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Converting Road Bike to Tri Bike

Hi Guys,

I'm in my second full season of Tri, and have knocked out a 70.3 and a couple of OD's this year, and am now looking to get a bit more competitive!

Last year i rushed into buying a bike as I wanted something sooner rather than later and bought a Spesh Tarmac Expert in the off season sale, which is nice enough bit of kit, but hardly exotic etc.

Now then, she has a pair of Profile IM Carbon Stryke aerobars, and my position seems reasonable comfortable, but I'm going to be concentrating on shorter events (up to OD) for the next year and want to customize her properly.

Next on the list are shorter stem (80mm) and seatpost with increased angle, to try and drop me forward a bit more. Question is - which comes first?!

At the moment I have a tri-saddle that is quite far forward on it's rails and doing the old 'elbow to fingertips' test between saddle and bars leaves me about 3cm short. Therefore my thinking is that I should reset the saddle to somewhere near the middle, buy the 30mm shorter stem, and then see how far off I am before forking out £100 for the seatpost?

The alternative is to try and get a proper bike fitting and see what the recommend... or failing that, get the spesh on eBay and start looking for a proper tri bike... ideally i'd like to keep the road bike in such a state that even someone with my limited mechanical knowlege can put her back to 'normal' for every day riding over the winter...

What's everyones view?




  • nivaghnivagh Posts: 595
    Bear in mind that moving the saddle forward and the bars back will have different effects on your weight distribution on the bike, moving it forward and back respectively.
    I think I would deal with the saddle first.
  • Ron99Ron99 Posts: 237
    Think if you've got the option, I would go with the bike fitting first for sure - there could be all sorts of subtle factors that you might not see or be aware of yourself - for one thing, you can't really see what you look like on it. Go to your LBS and see what they say before spending any money.
  • TesseractTesseract Posts: 280
    the old 'elbow to fingertips' test between saddle and bars
    hadn't heard this one before, is this a valid set up method?

    I've checked both my bikes, and fingertips take me just past the steering column, so I'm basically the length of the stem short. Admittedly my bikes are both roadies, with some set back on the seat post, but both have the saddle as far forward as it will go. Do I need two new seat posts then???
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    IMHO a road bike will still have a 'road geometry' and not a 'tri specific geometry' so you will inevitiably be be working on a compromise. The elbow-fingertips test is not surprisingly short as fitting bars stretches you out on a road bike, a tri bike whilst having a different geometry is also more compact and with my tri bike this 'rule of thumb' is met. Have a look at this link here:
    http://www.slowtwitch.com/mainheadings/ ... kefit.html

    Having said that you have done a 70.3, was that in road rig or with the bars? Again IMHO if you want to get really competitive a tri bike is the way to go as otherwise you are working on a compromise and not getting your full potential.

    Unless you are chopping away and rewelding the frame all you need to do to convert to 'road bike' set up is to make a record of the settings before and after.
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