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Road Positions for Triathletes

In this piece, I’m going to write about road bike positions for triathletes.  To start, I want to visually describe, what is happening “in space” to move from a road position to a time trial position.

As you can see from the image above, the time trial position is merely a road position rotated forward around the bottom bracket.  You can also rotate the road position rearward and you'd be looking at a  recumbent bike.

If you look at the two images on the left and used your hand to cover everything below the elbow, it would be difficult to tell the difference between the actual TT position and the rotated road position.

There are certain requirements to make this forward position a ridable one.  First, the saddle needs to remain relatively flat which has been a driver for new TT specific saddle development.  And, the need to support the upper body across the front of the bike in a comfortable manner - aerobars.

Back to the title, Road Positions for Triathletes...

...There's not such a thing!

An triathlete’s road position should be a standard biomechanically neutral road position.  I try to get athletes to disassociate the two and not attempt to make one feel like the other.  

I’m constantly explaining this to road cyclists who ask to make their TT bikes feel like their road bike and triathletes that want their road bike to feel like their TT bike.

From an angular perspective, they are very similar, just orientated in space differently.  I’d compare it to all the different ways of performing a leg press exercise in the gym (standing, seated, supine, etc).  Your foot to knee relationship remains the same, but is usually rotated at varying degrees.  

This doesn’t mean that triathletes shouldn’t ride road bikes.  Once adapted to the time trial position, any sessions where the majority of the ride is done on the basebar, a road bike is actually a better choice.


Having written the following sentence a few times and it sounding like a riddle, I am going to try to explain it in two different ways...

The road position is more similar to the TT position than the TT position is to an athlete riding their TT bike on the pursuit bars.


TT bike in the aero position is similar to the road position

TT bike on the pursuit bars is most similar to a unicycle


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