Triathlon is an expensive sport because of the equipment needed for all three disciplines. Whether it's entry-level, top of line, or anything inbetween, you want to maximize the return on your investment. Your bike investment is important, but if it doesn’t fit, an expensive purchase may end up doing more harm than good. In the same way you would never run in shoes that were two sizes too big, you should avoid training or racing on a bike that hasn’t been specially fit for your composition, riding experience, ability, goals, and riding style.
Bike manufacturers design bikes with certain averages in mind and very few people fit the averages. They assume our limbs and torso are proportional. That is why everybody can benefit from having a bike fit and why so many components are adjustable. There are two reasons to get fitted; Avoid Injury and Improved Performance.
Knee or hip pain from riding often comes from too many miles on a bike with a poor saddle position. Poor saddle position could be too high or too low, too far forward, too far back, or a combination. Neck and or upper back soreness can result from poor handlebar position. All soreness while riding has a root cause most often as a result of a poor riding position. Other causes may include preexisting injuries (also correctable via bike fit), too many miles too soon, or overtraining. A bike fit works to both treat and prevent injuries. If you are properly fit on your bike, you likely won’t develop new injuries. A good bike fit can also improve lower leg alignment, knee tracking, and pedal stroke, which in combination increase power and minimize injury. Like with running and swimming its important to practice good form and technique. If you’re improperly positioned on a triathlon bike, your mechanics will be compromised and you will be unable to practice good form.
Proper bike fit improves performance through comfort, positioning, and aerodynamics. Comfort is an enabler translating to power. By contrast, if, you’re uncomfortable, power is limited. A poor positioned fit also decreases performance by limiting lung capacity. You work harder to generate the same or less power than if you were properly fit. In a poor position, you are potentially under utilizing or over stressing muscles. If your torso is ill positioned, you may compromise oxygen intake further limiting power production. When the bike doesn’t fit comfortably and correctly, spending times in the aero position becomes difficult if not impossible. The aerodynamic position is directly related to speed. It also provides your core and upper-body rest. For all intensive purposes, your upper body should be relaxed, comfortable, and just along for the ride.
A bike fit is important not only to maximize ride comfort, aero dynamics, speed, power, efficiency and overall performance, it also prevents injury. Regardless of your ability, visit a bike fit specialist before you buy a triathlon bike to ensure you acquire the right size and again after your purchase to get properly fit. Not only will you enjoy the ride, you’ll also avoid injuries and increase performance.