Here’s a list of simple tips and tricks you can use to help yourself go faster on the bike for any road discipline. (TT, Road Gravel). I’ll add links to good articles, reviews and testing in the thread below.
- Wheels: Deeper is generally faster depending on the brand. Top wheels include HED, Zipp, Enve, DT Swiss and others. For flatter road riding a quality 60-65mm wheel tests quickly and is stable in wind. For hillier country a 40-50mm wheel generally provides a great balance of aero and climbing ability. Things to consider with wheels including handling in windy conditions, tubeless compatibility, rim width, spoke count (lower is generally faster)
- Tires: For road riding nothing really beats the GP5000 clincher and TR. Tire sizing for the front wheel is critical. For a road wheel with a rim width 17-21mm width the 23-25mm tire is well suited. In the rear running a slightly larger tire (28mm) will give you rolling resistance savings and won’t have an impact on aerodynamics. For TT’ing the top riders are all going tubeless now. I just picked up a set of GP5000 Grand Prix TDF TT tires. Using a top tire can save you 10 watts depending on the comparison tire. Check out bicycle rolling resistance . Com for tons of great information on tires.
- Handlebars: Narrower is faster. A 38cm bar will test 10 watts faster with rider onboard than a 42cm bar at 40kmh. When selecting a bar measure across your shoulder width from the bony protuberance on each side. You can go comfortably 2cm narrower than this measurement for your bars. Tipping the hoods slightly inwards will also help aero in the “flat on the hood position”
- Pedals: Speedplay aero generally test the fastest but are the biggest pain to setup. Personally here I’d use whatever you are most comfortable with. Pedals with lower stack height are generally fastest as they move your whole body lower on the bike by a few mm.
Clothing and Helmets:
Huge gains can be made here, upwards of 20-30 watts versus flappy kit
Helmet: A road aero helmet can be 9-11 watts faster at 40kmh than a regular entry level or highly ventilated helmet. There are several top brands but I’ve found good success with Specialized Evade II. The version III of this helmet was just released which increased ventilation at no expense to watts saved. There are other great helmets out there too from Giro, Bontrager etc. TT Helmets are VERY individual specific. There are several that seem to test consistently fast across all rider types. This include the HJC Adwatt, Specialized TT, Giro Aerohead.
Kit: Skinsuits offer the best bang for your buck and come in a range of prices. Some are custom made and over $2K others are off the shelf and can be bought for a couple of hundred dollars. Our LG Faction skinsuits test very well and have two pockets available to store your gear. For TT Drag 2 zero, Endura, Velotec, Castelli all test well.
Shoes and Shoe Covers: Shoes without boa’s or complicated strap systems test fastest. (Lace or Velcro strap systems. Shoe covers work but are expensive and quite fragile. Castelli sells a very fast integrated shoe cover and aero sock. Velotoze also sells a couple of great versions of shoe covers
Socks: Aero socks provide decent aero gains as well. (More than shoe covers usually). There are a number of good offerings from Castelli, Aerocoach, Drag2Zero etc.
Pacing: (General road riding and TTs)
- Starting: Don’t sprint flat out from the start and for the first 2-3 minutes consciously pace yourself slightly lower than what “feels” right. You are going off with adrenaline and it’s easy to go out too hard. I target ~95% of race pace target for the first three minutes unless there’s an uphill at the start of the course. In that case I do a harder warmup so that I’m primed to hit the hill harder
- Corners: Enter smoothly into corners and accelerate out of them and back up to speed as fast/smoothly as you can. The goal is to minimize your time at lower speeds
- Hills: How you approach hills depends on the hill type (short and sharp, long and grinding). For short punchy climbs you can go into the red for a short time to get up and over. For a longer hill target to go no more than 10% over your target power for a longer TT. Similar to corners your goal is to get back up to speed smoothly and as quickly as possible over the top
- Headwind versus Tailwind: This is often difficult to pace both from a pedal stroke inertia perspective as well as power target. In a headwind it’s generally recommended to target around 103% of your target power and ~97% on the return. For out and back courses it’s generally ideal if the headwind is on the way out and the tailwind on the return. Racers tend to go out too hot and this wind direction is more forgiving. For me personally with headwind return I try to target an even split power wise as I tend to naturally make more power at higher speeds with a tailwind. (This comes down to muscle fibre composition and pedal stroke mechanics)
- Tops versus Drops versus Hoods: Flat on the hoods often fastest, next is the drops and finally the tops
- Low and long is faster than high and tall
- When aiming to go fast target relaxing and sinking your head down between your shoulder blades and squeezing your shoulder blades together. This can reduce your frontal area by centimetres and make a big difference to how aero you are on the bike.
Hope this helps!