Pro triathlete from the early days. How about that fit? Photo: Dave August
Have you ever wondered what goes into Lance Armstrong’s bike? Do you know what separates his bike from his teammates? If you were a pro triathlete, and a bike manufacturer gave you a bike for sponsorship, how would that make you feel? As a “regular person” what kind of technology can you get in cycling, and most importantly, is it worth it?
The answers to these questions are tied together. They all deal with a bicycle rider, a bicycle, and the relative value they place on that bike versus themselves. Could it really be that simple? Yes.
I see two groups of people who come to me for advice. The first group is like Lance Armstrong and like my high end clients who buy bikes from me. This group places a high value on themselves as humans, as sportsmen and as individuals whose time has value. They tend to prefer to have the bike play a supporting role to them and as such, want the bike adapted to them regarding dimensions and ride characteristics. The second group tends to place the value of the bike over themselves. The bike to them is something that they need to adapt to for one reason or other. It may be all they can afford. It may have a certain look or cachet that causes them to want to ride it regardless of how well they perform on it. They may be a professional athlete who gets the bike free as a part of sponsorship.
Lance has an entire development team which although is funded by Trek, is funded by somebody! It just so happens that the same people who build the bike are funding it. Lances domestiques, on the other hand, ride stock Treks and they are not paid to worry about perfect fit. They are paid to work for Lance. Even though both sets of bike say Trek on the downtube, they are as different as night and day. Lance has to be the one to cross the finish line first. His bike is an extension of himself. Now that he is older, the bike makes an even bigger difference because his body is less able to tolerate less than perfect fit.
A triathlete performs the same role as Lance does, in my opinion. While a domestique can sacrifice himself halfway through a race to support his team leader, Lance has to be there at the end. A triathlete has to perform the swim, bike and run, and do all effectively to have a good performance. My observation of triathletes is that high level amateur triathletes are willing to seek out resources that improve their performance at every level of their game, while many pros fall into a trap, in my opinion, of accepting sponsorship bicycles because they are free and just dealing with the performance that bike can provide.
It is amazing that a high level amateur could have a material advantage in the bike over a pro. I cannot speak for all athletes, but if I were a pro and knew what a bike that really fit me felt like, I certainly would not accept a free bike just because it was free! My thoughts are, “The fox is guarding the henhouse,” when I consider the bikes that most big bike manufacturers provide to sponsored athletes. They know that the athete will accept almost anything that is given them. They also know that these athletes are young, strong and capable of overcoming incredible odds and still performing admirably.
I think of Nascar and wonder how many teams would allow Chevrolet to provide them with a stock Chevy, just because they got it for free? This seems ludicrous, of course, because the Nascar teams get financial sponsors and they build a racecar as a tool to help the driver win the race. It is finely tuned and adapted to the driver and to the track so they have the maximum chance of winning the race.
If I were counseling pro triathletes, I would work with them to redefine their position on the bike so they are both balanced and comfortable. I cannot tell you how many of the pros I see that are in insanely uncomfortable and inefficient positions. I am glad I don’t have to do a marathon after riding a torture device such as an ill fitting bicycle.
The problem is, not many people have ever been truly comfortable on a bike and the fact of the matter is, “fitting” is a great buzzword in the industry but it is not an easy task to do well. As they say, great ideas are cheap. The cost is in the execution.
My mission is to help you be a better athlete regardless of your level of expertise or your choice of cycling sport. My advice is to really explore the relationship you have with your bike. Do you adapt to it or do you make it adapt to you? What is more important, you or the bike? Are you worthy of a nice bike, or is it worthy of you?
Thanks so much for allowing me to share. I am very interested in your perspective and comments.
Originally posted 2009-02-23 08:07:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter