Adjusting to a Tri-Bike

I got my tri-bike last week, a Quintana Roo Seduza. The same as on that page except that mine is a 2009…wait, no, it must be a 2010 because I paid the same price as what’s on that webpage…either that, or they were charging the same price for a 2009 as a 2010, or they discounted the price of the 2009 model over the weekend right after I bought mine…hmm, will have to look into that.

Anyway, I took it out for the first time on Saturday. Ok, that sentence doesn’t quite explain things. When I say “I took it out” what I mean is that I took it out four times. The first three times, I felt something wasn’t right and turned around and went back home to make adjustments to the seat height, position, etc. Finally it felt pretty good, so I kept on riding.

A few observations for those who are used to road bikes and who are transitioning to a tri-bike for the first time:

1. Tri-bikes are unstable, compared to a road bike. On my road bike I’m very comfortable riding without hands while I get my drink from the cage behind my behind, drinking, and putting the bottle back. Not so on this tri-bike. I never felt confident enough to take more than one hand off the handlebars.

2. I couldn’t see! When in the aero position, I could life my head high enough to get a complete look at the road, but only for a few seconds before my neck couldn’t take it anymore. Plus my non-aero helmet was getting in the way of my vision, and my non-biking sunglasses were slipping down on my nose and also obscuring my vision. I was never comfortable, but there was a position I could at least hold for a while, but it only allowed me to see 15-20 feet in front of me, which is kind of scary when you’re going 40 mph down a hill. In other words, the right helmet and the right glasses make a difference.

3. The shifters are in the middle. This hasn’t been too bad to get used to, but it is hard to use the shifters if you’re not in the aero position.

4. Your shoulders are going to hurt. The aero position on a tri-bike is very different from the aero position on a road bike with clip-ons. It felt completely wrong to me, and I had to call Te Koi to get verification that I was indeed not riding a bike that was completely improperly fit to to me.

5. The saddle. Being in the aero position means you’re on the saddle in a different way than on a road bike, and I felt it. Whew.

I’ve got less than two weeks before the Boise half-Ironman in which to get used to the bike and make sure everything is in working order. Should be fun times.

  • ranger19

    Thanks for the post. I just picked up my new TT bike yesterday and had a very similar experience. Up until yesterday, I’ve been on a road bike (only) and have never ridden with aero bars. I can only describe my short ride yesterday as an alien encounter–everything felt off / different but not necessarily bad.

    I have a 112mi TT event (IM distance relay) coming up in the end of July and would be interested to hear how you have progressed/adjusted with/to your bike. Any lessons you could pass on would be greatly appreciated as I need to get very friendly with my new alien between now and then.

  • http://www.hypercat.com Philip Casanta

    Stumbled across this post and thought I would weigh in. I realize this is late, but may help others.

    #1 – Points #1, 2, 4, and 5 are all fit issues. These are not a specific attribute of triathlon bikes but are unfortunately the norm. Lets take them in turn.

    Unstable: This is a matter of your weight and the bikes front center. without getting technical you need to be in the right position on the bike relative to that particular bikes geometry. Stem, aerobars, pad position, saddle position, how low the bars are relative to your saddle, how far forward you are on the bike all play a role in handling characteristics.

    Can’t see: Again fit issue, if you can not operate the bike safely it is not set up correctly. Being able to see is a fundamental aspect of being properly set-up.

    Shoulders: Pain is not normal, in any case or situation other than over-training or over working for fitness reasons. If your shoulders hurt then again things are not set up right. The aero position should be comfortable and sustainable, otherwise you negate the reason for getting aero by having to sit-up or shift positions.

    Saddle: Again fit issue, a properly fitted and properly chosen saddle for your shape and position should be comfortable. The fact that you had to mess with seat height no less than 3 times tells me no one made an attempt to place you in the correct position, so the saddle may be the right height but not correct Fore/aft, maybe it is correct in all places but the shape does not agree with your shape. whatever the reason it comes down to the same thing, find the right position for you, then determine which saddle works in that position.

    Best money you could or could have spent was getting the bike properly fit to you, thus eliminating the need to adjust or adapt to pain and discomfort, which in the end is always a losing battle.

    I hope your triathlon adventures have turned out well and you are still having fun exploring the sport.