Your First Tri Bike

Many individuals get into triathlon with a running or swimming background. Their first order of business is to purchase their first “real” bike. The question they ask us most often is, “What is the best bike to get?”  Like many questions in the world of endurance sports, the simple answer is, “It depends.”  That said, we do have some advice that might point you in the right direction.

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Bike Fit Box Launches Bike Saddle Box

Friends of Science of Speed know that we take great pride in our expert bike fits. Last year, we launched Bike Fit Box to bring that expertise to cyclists through virtual, at-home fittings. Now, Bike Fit Box is introducing a brand new service that is changing the game once again.

Bike Saddle Box is a first-of-its-kind saddle demo experience that allows cyclists to try out multiple saddles at home, on their very own bike for fourteen days.

This unique way to shop for saddles is built for convenience, which is the foundation of all the services we offer at Bike Fit Box. Cyclists can test ride these saddles at home on their own bike for as many rides as they like. They keep what you love, send back what you don’t. It’s that simple – and should always be this simple – to make your next ride more comfortable.

The Bike Saddle Box demo experience comes at a flat-rate cost of $75. Cyclists who opt to keep one or more saddles from the demo are charged for those saddles at a discounted rate following the completion of the demo period. More than 40 models are available to try from top brands like ISM, Pro, Selle Italia, WTB, Prologo, Fiz’i:k, Origin 8 and Terry.

Curious about Bike Fit Box and Bike Saddle Box? Learn more and book your at-home delivery today!

Is A Noseless Saddle Right For You?

In the last ten years, we have seen an increasing trend in saddle manufacturers to create a short or no nose saddle.  These saddles originated in Pro Tour TTs as athletes began cutting the nose of saddles off to make their seat fore/aft position meet UCI regulations. It later caught traction in triathlon due to the improved comfort and is now prominent in the road and off-road scenes.

Many cyclists wonder, “Will a noseless saddle work for me?” Here are some changes you might see if you switch to this saddle style.

Aggressive position

In this situation, the wider front of a noseless saddle provides greater support of the ischial rami and helps to alleviate numbness in many circumstances.

Further forward saddle position

Most riders sit further forward on a noseless saddle. This naturally moves the rider forward in relation to the saddle rails and provides an increased forward placement of the rider.

No more irritation from the saddle nose

For some cyclists the longer nose of a traditional saddle has a tendency to get in the way. By switching to a noseless saddle you can reduce chaffing in both the thigh and groin.

Curious about your bike saddle and how it affects the way you ride your bike? Learn more about our bike fitting services where we can dial in your saddle, cleats and cockpit for the ultimate riding experience.

Take A Seat

As the Science of Speed team guides athletes with custom coaching and when we provide professional bike fits, one of the most frequent questions asked is, “Where should I be sitting on the bike saddle?”

The short answer: there is no one right place for a rider to sit on their bike saddle.

Why? To achieve the best performance and comfort, you’ll find that your position on the bike seat changes throughout each and every ride. It’s all about adaptability. Your riding style, your bike’s saddle, and your own body will determine how your posterior meets the seat. Understanding how these affect placement will help you find the sweet spot.

First, consider the way that you ride. For example, when a road cyclist is riding in the hoods, their pelvis will be rotated more anteriorly or more backward. Due to this, they’re going to gravitate to a wider portion of the saddle as they’re on the ischial tuberosity (AKA the sit bones.) However, as the position becomes more aggressive (as the ride becomes more intense,) that same rider will rotate their pelvis more forward. At that point, the saddle pressure goes to a narrower spot in the ischium causing them to shift forward on the saddle.

Second, take a look at your own saddle! Is it designed to match your riding style? Is it a traditional road bike saddle designed for multiple positions, a noseless saddle geared towards a more “aggressive” riding style, or maybe you are riding a more cushioned saddle designed for fitness riding and a more upright posture?

Finally, listen to your body on the ride. Try out different positions. Get to know what feels more sensitive and what positions offer you more longevity. Do those positions that feel the best support your ability to maintain your desired posture? 

If you’re still struggling, it’s probably time for a professional bike fit. Your saddle is just one element of creating the right angles and positioning for a comfortable and efficient ride. If you’re in North Florida, schedule a fit in person. If you’re anywhere in the US or simply desire a fit at home, enjoy a virtual bike fit experience with Bike Fit Box.

SoS Uses Retül Technology for Your Best Fit

Bike fits are one the most popular offerings provided by Science of Speed alongside our custom coaching and other fitness analysis services. For cyclists, we cannot say enough about the importance of a proper bike fit and educate you often on when to seek out a fit.

Science of Speed utilizes Retül to provide our cyclists with the best bike fit possible. Retül recently shared this video about the importance of bike fit and how to not only adjust the bike to the rider, but what the rider can also do to improve their mobility to help with proper positioning on the bike. Watch it now by clicking on the play button below.

Ready for your best ride ever? Book your bike fit with Science of Speed today.

MythBusters: Sport Edition

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” – Abraham Lincoln

If you didn’t just chuckle out loud, read that first line again. It’s so easy to trust the quotes, articles, and images that are served up to us online, including those about sport! As we scroll through our social media apps and click through our emails, you might see something and think, “Is that for real?” 

You’re not alone! Coach Brady spotted this social media ad last week and it made him say, “Huh?” 

He sat down to fact check this social media ad. Here’s his feedback:

“In the image and the description, the company states that pressure is put on the ‘pubis bone’ due to the necessary rotation of the pelvis for an aero/triathlon position. 

It is true that we do have to rotate our pelvis forward in the aero position. It is also true that certain saddles and a bike fit that includes that saddle can help you avoid discomfort.

What’s misleading here is the idea that your rotation would be extreme enough that your weight and pressure is supported by the pubic symphysis (pubic bone.) That would result in a contact point in front of your genitals. This would not only be uncomfortable but very awkward from a positional standpoint. Ouch! 

The change that actually occurs when we move to this position is from our ischial tuberosity on to the inferior rami of the ischium.”


 

Drawing By Henry Vandyke Carter – Henry Gray (1918) Anatomy of the Human Body (See “Book” section below)Bartleby.com: Gray’s Anatomy, Plate 235, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/…

If you ever have a question about training advice, technical specs, or the athlete’s body you see online, your Science of Speed coaches are here to confirm or debunk! Science is the first word in our brand name and we take that very seriously. It’s why our team is comprised of people with the highest level of education, experience, and expertise. We looking forward to hearing from you soon!

5 Reasons You Need A Bicycle Fit

Schedule a Static Bike Fit

Too often, we hear stories of athletes who have been dealing with debilitating pain, recurring injuries, or other symptoms that sound more like they are riding a medieval torture device than a bicycle.

Our goal at Science of Speed (and Bike Fit Box) is to provide athletes with the training, fits, and testing they need to enjoy a lifetime of cycling.  Here are five signs that it’s time to see how a bike fit can be beneficial to your cycling longevity:

Joint Pain

Cycling is a minimal weight-bearing form of exercise and any joint pain should be immediately assessed. If you’re feeling discomfort in your joints during and after your ride, it’s time to schedule a fit.

Saddle Pain

Saddle sores, excessive soft tissue pressure, and numbness are all factors that are indicative of an improper fitting.  These symptoms quite often immediately lead to the assumption that the incorrect saddle has been picked. This however is not always correct and saddle comfort can be improved by bicycle fit!

Numbness 

When you hear the two words “cycling” and “numbness” in the same sentence, what comes to mind? More than likely, you thought of groin numbness.  That can be a terrible sensation, and it is a concerning one. Numbness can arise is the hands and feet as well. No matter where you may experience numbness, it is indicative of nerve trauma and should be resolved as quickly as possible. A bike fit can help you avoid irreparable damage.

Tendonitis

Cycling is a repetitive sport that occurs predominantly in one plane of motion.  At 90 RPM, you are asking your body to repeat the same motion 5,400 times in an hour of cycling.  That repetitive movement is asking a lot of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If your bicycle fit is not correct, you are placing the tendons, which connect your muscles to your bones and provide the needed leverage to pedal, under greater strain than necessary.

Cycling Economy

The body is a series of levers and hinges. In order to make them function effectively and efficiently, each of those hinges needs to perform in optimal ranges.  A fit is the optimization of these movements to improve your efficiency. It is an amazing sensation when your bike fit is perfected. You can’t beat the feel of the wind in your face and the smoothness in your pedal stroke as you glide with less effort!

Ready to schedule your bike fit? If you’re in the North Florida area and desire an in-person professional fitting, visit this page to book your appointment now. If you desire an at-home fitting anywhere in the US, try Bike Fit Box!

Our Thoughts Regarding Mid-sole Cleats

In a recent article posted by Triathlon.com there was discussion of a mid-sole cycling cleat placement in cycling shoes.  This mid foot cleat placement is nothing new to the cycling world.  It has been an idea for decades now and has resurfaced many times as the latest and greatest thing for bicycling performance.  It seems strange to think about having a cleat in the middle of your foot, mostly because fore foot cleat placement has been the only thing many cyclists have ever witnessed.

The article sings the praises of mid-foot cleat placement, and there are benefits, but there are also a few key details that are a detriment.  We are going to break this down into several key areas include Fit and Function.

BIKE FIT

At Science of Speed, we live and breathe bike fit, so we will begin there!  Mid cleat placement does have merit when it comes to bike fit.  The calf muscles do not provide much benefit, regarding propulsion on the bike but act more as a stabilizer for the ankle.  We will even place cleats further back on shoes of riders with larger feet to help reduce the lever arm, and ultimately reduce calf strain.  With a mid-foot cleat placement you will reduce this more significantly and only moderately utilize the calf for stabilization which should ultimately result in fresher calves for run propulsion.

This mid-foot cleat placement will also result in a lower seat height.  As you reduce the impact that “ankling” plays on total leg extension.  This, with changes made in cockpit setup will result in a smaller frontal area and mean a slightly more aerodynamic position.  Which, in a world of marginal gains, this could result in sizable increases in aerodynamics.

As we have not personally tried this mid-foot cleat placement, the one thing we are uncertain of is, how does it fit, feel and function as a rider is out of the saddle climbing?  This may be a position that is more suited for a flat, straight and fast course.  If there is that big of a benefit, we believe that professional cycling teams who focus on the small areas, such as Ineos, would have shoes for riders with mid-foot placement for time trials, and forefoot placement for climbs and technical courses where safety would be a concern.

FUNCTION

Unfortunately, in this article, normalized power is misrepresented.  This is not so much a representation of “efficiency” with reference to the benefit of your position, but a representation of a rider’s smoothness on the ride.  Normalized power is an algorithm that is designed to quantify the stress that accelerations create on the body and therefore shows a higher number if a file has more accelerations.  With course, conditions and fitness all being the same, average power would be a better representation of whether the cleat placement did result in statistically significant power outputs.

It pains me to see that the shoe manufactures are demonized in this situation.  This lack of adoption of mid sole could be because it has the potential to be very dangerous.  If you have ever heard of toe overlap you understand why mid-foot cleat placement can be, not only a scary thing, but a dangerous thing.  This toe overlap impacts your ability to pedal through corners and not clip your front wheel with your shoes.  With current bicycle geometries, fore foot cleat placement this is a small issue, but by sliding your foot forward on the pedal you are now putting the ball of your foot into the front wheel when your pedal is in it’s forward most position and turning what was once a small problem, into a major safety concern.

Lastly, in regard to functionality we have to touch on the triathlon specific area that may not have been considered.  Transition. If you run through transition with your cycling shoes you have either personally fallen or witnessed someone else fall because of how slick cycling cleats are.  Now you are going to be either, skating on the cleats, or feel like you are trying to walk on stilts as you are perched upon your Look, Shimano, or even scarier, Speed Play cleats.

As you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a mid-foot cleat placement and make your decisions, please keep in mind three key factors of entry.  First and foremost is the price.  Just like anything, being an early adopter of a product, theory or technology, you will pay more.  In this case the “more” could be upwards of $1500 in some circumstances.  You can also expect there to be a bit of a learning curve (no pun intended) when it comes to cornering as you learn what your new limitations are.  Last, but not least, assess the potential benefits of this cleat placement and will it compensate for you factors that could arise in transition.  If you are not racing for the win, running the entire run leg or comfortable and confident handling a bike, it may not be the best option for you.

​Back In The Saddle

Sometimes, athletes step away from training due to injury, other times to reflect on their goals. No matter the reason, absence can indeed make the heart grow fonder. Even if you’re looking forward to starting a new training cycling, returning to a routine after a break has its difficulties. Long-time SoS Athlete Kearstin recently started up her custom coaching again after a hiatus. We asked her about her experience in returning to her training regimine.

SOS: What’s it like to come back into training with your coach after a break? Is it easier because of the customization of your workouts?

Science-of-Speed-Athlete-Kearstin-Hess.jpg#asset:326

KR: I think the hardest thing is seeing how much power and endurance I lost before training again. At first, I was really embarrassed by not being able to do rides I used to do, but Coach Brady has been the perfect amount of push and compassion that I need in a coach. It is definitely easier with the customization of workouts! I tried making a comeback on the bike by myself and I just needed more structure and guidance. That’s what I get from Science of Speed.

SOS: What goal events are on the horizon for you as you return to training?

KR: I’ve had one elusive goal for the past 3 years now. I’d like to be able to qualify for the Race Across America. To qualify, I have to complete 370 miles in 24 hours. That is what I’m currently training for and the race is in February. While I don’t know if I’ll be able to hit that goal this next February, I’m just excited to be getting my fitness back!

SOS: Overall, how have you liked working with your SoS Coach? What have been your favorite results that you’ve seen in the past from your customized training?

KR: I love working with SoS. I’ve used SoS on and off for the past 3 years and I’ve always been my best self on the bike when I’m being coached by them. While the results are slow going at the moment, I love what I’m seeing now. I honestly feel like we are starting from ground zero and every week I see improvements or, at the very least, I feel good about myself.

Looking to get back in the saddle and rededicate yourself to your goals? We’re here for you at every step of your athletic journey. Let’s get you ready to return to the race course. Contact us today.

Losing Power but Gaining Speed

Recently, an article was posted regarding the loss in power production of cyclists when they transition from a position on the hood to aerobars.  Among bike fit specialists and many high level cyclists, this is nothing new. It is common knowledge that the position of a time trial or triathlon bike is less bio-mechanically efficient than a road bicycle.  The goal with this position is not to increase a rider’s power output. It is to optimize the balance of efficiency and aerodynamics.

Blog-Twitter.png#asset:311The key point here is that you, as an athlete, should be able to spend as much time in this position as possible.  If you are striving for a very “aggressive” aerodynamic position, it may take time for you to adapt. Unfortunately, we too often see people riding on the horns of their bars because they are uncomfortable in the aero position.  If you have been in the same position for more than 6 months on your TT/Triathlon bike, it is time to reassess your position.

Why is that the case?  Any time that you are out of the aerobars, you lose the vast majority of the purpose and function of your bike.  The other reason this is very important is because the recruitment of muscles is very different from the horns to the aerobars.  We are not only speaking of leg muscle recruitment (quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes,) but also the utilization of neck, shoulder and back muscle recruitment that is varied by this position.

You can read the original article here.

Have questions about your bike position? Our expert bike fit specialists are here to help you get comfortable. Contact us today about a bike fit.