Forum home Road cycling forum Pro race

Tips on achieving good tt position?

Terminator-XTerminator-X Posts: 37
edited June 2008 in Pro race
i have recently purchased a TT bike and am wondering about getting tips on best TT position, i have set seat height same as rode bike, what is the best width for aero bars narrow or comfortable, should saddle be tilted to assist comfort, any info on this setup would be greatly appreciated.


  • drenkromdrenkrom Posts: 1,062
    Since TT's were always my specialty in my racing days and I'm quite a manic bike-fiddler, I have some input here. Keep in mind these are all general rules, and you'll have to try a lot of things out for yourself before you get that perfect TT position. It's about being in the most comfortable and powerful position possible. Once you have that basis, you can work on making it aero. Cheating the wind is worth nothing unless you can put absolute maximum power into your drivetrain.

    First off, if you set your seat height with a tape measure, don't take that measure as final. Your TT bike probably has a different geometry to open up your hip angle and permit a lower position without your thighs hitting your chest. Typical TT leg extension will be a few millimeters less than you'd set up for road riding, except if you expect some in-the-saddle climbing in your TTs, in which case you'll be extending your knee about the same as on your normal bike. This should be your first area of concern. The seat fore-aft position is also very important, as it affects which muscles groups will be primarily recruited. The further up front, the more quads you use, the further back, the more hamstrings. The general rule of thumb is that you generate more power for lesser periods the further up front, and lesser, more sustainable power the further back you go. Most people tend to creep way forward in the TT, so why not place your whole saddle further forward if you discover you also do this? A lot more comfortable! Even when in the aero position, you shouldn't be bending your lower back, you should be rotating your pelvis in the saddle. WARNING: this will require a rearrangement of your chamois stuffings before you try to rotate your pelvis. Saddle tilt should not be necessary. A slight forward tilt can help comfort, but be very careful there, as it'll guarantee you spend all your time on the tip of the saddle.

    In the cockpit area, things get a lot more personal. The main limiter on your position will be your lower-back flexibility. It's one thing to be able to bend over, but it's quite another to be able to generate power in that position. Not everyone is blessed in this area, and power is your primary concern, so don't go low for the sake of it or because it looks cool (though it does!). If you have some way of measuring power output, it's easy to find the sweet spot of handlebar height where you generate maximum power. If not,it's still rather obvious to the feel. The more you ride on your TT bike and develop your lower back muscles, the lower you'll be able to creep those bars. Also put in some time every day to do some back-stretching exercises. Very important.

    Aero bar width is to your taste. It has been argued there is an aero advantage to having your elbows close together, but that's worth nothing if you can't breathe. A lot of top TTers have theirs at shoulder width. Then, a lot of top TTers have their elbows touching where they're down. That illustrates how little it'll influence results. Go for comfort before anything else here. You'll spend a lot of time hunched over there, might as well be comfortable. For aero bar inclination, horizontal is the starting point. A little bit of an upper slope is comfortable, but you sacrifice control. Look at how often Levi Leipheimer get out of the tuck to take bends for reference. Mind you, he still manages OK. Anything lower than horizontal went out of style in 1998.

    The last really important point is the stem extension. once all other points are pretty much nailed down, you can look at this one. Once you're in you chosen position, with a powerful and smooth pedaling position and a comfortable yet efficient upper body position, your elbows should form a 90 degree angle. This is a point many overlook, even many pros. At first, it fells quite bunched up, but you'll have much better control in the tuck and be able to take some bends down there that'll have everyone else sitting up and braking. This last pointer was taught to me by a national team coach and saw my results leap up in a few months. It makes the bike feels livelier in the turns, which is a weak point for most TT rides.

    Some other stuff you may want to consider is putting in some time every day or two down core-muscle strength exercises. A lot of power will be generated in your back and your hips should always be squarely over the seat, immobile. That takes a lot of abdominal work. It's a lot of work and minutiae to get to your best in the TT, but it is sooooo worth it. I hope you get the bug as much as I did as a kid.

    Wow, quite a ramble there. Hope you find something useful in these things that were passed down to me by people way more knowledgeable than myself. If you have further questions, I might have further answers.
  • andy_wrxandy_wrx Posts: 3,396
    Wow, how can I follow that ?

    I'm no expert, but my two-penn'orth is that when I built-up my TT/tri bike I set it up one way and then kept fiddling and changing my position as I got used to it.
    Initially I had my elbows set wide because it was much more stable and reassuring. As I got more confidence, got more miles on the bike and learned how to ride on the bars, I narrowed them in.
    Similarly I moved my saddle higher and further forward as my back got more used to the tuck and my leg muscles got used to working in a similar-but-slightly-different position to on the roadbike.
    The same applies now every Spring, the TT bike feels terrible the first few times, then my body gets used to it and it gets better.
    I still fiddle with the bar position though !
  • YoungfoxYoungfox Posts: 32
    Dear Drenkrom

    Great advice and appreciated
  • drenkromdrenkrom Posts: 1,062
    You never stop fiddling with a TT bike. :wink:

    Bar width is a mental thing. If you feel more powerful with wider-set bars you can really tug on, that'll be the fastest option. If you feel like a wily little bullet cutting through the wind with tight bars,that'll get you home fastest. I always liked them ridiculously tight. There are measurable physical advantages to position changes and aero widgets, but the main impact will be on your #1 TT muscle: your head. If it makes you feel fast, it doesn't matter that much if it really makes you measurably faster, it'll make you go harder.
  • fearbyfearby Posts: 245
    You would be better off asking the experts:

Sign In or Register to comment.