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Mastering Time Trials: Optimizing Your Time Trial Bike

In the world of time trials, optimizing your time trial bike setup can help you go faster on the bike..

From bike position to the drive chain, each component plays a role in shaving off those precious seconds.

Let's delve into the some of the key aspects that can elevate your time trial performance.

  • Bike Position: Riding the Aerodynamic Wave

    • Your bike position contributes up to 85% of the drag on the bike, making it a pivotal factor.

    • Tilted bars with a bit of extra reach, approximately 15 degrees, are the latest trend for optimal aerodynamics.

    • Investing in a professional bike fit is the first step toward finding the sweet spot for your position.

  • Wheelsets: Finding the Perfect Balance

    • Deeper wheels generally mean greater speed, but consider race day conditions. Lighter riders will struggle in windy conditions with deeper section wheels.

    • Subtle differences exist between wheel brands, so research thoroughly before splurging on expensive upgrades.

    • Analyse the cost-benefit of upgrading wheelsets and explore alternatives to maximise your investment.

  • Tyres: Balancing Speed and Puncture Protection

    • Choose tyres based on performance gains and puncture resistance. Sites like Bicycle Rolling Resistance can guide your decision.

    • This article can show you how tire choices can impact race day performance.

    • Recognize the trade-off between speed and puncture protection to minimise nervous energy on race day, see table below.

    • Explore tubeless, Latex, TPU, and Butyl tube options, considering your confidence in maintenance and rolling resistance.

Optimizing tyres
Tyre comparison

[Source:] (Note: TLR/TR/TLE denotes tubeless tires; others use butyl tubes.)

  • Clothing: Sleek and Streamlined

    • Advances in triathlon clothing have led to faster suits, with sleeves generally outperforming sleeveless options.

    • Ensure a tight-fitting suit to eliminate wind resistance, and consider aero calf sleeves for additional savings.

  • Helmets: Cutting Through the Air

    • Aero helmets typically outpace road helmets, but the right fit is crucial. Look for width at the front and proper tail positioning.

    • Save 9 to 12 watts with the correct aero helmet, but consider ventilation in hotter climates.

  • Bottle Positions: Hydration with Speed

    • Experiment with bottle placements, noting the growing trend of tucking bottles down tri suits for optimal speed.

    • Proper placement on the frame matters; Aero Coach's tests reveal significant time savings with aero bottles.

How fast is your bottle
Aerocoach bottle position comparison
  • Drive Chain: The Silent Force

    • A clean, waxed chain improves efficiency and reduces wear on the chain and cassette.

    • Despite the time investment, a waxed chain enhances overall performance and extends the lifespan of your equipment.


f we evaluate the cost effectiveness of each equipment choice we can compare the watts saved.

The table below shows just that.

How much does a watt cost?
How much does a watt cost?

Here's a brief summary of the key points:

  • Wheels and Tyres:

    • Savings: 12 to 14 watts

    • Cost per Watt: Tyres have a lower cost per watt compared to wheel upgrades.

    • Recommendation: If you have a good wheelset, prioritise tyre choice for cost-effective watt savings.

  • Bottle Down Top:

    • Savings: 4 watts

    • Cost per Watt: $5

    • One of the most cost-effective options for watt savings.

This is an attempt to provide insight into the efficiency of each product.

It emphasises the importance of considering not only the absolute watt savings but also the cost-effectiveness of each upgrade option.

Mastering the art of time trials warrants attention to every detail.

By optimising your bike position, wheelsets, tyres, clothing, helmet, bottle positions, and drive chain, you can unlock the full potential of your time trial performance.

Invest wisely, experiment purposefully, and watch as seconds drop off your bike splits.

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