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Time trial equipment

2014 time trial bike of world champion Ellen van Dijk

Special aerodynamic time trial bicycles, clothing, helmets, aerobars and other equipment are often used in ITT events. Generally, components are designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, as most of the rider's effort goes into overcoming aerodynamic drag. The rider's position makes the greatest difference, and most use the now-standard tuck position, using tribars to allow the rider to position their arms inline with the wind and allow their back to sit as low and flat as possible, reducing frontal area and improving air flow around the body. TT bikes often have lower handlebars than normal road racing bikes to facilitate this. Also, the saddle is sometimes moved forwards relative to the handlebars and bottom bracket to allow the hips a more natural angle of motion, improving performance (for UCI-sanctioned events, the saddle must be a certain distance behind a vertical line drawn through the centre of the bottom bracket).

Up until the late 1980s, low-profile 'bullhorn' handlebars were used, and normal drop handlebars before them. Then in the late 1980s triathletes developed so-called tri-bars that allowed for a much better aerodynamic position. They were first brought into the time trialling public eye in the 1989 Tour de France when Greg LeMond overcame a 50-second deficit in the final day's time trial to win the Tour by 8 seconds from Frenchman Laurent Fignon. Fignon was using conventional handlebars, Lemond the new triathlon style. The concept has changed little since then, with only Scotsman Graeme Obree attempting to improve the idea. His arms-under-the-torso tuck was revolutionary, helping him and others to break world records and win World Championships. The UCI banned it in 1994, but he came back with the 'Superman' position, an evolution of the traditional tri position, but with the arms fully stretched out in front. This was also banned, and there are now strict rules governing the dimensions of handlebars, which can make life difficult for taller riders who fall outside the defined parameters and must adapt their positions to fit the rules.

Equipment used is very specialized, and component manufacturers can spend vast sums of time and money on wind tunnel testing to ensure their product is faster than the competition's. Deep section or solid disc wheels are often used to reduce turbulence around the spokes, but these can affect handling in windy conditions. In the UK the front wheel must have a minimum of 45% open area when viewed from the side, for safety reasons. UCI events still permit the use of disc wheels for the front, but it is very unusual. Many components are modified for aerodynamic efficiency, and manufacturers are now developing more integrated systems, such as brakes built into the fork or frame so as not to disturb the airflow.

Clothing is also different for time trialling. One-piece skinsuits that do not flap in the wind are common; tight lycra shoe covers help improve airflow over buckles and straps; long pointed helmets channel air down the riders back (the position of the helmet above the rider's back is crucial, it must be as close to the body as possible; too high and the air will just flow underneath the helmet. This is often hard to achieve as the rider moves his head due to the suffering endured during a hard race).


Individual time trial sections
Intro  Professional  Performance and tactics  Time trial equipment  [[Individual_time_trial?section=Fastest_Grand_Tours_time_trials_|Fastest Grand Tours time trials ]]  UK time trial competition  See also  External links  References  

Time trial equipment
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