tri bikes – TriSports University The place to learn about triathlon. Mon, 06 Apr 2020 16:25:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 tri bikes – TriSports University 32 32 A Beginner’s Guide To Power Meters For Cyclists & Triathletes Sat, 28 Mar 2020 17:57:19 +0000 triathletes installs power meter pedals on bicycleIf you are looking to get an edge in your training on the bike this season, buying a power meter is the single best investment you can make. But this doesn’t come without its own learning curve. Whether you are looking to interpret all the lingo that comes with your new power meter or just trying to decide if shelling out the cash for one is a good decision—you’ve come to the right place. ]]> triathletes installs power meter pedals on bicycle

Spring is in the air! The weather is turning, cyclists are riding outside more, and triathletes are ramping up for their early season races. 

If you’re looking to get an edge in your training on the bike this season, buying a power meter is the single best investment you can make. But this doesn’t come without its own learning curve. Whether you are looking to interpret all the lingo that comes with your new power meter or just trying to decide if shelling out the cash is a good decision—you’ve come to the right place. 

This is your crash course in power meters (no crashing necessary… I promise!).

Let’s start by answering the basic questions about power meters for triathletes: what, where, why and how.

What A Power Meter Is

The first basic concept we need to discuss is what a power meter actually is. 

Simply put, this is a device that you put on your bike to measure the amount of power you are producing. To say that another way, this is an objective measure of effort. It answers the question “how hard am I really pushing the pedals?”

Most power meters today are called “Direct Force” power meters because they directly measure and record the amount of force you are putting into the drivetrain (everything from the pedals to the rear wheel). This measurement is calculated by strain gauges similar to a torque wrench. 

📷: Castelli

The electronics in the power meter take this measure of torque, or the strain you are placing on it, and multiplies it by the speed at which you are pedaling (called cadence) and then displays a number on your GPS computer or smartwatch (referred to as a head unit). This number is the amount of watts that you are producing by pedaling and generally speaking, the higher the better.

Just like a lightbulb, toaster, or microwave, the average triathlete is a machine of sorts and improving watt score translates to more power on the bicycle.

Where Power Meters Are Placed

If a power meter is a device that is placed on your bike, the next question to answer is “where is it placed?”

Since a power meter measures strain in the drivetrain, then naturally it must be placed in the drivetrain somewhere. Where, though, depends on which model you have. 

Starting in the pedals, you could have something like the Garmin Vector 3’s which simply replace your existing pedals. These are a good choice if you want to switch them from bike to bike often. 

📷: gentauchi

Next, is the crank arm like the units from Stages. Again these will replace the left arm of the crank. The downside here is that they only measure power on one side and double the number (to account for both feet pedaling). Early models weren’t always reliable but manufacturers have since addressed those issues and there are few remaining doubts on the accuracy of these units. 

📷: Stages Cycling

Then you have the crank or spider-like the units from Quarq. These can be purchased as a whole unit and replace the crank on your bike. 10+ years of development have helped refine installation, enhanced durability, and smoothed out capability issues with bottom brackets.

📷: Quarq

The final type is in the rear hub. While these used to be a very popular option, they are less so now as they usually had to be bought as part of the wheelset or be laced into an existing wheelset. That means if you have both training and racing wheels you had to buy 2 power meter hubs, or do without depending on the set of wheels you were using.

Why You Should Train With A Power Meter

So why even buy a power meter? Why would you want to know how many watts you were pushing into the pedals?

The first reason is that of objectivity! Without a power meter, you would have to rely on other measurements to train and race by. 

  • Speed?— Affected by too many variables (wind, gravity, etc) 
  • Heart Rate?— Can drift over time and can be affected by caffeine or hydration status
  • RPE (rate of perceived exertion)?— Based on perception and can be affected by caffeine, adrenaline, mood, etc. 

Not that any of these are bad. No! I’m of the opinion that you need to collect data on all these points and learn from them. But power is the only objective measure. 100 watts is the same no matter how you feel, what direction the wind is blowing, or how much caffeine you had. 

📷: Quarq

With this objective measure, it is easier to perform a structured training plan (intervals, etc.). It is also possible to practice an even pace across long training rides (instead of starting too hard and fading over the ride).

These reasons only scratch the surface, but having a power meter opens up additional possibilities like measuring TSS (training stress) over the course of your training, or measuring the amount of work performed in a ride (KiloJoules) which translates to calories burned (helpful if weight loss or maintenance is an objective).

How To Get The Most Out Of A Power Meter

With all that information it comes down to “how.” You can’t just throw a power meter on your bike and expect to see improvement. That said, I recommend getting your power meter installed and spending a few weeks training as usual just to see how things line up. 

From there, find a structured training plan or a coach who can guide you through your training. One of the first things a good plan or coach will have you do is perform an FTP test or similar. FTP is “Functional Threshold Power” and roughly is the power you could hold for an hour in a race scenario. I say “roughly” because it is really a range between 45-75 minutes. There is a lot more science behind what makes up FTP, but for our purposes, we’ll stick with the basic definition. 

There are many different formats for an FTP test, but you can simply follow what your coach or training plan outlines for you. From there you can set your zones so that you will know how hard to push on hard days and how easy to go on easy days. This will also help when choosing your pacing plan before race day.

I’d be remiss to not at least briefly mention training software here as well. A power meter, when paired with an indoor or interactive trainer and popular software like TrainerRoad or Zwift, can be a game-changer in your training. These programs help the hours melt away on the indoor trainer and they provide structured plans to help you get faster in the process. 

📷: Zwift

Finally, there is the development of your race pacing plan. Using a program like Best Bike Split you can create a super detailed plan ahead of race day and practice it in your training. You can fine-tune your plan by trial and error in training, especially when practicing brick workouts (running off the bike). This can prevent you from leaving some effort out on the course or worse, blowing up on race day. 

When pacing a long ride or race, you can look at your Normalized Power (NP) to see just how much effort that time has taken. While an average of your watts may read lower due to time spend coasting, the Normalized Power may be high due to accelerations up hills or passing other riders. The difference between NP and Avg. Power is called Variability Index (VI). The closer the VI is to 1.00, the more steady the pace of the ride (a good thing for triathletes!).

So when it comes to training and racing, I hope you see the value of investing in a power meter. If you don’t have one yet, get one! If you have one already, learn as much as you can!

This guide to power meters for triathletes is a good place to get the ball (or bike?) rolling for beginners and veterans alike. But the more you know, the more you can take advantage of the equipment and fitness you have. If you want to learn more, I recommend you read Training And Racing With A Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan, which will take you deeper into this subject of power meter use (and even has a full chapter on triathlon racing!). 

Ready to take the plunge? Shop TriSports for a wide selection of power meters for road, mountain, gravel, cross and tri bikes at a wide selection of prices from top brands including Garmin, Stages, Quarq and more!

Author Nathan Deck is a husband, father, triathlete, and a teacher at heart. When he’s not training, he loves to mentor junior athletes new to the sport. Read more of his work at Triathlonpal and follow him on Twitter.

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Orbea Ordu Dura-Ace Mix Tri Bike. Tue, 07 Feb 2012 20:07:27 +0000 Working with 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

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