1 of 3 photos
I’ve already written that the bike industry has coalesced around a single geometry for tri, just as they have diverged in geometries for road. The few outlier tri geometries favor the taller positions. Few are making tri bikes for lower positions. But that’s not entirely the case. There is hope for what I term Aliens and by these I mean the freaks of nature who contort into pretzels to ride long and low positions.
I have adopted as a motif naming my stereotypes after Game of Thrones characters. Who is the most space-bending, contortionist character able to morph into an superhuman position aboard a bike? I nominate Jaqen H’ghar, the faceless shapeshifter.
2 of 3 photos
In real life I’m talking about zachboring on our reader forum, with a Pad Y/X of 610mm/530mm, and knightly76, a one-size-down version with stats of 575mm/510mm. What bikes will fit these people?
In the old days, the classic Cervelo P3. Why aren’t bikes like this made anymore? Two reasons. Positions aboard these bikes likely won’t be UCI legal (1.3.023, which don't matter to you and me but they matter to bike makers who're making one frame for all timed race uses. Second, when fitters err, they don’t err in the long-and-low direction.
Still, there are options.
Orbea Ordu LTD This is the bike made today that, when built, as spec’d, is ready for to fight the long/low battle. If you take a Size-L out of the box and build it up, change the factory spec’d stem from a 90mm –6° pitch to a 100mm –17° (parallel to the horizon), keep aerobar pads in the native, neutral position, you have a bike that perfectly fits zachboring, that is, a bike with a Pad Y/X of 610mm/530mm +/-2mm. How can this be? This frame has a stack/reach of 540mm/430mm, and that’s only 5mm longer than the 540mm/525mm that is almost ubiquitous (Quintana Roo, Felt, Cervelo, Dimond, Trek). The difference is in the handlebars. The Vision TriMax bar has pads that sit only 45mm above the pursuit’s centerline and, at their neutral, central pad position sit 12mm in front of the handlebar clamp (the pursuit bar center). Profile Designs with the J4 bracket that set 15mm behind the pursuit bar (although it is possible to flip these brackets and make them a set-forward set of aerobars). When you can add 27mm to the cockpit distance, and lower the armrests 15mm, simply with an aerobar change, that’s a major change to how the bike fits.
3 of 3 photos
Now, what about knightly76? We have to work a little harder. If we do replace the factory spec stem with the stem we used for zachboring, no pedestals under the pads, the Pad Y/X on the Size-M frame is 588mm/510mm. We can’t quite get there. With a –25° stem we can, and we even need to add a 5mm pad pedestal to get to the target Pad Y/X. The nice thing about the Ordu LTD series, it looks like a super bike, but it can take any stem. I built up a Shiv for myself last week, I resorted to a –25° stem to get the bike to fit me, it’s not the ideal scenario but it got done and Aliens, like beggars, can’t be choosers.
Slowtwitch resource cyclenutz (David Bowden) down in New Zealand is the best I’ve come across at solving the kinds of fit problems I’m tackling in this series. David not only has an encyclopedic knowledge of the sub-assemblies to meet any fit problem, he’s turned it all into a terrific calculator: type in the problem, click the button – Help! Mr. Wizard! – presto, the calculator solves the problem and spits out the complete bike solutions. He turned me onto a great find, the SL-K–20° stem from FSA. It comes in 10mm increments from 50mm to 120mm.