) An original, hand made Sidi Alpine ski boot. Notice the buckle closures. (Right) A tray of hand made Sidi cycling shoes awaits rigorous quality control.

Quaint beginnings aside Sidi has become a footwear and technology leader in cycling and motocycle racing. Their motorcycle racing boots are worn by moto-tourists, World Champion Moto GP riders, top motocrossers and X-Games winners. Their cycling shoes have been worn by Tour de France winners, too many winning triathletes to count and the Italian tifosiof today, a notoriously rigorous and cranky consumer. In the same way that Bell& Ross wristwatches and BMW Motorwerks have combined history, legacy, competitive performance and innovation Sidi has not only remained as relevant as they were when they started in the “classical” era before clipless pedals and carbon frames, they have remained at the leading edge of cycling and motorcycle performance footwear.

Two things are central to Sidi: Italian innovation and Racing. Troy Bayliss, 3 time World Superbike Champion in Sidi hand made Italian racing boots.

While a host of perfectly adequate mass produced, molded shoes pour out of Asia to the US market Sidi still commands a premium for performance, durability, fit, light weight and refined design than some appreciation of quiant cycling tradition. Triathletes don’t care about tradition. They want light weight shoes that transfer power well, fit precisely, leave their feet fresh for the run and last through thousands of miles of ultra-distance training and racing.

Sidi’s line up for 2012 includes a large variety of road shoes and new versions of their popular T1 triathlon shoe, now evolved to the T2 and T3, T3.6.

Two things help differentiate Sidi triathlon shoe models: Overall weight and sole stiffness. The Classic $239.95 T2 Carbon on the left at 319 grams and the T3.6 Vent for $359.95 at 266 grams on the right in white.

The Sidi Triathlon Shoes: T2 and T2.6 Carbon Lite.

The Sidi T2 (left) with the Millenium 3 carbon/polymer sole and the lighter, stiffer full carbon sole T2.6 (right) with the Carbon Lite sole.

The Sidi triathlon shoe line up starts with their classic T2. The Sidi T2 uses the more flexible and heavier Millenium 3 carbon and polymer sole.“Polymer” is the polite word for plastic. The sole on the basic T2 is a combination of injection molded plastic with small carbon fibers in the plastic during molding to add strength and stiffness. The T2 is a better, stiffer, lighter triathlon shoe than this industry had in their first two decades so this is not a low end shoe. And at $239.95 for the Sidi T2 it isn’t entry price either. Expect the excellent Sidi “T” series upper design and more sole flex than their stiffest carbon soles with a little more weight. For smaller riders this may be a more comfortable shoe, with the exception that its heavier. This is also a great shoe on larger pedalssuch as full size Look, Shimano road pedals and Time. The larger pedal platform helps moderate the sole flex if you want a lot of stiffness and you’re heavy. For light riders- it is absolutely stiff enough.

The next Sidi “T” is the T2.6. Again, same upper. Only difference here is in finish and the stiffer, lighter Carbon Lite  sole.There is a hefty price bump from $239.95 on the T2 Carbon to $339.95 on the T2.6, suggesting how difficult and expensive it is to make Sidi’s high end carbon fiber soles. Is it worth an extra $100? If you are over 150 pounds and a size 42 shoe then I’ll suggest “yes”.


The Sidi Triathlon Shoes: T3 Carbon, Men’s and Women’s.

Sidi's T3 in Men's and Women's specific versions uses a composite sole and proven upper design.


Sidi’s 2012 T3 uses their Eleven Carbon Composite sole, a sole with a variable stiffness carbon fiber insert and a molded polymer, carbon reinforced main sole. This sole design changes stiffness over the length of the shoe to facilitate comfort when worn barefoot for hours, as with an ultra-distance race where you’re on the bike for over five hours. Most importantly, the variable stiffness over the length of the shoe sole helps moderate foot discomfort during the transition from cycling shoes to running shoes. The sole is built on the standard three-hole pattern compatible with Look, Shimano Road, Time, Speedplay and other common clipless pedal systems.

The red polymer heel pad on the 2012 Sidi T3 is replaceable with one Philips screw. This pad helps athletes who wear their shoes while moving on foot through a transition area.

 A unique and practical feature for triathletes is the replaceable heel plate made of a grippy polymer. This red heel platform helps prevent slipping when you are moving through transition areas on foot. If you use a cleat such as Time or Look with grip sections  built on it your footing will be fairly secure even when jogging through transition.

The new T3 is sold in Men’s and Women’s sized versions. The Women’s version has a red stripe and logo, the Men’s version has blue stripes and T3 logo. Volume is adjusted on the Women’s shoes for female specific fit throughout the size run- they aren’t simply downsized Men’s shoes.  

The heel counter is a molded cup bonded and double stitched to the upper just below the padded inner collar. The built up heel cup adds a good measure of structure to the back of the shoe where you concentrate power while pedalling. At the back of the shoe is a wide donning strap. This strap is easy to use for athletes who keep their shoes clipped to the bike in T1. It’s easy to pull the shoes on while underway since the strap is horizontal. Since the upper of this shoe is flexible it’s you can come out of the swim, jump on your bike at the mount line and pedal up to speed with your bare feet on top of the shoes. Once you are clear of the T1 mayhem you quickly slide your feet into the shoes on the go. While it takes practice to don your shoes while riding, already clipped in, it is a skill worth mastering before race day since it can save time in T1 and again coming back into T2. Of the shoes I’ve raced in since tri-specific cycling shoes have been available, this shoe is the easiest for me to don when already clipped to your pedals, leaving T1 on the fly.

The toe on the T3, like all Sidi models, hints back to the era of the toe clip and strap with a reinforced cap at the front and a more tapered toe than some other brands. While no one shoe brand fits every foot, especially since triathlon shoe fit has to be snug, Sidi’s sizing, width and inner volume seems to suit the middle 80% at least. I wear a size 9.5 US running shoe and take a size 41 Sidi T3.

(Left) The toe box on Sidi T3's is double reinforced for shape and comfort and features a low volume, precise fit. The reinforced, polymer heel counter adds stiffness at the back of the shoe.

In addition to Sidi’s refined carbon fiber, variable stiffness sole the upper uses clever features optimized and evolved for triathletes. The two strap system closes in opposite directions for good volume and fit control and added comfort at Iron distance. If your feet swell after several hours on the bike you can effectively increase the volume of the entire upper by loosening both the forward (smaller) and main closure. Since the foot opening at the top of the shoe extends almost the entire length of the upper in a “burrito wrap” configuration adjusting your overall shoe fit while riding is possible. It’s a clever, simple design doing more with less.

The interior of all of Sidi's triathlon shoes is designed specifically to use without socks for faster transitions. The Cambrelle lining wicks moisture away from your feet after the swim. Even with dirty feet after running up the beach and through T1 the shoe remains comfortable with this interior design. The main donning/adjustment strap (right) features a simple notch to hold the shoe open in T1.

The interior of the T3 has reduced, flat seams that run parallel to your feet. A lack of vertical seams means these shoes are designed to wear without socksfor quicker transition, more precise fit and less retention of fluids from bottles being spilled or poured over you on the bike. Having worn the previous versions of the original T1 and T2 without socks at Iron distance, 70.3, Olympic and Sprint I have never had a problem with foot discomfort in the Sidi tri shoes without socks.

Shoes are rotating weight while pedalling. It is worth paying attention to how much they weigh. The T3 is 23% lighterthan Louis Garneau’s Tri HRS shoe with the Sidi T3 at 277 measured weight in a size 42 and a Louis Garneau Tri HRS at 315 grams measured weight in a size 42. That is a substantial savings in rotating weight, well over an ounce per shoe and a combined weight savings for both shoes of 78 grams or 2.75 ounces.

The Sidi Triathlon Shoes: T3.6 Vent Carbon.

The Sidi T3.6 Vent Carbon uses an all carbon fiber sole made in autoclaves used by Ferrari and Ducati. The adjustable toe vent drain helps barefoot comfort.

The Sidi T3.6 Vent uses a higher modulus T700 (read: stiffer) all carbon fiber molded sole for further weight savings and greater sole stiffness. The carbon fabricator is Italian and produces carbon fiber components for Ferrari and Ducati. The T3.6 saves 38 grams per pair measured weight compared to the T3, an overall 7% reduction in weight. The shoe is sold in solid white patent, a traditional colorway for triathlon shoes. A retractable drain/vent in the sole provides extra ventilation and drainage and can be closed in cold weather using the locking screw adjustment.

I’ve raced in or ridden in most popularly available triathlon cycling shoes and this shoe sets the bar. The upper, same as on the T3 except for finish, is a refined and proven design. The sole insulates the bare foot from small pedal systems and road vibration. The added performance of the full carbon fiber sole is especially relevant to large shoe sizesabove a size 44. Big feet on small pedals can use the extra sole performance. According to Sidi’s deflection test comparisons between the Vent Carbon sole on the T3.6 and the Eleven Carbon Sole on the T3 this sole is a whopping 42% stiffer on measured deflection under load.

An innovative retractable vent/drain at the toe of the Sidi Vent Carbon sole increases the shoe's comfortable temperature range.

Sidi also offers an “SP” carbon sole version that uses the four bolt pattern for Speedplay pedal systems. This Speedplay-only SP sole design allows Speedplay users to get their pedal spindle closer to the metatarsal joint at the ball of your foot by eliminating the third three-hole adapter layer from the Speedplay cleat assembly. The stiff T700 carbon sole also helps moderate the small surface area of the Speedplay pedal.

The Sidi T3.6 uses every refinement from Sidi's road sole designs and their quick transition triathlon upper.

It’s difficult to appreciate how nice this shoe is without riding and racing in it. It isn’t what Sidi added to this shoe that make it great, it is what they have left off. The upper is incredibly simple, light, adjustable and comfortable. The addition of the forward Velcro strap, not used when pulling the shoe on and off in transition, allows a significant measure of adjustment for forefoot volume on the fly. Long distance triathletes know this helps prevent foot numbness. The heel counter and exotic, hand made carbon fiber sole put the stiffness where you need it and insulate the foot from vibration and the feeling of the pedal underfoot. This helps prevent foot numbness.

The decision on which Sidi traithlon shoe to buy isn’t necessarily a “good, better, best” progression. While it may seem like the $359.95 T3.6 is the “best shoe” based on price alone the $259.95 T3 with the more flexible (albeit heavier) Eleven Carbon sole is likely better for lighter riders and smaller feet who won’t benefit from the stiffer sole on the T3.6.

The Sidi Fit.  

Sidi has a reputation for a trim fit. A better description may be “precise”. Acknowledging that so many triathletes buy their cycling shoes too largethe Sidi fit may feel more snug than other higher volume brands like Louis Garneau. If you want a higher volume fitting shoe then Louis Garneau and Shimano may be better choices from a fit perspective.

If you buy your triathlon cycling shoes precisely fitted and try them on at the end of the day when your feet are generally at their largest you will get a better representation of how the shoes will feel toward the end of a ride. Remember- with a triathlon shoe you are getting off the bike and running. Never stand up when trying on cycling shoes. When you stand the entire weight of your body is dispersed over the surface area of the sole of the shoe. That will never happen with cycling shoes- even when climbing out of the saddle. This is more commonly caused by the friction created when your foot moves inside your shoe. If the shoe fits precisely (snug enough) there will be no movement and, like a moderate compression garment, your feet can’t swell.

The Sidi fit is precise and molded. Precise fitting shoes prevent movement of the foot inside the shoe, hot spots, swelling and numbness. The feet shown are the author's, a size 9.5 Saucony shoe on the right foot and a size 42 Sidi "T" Series on the left. Both fit precisely. Notice the difference in overall volume. Both shoes, in these sizes have been used by the author at full Iron distance.

Cycling shoes that are too loose create a set of symptoms that may make them seem too small. Riders who have “hot spots” under the ball of their foot and/or numb toes or soreness when getting off the bike and beginning to run usually think their shoes are too small.

Your Race Wheel Demo Program: ENVE, Profile Design, HED and Zipp. https://university.trisports.com/2011/12/27/your-race-wheel-demo-program-enve-profile-design-hed-and-zipp/ Tue, 27 Dec 2011 21:59:39 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=3765 How much faster will you be on race wheels? What do they feel like in a cross wind? Do they really make that much difference? How do I tell? The TriSports.com Race Wheel Demo Program answers a lot of questions about buying race wheels. Read about it here. ]]>
By Tom Demerly.
Experiencing the benefits of race wheels yourself is the best way to feel how much faster they make you.

How much faster will race wheels make you? Which ones should you buy? What do they feel like on the road? In a crosswind? On a climb?

In 2008 TriSports.com, in cooperation with several wheel manufacturers, began a program to ship wheels to customers for evaluation prior to purchase as part of our Wheel Demo Program. While test rides are not a strong evaluative tool for bike purchases due to fit and position variables every customer can ride the same race wheels and experience the ride quality, performance improvement, handling and overall feel of race wheels. For wheels, there is no fit and position issues as with a bike. You either feel the benefit or you don’t. The overwhelming response is that customers do feel enough of a benefit with aerodynamic race wheels to make a purchase.

The wheel demo program is not a race day rental program. The problems associated with using new equipment on race day make race wheel rental an iffy proposition. The Race Wheel Demo Program does allow a controlled exposure to riding with race wheels on roads you are already familiar with.

Ready to Ride.

Trisports.com ships race wheel sets complete with Shimano/SRAM compatible 10 speed cogsets, tires and quick release skewers. When you receive the wheels just slide the skewers in, air the tires and install the wheels on your bike. On tubular tire wheel sets the tires have already been glued by our mechanics. All you have to do is put them on your bike, air them and ride them.

A benefit of the TriSports.com Wheel Demo Program is comparative analysis of wheel brands. TriSports.com demos HED, Zipp, ENVE and Profile Design Wheels. Reasonable demo prices enable you to try different brands with the demo cost of the wheels you buy being applied to the wheel set you decide on.

The Wheels:


ENVE builds all their wheels by hand in Ogden, Utah. Formerly Edge Composites, ENVE has extensive carbon fiber fabrication experience in wheels, carbon frames and components.

ENVEmakes hand built, US made wheels in their Ogden, Utah facility. The company includes a staff of industry experts who have worked for Specialized, Schwinn/GT, Felt, Reynolds and Easton. Their engineers are in-house, along with their fabrication. This provides a level of material quality, attention to detail and nimble design ability only a domestic wheel builder can offer.

ENVE uses Sapim bladed, aerodynamic spokes with internally housed spoke nipples for improved aerodynamics. Most ENVE wheelsets use a 20 spoke radially laced front and a 24 spoke cross-two pattern in the rear. ENVE 45’s measure 21.8 millimeters wide actual (measured) dimension. This is a slightly narrower design compared to Zipp’s new Firecrest and HED’s new wider cross section wheels.

ENVE is a lightweight leader, with a pair of ENVE 45 carbon clinchers weighing only 1454 grams measured weight. Hubs are Swiss made DT with a patented, high load limit ratcheting system that is more durable than conventional designs. Each demo wheelset is shipped with carbon specific brake pads for use with ENVE Composite wheels.


Top pros like Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington have raced and won on HED wheels for two decades.

Steve HED invented the deep section aero wheel. In early wind tunnel tests with Chester Kyle and others Steve Hed conceived the wheel shape that shaped an industry. The HED legacy of innovation lives on with the new HED SCT or “Stability Control Technology”, a new proprietary rim profile to enhance performance and stability in cross winds. The end result is not just a more stable wheel, but a stronger, faster and more durable HED wheel than ever before. SCT profile joins the new generation of wider section wheels for improved aerodynamics. Use these wheels with 23 millimeter tires (supplied on our demo fleet).

HED wheels use proven alloy brake tracks that work with conventional brake pads- there is no need to change your brake pads on race day or for your wheel demo. HED’s weight limit of 190 pounds rider weight mean these are a great choice for the middle 90% of athletes.

HED wheels are economical and use up to the minute technology to give you a race day advantage. When you demo the HED deep section wheels you’ll feel the difference in performance, ride quality and weight.

Profile Design.

Profile Design was an early innovator of aero accesories for triathletes going back to the mid 1980's. Their new Altair aero wheels continue that legacy of innovation.

Few companies can boast the history in our sport of Profile Design. As an original triathlon accessory brand from the mid 1980’s Profile Design has sold nearly every accessory an athlete needs to compete, including bike frames. Adding aerodynamic wheels to the mix was a natural.

The Profile Altair 54 wheels are economical at $1729.95 per set. the rim shape was designed using the latest computational fluid dynamic design principles. Spoking is 20 radially laced Sapim bladed spokes in the front and 24 Sapim bladed spokes in the rear laced in a two cross pattern for better lateral stiffness and vertical compliance. These wheels use 23 millimeter (or wider) tires. rider weight limit is a high 220 pounds making these a robust choice for Clydesdales. Carbon specific brake pads are included with Profile Design carbon rim wheels.


The most popular aero wheel: The Zipp 404, now better than ever with the new Firecrest design.

From the Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii the to the local triathlon: Zipp owns the aero wheel market. No brand is more popular, more prevalent. More athletes race, and win, on Zipp wheels than any other brand. Zipp is born in a racing community. Their designs were conceived three blocks from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Zipp has done composite repair on Indycar and Formula 1 race cars for years.

The new Zipp 404 Firecrest is a completely redesigned Zipp aero wheel from previous versions of the 404. Faster and more stable in cross winds, lighter and stronger than ever before this is the most winning wheel in history- only better for 2012.

Zipp’s internal testing and manufacturing set the standard for design, performance and quality control in the composite wheel industry. With Firecrest they’ve exceeded their own internal standards. Zipp uses a new hub design with more precise bearing adjustment than ever and performance better than almost every aftermarket ceramic bearings in a more dependable steel bearing. If you demo a set of Zipp 404 Firecrest wheels your search for the ultimate race wheel may be over.

Additional Race Wheel Resources on TSU:

Profile Design and ENVE Composite in-depth review.

Zipp 404 Firecrest in-depth review.


The “EB2”: “Easy Bike Box” for Safe, Easy Bicycle Shipping. https://university.trisports.com/2011/12/21/the-eb2-easy-bike-box-for-safe-easy-bicycle-shipping/ Thu, 22 Dec 2011 00:28:10 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=3715 TriSports.com introduces a new bike box for more safe, convenient shipping of complete bikes to you. The "EB2" or Easy Bike Box carries your new bike to your door almost ready to ride. See the new TriSports.com Easy Bike Box here. ]]>
By Tom Demerly.
The EB2, or “Easy Bike Box” enables bikes to ship more securely with much less adjustment for the customer.

In many ways the bike industry is stuck.

Stuck in a business and distribution model developed, literally, in the early 1800’s when the first German “draisines” were sold from small shops to end users. Despite progress in distribution to end users with every other consumer product category, from electronics to automobiles, bicycles are still sold largely from the corner store. This distribution model makes many brands difficult to buy for consumers who live a long distance from an authorized dealer.

One obstacle for end-user bike distribution has been shipping and assembly. Customers may not want to, or be able to, assemble a bike from a standard industry bike shipping box when they receive it. Our industry needed a box and shipping modality to move an almost entirely assembled, consumer ready bicycle from retailer to end user. TriSports.com’s new “EB2” or “Easy Bike Box” is that resource.

The EB2 is a custom designed and fabricated reusuable bike carton designed by TriSports.com. The new EB2 box acheives several design agendas:

  • The bicycle requires either little or almost no dis-assembly of the bike for packing in the carton, meaning little or no reassembly by the end user at the receiving end.
  • The TriSports EB2 provides a higher level of shipping protection for the bike since the inner walls of box sit farther from the bike creating a safety “crush zone” not present in conventional shipping boxes.
  • UPS and Fedex can process the TriSports.com EB2 on their existing freight handling equipment. USPS cannot ship this box according to TriSports.com’s Bob Broyles.
  • Other bike boxes sell for as much as $99.95 online plus $25 shipping for the empty box. The EB2 is free with a bike purchase from TriSports.com.
A complete road bike shown inside a TriSports.com EB2 (Easy Bike Box) without its packaging padding in place. Notice the brake and derailleur cables are intact and connected along with the handlebars.

Triathlon bikes with an aerobar cockpit can be shipped in the TriSports.com EB2 with cables attached and the aerobar cockpit rotated downward to facilitate their extra length.  On some bikes the front plate of the stem must be removed and the aero cockpit dropped down with all cables still adjusted and attached. All the customer has to do is bolt the bars in place on the stem.

Even with most triathlon bikes the rear wheels remains in place so there are no derailleur adjustments and the customer never has to touch the chain or rear wheel. It is already installed with all gears adjusted. The front wheel is removed on most bikes to allow room for the cockpit/handlebars, and easy installation using the front quick release on the wheel.

A TriSports.com technician readies a Quintana Roo tri bike for shipping in a EB2 container. He loosens the stem bolts to rotate the aero cockpit downward. The customer simply adjust the aero cockpit up to where they want it, then tightens the stem bolts to the required torque setting using a torque wrench.

While the TriSports.com EB2 container minimizes the reassembly to almost nothing a few basic items are required for every cyclist to maintain and make adjustments on their bike. Since most fasteners on a bike have a torque specification a graduated torque wrench is a must have item. The EB2 does allow for the bike to be shipped with pedals installed so customers who buy pedals from TriSports.com with a new bike don’t need a pedal wrench or experience with installing or removing pedals.

A torque wrench is essential for adjusting handlebar stems an cockpit position and enables the customer to safely install their handlebars to manufacturer torque specifications. Most road bikes shipped in the MAP box do not require handlebar removal.

TriSports.com designed a custom fork mount from packing foam using a wing nut transport axle with polymer protection washers to hold the front of the bike securely inside the box. The front wheel block is attached to the floor of the EB2 using Velcro and is entirely reusable. The wheel block also holds the entire bike in place inside the EB2, preventing movement and maintaining the space between the bike and the inside surface of the box for added security and protection.

As seen in the video above the Easy Bike Box process makes receiving a new bike from TriSports.com genuinely easy for the customer.

While the EB2 Easy Bike Box is easy for consumers to use, the design means shippers have to handle it without placing it on its side. Since the sides of the EB2 are angled it is more difficult for freight handlers to stack boxes on top of it. The size of the box means it is nearly impossible to throw, meaning it will pass through freight terminals with more gentle handling.

The shape of the EB2, especially its angled sides, mean freight handlers cannot readily stack heavy items on its side. This shape and design help protect the box in transit.

The dimensions of the EB2 Easy Bike Box allow UPS and other domestic freight carriers to carry it using “dimensional weight” standards. Dimensional weight is a combination of actual weight and the dimensions of the box. In the case of the EB2 the dimensional weight is 125.5 pounds while the actual shipping weight with a bicycle inside is about 35 pounds depending on the size and model of the bike.

Shipping rates on loaded EB2’s using current (12/21/2011) UPS ground dimensional weight rates are $113.96 to the 03901 zip code in Maine, about the farthest point in the lower 48 states from TriSports.com with 5-7 business days transit time. To a West Coast zip code such as 91301 (Los Angeles, California) from TriSports.com headquarters in Tucson, Arizona the current UPS rate is $90.03. These rates do not include insurance which is $10 for every $1000 of package value. The complete shipping cost for most bikes leaving TriSports.com for lower 48 state delivery addresses is between $120 and $150 including insurance based on current (12/11) UPS ground shipping rates. These rates from UPS change frequently so be sure to get a quote from our customer service department at (888) 293-3934.

Bob Broyles of TriSports.com did caution about international shipping rates, saying, “While this box can be shipped anywhere on the planet, international shipping costs can be very prohibitive.” Customs and duty/import/export charges also apply to international shipments and are the responsibility of the customer to know before ordering.

The size and shape of the Easy Bike Box make it ship UPS "dimensional weight" to the lower 48 United States.


While the TriSports.com EB2 is not a replacement for a hard shell bike box such as the TRI ALL 3 SPORTS Velo Safe hard flight cases it is a viable option for infrequent domestic bike packing on airlines, especially if the flight has no changeovers or additional handling. With care the box may last occasional bike box users up to two years depending on how the airline handles to box and the care with which it is packed.

The TriSports.com EB2 Easy Bike Box is a new chapter in how customers buy bikes from TriSports.com. It makes the buying experience easier and more convenient and helps protect your new bike all the way to your doorstep. Developed and tested exclusively by TriSports.com it is one more way we make it easy to Swim, Bike, Run and Shop with TriSports.com.

A Day in the Life: IronDay. https://university.trisports.com/2011/12/20/a-day-in-the-life-ironday/ Wed, 21 Dec 2011 00:20:15 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=3623 What does it take to put together a great Ironman race? Join TriSports.com founder Seton Claggett at 2011 Ford Ironman Arizona for his age category win and get an insider's look at racing Ironman from the age group winner's perspective. ]]>
Ironman: A Goal Realized. TriSports.com Founder Seton Claggett stops the clock at Ford Ironman Arizona in 9:14:56, an age category win and 50th overall place.
It is the Holy Grail for Triathletes: Ironman.
More than any other event in our sport finishing Ironman is the high bar in triathlon achievement. An age category win in the most competitive age groups is an even more significant achievement.
The Ironman experience is a journey of setting, preparing and realizing a goal. The year leading up to Ironman is filled with hard work, careful planning, setbacks and more hard work. There is a reason why the Ironman motto is “Anything is Possible” It’s a double edged moniker. Ironman is a journey of growth and accomplishment and an ordeal of derailed training plans, anxiety over inadequate preparation and a grueling race day with no guarantees of a strong performance or even finishing.
TriSports.com Founder Seton Claggett is an Ironman veteran. Ford Ironman Arizona in 2011 was his 8th Ironman Triathlon, including a race at the Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. He has completed other ultra-distance triathlons in addition to his World Triathlon Corporation dossier. This year he started out his season with the Leadman Epic Triathlon and also raced the ultra-distance Leadman mountain bike race. While Ironman is familiar territory to Claggett it was clear from the onset that Claggett’s goals for Tempe 2011 went beyond a strong finish. This year Claggett was intent on raising the bar.
In confirmation of the idea that “the way you do anything is the way you do everything” Claggett’s approach to Ford Ironman Arizona was extensively data-driven. His use and analysis of power meter data was central to his preparation along with an old-fashioned adherence to some key mega-workouts. One training ride took Claggett over 200 miles, multiple mountain passes (with over 14,500 feet of climbing) and lasted nearly 12 hours. This is the kind of mega-workout needed for solid performance at ultra-distance.
Several weeks before Ford Ironman Arizona I proposed to Seton that I would follow him on and off throughout the day to provide an insight on the Ironman experience. Ironman is much more than race day though. Ironman race day is like a long walk across a graduation stage following an extended course of preparation. By race day the work has either been done or it hasn’t. The quality of an athlete’s performance is reflective of that. In Claggett’s case, he apparently did his homework.
30 September, 2011. 11:36 Hr.s Local, Safford, Arizona:
Weeks before Ford Ironman Arizona Claggett did a "super brick" that combined the Mt. Graham Hill Climb followed by a long run from the race back into town.
On race day Seton shared a small hotel room with wife and TriSports.com co-founder Debbie Claggett and their two kids, Amity and Torin. Despite having two young children and the pressure of a tough day ahead of him Claggett showed no signs of nervousness on race morning. He finished his breakfast, rolled out his muscles using a MuscleTrac device and stepped outside his room to check the weather. For Claggett it had all the look and feel of any long day filled with a big workout, meetings and photo ops.
20 November, 2011. 04:51 Hr.s Local, Tempe, Arizona.
Like any day, Claggett woke, ate breakfast, helped get two sleepy kids out of bed and got ready to go to work.
Having seven Ironmans under his belt no doubt helped during the early morning preparation. Athletes in the transition set up their last minute nutritional needs on their bikes. Claggett pulled on a new TYR Hurricane Freak of Nature wetsuit, a suit he tested in the days prior to race day. He reported swimming 1:22 repeats at 100 meters doing a “60% throttle” effort. Based on his testing the suit would give him an edge by helping him swim faster with less effort. It’s that kind of analytical approach in the weeks and months before Ironman that predisposes an athlete to a strong performance on race day.
20 November, 2011. 06:11 Hr.s Local, Tempe, Arizona, Ford Ironman Arizona venue, T1.
A hectic pre-race transition area at Ford Ironman Arizona.
The swim start was, like most Ironmans, controlled chaos. Cannon sounding, people still pouring over the barriers to jump in the water. The Ford Ironman Arizona swim is unique since it is held in an inland waterway not affected by wind and waves. The swim course is a large, narrow, one lap triangle out and back. Claggett beached in 54:10 swimming a consistent pace of 1:25 per 100 meters, a comfortable effort for him given a strong swimming background.
20 November, 2011. 07:01 Hr.s Local, Tempe, Arizona, Ford Ironman Arizona venue, Swim Start.

Every Ironman swim start is chaotic. Athletes jump over the fence to hit the water seconds before the starting cannon sounds.
Once in T1 Claggett took a moment to pull on a TriSports.com cycling jersey, don his Garneau aerodynamic helmet and because of the cool morning temperatures, pull on long finger gloves for the early miles. Claggett’s transition was quick and business like.
Weeks earlier Claggett built up a new Quintana Roo Illicito with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2. He made small improvements to his fit and position while continuing to log huge mileage prior to a short taper. His seat angle was moderately steeper by race day, opening the angle between the femur and torso to allow a more comfortable posture on the bike, good digestion while riding and taking in nutrition and eye-ball good aerodynamics.
Claggett used “J” bend style Profile aerobars and a Fizik Arione Tri saddle above his favorite Time pedals. His race wheels were a Zipp disk rear with Powertap hub and a Zipp 808 Firecrest front rolling on Zipp Tangent tubular tires.
20 November, 2011. 07:57:43 Hr.s Local, Tempe, Arizona, Ford Ironman Arizona venue, T1.
Claggett in T1: A moment to pull on a jersey and gloves for the cool morning temps and then out.
The bike course at Ford Ironman Arizona is three loops on an out and back course for 112 miles. As with most Ironman bike courses the wind tends to build as the day goes on. Getting on the bike course early is an advantage since it is less crowded on the first loop and the wind is not as strong. Claggett had the bike course almost to himself as one of the early athletes out of the water.
20 November, 2011. 08:03:19 Hr.s Local, Tempe, Arizona, Ford Ironman Arizona venue, T1 exit.
Being on the bike course early presented the advantages of low wind speed and light traffic from other competitors.
Claggett’s bike splits showed the effects of the building wind- and change of wind direction- throughout the day. His first loop of three, completed in light wind and low bike traffic was done in 1:35:25 at an average of 23.52 MPH. As the atmospheric data shows for the day, the wind not only built slightly but changed direction, moving from a cross wind on most of the course to a difficult headwind on the return part of the course, effectively negating any benefit from the net elevation loss on the return trip of the bike. Athletes who got on the bike early were rewarded. Athletes who were stuck on the bike course by slow swim splits and slow average bike speeds got hammered by the change in wind direction and speed. As the wind speed chart below shows, anyone on the bike course after 2:00 PM local got hammered.
Getting on and off the bike course early proved to be an advantage at Ford Ironman Arizona in 2011 as wind velocity and direction changed throughout the day. Notice that at 12:00 Hr.s local zone time the wind accelerated significantly and changed direction from an effective cross wind to a significant headwind on the return leg of the bike course. Slow cyclists got punished. Claggett was already pulling on his running shoes by then.
Claggett’s bike preparation served him well as he maintained a strong 23.21 MPH average on the second loop, completing it in 1:36:09, only 44 seconds slower on his second lap than his first. From his first lap of the course to his third Claggett surrendered 3:30 to the increasing wind. Most athletes lost significant amounts of time from their first lap to their third. Using data from his power meter Claggett’s pace remained effectively similar.
Other TriSports.com atheltes, employees and customers on the course included TriSports.com's Alison Kablack, Billy Oliver, Shelly Daniell, Steve Acuna, Jarreau Jones, Thomas Gerlach.
Claggett has trained extensively with power, using it as his primary metric for maintaining pace and workload. A survey of his power output on the course reveals an uncanny adherence to his desired power output. If you look carefully at the change in average speed expressed in miles per hour it reveals interesting insights about his pacing, the wind direction and Claggett’s discipline in maintaining his power numbers.
The outbound leg of lap 1 is done at 23.1 MPH while the return leg is 21.1 MPH average, a 9.1% change in speed. His power output varied 9.7%, 214 watts average going out, 220 watts average returning. Over the entire 112 miles Claggett’s average cadence only varied 5 RPMs average from one recorded lap of 6 laps to the next, an extremely precise adherence to his race plan. His average cadence over the entire ride was 87.1 RPMs. This closely mimmicks his run pace cadence, facilitating an easy transition from bike to run and keeping the frequency of effort relatively constant.
A snapshot of Claggett's power data (click to enlarge) shows his average cadence per lap along with speed and power output. Claggett used each leg of the bike course as a "lap", three sets of out and back.
Claggett keeps an eye on his power and nutrition on the early two laps.
Ford Ironman Arizona’s multi-lap bike course on an out and back circuit mean the latter laps get crowded. As wind speed and direction changes the day becomes more difficult, punishing athletes who are late to get on the course. This leaves faster athletes with a crowded bike course on their third and final lap. Maneuvering around other athletes and staying within drafting rules means faster athletes are forced to the middle of the road near the white line. Corners are crowded and aid stations can be tricky to get through on the final lap, especially if you need a bottle.
Lap three: At this point every athlete in the race is on the bike course. It gets crowded and riding within the no-drafting rules becomes difficult. The faster athletes are forced toward the middle of the road.
Despite increasing numbers of athletes on the bike course, fatigue and rising winds Claggett’s 4th lap back into Tempe was his second fastest. He rode 17.8 miles at an average speed of 25.8 MPH from mile 57 to mile 75 on the bike course, a crucial segment in an Ironman where many athletes become complacent and give up time.
On his final circuit he gave up a small amount of time and speed but maintained consistent power numbers until hs last segment back into T2 where he finally went below 200 watts average power output for 18.9 miles averaged 196 watts.
Claggett’s crucial power metric for the entire ride, 3.18 watts per kilogram of body weight, proved to be an economical relationship between power output, speed and workload. He backed off significantly in the final miles before the bike to run transition to begin the run on fresh(er) legs.
Claggett’s approach on the bike was an assertive one. His average speeds on each leg were high. Using his power meter metrics to determine a sustainable pace netted imposing speed numbers. Some observers may suggest the bike ride was exceptionally ambitious. The outcome of the run would decide if it was a solid strategy.
Catching Claggett on his final leg back in toward T2. For the first time on the bike course the effort was visible on his face.
Claggett pulled on his running shoes at 12:44 PM (12:44 Hr.s) Local zone time. Once on the run he set an ambitious pace despite a minor nutritional mistake. Claggett used Infinit Ride Formula on the bike, a fluid replacement and energy drink with a small amount of protein. The 4 grams of protein per 2 scoops, 280 calories per serving in the form of ultra-pure whey isolate helps to resist the onset of a hungry sensation according to Infinit Nutrition. Claggett tested the formulation extensively in training before race day. No problems on the bike. His minor mistake was trying to use it on the run.
On the run the drink frothed up and became difficult to drink. The minor mistake was quickly corrected by switching to aid station nutrition. His first 2.5 miles on the run were done at a 6:50 pace. By mile 11 on the run he had maintained a 7:01 pace per mile. Over the next 8.5 miles the fatigue of the race began to accumulate as Claggett slowed to 7:59 per mile, a 12.5% reduction in run pace over 8.5 miles.

Claggett corrects an early run nutritional slip-up by ingesting an energy gel.
After the ambitious tempo on the bike and a very strong set of opening miles on the run Claggett moderated his effort over the final 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to an 8:33 mile pace. At 2:54 PM local time overall race winner, top professional Eneko Llanos stopped the clock at the finish line in downtown Tempe Arizona at 7:59:38 setting a new North American Ironman record.
Overall winner Eneko Llanos stops the clock in 7:59:38, only the second man to break 8 hours in a North American Ironman.
When Llanos hit the tape at Ford Ironman Arizona Claggett was entering his own finale in the closing miles of the run with about 74 minutes remaining in his race.
A steady stream of pros including overall women’s winner, TriSports.com’s Leanda Cave, hit the tape at 3:44 PM Local in 8:49:00. Claggett was about 3 miles from the finish line.
TriSports.com/K-Swiss athlete and local Tucsonian Leanda Cave stops the clock in 8:49:00 for 1st Female Pro. Claggett is entering his final four miles.
While conditions in Tempe for Ford Ironman Arizona were good early in the day the wind speed was taunting the back half of the field on the bike and early in the run. At 2:00 PM local the temperature had moderated at the high for the day, 71 degrees Fahrenheit. The mercury stayed there for the next three hours under a high overcast. Wind speed moderated at 8 M.P.H. blowing dead north. Most runners had a pleasantly cooling crosswind. Cyclists at the back of field coming into town faced this as an annoying headwind.
Claggett reported that he felt uncomfortable in the closing miles, leg pain and fatigue taking its toll following his aggressive pace. He was very much in a race as 37 year-old Warren McAndrew of Edmonds, Washington was less than a minute behind him. McAndrew was a threat to Claggett since he is a run specialist, having run a 3:32:32 marathon (8:06 pace) at the 2010 Ford Ironman Coeur d’Alene. McAndrew also had two marathons under his belt for the year in Vancouver, British Columbia and Napa Valley, California. At Claggett’s closing pace of 8:33 per mile on the run McAndrew could have been as fast as 27 seconds quicker per mile.
Entering the closing miles it was possible McAndrew could overhaul Claggett by over 30 seconds. One of the biggest age group pursuits of the day- and possibly of the entire Ironman season- was playing out in the final three miles of Ford Ironman Arizona. It was Claggett versus McAndrew.
Claggett was bouyed late in the run by seeing his son Torin and daughter Amity.
Claggett’s ambitious strategy using the power meter on the bike and an aggressive opening salvo in the run had broken McAndrew’s pursuit. He hit the tape at 9:14:56 as the Ford Ironman Arizona age category winner. Entering the finish chute Claggett was a little more than a city block in front of 2nd place age category contender Warren McAndrew after 140.6 miles. It was a hard fought age category win for Claggett. The battle started months earlier as Claggett accumulated huge miles on the bike, establishing his base, while McAndrew apparently focused more on his run. Claggett’s strategy won the day.
While Seton Claggett's form going into Ford Ironman Arizona 2011 was excellent, so was Warren McAndrew's. Claggett bested McAndrews by a scant 45 seconds in a 554 minute race.
Over a nine-hour race Claggett had won by one-tenth of one percent of the total race time, a mere 45 seconds. An extra bathroom stop would have obliterated his lead. On that day his race was perfectly engineered, an opus of preparation and execution.
Claggett celebrates his finish- and age category win with wife Debbie and daughter Amity, son Torin.
Claggett’s age category win earned him a coveted Ford Ironman World Championship slot for 2012, a spot he passed over to focus on business expansion at TriSports.com in the upcoming year, including the opening of a new TriSports.com Retail store in downtown Tempe, Arizona.
Following his race Claggett was pleased his training and plan had come together. The normally reserved Claggett was excited by his performance, thanking employees and other competitors for being at the event to share the day and witness his performance along with Steve Acuna, Alison Kablack, Shelley Daniel, Leanda Cave, Billy Oliver, Jarreau Jones, Thomas Gerlach and other athletes affiliated with TriSports.com including an army of volunteers staffing the TriSports.com aid station on the run course.
Claggett’s race was confirmation that much of Ironman success is built in the months before race day and the engineering  and execution of a careful race plan on race day. The remainder of a great race is crafted from experience in other Ironman triathlons and the intangible ingredient that makes one athlete want to win more than another- the thing that truly makes anything possible.
Zipp 404 5,000+ Mile Torture Test. https://university.trisports.com/2011/12/07/zipp-404-5000-mile-torture-test/ Wed, 07 Dec 2011 23:37:09 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=3597 How durable is the venerable Zipp 404 clincher wheel? We tortured the Zipp 404 clincher over 5453.8 miles of tough commuting on marginal roads. How did the "race wheel" thought of for light weight and aerodynamics hold up? Find out here. ]]>

By Tom Demerly

After- and Before. The Zipp 404 on the left has 5,453.8 commuter miles on marginal roads. The 404 on the right is out-of-the-box new.

How durable is the 2011 Zipp 404 wheel in the real world? Can you ride them everyday? Are they durable enough for bad roads? And most importantly, if you buy Zipp 404 wheels will they last for a number of race seasons and retain their resale value?

We rarely get the time to test products over a span of a couple years. Product life cycles tend to run in model year, roughly 12-18 month cycles. Manufacturers time new introductions for the beginning of successive seasons when consumer interest in the latest and greatest is running high.

Until the recession.

The global recession has torpedoed discretionary spending among consumers and caused them to keep the things they buy longer and to shop discounts and sales carefully when they finally do buy. Even though our sport is purported to be “recession proof” when you look at race participation numbers (especially at Ironman) the economic environment has refocused consumer attention on value. Value is a good price for good equipment that lasts.

Two years ago I began riding a pair of new Zipp 2011 Zipp 404 clincher wheels. This is the pre-Firecrest wheel with the silver, brushed aluminum alloy braking surface, carbon fiber rim, one version removed from latest hub.

I commute to work nearly everyday and completed more bicycle commutes to and from TriSports.com than any other employee in 2010 and again in 2011. My commute is between 7.5 miles and 19.5 miles depending on the route. The direct, 7.5 mile route on Alvernon has mixed pavement but heavy traffic. I’ve been hit once by a van while commuting on this route and tried to resuscitate one pedestrian run over by a car. It’s a busy main street through a crowded central city area. The long 19.5 mile route is down Swan to Golf Links at the north end of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Circling Davis-Monthan takes you over Kolb Rd. and Wilmot Rd. then up Valencia. Each of these roads have wide bike paths but poor, sun cracked black asphalt. The route passes in front of the Pima Air Museum and through the famous Davis-Monthan AFB AMARG “Bone Yard” or storage facility for surplus U.S. and international military aircraft.

Pavement in Tucson ranges from excellent to poor due to exposure to sun and high temperatures. Because most of my commutes are in high automobile traffic areas the pavement tends to be poor. I cross this expansion joint 2 times day- one of many.

“The Zipp 404 wheel is likely the most popular aerodynamic wheel in the world.”

The Zipp 404 wheel is likely the most popular aerodynamic wheel in the world. Year after year at the Kona bike count Zipp brand wheels count for more race wheels than any other brand by a substantial margin and the majority of those are 404’s. The Zipp 404 is a “do everything” wheel. It’s 63 millimeter deep measured rim depth is optimal for cross winds, flat, rolling and even very hilly courses and has tested most effective across a wide range of yaw angles than any other rim depth. If you do a survey of the middle 90% of Ironman bike splits averaging between 17 and 22 M.P.H. the Zipp 404’s 63 mm rim depth is the best choice. In fact, when Steve Hed innovated the deep section aero wheel in the late 1980’s the original wind tunnel results suggested an “about 60 mm” rim depth would be the absolute optimal rim depth. Since then more aero wheel brands such as Zipp, HED, Mavic, Easton, Campagnolo, Shimano and many others have settled on the 60 millimeter rim depth as the de-facto “best” relationship of weight, durability and aerodynamics. The implication is clear: If you own one set of race wheels, buy 60 mm deep aero wheels.

The Zipp 404 clinchers I ride use a SRAM cogset and have rolled on three different rear Continental Gator Skin 700 X 25 c tires and two different Continental 700 X 23c front tires. I’ve lost 24 pounds since I started riding these wheels to and from work and weigh 161 pounds at 5’9″. I ride in all weather, from summer Tucson heat to the 31 degree low temps I rode in this morning and the rare Tucson gulley-flusher downpour.

Even with five flat tires, one minor collision with a car and literally thousands of chuck-hole strikes my Zipp 404’s are perfectly true. They have also retained spoke tension almost identical to a new wheel out of the box. There are minor scratches on the finish from hitting road debris but no damage tot he structural carbon or the alloy brake track. The hubs were adjusted once (tightened) at about 200 miles suggesting they were slightly lose out of the box from the factory. Once the bearing adjustment cap was turned down and the set screw torqued the hubs have stayed in adjustment for 5,453.8 miles.

Left: With 5453.8 miles and one early hub adjustment the hubs have stayed in adjustment and still roll freely. (Left) A new hub from the same model year wheel.

Zipp 404’s are hand made in Zipp’s assembly and manufacturing facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. I’ve toured the quality control and manufacturing facility including the areas where the rims are molded and finished. After seeing the process of laying up the carbon fiber and finishing the cured carbon fiber rims then hand assembling the wheels I wasn’t surprised that I got good durability from a stock set of wheels. the process is meticulously controlled and has been updated continuously since Zipp started making wheels in the 1980’s.

Close inspection of the areas where stress accumulates on wheels revealed no change in the wheel from when it was mounted. The areas surrounding the spoke nipple are intact and, once the road film is cleaned away from them, they appear as they did when new. The bladed orientation of the spokes has stayed in alignment with the wheel itself, suggesting the spokes have not twisted, bent or been deformed by impacts, wheel removal, loading the bike into a vehicle or from chuck hole strikes.

The 5,453.8 mile wheel (right) showed no signs of wear at the spoke nipple or spoke inlet to the rim. Other than an accumulation of road film it appears unchanged from the new wheel (left).

Another area we wanted to check for wear was the alloy brake track. While Zipp has spent significant resources on the design of their new carbon fiber brake tracks in wear, heat dissipation and stopping power the previous machined alloy brake track was proven and dependable. The southern Arizona, Tucson riding environment is a dust and sandy one. The weather is extremely dry so dust and sand accumulate in the braking system and on the pads. This has an abrasive effect on the rim surface. At 5453.8 miles my rims did show some brake wear, but not much. As a percentage of total rim wear, with 100% being completely worn out, I would suggest these rims are now as much as 15% worn after 5453.8 miles with frequent braking in the commuting environment. It is worth noting the same set of original equipment brake pads were used for the entire life of the wheels, and that those likely accelerated the wear of the rim section as they became laden with grit and road film. Another benefit to the alloy rim is that is uses a normal (non-carbon specific) brake pad that is extremely durable.

Brake track wear on the 5,453.8 mile wheel may be as high as 15% after frequent braking in a highly abrasive environment. The benefit of using a traditional brake pad on an alloy rim means brakes and rims both last longer. (Right) The same model year wheel as new.

Shift performance, ride quality, sound and the other features of wheel performance have remained unchanged throughout the 5,453.8 mile ownership test. There has been no maintenance beyond the early hub adjustment performed on the wheels. Tire changes were performed when flat tires from foreign object punctures occured. Even with the accumulation of desert dust and grit the wheels have maintained good mechanical performance, braking, shifting and rolling.

Another feature to previous model year Zipp wheels is the economic component of the ownership experience. Zipp wheels purchased new from an authorized dealer come with Zipp’s warranty against defects to the original owner. Wheels purchased in the secondary market such as auction sites or Internet classifieds do not have warranty support from Zipp but still command prices close to- or even above- current pricing on previous model year Zipp 404’s sold through authorized Zipp dealers. Since previous model year Zipp wheels tend to hold their resale value relative to other brands there is an economic component to the Zipp brand missing from other brands. For any consumer dubious about carbon rims, the prior alloy rim Zipp 404 remains attractive, especially with these late model hubs.

Prior model year Zipp 404 wheels hold their resale value in the secondary market according to a survey we did on several popular auction and internet classified websites. This reduces the true "ownership cost".

While it is unusual for us to be able to test any product over 20 months of continuous use in all settings this test proved interesting since the 2011 Zipp 404 exceeded our expectations for impact resistance, wear and mechanical reliability. The wheels also command near-new resale value in the secondary market.

Zipp makes continuous improvements to their wheels with on-going weight reduction, aerodynamic improvements and other design updates. These updates are made so quickly that prior version wheels often still exceed the performance standards of competing brands and offer exceptional value.

The test bike for our 5453.8 mile Zipp 404 test, ridden in all weather and all road conditions over 20+ months.

The Zipp 404 is the classic aerodynamic performance wheel. I’ve stopped referring to them as “race wheels” since that suggests some exclusion from the ability to be used every day. That isn’t true with these wheels. They are fast on race day and they are durable and mechanically dependable enough for everyday use. Every wheel can be damaged by a chuck hole strike, crash, mishandling on a car rack or packing case. Those are not warranty situations- they are accidents in the normal course of race wheel use and not covered by a warranty. The everyday wear and tear on the wheels did not induce any damage or wear even after 5453.8 miles in tough, real world conditions. That is an impressive result. The 2011 version of the  Zipp 404 has truly stood up to the test of time and distance.

Buy This Product Now on TriSports.com

Guru Part 2: Your Bike and The DFU https://university.trisports.com/2011/09/13/guru-part-2-your-bike-and-the-dfu/ Wed, 14 Sep 2011 00:30:00 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=3175 In Part Two of our look at Guru Bikes we find the one bike that fits every rider- without exception: Guru’s Dynamic Fit Unit. See what may be the most advanced fit bike in the world here.]]>

By Tom Demerly.

Guru's DFU or "Dynamic Fit Unit" provides a level of control and insight into the rider position unavailable with any other fit tool.

“But how will it feel?”

It’s the most common question from a bike fit client considering a new bike- or a custom bike purchase. Customers want to know how a bike will feel before they buy it.

Why Test Rides Lie.

Test riding a bike is the least effective way to decide which bike to buy. When you ask customers about why they want to test ride a bike the answer is nearly universal: “I just want to see how it  feels.

“During a test ride a bike is not truly fitted to you.”

The majority of test rides are a quick 15-20 minute spin in street clothes and a borrowed helmet in the parking lot in front of the bike shop. The test ride does not represent the ownership experience. You aren’t using the pedal system, shoes, position, clothing, saddle and other rider-specific variables that you would actually use on a real ride. You may not even know the tire pressure. Most importantly the bike is not truly fitted to you. A 20 minute test ride won’t accurately predict how the bike will feel in the fourth hour of a five hour ride. A bike shop employee may estimate the saddle height, but it is little more than an educated guess.

For recreational bicycles like casual use mountain bikes, beach cruisers and light commuter bikes below $1500 a quick test spin may be an adequate evaluative tool. For a performance oriented road or triathlon bike you deserve more than a guess at saddle height and a quick spin to “see what it feels like”.

Data screens in the DFU software capture personal client information, fit notes and all relevant anatomical measurements as well as the different bike fit dimensions tried by the rider.

“But I wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it!” is one of the most common retorts to debunking the test ride. The argument does not transfer to buying an individually fitted bike. Whether a driver is 6’ tall or 5’4” they will test drive the same car. They will adjust the position of the seat and the steering wheel, but the same vehicle effectively “fits” both people- mostly because people don’t pedal cars. Within types of cars customers generally know if they need a sport utility, a passenger car or a pick-up.

On a road or triathlon bike there are at least 18 positional variables. The combination of different fit configurations within those 18 different fit-adjustable items is boggling. It is too much to test and keep track of with a casaul ride. A common phenomenon of new riders is that, the more bikes they test ride, the more they become confused. Buying a road or triathlon bike is different than buying a car– there are more variables and more opportunities to change the fit and position on a bike. Pedaling a bike is more dependent on fit and position than driving a car. The best tool in helping decide what bike to buy is your bike fitter.

“The best tool in helping decide what bike to buy is your bike fitter.”

Warming up on the Guru DFU prior to a fit and position session. The CompuTrainer SpinScan display will be on the right monitor while motion capture imagery is displayed on the left monitor.

A final argument some people make against taking the bike fitter’s advice is that the bike fitter is “only there to sell a bike”.  If you are standing in a bike shop on a Saturday morning- it’s likely you are there to buy one. A good bike fitter gets you on the right bike, in the right positon and respects your time. While bike shopping is fun, most people don’t want to spend five hours in a bike shop on Saturday evaluating bikes without an orderly process with a beginning, middle and end. Good bike fitters know this.

The customer depends on the bike dealer to narrow the choices and make the one best recommendation based on fit, position and the rider’s needs. A good dealer maintains an inventory of bikes that fit short torso riders, long torso riders, tall riders, short riders, overweight riders and elite level racers. They know which bike will work for what body type and their fit process brings the two together. The best fitters aren’t afraid to turn a customer away if they find a “no fit” but, conversely, the best fitters have an inventory that will accommodate more than just the middle 60% of customers.

The Guru Dynamic Fit Unit.

The Guru Dynamic Fit Unit, or DFU, is a robotic position simulator with built in diagnostics for power output and rider efficiency. For the bike customer and the bike fitter it is one of the best tools in matching optimal bike to customer.

Motors manipulate the contact points in 1 millimeter increments controlled at the computer by the fitter. This enables the rider to move back and forth between positions to see which position provides better power output at a given heart rate on the CompuTrainer display.

Guru developed the DFU after two years of testing. The device, combined with the CompuTrainer, combines the relevant diagnostics for racing bicycles across the entire envelope- from climbing a 10% grade at 5 M.P.H. to going flat out at over 25 M.P.H. This testing transcends what wind tunnels can tell us about a rider’s position because it tests efficiency down to the lowest cycling speeds. In the hands of a skilled and experienced fitter this test apparatus tells us what position and bike geometry will provide the most performance from a rider’s physiological capabilities. The Guru DFU and a skilled fitter does what no test ride can do. It uses data to create the best bike in a virtual setting. Guru frame builders move that design from the virtual space to the real world.

“The Guru DFU tells us what position and bike geometry will provide the most performance from a rider’s capabilities- across the entire performance envelope.”

While adjustable fit bikes have been around for some time the Guru DFU is currently the only automated fit bike that enables the fitter to change the position in as little as 1 mm increments while the rider is pedaling. The rider does not have to dismount. Different configurations can be saved in detail in the software for better/best comparison in only a few seconds and with the press of a mouse button.

In addition to understanding how different positions “feel” the Guru DFU uses the CompuTrainer to provide terrain simulation and a graphic representation of force vectors throughout the pedal stroke. Combined with heart rate and power output numbers the data stream can be converged to show the most power output with lowest heart rate by manipulating the DFU bike position under the rider and observing the data. While a wind tunnel only tests for aerodynamic drag a DFU tests for the optimal combination of rider efficiency whether you are climbing at low speeds or going flat out into a headwind.

Left to Right: The CompuTrainer load generator on the rear wheel of the DFU. The saddle position servo on its x/y axis tractor. A fitter manipulates the position using the controls from the computer screen while monitoring changes in heart rate and power output.

When the DFU was introduced Serotta had also shown an automated/robotic position simulator. There was a brief intellectual property dispute between Guru and at least one other fit bike vendor- possibly Serotta. The result was Guru emerging with the DFU and no other similar, powered, remotely operated apparatus in the marketplace. Several other position simulators resemble the DFU, but they are not motor driven or computer controlled.

A CompuTrainer resistance controller and calibration unit from FloScan/RacerMate provides control and calibration of the resistance unit.

Fit components such as saddle, handlebars and aerobars on the DFU can be changed quickly using quick release stems and seat clamps.  The rider can try various saddles and cockpits quickly, switching back and forth for comparison both using the data stream on the CompuTrainer read out, and from feel. All the data is stored in data fields on Guru’s DFU software.

Adjustable crank lengths expand the ability to try new positions and see the performance change and physiological cost expressed as heart rate on the CompuTrainer read-out.

The Guru DFU interfaces with Guru’s frame building capabilities by supplying a set of parameters to the builder for optimal rider position. The builder uses what Guru has learned about frame construction and geometry to integrate the DFU fit data into the frame design. The result is a precisely fitted bike built in a rapid-prototyping, virtual space but with the actual physiological input from the rider. It is more precise, empirical and provides greater capabilities than any other bike fit, position and diagnostic tool.

The Guru DFU requires an experienced bike fitter who understands fit principles such as those taught by Dan Empfield’s  Fit Institute of Slowtwitch or “F.I.S.T.”. An experienced fitter knows what direction to take a rider to improve their comfort, safety and performance on the bike by interpreting the data provided by the Guru DFU to design a custom Guru bike. Given an experienced bike fitter using a proven process who knows bike fit the DFU may be the most powerful tool to merge data into bike design.

The final product from Guru is a bike built to dimensions derived from testing that was unavailable at the consumer level until the Guru DFU.

Beginner’s Guide to Clipless Pedals https://university.trisports.com/2011/09/09/beginner%e2%80%99s-guide-to-clipless-pedals/ https://university.trisports.com/2011/09/09/beginner%e2%80%99s-guide-to-clipless-pedals/#comments Sat, 10 Sep 2011 00:43:10 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=3135 A clipless pedal system may be the best performance and safety upgrade a new rider can make. We take the new user to school here in “Clipless 101”. Clipless class is in session...]]>

By Tom Demerly

Clipless Pedal Guide
With a wide variety of models and features it’s worth doing some research before your buy your first pair of clipless pedals.

Clipless pedals, pedals that mechanically engage the shoe, may be the single largest upgrade a new rider can make.  This article will provide an overview of popular systems and insights into choosing a pedal system that is appropriate for you, along with tips on selecting the right pedal and avoiding bad choices.

Clipless pedals provide an enhanced margin of safety compared to toe clips and straps by allowing the rider’s foot to disengage from the pedal if the angle of the foot to the pedal exceeds a certain amount; as in a crash. With toe clips and straps your feet may come out of the pedals if you fall, but they may not. There is no designed-in escape mechanism in a toe clip but clipless pedals have a designed-in safety release.

Clipless pedals increase pedaling efficiency by transferring power from the leg to the bike more efficiently. The best orientation of your foot on the pedal changes slightly as your pedaling force and speed change. Pedals with “float” enable the rider’s foot to move naturally to the optimal orientation on the pedal for changing pedaling rates (cadence) and changing amounts of pedal force.

A Brief History of the Modern Clipless Pedal.

While crude examples existed since the early 1900’s, including the Cinelli “death pedal”, the modern clipless pedal was invented by the French inventor Jean Beyl, an early innovator of spring release ski bindings. In the early 1980’s Beyl designed an “automatic safety pedal” while working for the Look ski binding company. That pedal became the “Look” pedal.

Early white Look pedals and the later all black Look “Racing Pedal” were heavy and held the rider’s foot in static alignment with the pedal; your foot did not move. Beyl went on to develop a new technology that introduced lateral (side to side) and rotational movement, known as “float”. Beyl discovered that if the pedal allowed the foot to find its natural orientation performance was enhanced. He was also the first to formally acknowledge that the geometry of the foot changes on the pedal. The cleat/pedal interface ought to accommodate that for optimal performance and safety.

This famous Graham Watson image of Bernard Hinault and Greg Lemond on L’Alpe d Huez in 1985 shows both men using the new clipless Look pedal, the beginning of a revolution.

Beyl attempted to convince Look to include rotational and lateral movement into their pedal designs, but business pressures prevented a change in design. Beyl left Look in the late 1980’s to partner with two French businessmen to start a company called “Time Sport”. He introduced the Time Pedal with rotational and lateral movement built in. Under the U.S. direction of the charismatic French businessman Jean-Pierre Pascal, Time Sport grew rapidly. In 1989 the majority of riders in the Tour de France, including winner Greg LeMond, were using Time pedals.  Top pro riders switched to Time pedals because they felt it extended their careers and limited exposure to knee injuries. Since Beyl introduced rotational movement in pedals with the first Time pedal, all pedals now incorporate some provision for rotational movement.

Picking Your Pedal: What Should You Buy?

Clipless pedal systems are commonly bought incorrectly. A search of forums like beginertriathlete.com produces many stories from athletes who bought clipless pedal systems at local bike shops unfamiliar with triathlons. The most common mistake first time clipless pedal buyers make is to buy two-sided, “walkable” clipless pedals like Shimano SPD mountain bike pedals for use in triathlons. While their reasoning seems sound, you can clip into either side and walk through transition areas with the shoes on without slipping, the drawbacks of added weight, small cleats and difficulty clipping into a small pedal system (even with two sides to clip into) soon surface.

Most first time clipless buyers upgrade to a road specific system quickly. Some are so discouraged by the difficulty of getting into and out of small-cleat SPD systems that they give up on clipless pedals and consider them as “dangerous”. This is largely due to poor equipment choice and set up.

Walkable mountain bike style shoes and pedals can also be difficult to install since the tread of the shoe can interfere with the engagement of the cleat to the pedal. This makes clipping in- and out- very difficult since the tread on the shoe may actually interfere with how the pedal functions. Good bike fitters and mechanics will test and prevent this when they set your pedals up.

Installing Your Pedals and Setting Up your Shoes and Cleats.

No matter what clipless pedal you buy you must have the pedals, shoes and cleats set up correctly. If you are new to clipless pedals it is best to have an experienced mechanic install your pedals, cleats, and fit your shoes. Setting up clipless pedals involves installing the pedals on your bike, fitting you for shoes and then installing the pedal cleats onto your shoes. Each of these three tasks requires experience. The most common basic problems setting up a clipless pedal system are:

  • The left pedal is reverse thread so it does not loosen from pedaling forces. The installation of the left pedal is “Lefty Tighty”, not “Righty Tighty” as normal threads are.
  • New cycling shoe customers usually buy shoes too large. Cycling shoes need to fit snugly and precisely. Movement of the foot inside the shoe will create friction and localized hot spots. Never buy shoes with “room for your feet to swell”. That adjustment is made with the closures on the shoe once it is precisely fitted to a non-swollen foot.
  • Installing your cleats to an anatomically neutral position. The cleats are bolted to the bottom of your shoes and can be adjusted laterally (left to right), fore and aft and rotationally. If cleats are installed incorrectly they may position your foot at an uncomfortable and inefficient angle on the pedals. This could lead to injury and make using your pedals more difficult. An experienced and formally trained bike fitter can adjust your pedal cleats on your shoes to a neutral angle that does not place stress on your joints while pedaling.

Learning to Use Clipless Pedals.

You may have heard of riders “tipping over” when using clipless pedals without being able to remove their feet from the pedals. This can be due to a lack of familiarity with the pedal system, less-than-optimal or incorrect pedal and cleat set up or a combination of both.

The best way to learn to use your new clipless pedals is to set aside time specifically for learning how to use them. In other words, don’t try to use new clipless pedals on a training  ride or race. Instead, set aside a specific time to learn how to put your shoes on correctly, mount the bicycle, clip in and begin pedaling without falling over.

An indoor trainer that holds your bike securely upright is a great tool for learning how to enter and exit clipless pedals in a controlled setting. You can’t fall over. You won’t run into something while you are looking down at your feet to learn how to clip in and out.

Once your mechanic and bike fitter has fitted you with shoes and installed your cleats and pedals they can provide an explanation of how your pedals and shoes work, give you a demonstration then you can have a practical application as you try the system yourself on the indoor trainer under your bike fitter/mechanic’s supervision and assistance.

For your first rides outdoors using clipless pedals find an area free of traffic with good pavement and no obstacles, such as a large empty parking lot, empty paved bike path without traffic or quiet subdivision where you can make right turns without having to stop frequently as your practice.

Clipless Pedals and Shoes: Two Basic Types.

Pedals and shoes can be broken down to two large categories: Three hole pattern pedals designed for road cycling and Two hole pattern pedals designed for mountain bike/off road riding and also some application in road touring.

Top: A road shoe has a rigid outsole designed predominantly for pedaling. Bottom: Mountain bike off-road and casual touring shoes have a “walkable” outsole with a recessed space for the cleat to fit into.

A common mistake new riders (and bike shops…) make is to sell entry level cyclists a “walkable” or two-hole pattern pedal system since they mistakenly believe it is easier to use. In general, buying a “walkable” shoe and pedal for triathletes and road riders is a mistake. The reasoning is the shoes are less slippery on pavement or floors to walk in. While this is true, remember that you are buying a shoe mainly to pedal your bike, not to walk in. Once new riders become accustomed to using clipless pedals they usually regret buying the heavier, lower performance “walkable” systems. Since pedal and shoe weight rotates and must be accelerated and decelerated every time you start and stop pedaling, a slightly lighter road specific shoe/pedal system will offer better performance (especially on hills) than a heavier “walkable” MTB style system.

If you buy a road cycling clipless system first it may take slightly longer to learn, but you will appreciate the performance and ease of pedaling quickly.

Left: A “3 Hole Pattern” or “Look Compatible” road shoe. Right: An “SPD Compatible” or “2 hole pattern” shoe for casual use and off road riding.

Pedal and Cleat Durability, Performance and Fitting.

Now that you know you need a road specific clipless pedal system and shoe if you are a road rider or triathlete it’s time to learn more about what factors influence pedal performance and safety.

Closer is Better. Simpler is Safer.

It’s a reality that we usually don’t maintain our equipment as often as we should. Clipless pedal systems-  pedals, shoes and cleats, require regular maintenance for performance and safety. The more complex the system becomes, the more maintenance it will require.

Inspect pedals and cleats frequently to be certain your cleats are tight on your shoes and your pedals are free from damage. Plastic and metal pedals seem to wear at about the same rate.

The most important clipless pedal maintenance is keeping the system clean and the cleat fasteners tight on the shoe. This requires frequent inspection and cleaning, and should not be ignored.

Since maintenance is important in clipless pedal use, the simpler the system is (cleats, pedals and shoes) the easier it will be to maintain and the more likely you will be to actually do it. You can wash your pedals off with a soft brush, soap and water- same for your cleats on the soles of your shoes.

Check your cleat wear often. Because riders tend to put one foot down more often that foot will wear more quickly. Worn cleats are a safety hazard.

Worn pedal cleats change the way your bike fits and may not release the way they are designed. They may release without warning, or they may not release when you need them to. Worn pedal cleats are also prone to breakage. This could contribute to a crash. Cleats often wear differently on each foot since we tend to put one foot down at stoplights over and over. That foot will wear faster. Again- inspect your pedals and cleats frequently for wear, dirt and damage. Check the pedals to be sure they do not have excessive “play” or movement at the axle. Pedals with worn bearing may fail suddenly and come off the crank arm entirely.

The distance from the center of the pedal axle to the ball of the foot inside the shoe influences pedal performance. Closer is generally better for more efficient power transfer and reduced angular torque.

With very few exceptions clipless pedals tend to work better when the pedal axle is closer to the ball of the foot, both front to rear and in height. For this reason pedal and shoe designers try to keep the sole of cycling shoes thin and stiff and the distance from the center of the pedal axle to the place where the ball of your foot is inside your shoe as minimal as possible. This reduces a phenomenon some pedal designers refer to as “rocking torque” and engineers sometimes call “angular torque”. If you think back to your first tricycle, which may have been equipped with wood pedal blocks so you could reach the pedals, it was difficult to keep the pedal under your foot when you pressed down hard. Unless the application of forces was in perfect vertical alignment with the pedal axle through its rotation, your foot tended to veer off the pedal. That is rocking torque- the bigger your pedals blocks the harder it is to apply pedal forces accurately.

Shims? Wedges?

There is a trend among some bike fitters to use “shims” or “wedges” to “tune” or “optimize” your pedaling and power transfer with clipless pedals. The logic is a straighter pedaling motion where the knee moves up, down and around the pedal circle is more efficient and anatomically correct. These wedges and shims attempt to align the movement of the knee and leg throughout the pedal stroke, making it appear straighter.

In general bike fitters- with very few exceptions- do not have the formal training in anatomy and physical therapy to competently administer shims and wedges. They often do more harm than good, “fixing” problems that sometimes don’t exist or are better addressed by a qualified physical therapist, more training or both.

Most joint alignment is facilitated by the normal physiological development of a new cyclist, and it changes as the cyclist develops. Very few professional cyclists use wedges or shims. As a cyclist trains their body acclimates to maintain an efficient pedal stroke- and that stroke may not necessarily be in perfect visual alignment. Some cyclists, including top professionals like Tour de France winner Jan Ulrich, pedal naturally with asymmetrical alignment. Ulrich’s knees move outward at the top of the pedal stroke to such a degree that Tour announcers Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin described his style as “ungainly”. It didn’t keep him from winning the Tour de France.

Because a straighter pedaling alignment isn’t always optimal and bike fitters lack the diagnostic capability to determine what is optimal shims and wedges should be avoided. In medically verified instances such as a skeletal leg length discrepancy or other orthopedic indication verified by X-ray from a licensed physical therapist that specializes in sports and cycling, shims may provide a benefit- but leave the shims and wedges to the medical community, not the bike shop.

The Brands and Systems: A Thumbnail Guide.

Shimano: Road and Off Road “Walkable” MTB.

A. Shimano PD-6700 Ultegra pedal. B. Shimano PD-R540 pedal. C. Shimano PD-A530 pedal. D. Shimano PD-M540 MTB pedal.


Shimano makes a number of road and off road pedal systems that include “walkable” systems for casual, recreational and mountain bike use and dedicated road systems used by top professionals like Lance Armstrong.

The “walkable” Shimano SPD/MTB pedal systems work with a shoe that is easier to walk in than traditional road cycling shoes but not a good choice for triathlons or road riding due to the small cleat size and heavy weight. They are frequently bought by entry level cyclists and triathletes who soon realize they should have bought a dedicated road system such as the PD-6700 Ultegra or PR-R540 road pedal.

While Shimano supplies their mountain bike and touring pedals with the black, single release mode SM-SH71 cleat the SM-SH56 Multi Release cleat is a worthwhile upgrade since it enables to to clip in and out in a number of directions making the system safer and easier to use.

Here are a few of our favorites:

A. Shimano PD-6700 Ultegra pedals are a wide body, large platform pedal that is all alloy construction. The system uses a three-hole “Look compatible” cleat system. Two cleats are available for this syste m; a rarely used SM-SH10 red and black cleat with fixed position (no “float”) and the commonly used SM-SH11 yellow and black with 6 degrees of angular rotation. This pedal has a proven track record and is well suited for riders with larger feet above size 9 US

B. Shimano PD-R540 pedals are value priced, large platform, all alloy clipless pedals that use the three hole “Look compatible” mounting pattern. These are an excellent value and strong first time pedal choice. The pedal uses the SM-SH10 fixed and more commonly the SM-SH11 floating cleat with 6 degrees of angular rotation.

C. Shimano PD-A530 pedals are a dual use pedal with a mountain bike style SPD clipless pedal on one side and a large, flat platform on the other for use with normal street shoes. This is a casual/recreational use pedal good for short distance commuter bikes or coffee shop bikes. The pedal is heavy and not intended for triathlons or performance riding. Because it uses the smaller SPD MTB two-hole pattern metal cleats, SM-SH51 Single Release and SM-SH56 Multi Release.  SM-SH56 Multi Release is recommended for easy entry and exit. The PD-A530 works with “walkable” shoes but, due to the small cleat size, can be slightly tricky to get into for new users.

D. Shimano PD-M540 MTB pedals are a two sided, off road specific pedal for mountain bikes. The pedals use the smaller SPD MTB two-hole pattern metal cleats, SM-SH51 Single Release and SM-SH56 Multi Release. SM-SH56 is recommended for easy entry and exit. This is another pedal frequently bought by first time triathletes and road riders who want a “walkable” shoe but quickly find out there are performance compromises.

Very few cyclists would use the red SM-SH10 fixed mode cleat that does not allow the foot to “float” or rotate in the pedal. The yellow SM-SH-11 cleat is supplied with Shimano road clipless pedals and should be used as the replacement cleat also.

Look Keo Clipless Pedals.

Perhaps the most popular road pedal. Look invented the current version of the popular clipless pedal and has refined their designs consistently every since. There are many versions at widely varied prices.

Among many benefits to Look pedals is the easy availability of pedal cleats. Since the pedal is so popular almost every bike shop has replacement cleats in stock. This is a boon to the triathlete who travels frequently. The down side is the plymer cleats can wear quickly with frequent walking. These cleats need to be checked for wear regularly.

The three easily identifiable versions of Look Keo cleats. The grey 4.5 degree version is supplied with Look Keo pedals.

Look has recently introduced their new Blade pedals but the Keo and Keo Max continue to be the most commonly used. Look Keo and Keo Max pedals can be used with either of three different Keo cleats that provide no rotational movement (black), 4.5 degrees of rotational movement (grey), or 9 degrees of rotation (red). The grey 4.5 degree version is supplied in the box with pedals and is the most commonly used.

There are two versions of Look Keo cleats, the normal version and the more recent “grip” version with grey polymer traction pads on the outside of the cleat to prevent you from slipping when walking on smooth surfaces. The grip version in grey 4.5 degrees rotational movement is supplied in the box with Look Keo and Keo Max pedals.

Look’s Keo pedals, including the new wide bodied version on the right, are popular choices and good for all ability levels.

AThe Keo Easy is the full size road clipless pedal specifically designed for first time clipless pedal users. This pedal come with a lower release tension spring for smaller riders. The light spring enables riders to clip out of the pedal easier. This pedal uses either of the three Keo cleats and is supplied with the grey 4.5 degree rotation cleat. It is a good choice for new users but second year athletes frequently want to upgrade.

B. The Keo Classic is extremely light considering its price which makes it an excellent value at under $120. This pedal uses adjustable binding release tension and comes with the grey 4.5 degree rotation cleat.  This is a pedal system most riders will never “outgrow”. It is a true performance oriented clipless road and triathlon pedal at a great price. Other than relying on a plastic cleat that tends to wear quickly with contact to pavement- as with walking and stopping- this pedal has very few drawbacks.

C. The Keo Carbon has recently been replaced by the Keo 2 Max Carbon. The original Keo Carbon is slightly narrower than the new version and is being phased out in favor of the new Keo 2 Max Carbon. It is a capable, lightweight professional pedal that includes a molded carbon fiber impregnated body for increased stiffness and a lightweight titanium axle.

D. Look’s newer Keo 2 Max pedals use a wider platform and brushed metal surface to facilitate better “Arc” or rotational movement on the pedal. These wider platforms may feel more stable underfoot to some riders, especially with inexpensive plastic, non-carbon fiber reinforced shoes. The pedal remains relatively light even in the wider width due to the molded polymer body which is incredible durable. There is adjustable binding tension and a sub $200 price tag making this a strong contender. This wider pedal body design is the direction most pedal users are trending toward. The pedal is sold in two colors, white and grey.

Speedplay X, Zero and Light Action Clipless Pedals.

Speedplay inventor and clipless pedal expert Richard Byrne is such an authority on clipless pedals he is actually the “curator” of a museum of clipless pedals at Speedplay’s headquarters.

Speedplay has a proven competitive record in the top races and triathlons, used in the Tour de France and the most popular pedal choice in races like the Ironman World Triathlon Championships.

There are many advantages to each of the Speedplay systems including light weight, rotational movement from the center of the pedal (as opposed to rotating from the toe on other popular systems) and a high degree of “fit-ability” to individual riders.

Speedplay’s method of clipping in is different from pedals such as Shimano road pedals, Look Keo and Time. The majority of road specific pedals clip-in by engaging the toe first in a forward sweeping motion, then clamping down the heel. This prevents the foot from slipping forward off the pedal platform. Speedplays seem to engage from the rear of the pedal more effectively, and this takes a little learning. Because the pedal is two-sided it can be clipped into from either side. You don’t have to worry about having the pedal right side up.

The system does use a lot of bits and pieces in the cleats. Since the system is so “fit-able” it works best for athletes who have ready access to mechanics and bike fitters. Speedplay pedals tend to work best when kept clean and the cleats lubricated. They rely on good quality shoes with relatively stiff soles for optimal performance. The systems should be checked for wear, as with any system, regularly. Speedplay has a tendency to develop a “rocking” action as viewed from the front or rear if your pedals or cleats are worn- like pronation or supination on a running shoe. On smaller shoe sizes compensation shims are used to moderate the curvature of sole of the shoe. It’s important to use Speedplay’s torque specifications when installing the cleats since over-tightening the cleats is easy and they require light torque.

Some rider’s describe the free rotation from the center of the pedal in Speedplay as odd initially, with comments like “standing on an ice cube” being common. This passes quickly as riders adapt.

The Speedplay system, beginning with “X” series pedals, have evolved into other versions but remain effectively a round pedal with refinements to the body and cleat for different features. In early 2011 rumors of a complete Speedplay redesign began to circulate as did mention of a Speedplay pedal with built-in power meter.

Speedplay’s retail distribution policy restricts mail order sales except from selected vendors, and unfortunately as of this date, TriSports.com is not one of those retailers.

Speedplay pedals are highly tunable for fit and performance but do require careful installation and maintenance.

AThe Speedplay Zero is the most commonly sold Speedplay pedal in triathlon. It features adjustable rotational movement and the new solid spring design to resist dirt-fouling. The pedal is sold in a dizzying assortment of colors and three different spindle materials including cro-moly, stainless steel and titanium.

B. The Speedplay X Series is the “original” Speedplay pedal, largely unchanged for more than a decade. It is still a good enough design to be used in the Tour de France and Ironman World Championships. This pedal has 14 degrees of “free rotation” that may take some riders a little getting used to. Once up to speed and pedaling the free rotation isn’t noticed. The X series uses the bar-type retention spring which needs to be kept clean. If you put your shoes on in T1, the swim to bike transition, and run across dirt or sand your cleats may “dirt foul” preventing you from clipping in until you spray the cleats with a water bottle to rinse them clean. Cleat covers called “Coffee Shop Caps” are a popular option to keep cleats clean but are inconvenient to remove and store during a race. This system works best when you keep your shoes clipped to your pedals in T1- then don your shoes while rolling after mounting your bike, a technique you must practice before race day to do safely.

C. Speedplay Light Action pedals are the “easy to use” Speedplay model aimed at entry level clipless users. These have full rotational movement and a lighter spring for entry and exit. This pedal uses the flat spring that resists dirt fouling. Sold in many colors. This is a great system since it incorporates all the features and benefits of the other Speedplays but in a model geared toward the new clipless pedal user.

The predominant difference in Speedplay pedal performance comes from the cleat, and much of the pedal’s integrity depends on the cleat as well.

Time Sport Clipless Pedals.

Time pedals were innovated by the popular inventor of the clipless pedal, Jean Beyl, in the late 1980’s. They have been used by the top competitive cyclists and triathletes around the world at Ironman and were the most commonly used pedals in the Tour de France when they were released. Now that other companies have incorporated rotational movement into their designs Time’s dominance has diminished, but not their performance.

The Time pedals were the first to incorporate rotational movement or “float” into a clipless pedal. They also have adjustable “Q Factor” or width and the ability of the foot to position itself laterally on the pedal.

Because so few bike shops and customers read the technical instructions they do not know how to correctly optimize Time cleat installations. The system is simple, elegant and provides many fit options. Here are the markings to indicate how to tune the “Q” factor or pedal stance by changing the left cleat over to the right, and vice versa.

Another unique feature of Time pedals is the concept of “Re-centering Force” or a moderate and adjustable amount of spring tension that supports the foot toward a neutral posture on the pedal while allowing it to move freely during forceful efforts.

Time has also designed their pedals to have optimum “Bioposition” or close proximity to the pedal axle to reduce rocking torque and improve pedal feel and efficiency.

Finally, the pedals are adjustable for “Q” factor or width by changing the cleats from one shoe to the other.

In general Time is an under rated and not entirely understood pedal system. Both the founder of TriSports.com, Seton Claggett, and this author use Time pedals.

Time’s new iClic and previsou RSX pedals provide a high degree of fit-ability and fine tuning in a simple and elegant package.

A. The new Time i-Clic is made in five versions with different pedal body materials and one version with a titanium spindle and carbon impregnated body for ultra-light weight. The i-Clic uses a more robust pedal body design and fortified cleat compared the earlier RXS. This makes both pedal and cleat more durable but slightly heavier.

B. The RXS is sold in three versions, the “First” and the “Speed” with very few functional differences between the two pedals except color. Both versions use a molded composite body with cro-moly steel axle and each has the full range of Time anatomical and bioposition features. With only a reported four gram weight difference between the two colors it is difficult to flush out any tangible difference between these two models other than appearance.  The third version is the 230 gram reported weight Time RXS Carbon. This pedal uses a lighter cro-moly steel hollow axle to reduce weight.

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Heat Acclimatization Strategies https://university.trisports.com/2011/08/08/heat-acclimatization-strategies/ Mon, 08 Aug 2011 20:55:49 +0000 http://university.tri-sports.com/?p=2834 Coach and former top pro Jimmy Riccitello comes on board with TriSports University with timely insights on training in the heat and learning how to (and how not to...) acclimate. See what Coach Jimmy says to do when they heat gets turned up here. ]]>

By Jimmy Riccitello

Coach, columnist and former pro Jimmy Riccitello knows about suffering in the heat- and how to cope with it.

I’ve lived and trained in Tucson since 1977.  To state the obvious – summer in Tucson is HOT.

With regard to training in the heat (or any subject, for that matter) I’m not scientifically educated – not in a school sense, anyway.  But it’s funny how trial and error (anecdotal evidence) and following your instincts based on the results of trial and error, can lead one to validate factual scientific data.

When I started triathlon in 1984, I was told that “they” said to do well in the heat, you must train in the heat.  So I used to delay the start of my workouts so that I would be doing the crux of my training at the hottest time of day.  The only positive thing I accomplished with this heat training strategy was a nice tan.  Everything else suffered.  My training gains suffered, my race results suffered, I was sick more often, unmotivated, and generally hotter than a snake’s ass in a wagon rut – constantly – even when I was inside the house sitting on the couch watching a taped rerun of The Iditarod with a cool beverage.

Riccitello confirms: Training in the heat makes you hot. Extended exposure to the heat without adequate acclimation and hydration can land you in the medical tent.

Common sense and the desire to stop sweating profusely while lying in bed at 11pm with the ceiling fan set on “hyper drive” due to massive amounts of stored body heat accumulated from a 5 hours ride at midday in June, caused me to rethink my strategy about the total amount of training I completed during the heat of the day.

I started my bike practice at 5am, which got me home at between 8 and 10am, depending on the duration of my ride.  I still had to ride when it was hot out, but not when it was super hot – and only for an hour or two (vs. the entire ride when I was starting at 9am).

I immediately noticed an improvement in the quality of my bike practice when leaving earlier.  And strangely (duh), subsequent workouts improved dramatically as well.

I also noticed that my performances in hot weather races did not suffer due to less training in the heat.  It didn’t seem obvious back then, but it turns out that ANY training outside in Tucson during the summer qualifies as heat training.  Who knew?

Once I figured out that 3-5 hours in the “cool” early Tucson summer mornings adequately prepared me for any race held in any climate cooler than the Sahara Desert – I needed only to figure out how to keep up with the massive amounts of sweat I lost during the Tucson summer.

It’s common knowledge (propagated by “they”) that we all sweat more than normal when it’s hot out and each of us has a unique sweat rate (some of us sweat more or less than others).  I happen to be a profuse sweater who sweats profusely.  The amount of sweat I excrete under normal temperatures borders on freakish.  My world-class sweating skills were first noticed after one of the famous Tuesday runs in Rancho Santa Fe (North San Diego County) in the summer of 1986.

It was my first run with the SD crew and I was hoping to leave a good impression – which I figured would be tall order considering I was perhaps the slowest running professional triathlete in the sport, at the time.  As fate would have it, on the particularly balmy day in North County, Scott Tinley, one of the patriarchs of the Rancho Santa Fe run, decided to challenge perhaps the most legendary of triathlete sweaters, Scott Molina, to a “sweat-off.”

Avoiding dehydration and heat stress isn't a matter of what works for other athletes, what matters is what works for you in the heat.

A sweat-off is a way of determining who sweats the most.  Why this was important remains to be seen – but I can only imagine that I, and others, were unknowingly participating in one of the early experiments on sweat.  To determine the winner (person who sweat the most) – runners wring out their sweaty t-shirt, post run, into a Big Gulp cup.  The runner who fills the cup the highest with their sweat, is declared the winner.  I know – we were ahead of our time.

Molina, typically nonplussed with the challenge, instructed Tinley to “Pick your three best sweaters.”  I noticed Tinley hopefully looking my (the new guy) way.  “Can you sweat,” he asked?  “I can sweat,” I responded.

After 12 hard, hilly, sweaty miles, we took Molina down.  It was big news on the scene, since three people had never before collectively out-sweat Molina.  From that day forward, I was known as a well above average sweater – pound for pound, among the best.  Another thing that became obvious to me after participating in this contest/experiment was that there is no correlation between the amount a person sweats and whether they are a fast runner or a slow runner (you can sweat a lot a do well, and you can sweat a lot and suck).

This aside, I always had trouble drinking enough during racing and training.  Because of my high sweat rate, I was always told that “they” said to drink frequently and in large quantities during training bouts and races.  Despite this advice, I quickly discovered that it’s very difficult – a downright pain in the butt – to drink frequently and in large amounts when you’re groveling for all you’re worth, simply to stay on the wheel of the person in front of you.

It’s also hard to drink when you’re running – whether racing or training.  It was extremely rare if anyone could be bothered to grab a drink – even when there were aid stations.

Swimming was never much of an issue for me, since there was always a pool’s worth of water available to drink.  I still fail to understand why athletes feel the need to put a water bottle at the end of their lane.  It seems unnecessary to me.

Anyway, I found it very difficult to stay on top of being optimally hydrated while dealing with three workouts per day during the summer months, by following hydration strategies that “they” outlined.  Eager for answers – I asked Molina how he coped.  He told me that he simply chugged a liter or two of fluids right before a workout.  Then he drank when he could during the exercise bout.  I figured if this strategy worked for the most legendary sweater in triathlon (and probably the winningest triathlete of all time), it was good enough for me.  Despite the fact that Molina’s hydration strategy was quite different to anything “they” recommended (keep in mind we’re talking about the late 1980s) – it worked very well for me, once I got used to the bloated feeling early in my workouts.

My point is that what “they” say we should do, and what the best actually do – is often very different.  If we can open our minds to alternative methods and honestly evaluate the results of our trial and error – we may learn a few tricks that put us ahead of the curve.

With this in mind, here are links to a couple articles that I wish were readily available to me back in the old days – days when hydration strategies were developed based on the amount of sweat that was wrung from a t-shirt into a Big Gulp cup.