This is not an advertisement for drugs. The speed I'm talking about isn't measured in grams, but miles per hour. If I told you that you could have some free speed, would you take it? I sure as heck would! (again, the miles per hour, not the drug!) However, by purchasing a road bike instead of a triathlon bike, I basically said no to drugs, I mean, free speed. Let me explain...
In triathlons, there's a gadzillion amount of ways to set up your bike. It really all boils down to comfort, especially for the longer races. However, with comfort, the trade-off is typically to give up some aerodynamics.
|A typical road bike set up.|
Triathlon bikes, or time-trial bikes, are made specifically to be more aerodynamic and to put the rider in a much more aerodynamic position.
|A typical triathlon bike set up.|
You can see that the triathlon bike is designed to make the rider lean forward more, created less wind resistance. When I bought my bike, I didn't even know that there was anything other than a road bike. So, I purchased my bike and added clip-on aero bars.
|Almost exactly the same as my set up. The longer bars sticking out on the right are the clip-on aero bars.|
This type of set up is sort of a make-shift solution for people who own a road bike and want to do a triathlon. Aero bars are definitely not a requirement for doing triathlons, but as the saying goes: Any time out of the aero position is wasted time.
My training partner (or at least this guy that I ride with every once and a while), we'll call him Captain Peele, has a more tradition triathlon bike. The bike he has was built with a geometry to support a more aerodynamic position on the bike. This fact is blatantly obvious whenever we go downhill. I'm typically pedaling in my largest gear, and he is typically coasting behind me. Granted, he has a few more pounds on me, so that helps too, but he really goes downhill much, much faster.
His trade-off, for being more aero, however, is that he is not positioned well for long hill climbs. My bike is much better for that. If we didn't purposefully ride near each other, we would probably leap frog one another during the course of a ride. Maybe we'll trade bikes for a ride some time and see how different it is (and then I'll just take off and let him keep my lame excuse for a bike!)...