Ask RIDE…What options exist for tall riders wanting to buy a time trial bike?
Hi I am seeking some expert advice.
I am on the lookout for TT bike for an upcoming IM (Ironman) and wondering if there are any brands that offer large size frames? I love the Ridley Dean and the Teschner Aero 703 however, at 6’7″ (200.6cm) my concern is I could be too big for these bikes.
If you can direct me in the right direction it would be a huge help and save me a bunch of time and frustration.
Mark, this is a great question and you are asking it at the right time; before making a purchase!
Correct bike fit for an IM athlete of all levels of skill and experience is absolutely essential as it plays a vital role and impact on training and two out of three legs of your event: the bike and run.
Style will no doubt influence your final decision but it must also enable you to achieve an efficient and more importantly, sustainable position. A significant portion of body weight needs to be transferred onto your skeleton (elbows) rather than muscle to enable a reasonably forward seat position and one that engages the correct muscles to pedal without loading those required to run the marathon that follows. Another consideration is choosing a frame which will accommodate your required arm pad and base bar height without causing pain or discomfort from the lower back and/or excessively closing the hip angle.
Conducting a full fit should deliver a “stack and reach” that outlines your optimal position – both power and sustainability. Essentially, stack and reach are the two key numbers that express the position of the top of the head tube of the frame relative to the bottom bracket. Armed with these values you can then look at frames objectively as to whether it is possible to achieve your position and what compromises you have to make, if any, to get there.
It is possible to vary the effective stack and reach by using various spacer, stem and aerobar combinations. However, it is preferable to have as much frame available and only have to juggle these elements as little as possible. For example, if the head tube is 130mm and the top tube will give you your reach number but you require a stack of 190mm the fitter will need to find a combination of the above components that offers an addition 60mm. On the other hand, if the head tube is 170mm you will find you have more options available to you to get to 190mm without risking an impact on stability and handling of the bike.
Whether the frames mentioned suit you will be a function of your unique morphology and flexibility. In the largest frame size the Ridley and Teschner have head tubes of 135mm and 130mm respectively. This would generally suit a low front end which may or may not be suitable for someone of your height. A lower front end does not necessarily achieve the best compromise of aerodynamics, power, efficiency and handling nor does a high one! This will need to be determined by the person who conducts your pre-purchase fitting.
We recently fitted an Ironman athlete of your height to a bike which he bought before being sized up. His initial position (left) could not be sustained for more than 40 minutes which for a 180km bike leg is anything but ideal. We made some big changes to his position which brought him forward over the bottom bracket, with his arms in closer which relieved his upper body of excessive strain and engaged a wider range of leg muscles so he can perform a quality run straight off the bike. Also notice the more powerful foot angle through the stroke. All of these aspects need to be considered for someone like yourself who will be somewhat limited in frame choice.
Depending on the outcome of your requirements the Parlee TT frame may be appropriate. They offer two head tube lengths in each size which addresses these issues. An XL has a top tube of 57.5cm and you can have be built with a 160mm or 180mm head tube.
In summary, get a thorough fit to establish the targeted stack and reach and then go hunting. Feel free to contact us for more information, we are more than happy to help.
Peter KyriakidisPeter is the proprietor of Cycling Edge and provides fitting services to all levels and disciplines of cycling utilising the latest tools and technology from SICI and Dartfish. He is fully trained and accredited at all levels of SICI’s programs and is also an accredited fitter in the use of the “Slowtwitch” Triathlon and TT fitting methodology
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