Old 05-11-19, 11:12 PM
  #11  
canklecat
Me duelen las nalgas
 
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Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Texas
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Bikes: Centurion Ironman, Trek 5900, Univega Via Carisma, Globe Carmel

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A TT/tri bike with aero bars is a huge advantage at speeds above 15 mph or into the wind.

Recently a friend got a lightly used Specialized Transition TT/tri bike just out of curiosity. After a 30 minute warmup and gettin'-used-to ride, he was using the aero bars more often. On a 3% undulating downhill into a stiff headwind, his best average speed of two tries was 21 mph... just coasting.

My two tries pedaling on my road bike? 12 mph. My usual average on that downhill is 30 mph, and my best was 35 mph. The KOM and top 10 are in the 40 mph range (no longer practical unless we blow a 4-way stop sign intersection, which didn't exist when the fastest speeds were logged a few years ago -- it was essentially a closed course back then).

That's how much difference an aero tuck makes.

On flat terrain I had to pedal at around 75-85% effort to keep up with my friend who was just loaf-pedaling in an aero tuck. I had to get into the drops with my forearms parallel with the ground to keep up. But my upper body was still catching a lot of resistance in the kind of aero tuck that was typical before Greg LeMond changed the game in the '89 TdF.

On climbs I passed my friend easily, but that's mostly due to differences in conditioning. I work my butt off to stay in shape, and I'm not even particularly strong or fast in my age group. He's early 40s and just getting back on the bike. And the TT bike wasn't really set up well for him so the saddle was pretty uncomfortable after about 20 miles.

So, yup, a younger guy with so-so conditioning on a TT/tri bike in aero tuck was basically coasting by me while I was putting in a fairly hefty but sustainable effort without getting into the orange zone.

I've tried old school Scott aero bars (courtesy of texaspandj) on my '89 Ironman and could see some differences in Strava over several rides on the same 5 mile loop. My average speed was a little faster than usual with less effort. But my balance sucks and I'm still not confident in the aero bar position. My buddy seemed to take to it easily and even used the aero bars on a fast downhill. I don't have enough confidence in my balance to use aero bars on a fast downhill. So far I've used 'em only on flats and 1% or 2% grades on smooth pavement.

But a properly designed full aero bike with a capable cyclist? That's a whole 'nuther world. The main challenge would be staying in that aero tuck for long time trials. I'm back in physical therapy for back, neck and shoulder injuries, hoping to stay aero for longer than 60 seconds. That's about all my neck can tolerate right now.
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