The riding position in the cycling segment of the triathlon is rather unusual. This is because triathlon is different from all other cycling disciplines.
It's a fact that by the time the athletes come to the cycling segment, they're already tired from the swimming, and they still have the running ahead of them.
In triathlon, a correct riding position is therefore essential for two reasons:
- to reduce the physical load for the athlete, optimising movement;
- to enhance performance by improving the aerodynamics.
UCI regulations for triathlon are highly prescriptive when it comes to the use of handlebar extensions that could facilitate a more relaxed or aerodynamic riding position. These rules are less strict in Ironman, for example.
So every race is a world of its own, but there's some general advice you can follow to maintain a correct position on your triathlon bike.
The correct position on a racing bike vs a triathlon bike
Here are a few differences between the riding position on a racing and a triathlon bike:
- In triathlon the saddle is lower to reduce muscular effort, especially of the calves, since the athlete then has to tackle the running segment;
- The angle of the torso is more acute in triathlon, with the weight further forward: this adds aerodynamic force to the pedalling, but also helps with braking;
- The weight is on the handlebar extensions, when these are allowed on triathlon bikes: this reduces strain on the cervical muscles and arms compared to a racing bike;
- Triathletes perch on the tip of the saddle, with their knees in line with the centre of the pedals, because this helps to add extra power.
Accessories for correct riding position
When the rules permit, triathletes use some accessories that are extremely efficient to maintain a correct riding position.
The first magic item is the pedal shaft. As we know from physics, a longer shaft is a better lever for the athlete, who can reach a higher speed with less force.
Then there are handlebar extensions: these are structures that fix onto the handlebar and allow the rider to shift their weight forwards, sometimes even resting on their elbows.
In Ironman we often see very extreme positions, with the hands raised above shoulder level (a riding position nicknamed the mantis, because of its resemblance to the insect). This position reduces overload on the cervical muscles, but the height of the hands should be carefully considered so as not to affect aerodynamics.
Last but not least: the handlebar itself is crucial for riding position
To maintain a correct position in the saddle, the handlebar should be ergonomic, and optimised for the athlete's body, but also for aerodynamics. In summary, the athlete should be comfortable, free to move without risking joint or muscle problems, and able to pedal powerfully and cut through the air.
To develop this kind of accessory, you need:
- in-depth analysis of ergonomics
- knowledge of the dynamics of triathlon
- expertise in physics and aerodynamics
- knowledge of the most innovative materials.
URSUS adapted handlebars for triathlon are all this. They are developed with the feedback from professional and amateur triathletes, who help us to constantly improve our products.
Customisation and ergonomics are key to our work in designing and manufacturing handlebars and accessories for triathlon bikes. Only an athlete with a good riding position can pedal long and hard.