Fit Check on a Borrowed Bike

I was hoping to get some opinions on whether or not I should consider training on a bike my uncle has let me borrow. It’s pretty old, a Trek Tri Series E7. My normal ride is an '18 FELT VR5, a carbon endurance road bike. I’m racing a few sprints and a 70.3 this year. Here’s some video I shot on the trainer:

Fit Check

What do you think? We’re basically the same size, although he must have a longer inseam because I had to drop the seat quite a bit. The position doesn’t feel very aggressive, then again I’ve never even used aero bars before.

  • it is definitely not aggressive. Your elbows are about level with your hips. An aggressive position usually aims for having shoulders just above or level with the hips.

But the first question to ask is what is your goal with using this bike? Are you planning to use it for an event? What are your goals in that event?

Basically, tell us how and why you are in this bike, and what option you have for altering a borrowed bike. And we might have some suggestions.

I would use this for a 70.3 later this summer. I don’t have any time goals yet, but if I were to gain any advantage using this bike might as well go for it. I plan to do some outdoor testing as soon as I can get outside again, comparing it to my endurance bike. I can make some changes where necessary, adjust the stem, aero bars, maybe get a professional fit. The bike is obviously set up for my uncle, who took it to a shop nearby (treck dealer). He said they barely made any changes to his position as it was already looking good. So I probably wouldn’t go to them if that’s their opinion.

Cool, my general approach for fitting centers around comfort as the first priority and aero/power as secondary. You need to be able to spend as much time in the desired position as possible. If it’s too aggressive to the point that you have to change position or sit up with any frequency, it is not worth it. That said, I think you could likely drop the front some and improve aero without a major loss of comfort.

  • This confuses me. Are you expecting any fit session to lead to changes? They can and do often end up with changes, but I have done several fits with experienced riders who just wanted to confirm they were setup well. So, I wouldn’t take the lack of changes as a sign on it’s own. The real question is why did he get a fit, and if the related issues were addressed.

I think I was just confusing myself. After looking at some proper fit examples, it looks like dropping the front will help me get my shoulders down, as you suggest. I agree that I’d much rather be comfortable on the bike. It being my first major race I’m training for, I have little expectation for speed. I’d much rather just enjoy it. Thanks Chad!

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Sounds like a great goal. Let us know if you have more fit questions after some time on the bike. Make sure to get some good rides outside and see how it feels on longer rides. And make sure you have good visibility up the road. It all takes some time to adjust to a lower position than a typical road setup.

Thanks, I really appreciate it!

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This position felt pretty good this morning. I think I can get the bars down another quarter inch, but it’s a big improvement over where it was the other day. I was able to complete my workout being in aero position for most of the intervals in Tunnabora.

New Position

Old Position

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Cool. Good start. Also, make sure to work on looking “up the road” with your head in a proper position. It’s important to train those neck and upper back muscles to support the head in that more pronounced tilt back.

Thanks! Yeah, I usually have a screen in front of me. Was just testing out the fit.

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Looks like you are moving in the right direction.

I would probably try going longer as well as lower especially if you can just move the arm pads and not have to buy a new stem.

What saddle are you on? That can have a pretty big impact on being able to get lower.

One mistake I see people new to tt/tri bikes is that they don’t rotate forward from the pelvis and they bend their back because they are used to sitting further back closer to the “sit bones” on their road bike. In the tt position you really need to rotate forward on the pubic ramus. I will often use the cue of act like you are doing a deadlift and how you rotate the pelvis forward rather than arching the back to get lower.

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Great cue, I did quite a bit of deadlifting last winter so that will help me visualize. It’s a stock saddle, not sure exactly what. I’ll take a look later. I think longer would help as well. My hands seem to naturally fall about an inch past where the grips currently are. I’ll play with that. Thanks for taking a look!

Dropped the bars as low as they’ll go, went longer on the reach and moved the pads up. This position feels pretty comfy and looks like progress. I also did a comparison ride yesterday outside. 12 mile two lap loop on this Trek and then on my felt VR5 carbon road bike. I kept my heart rate at 145-150 and ended up averaging 19 mph on the Trek and 17.5 mph on the Felt. It was my first time outside on aero bars but it felt good, and I was pretty shocked at how much speed I picked up with a pretty easy effort. Now I need a proper aero helmet …

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Looks good. The reach may be a bit long, but that is something you can experiment with. Just make sure you don’t feel like you are “stretching” too much. Ideally, a good TT fit should allow you to relax your arms and shoulder and not have to “support” yourself with excessive strain (that adds up over time).

Okay thanks! Yeah, i probably overdid it with the reach so that I can work it back if necessary. Spent about 30-40 minutes in aero yesterday and no soreness today. I’m happy with the results so far!

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Yeah, not saying you need to change anything. Just a heads up if you experience issues, moving the extensions back 5-10mm could help.

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