Articles for May 2014

Marginal Gains Monday – Handlebars

On the face of it, not a particularly exciting topic – bars tend to be a bit forgotten as riders focus on the obvious items like frame, wheels and groupset. But bar choice can make a real difference to performance so it’s worth paying attention to them. Logically they have the potential for significance as they’re one of the first parts of the bike to hit the wind.

Obviously there is a significant difference in shape and setup between road and TT bars, but the principles by which they are (should be) selected are the same.

Marginal Gains Monday – Wheel Performance

Wheels are possibly the most visible performance oriented change you can make to your bike. Unfortunately there seems to be a general assumption that more expensive and/or lighter equals faster.

I’ve also heard athletes quoting outlandish figures for the speed benefits of race wheels and the maxim I mentioned last week – the terrible advice that it is better to put race wheels on a road bike for Ironman than to buy a TT bike. So today I shall look at the impact of wheel choice.

Marginal Gains Monday – Frame Aerodynamics

Like the muscle currently beating within your ribcage your bike frame is at the core of the performance of the collection of parts that make up your ride (or whip or whatever you like to call your bike). The right frame is key to position, handling, comfort and aerodynamic efficiency. Like your heart you need a good one in order to perform well in Cycling/Triathlon.

A common oversimplification is that “it’s the rider, not the bike” – this is unquestionably true… however, when we’re looking for peak performance there are significant marginal gains to be had in paying attention to the frame. Of course, bike company advertising would have you believe that every new model is 15% more aero (and 10% lighter, 12% stiffer and 8% more comfortable than the last) and the lack of real world evidence for those claims has led to some riders becoming a little jaded about the benefits of aero equipment. So I’m going to frame the data in ways that relate to the type of riding that you, my treasured readers, engage in.

Trek Releases WSD Version of the Domane – the Silque

I don’t usually comment on new road bike releases (as there are too many) and particularly not “Womens Specific” ones. But the Silque is interesting enough to warrant making a few observations.

Trek don’t particularly need to create another geometry – across the road range I count 38 distinct sizes – Domane, Domane Classics Edition, Madone H1, H2 & H3 (previous WSD bikes have been H3). But they have done so with the Silque – a modified version of the Domane.

Marginal Gains Monday – Overview

So I jumped the gun a bit last time charging straight into discussing a specific topic. Obviously I had aerodynamics on the brain thanks to the recent wind tunnel session. This time I’ll step back a bit and outline what I intend to discuss over the next few weeks.

There are a lot of claims made about the efficacy of various bits of equipment – to the point that athletes stop believing in the science of speed as the marketing claims rarely eventuate in the real world. My aim is to give a realistic view of the significance of various elements.