Ironman bike choice questions

Hello all,

I am looking at buying a new bike for IM and half IM events, and there are obviously a lot of things to consider. I haven’t seen these questions addressed elsewhere recently so I hope that those with more experience can chime in.

  1. Front-end geometry - it seems that newer bikes (Scott Plasma 6, Cervelo P5, Shiv, the new Speedmax, Felt IA, etc) have a ton of font-end adjustability built in. I have repeatedly read, and agree, that fit is critical, but with so much adjustability built in, shouldn’t a particular fit be achievable on most of the new frames given that you bought the correct size? I am right in the middle of the bell curve for height/femur/arm length and flexibility

  2. UCI vs non-UCI - there seems to be a dividing line, some bikes built around UCI compliance, and others that are not. Specific to fit, is there any major difference? For example the Cervelo P5 and the new Ordu - they can be UCI compliant, but the new Shiv can’t be, while the P5 seat fore/aft adjustment looks pretty huge. But is it possible to get the same position over the bottom bracket on these newer TT bikes with seat adjustment vs something without any consideration of UCI rules? Another way to ask might be: can the Cervelo P5 achieve the same seat fore/aft as a Shiv or Plasma 6?

Thanks in advance!

Ahh this is a huge rabbit hole - welcome to the fun

You might want to read up on some stack and reach - tons of info on stack and reach over on Slowtwitch in the fitting areas or just google it.

  1. Yes, the front end geometry is key, but ultimately getting fit first by someone who does Tri fits will get you the stack and reach numbers to make sure you purchase the right bike size. Some fitters can even narrow down the best bike choices for you eliminating some that will be a struggle to fit correctly (IE not having to swap stems, aero bar risers, etc.)

  2. No, depends if you are going to ride TT sometimes or not. If you are only doing Tri - the tri bikes will likely have aero options (frames) not available under UCI and/or drink/storage options built in or attachable to the bike. IMO generally fit wise they are pretty much similar, for example some bikes will have a different seatpost for TT versus Tri fitting. IMO it was be pretty easy to achieve the same fore/aft on a P5, shiv or plasma unless you are oddly shaped (which you said you were not), as the bikes fore/aft are not that dissimilar, its the stack that seems to be the most different and varies from brand and their fitting philosophy.

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Thoughts on hydration storage? So many options. I’ve seen Aerocoach’s data on where to put the bottle, but I’m wondering how this all works with Ironman aid stations. Is it worthwhile to be storing enough hydration on the bike to get to the midway necessities point without picking anything up, or is it easy to quickly pick up a bottle per hour from aid stations? The in-frame hydration systems look interesting, but if it is useful just for a single 500ml to 750ml refill, then you are back to using BTA and BTS bottles, then I’d just skip the complication!

I’ve got it narrowed down to the P5, the new Ordu, and the Canyon Speedmax. The new Ordu is super interesting to me, but doesn’t have any in-frame storage.

Usually yes…with the biggest exception being a rider who needs a long & low position but is buying a tall & short bike. For example, it is impossible for me to get fit on a 1st Gen Shiv Tri frame. To get the reach I need, I am too high. Conversely, to get the stack I need requires a ridiculously long stem.

Today’s frame / cockpit designs also make it much easier to take a long / low frame and get the stack some riders need. As always, it is best to get fit first and see how your measurements fit the bikes vs. deciding on a bike and then seeing how you can fit on the bike. Also, make sure you get the stack & reach numbers for your elbow pads, not just the frame. That is really the critical measurement and will help narrow your search.

Not really (in general). The issue of UCI compliant or not is usually based on the aerodynamics of the frame design, not the fit. Even the first-gen Shiv TT (with nosecone) came with two seatposts…one that was laidback for UCI TT’s and one that had a “saddle-forward” offset for tri’s.

I have always used on course nutrition - I use two bottles

1 between the arms and 1 behind the seat - I leave the triangle empty or would use a aero bottle there. I have a Speed Concept that has the box for my flat kit.

During IM’s - there is aid approx. every 20 miles, so really no need to bring more than two (unless you are mixing/bringing your own nutrition then separate conversation), in theory you could get away with one, I am always afraid I will drop a bottle or miss an aid station pick up and either have to stop or will wait to the next aid (so I keep the spare bottle behind the seat) and will change it out during the race.

At aid I usually throw away any empty/close to empty bottles
I will grab a water to get a quick drink and rinse if needed and then throw away
I will then grab a Gatorade to drink (and a gel or food if needed)

The built in reservoirs are nice but can be another thing to keep clean while training and after racing. The straw right in your face can remind you to drink. I personally like the bottle between the arms as I don’t have to faff around (have a hard enough keeping training bottles clean) and I can see how much is left at any given moment.

my bike setup for recent 70.3 (but this would be the same for 140.6) I know the pic isn’t drive side - it was quick snap at drop off :slight_smile:

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I personally run two regular bottles for IM…one BTA and one on my downtube (usually a large insulated CamelBak). At Special Needs, I have another insulated CamelBack to pick up.

I start the race with the Camelbaks frozen…small insulated cooler in my Special Needs bag keeps it cold enough so it is still cold when I get to it. A small cooler bag does the trick and fits in a Special Needs bag. Both those bottles are calories and water goes BTA. I swap out water as needed at aid stations. I’ll also supplement calories by grabbing on-course nutrition, taking a big swig and dropping it before the end of the zone.

You really don’t need more than that on the bike…as mentioned there are ample aid stations on the course and, as long as you don’t need special nutrition, is more than sufficient to fuel and hydrate properly.

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I run two regular water bottles, too and one aero bottle with carbs in the frame triangle.
Built in hydration systems are super nice, but maybe not so useful in IM races. The litter zones would be too short for me to grab 1-2 water bottles, squeeze them in and throw the bottles in the zone away (or you‘d have to brake and slow down even more…). Sometimes the bottles are not screwed up well enough, so you‘d need even more time.
For emergency fueling if loosing bottles or failing to get bottles during aid zone the built in systems would be very nice.

I usually carry most of my calories on the bike, I don’t want to guess how many calories are in the fuel on course. I also don’t use the stuff offered on course in training and don’t want any surprises. Also, I don’t need the risk of a missed bottle psyching me out for the next 30k.

I usually bring one bta tank and two bottles bts plus an aero bottle on the downtube with a concentrated carb mix to top off the tank and mix with on course water. Among those I can carry about 1500cal of Tailwind which gives me about 300cal/hour. For storage I 3d-printed a box that fits between the aero bottle and down/seattube

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This is incredibly helpful, thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve got the green light from the boss to put together a semi-superbike, and I’d like to get it as close to “right” as I can.

To sum these comments up, it doesn’t sound like in-frame hydration and storage is an absolute must, but for me disc brakes are a must at this point…making the P5 and the new Ordu pretty high on the list. The Ordu fit range is much larger, which might be the deciding factor.

The MUST is get a fit before you buy a bike

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One thin to consider however re: integrated nutrition storage is a potential aero benefit. You may not need it to carry what you need, but it may let you do it more efficiently.

I’m working on the fit, but it’s going to take 6+ hours of travel to make it happen unfortunately.

Speaking of fit, what do you look for in a potential fitter? Retul seems reputable, but the nearest one is 6 hours away.

I don’t know what kind of budget you’re working with. Not everyone is comfortable going away from a “big name” bike, but I ride a Premier Tactical and it’s been awesome.

Curious, as someone who hasn’t done a tri in a few years (even then, it was a 20 year old TT), how much does UCI legal matter? I’ve never done a TT race, done very little road racing, but not seen anyone even look at the bike to see if it is legal (I’m at See Otter now).

I’d like to start doing tri again in a year or two, so I’ll be shopping for used bikes probably around then

Absolutely none. Don’t worry about UCI rules when choosing a Tri bike.

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