General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Tri Bike for hills Rss Feed  
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2013-05-20 12:31 PM

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Subject: Tri Bike for hills
So one thing I noticed during my last race was that roadies were smoking those of us on tri bikes going on up the hills. Are some races bike specific? Kinda like flat and fast for tri bike but extremely hilly terrain for road bikes.


2013-05-20 12:41 PM
in reply to: chrismcturnan

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills

To answer your question, yes.  Some hilly courses may be more suited to road bikes with their slack geometry and drop bars than tri bikes.  Kinda depends on the course and the rider.

I thought it was interesting during the recent Tour of California that some riders actually switched bikes in the middle of the time trial from a TT bike to a road bike for the climb at the end.

Mark

 

2013-05-20 12:59 PM
in reply to: RedCorvette

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
Originally posted by RedCorvette

To answer your question, yes.  Some hilly courses may be more suited to road bikes with their slack geometry and drop bars than tri bikes.  Kinda depends on the course and the rider.

I thought it was interesting during the recent Tour of California that some riders actually switched bikes in the middle of the time trial from a TT bike to a road bike for the climb at the end.

Mark

 




Yes, a road bike will be easier to climb with, but the main reason that a FEW of the riders decided to change was because it was a hill top finish, so once they climbed the hill, there was nothing left to descend, which is where a tri bike would have likely overcome any disadvantages during the climb.

Since most triathlons end at the same elevation that they start at, you will almost always be better off on a TT bike. The one exception is if the descent is so technical that it requires constant braking and tight cornering...in which case you wouldn't be on your aero bars anyway.
2013-05-20 1:04 PM
in reply to: tri808

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
I switched from a Roadie to a TT bike this season and where I live we have hills everywhere we go. I know I climbed better on my roadie becasue of my positioning and my hands were always shifting from the drops. However, at the top of the hill to the bottom of the next, I'm certian I would have passed myself on my TT bike. So, hilly courses may be a little better suited for a road bike but I think overall the positioning of a tri bike will win out most days.

2013-05-20 2:07 PM
in reply to: chrismcturnan

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills

For me the tri bike seems just as fast climbing as the road bike did. I'm not quite as far forward as others? Shifting isn't really an issue because I'm usually already down at or very near the lowest gear before coming up anyway.

I'm guessing the roadies passing going up the hills might also not have a tri bike and are just good riders. Not all of them need a draft to go fast.

2013-05-20 2:12 PM
in reply to: brigby1

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
Originally posted by brigby1

I'm guessing the roadies passing going up the hills might also not have a tri bike and are just good riders.




ding-ding-ding

We have a winner. No one that is passing you going uphill on their roadie would not be passing you going uphill if you moved them over to a tri bike.


2013-05-20 4:11 PM
in reply to: chrismcturnan

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
Road bikes will always be quicker uphills than a tri bike. The geometry of tri bikes is just not optimized for hills, plus road bikes have the advantage that the gear shifters are right there next to your brakes, not stuck out on the end of the aerobars.

You should always check the course before a race, see how much climbing is involved. In nearly all cases, you tri bike will be the better choice - you will gain more on the flat than you will lose on the hills. But there are undeniably some courses where your road bike will be the better choice.

BTW, take a look at your gearing - you might want to switch the cassette on your rear wheel. My Cervelo came standard with a 12-25. I switched it for an 11-28 - makes a heck of a difference on the hills.

Good luck!
2013-05-20 5:00 PM
in reply to: smallard

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
If you have enough longer and steeper climbs, especially if combined with a technical decent, a road bike will be a better choice, but if you have more a gradual pitch, sustained pitch, then a tri bike might be nearly as fast uphill and the time savings on the flats is enough to make it an overall faster choice.

I've had tri's where I chose a road bike since I was faster on that (yes, did pre-ride the course on both bikes in advance) and universally those have been technical courses with substantially amount of vertical.
2013-05-20 11:41 PM
in reply to: chrismcturnan

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
Originally posted by chrismcturnan

So one thing I noticed during my last race was that roadies were smoking those of us on tri bikes going on up the hills. Are some races bike specific? Kinda like flat and fast for tri bike but extremely hilly terrain for road bikes.


If these roadies were on tri bikes that weighed the same as yours they would have been passing you going up, same as on a roadie. You get the aero advantage at speed, but when things tilt more toward W/kg these guys were catching as passing. In fact, if these guys were on tri bikes they would have been beating you on the flats and the hills. (i.e. it's all about the engine).
2013-05-21 2:32 AM
in reply to: JohnnyKay

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
Originally posted by JohnnyKay
Originally posted by brigby1

I'm guessing the roadies passing going up the hills might also not have a tri bike and are just good riders.

ding-ding-ding We have a winner. No one that is passing you going uphill on their roadie would not be passing you going uphill if you moved them over to a tri bike.

It's my understanding (from reading), personal experience, and experience working with/observing others that on almost any triathlon bike course (mixed terrain even if a lot of climbing), there's a very small (if even perceptible) margin of difference between climbing on a road bike and a tri bike, especially the newer and/or higher-end ones.

Triathletes with a lot of climbing experience on both roadies and tri bikes (or even mostly tri bikes) are not going to notice much if any difference either.

And yes, finally, the negligible difference would be more than made up anyway on descents and flats.

2013-05-21 2:38 AM
in reply to: tri808

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
Originally posted by tri808
Originally posted by RedCorvette

To answer your question, yes.  Some hilly courses may be more suited to road bikes with their slack geometry and drop bars than tri bikes.  Kinda depends on the course and the rider.

I thought it was interesting during the recent Tour of California that some riders actually switched bikes in the middle of the time trial from a TT bike to a road bike for the climb at the end.

Mark

 

Yes, a road bike will be easier to climb with, but the main reason that a FEW of the riders decided to change was because it was a hill top finish, so once they climbed the hill, there was nothing left to descend, which is where a tri bike would have likely overcome any disadvantages during the climb. Since most triathlons end at the same elevation that they start at, you will almost always be better off on a TT bike. The one exception is if the descent is so technical that it requires constant braking and tight cornering...in which case you wouldn't be on your aero bars anyway.

I've actually been trying to think of an open triathlon (or even duathlon) course where a road bike might be preferable given a rider who has sufficient experience on a tri bike. Even at races like American Zofingen and Savageman in the U.S., and Powerman / IM Nice or Lanzarote folks are preferring tri bikes. Truly dangerous/technical descents generally mean it is not included in a tri course or in an open race.

I think maybe the only case might be where a rider just doesn't have a lot of climbing/handling experience on a tri bike, but does on a road bike.



2013-05-21 6:52 AM
in reply to: TriAya

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
Originally posted by TriAya
Originally posted by tri808
Originally posted by RedCorvette

To answer your question, yes.  Some hilly courses may be more suited to road bikes with their slack geometry and drop bars than tri bikes.  Kinda depends on the course and the rider.

I thought it was interesting during the recent Tour of California that some riders actually switched bikes in the middle of the time trial from a TT bike to a road bike for the climb at the end.

Mark

 

Yes, a road bike will be easier to climb with, but the main reason that a FEW of the riders decided to change was because it was a hill top finish, so once they climbed the hill, there was nothing left to descend, which is where a tri bike would have likely overcome any disadvantages during the climb. Since most triathlons end at the same elevation that they start at, you will almost always be better off on a TT bike. The one exception is if the descent is so technical that it requires constant braking and tight cornering...in which case you wouldn't be on your aero bars anyway.

I've actually been trying to think of an open triathlon (or even duathlon) course where a road bike might be preferable given a rider who has sufficient experience on a tri bike. Even at races like American Zofingen and Savageman in the U.S., and Powerman / IM Nice or Lanzarote folks are preferring tri bikes. Truly dangerous/technical descents generally mean it is not included in a tri course or in an open race.

I think maybe the only case might be where a rider just doesn't have a lot of climbing/handling experience on a tri bike, but does on a road bike.

Alpe D'Huez that finishes at the top, taking away the advantage on the descent?  Maybe not even that.  I agree with everyone, the tri bike is almost always the right choice.

2013-05-21 7:29 AM
in reply to: RedCorvette

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
Originally posted by RedCorvette

To answer your question, yes.  Some hilly courses may be more suited to road bikes with their slack geometry and drop bars than tri bikes.  Kinda depends on the course and the rider.

I thought it was interesting during the recent Tour of California that some riders actually switched bikes in the middle of the time trial from a TT bike to a road bike for the climb at the end.

Mark

 




I saw this too and thought it was interesting (swapping bikes during the TT).... And I have to say I'm not a fan of it even being allowed...

This thread is timely for me as I have a HIM in august that will be quite hilly.....I bought a new Tarmac road bike this year and have a Cervelo P2SL I've been riding for the past four years..... The TT is fantastic for sprints and OLY's, and I also have a HIM on it but my neck sure did bother me the last 10 miles or so...

Now I have my answer, ride the TT bike but also make sure I get weekly mileage on it....
2013-05-21 7:35 AM
in reply to: smallard

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
I agree

Have a look at your gearing if the course is hilly.
I would rather run out of gears on the flats than going up a hill.
2013-05-21 12:13 PM
in reply to: TriAya

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
Originally posted by TriAya
Originally posted by tri808
Originally posted by RedCorvette

To answer your question, yes.  Some hilly courses may be more suited to road bikes with their slack geometry and drop bars than tri bikes.  Kinda depends on the course and the rider.

I thought it was interesting during the recent Tour of California that some riders actually switched bikes in the middle of the time trial from a TT bike to a road bike for the climb at the end.

Mark

 

Yes, a road bike will be easier to climb with, but the main reason that a FEW of the riders decided to change was because it was a hill top finish, so once they climbed the hill, there was nothing left to descend, which is where a tri bike would have likely overcome any disadvantages during the climb. Since most triathlons end at the same elevation that they start at, you will almost always be better off on a TT bike. The one exception is if the descent is so technical that it requires constant braking and tight cornering...in which case you wouldn't be on your aero bars anyway.

I've actually been trying to think of an open triathlon (or even duathlon) course where a road bike might be preferable given a rider who has sufficient experience on a tri bike. Even at races like American Zofingen and Savageman in the U.S., and Powerman / IM Nice or Lanzarote folks are preferring tri bikes. Truly dangerous/technical descents generally mean it is not included in a tri course or in an open race.

I think maybe the only case might be where a rider just doesn't have a lot of climbing/handling experience on a tri bike, but does on a road bike.

I think you're getting into what I can see as a difference, but it's really one of familiarity with the equipment, NOT the design of the bike so much. I'll take my tri bike most anywhere as I'm very familiar with it. I ride it all the time.

The rationale for wanting a road bike for a technical descent is understandable, but other's comments not so much for how the geometry is less appropriate for going uphill. I could not tell a difference between my road & tri bikes from the outset. I get the shifting part, but don't find it an issue. Is there anything else?

2013-05-21 12:29 PM
in reply to: chrismcturnan

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
I just did the California Classic Century. I am new to biking, and used my Felt B16 TT on the course. Did great kept a great pace, till the hill. A CAT 5 3.2 mile (stupid) hill.

I read the replies and really swear that I won't ride another hill without a roadie. I like the idea of maybe changing my cassette, but also know I have to train more on the hills.

J


2013-05-21 2:05 PM
in reply to: TriAya

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Subject: RE: Tri Bike for hills
Originally posted by TriAya

Originally posted by tri808
Originally posted by RedCorvette

To answer your question, yes.  Some hilly courses may be more suited to road bikes with their slack geometry and drop bars than tri bikes.  Kinda depends on the course and the rider.

I thought it was interesting during the recent Tour of California that some riders actually switched bikes in the middle of the time trial from a TT bike to a road bike for the climb at the end.

Mark

 

Yes, a road bike will be easier to climb with, but the main reason that a FEW of the riders decided to change was because it was a hill top finish, so once they climbed the hill, there was nothing left to descend, which is where a tri bike would have likely overcome any disadvantages during the climb. Since most triathlons end at the same elevation that they start at, you will almost always be better off on a TT bike. The one exception is if the descent is so technical that it requires constant braking and tight cornering...in which case you wouldn't be on your aero bars anyway.

I've actually been trying to think of an open triathlon (or even duathlon) course where a road bike might be preferable given a rider who has sufficient experience on a tri bike. Even at races like American Zofingen and Savageman in the U.S., and Powerman / IM Nice or Lanzarote folks are preferring tri bikes. Truly dangerous/technical descents generally mean it is not included in a tri course or in an open race.

I think maybe the only case might be where a rider just doesn't have a lot of climbing/handling experience on a tri bike, but does on a road bike.




I can't think of one either. If the descents are so technical that a road bike is necessary, it would likely be much to dangerous to hold a triathlon on that course where the slow swimmers are going to want to fly by the slower bikers on the descents. Such a technical course would likely mean that when you crash, you may not just get road rash...you may go over a cliff.

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