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Tri Bike for Down Syndrome

Old 02-22-21, 05:35 AM
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Sorg67
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Tri Bike for Down Syndrome

I have a friend who became the first person with Down Syndrome to complete a full Ironman. He did it on a hybrid. He is not super stable on the bike. Needs help getting on the bike. Seat is lower than optimal. Uses platform pedals, no clips. He is not able to use the front derailleur.

He is now training for the Hawaii Ironman and his Dad is researching how to improve his bike efficiency. He is currently looking at the Trek Domane with the idea that he would change the handlebars to flat and change gearing to 1 x 11. He is thinking he would use 32 x 700 tires. I think this is a good choice. Anything in the endurance bike category seems like a good choice with these modifications. Specialized Roubaix would be a good choice too.

Anybody have any thoughts on this? Ideas on geometry for a better aero position given the limitations on handlebars?
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Old 02-24-21, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Sorg67 View Post
I have a friend who became the first person with Down Syndrome to complete a full Ironman. He did it on a hybrid. He is not super stable on the bike. Needs help getting on the bike. Seat is lower than optimal. Uses platform pedals, no clips. He is not able to use the front derailleur.

He is now training for the Hawaii Ironman and his Dad is researching how to improve his bike efficiency. He is currently looking at the Trek Domane with the idea that he would change the handlebars to flat and change gearing to 1 x 11. He is thinking he would use 32 x 700 tires. I think this is a good choice. Anything in the endurance bike category seems like a good choice with these modifications. Specialized Roubaix would be a good choice too.

Anybody have any thoughts on this? Ideas on geometry for a better aero position given the limitations on handlebars?
Sorg: Chris' accomplishment was awesome and I'm delighted to hear he is still chasing that extra 1%/day.

My 26 year old daughter also has Down syndrome. She is an accomplished alpine ski racer and cyclist, both racing and doing charity rides - her latest was 67 miles, which we did self supported last August.

On the direct issue, for a number of years she rode a junior size, drop bar Felt with 650c tires and interrupter brakes on the top bar, which fit her small hands. Her balance is pretty good, which I attribute to the competitive skiing, a decade of general fitness training, and more recently core intensive yoga with her mom.

Although she was safe on the Felt, it was twitchy on fast descents and the lever effort on the cable brakes (both hood and top bar) was less than optimal. She was able to shift both front and back, but not as easily as the flat bar mountain bike she started on. She was also one of only a handful of Special Olympics athletes racing in Colorado on a drop bar bike and one of only two with Down syndrome.

So we did a flat bar conversion on a Domane. We would have used a FX 6, which would have already been a flat bar, but there were none available in a XS at the time. When she's riding in the mountains or racing, we occasionally drop down to 28s, but the standard set-up for training and endurance rides are 32s. It is a stable, awesome and fast bike.

My daughter is pretty good at lowering her body and using a bent elbow approach in head winds and on fast descents, but at 4'9", the wind is not a huge deal as it may be for Chris over 112 miles.

Personally I think Chris (and for that matter many of the Special Olympics athletes I have coached) might benefit from technology similar to what I run on my Domane - see the "Stay Tuned" thread from last month on this forum. When you simplify the control functions, it allows riders to put their thoughts and eyes more on the road ahead and balance typically follows. It might even allow Chris and his coaches to play with the bars to lower them a bit or even run the flared drop bars that some are using on gravel bikes - wider so more stable, but lower too.

Just some thoughts. I'd be glad to respond to a PM. As for your friend, please let him know that those in the adaptive sports community view him as a true champion.
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Old 02-24-21, 10:50 PM
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For a flat bar conversion I don't know of a nicer shimano shifter for 11sp but I wouldn't have problems using this https://www.microshift.com/en/product/sl-r761-2/ if shimano equipped. Although I'm not big on 1x systems for a tri I can't imagine that a 1x system won't be more then adequate and probably easily available. The courses tend to be flatter and a 48 or 50 with an 11-30 should have plenty of speed and the ability to climb most things on a tri course. The shifter I listed is meant for shimano road, I'd buy a small riser bar, toss on the shifter and get a set of mtb levers to match the brakes.
Having the seat too low will be the biggest struggle to overcome, if its a comfort getting on and off issue it might be worthwhile trying a size smaller to make it easier to get on and off. More then anything proper saddle height over longer distances is a real comfort issue with the knees and too low can really slow things up.

No matter what, this sounds like an ambitious goal and Chris sounds like quite the accomplished rider. I wish him continued success and blessings on his endeavors.
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