What can we glean from the blue diamonds in the chart below? Chaos. Anarchy.
Here’s what’s true: 1 in 3 Slowtwitch age-groupers set their bikes up with a pad position higher (per given length) than any pro triathlete we have found, male or female. Another few Slowtwitchers are way on the other end. Do they know something the pros don’t know?
About those who are high and rearward. So what? They’re pros. We’re not.
I’m not willing to give up that easily. I’d like to see more Slowtwitchers, and more fitters paid by Slowtwitchers, try a little harder to get us in the positions typical of the pros. Then, if it just can’t be, then fine. We tried.
Let’s work with such an example.
We have 3 Slowtwitchers who are all very similar, and the numbers in parentheses are Pad X followed by Pad Y in millimeters. They are duckies (498/671) callin’ (499/676) and kcb203 (501/681). Pretty much the same bikes are indicated for each of these riders.
I have established a motif for this, where I pick a Game of Thrones cast member as a meme or proxy. Today it’s Brienne of Tarth (a knight in every way, except for gender). Now, my guess, each of the three Slowtwitchers are probably men. But Gwendoline Christie (who plays Brienne) is in real life 6’3”. If we can stipulate that she might be very slightly long of leg (versus torso), a Pad Y of 675mm and a Pad X of 500mm is not a bad set of metrics. I really do hope none of our 3 Slowtwitchers I’m singling out is shorter than 6’1” and I’m wishing more like 6’2” or hopefully 6’3”. In my mind’s eye that’s the height that nicely matches pad-center of 675mm and 500mm for Pad Y and X respectively.
Quintana Roo PR6: It’s a 54cm. “No way!” you say. How can someone 6’3” ride a 54cm bike? Quintana Roo sizes its bikes by their frame stack. A size-54 has a frame stack of 54cm (or 540mm), same as a size-56 Felt IA, or a size-Large Speed Concept, or a Medium Dimond. It could have been a size-56cm PR6 except that bike’s integrated stem really wants a Pad X (to center) to be longer than 500mm. It’s a PR6, size 54m, all the rearward (pulled back) stem options, along with 15mm of stem spacers (part of the integrated stem) and 20mm of pad pedestals.
Specialized Shiv: With a Pad height of 675mm atop a Pad length of 500mm we're in Shiv territory now. Taking the Expert as an example ($3,500 bike) it uses a pretty standard aerobar, roughly 60mm of pad height above the pursuit bar center, it takes a standard 15mm or so headset top cap, like the Ordu OMP it really doesn’t want headset spacers (cosmetically), but we don’t need them. Because it’s got a frame stack in size-L that’s 25mm taller than these other bikes we’re looking at, let’s slide a 90mm-long stem, -6° pitch, on there. Based on our own Slowtwitch calculators that are the heart of the F.I.S.T. System for fitting we end up needing a bike with a frame that has a stack of 564mm and a reach of 422mm. A Shiv in size-Large has a stack/reach of 565mm/425mm. So there’s your prescription. Got that?
Giant Trinity Advanced Pro: Size-L. Nice bike. Here’s the downside. The Pad Y range for each size is only 30mm. For size-L it’s 640mm to 670mm. That means duckies (Pad Y = 671) is good; calling’ (676mm) needs to be happy with the pads 6mm lower; and kcb203 (681mm) can only ride this bike if the pads are dropped a centimeter. The Pad X range is 428mm to 488mm, we need a Pad X of 500mm, but remember Giant measures to pad-rear, which is probably about 460mm. So we’re good.
Want to know how I'm determining this? Largely from the Pad X/Y calculators these companies make for their bikes. I've printed screenshots from some of them and pasted them on the article I wrote last week, where I prescribed bikes for another set of Slowtwitchers.
Plenty of bikes that can be ridden with this Pad height and length. Note that there really isn’t any bike fitting going on here. Did I fit anyone in this exercise? This is just bike prescribing. If you’re confident that you have a pretty good position, the tools and calculators, new bike metrics, allow us to prescribe with precision all the bikes, bike sizes, stem lengths, front end configurations, that conspire to place the pads where you want them. Any bike shop dealing in pro bikes – road or tri – should be able to do what I just did in the article above. This is not just the state of the art, it’s now the reasonable expectation.