May 2008 Triathlon Bike Chat with the Bike Fitters from FitWerx

author : FitWerx
comments : 0

Discussions on chain cleaning and degreasers, proper crank length, triathlon bike fit, lateral foot pain, foot numbness and tricep and shoulder pain.

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[trixie] Are you suppose to clean the chain, I've heard mixed stories, if so, how often?

[FitWerx] Cleaning the chain - It depends on what conditions you're riding in. If you never ride in the rain, you can typically go 800 miles or so before cleaning and lubricating your chain. After a rainy ride, it's a good idea to clean and relubricate. Lubricating the chain makes the drivetrain run smoother, and last longer. There are a number of lubricants you can use, and most will depend on the kind of weather you ride in. Pedro's makes a number of great options.

[trixie] Do you recommend the fancy cleaners? Or just a toothbrush and stuff?


[FitWerx] A toothbrush is great for cleaning off grit. I'd typically start with an old rag and once all the major grit is removed a toothbrush can get into the nitty gritty.

[PeterAK] Re: cleaning, I've don't like the idea of using degreaser and then letting the chain dry after rinsing because I don't want it to rust... Thoughts?

[FitWerx] Degreaser - If you use degreaser, you can typically clean the chain with it, dry it off thoroughly, and then reapply lubricant directly after and you don't have to worry about rust.

[jdwright56] I was reading an article about crank length and changing lengths based on muscle fiber types. Type 1 could go with a longer crank length and type 2 with a shorter crank length. Is this something that you believe in?

[FitWerx] Proper crank length selection is dependent on leg length and saddle height. I haven't seen any conclusive studies showing a connection between longer or shorter crank arms and particular muscle fiber types. I'd be interested to see them if they're out there though.  Crank length selection can also depend on the type of racing and flexibility.

[jdwright56] That was why I asked. The article didn't give any scientific backing.

[FitWerx] There are a lot of crank length studies out there and it continues to be one of the most confusing topics. Lots of mixed results in different studies.

[Aikidoman] I was fit by my LBS but worry they focus on roadies rather than triathletes. I have a tri bike but they fit me to have my knee directly over the spindle of the pedal (when @ 3 & 9). That resulted in moving the saddle back so far that I have an effective seat tube angle of about 73 degrees. I would like to ride steeper, and I have seen video of triathletes and it seems their knee goes beyond the pedal spindle. Is this ok? Should I look for another fitter? Longer crank? (I have 175) Oh yeah, I’m VERY tall so I have some fitting issues in the first place (38” inseam measured from crotch to floor).

[FitWerx] Great question. A properly positioned triathlete will have their knee in front of the pedal spindle when at 3 o'clock.

[Aikidoman] Good to know. The rear seat position also "stretched me out". I'm comfy with some aero bar mods, but not as aggressive as I would like.

[FitWerx] The KOPS is only applicable to a road position without aerobars. When a triathlete is properly positioned with aerobars, the saddle will need to come forward to some degree in order to preserve the riders hip angle which maintains power and comfort. If the saddle doesn't come forward, the rider will often become too closed off in the hip. This results in lost power and will increase the strain on the lower back and upper glutes/hamstrings.

[Aikidoman] That sounds too familiar. They did raise the bars to compensate.

[FitWerx] We'll usually start with a seat tube angle of 76 degrees for a triathlon specific position. This will usually place the kneecap 1-2 cm in front of the pedal spindle. In more aggressive positions we'll bring the seat as far forward as 78-79 degrees which can place the riders knee as far as 3-3.5cm in front of the pedal spindle. I'd recommend seeking out a reputable fitter in your area that better understands triathlon positioning and has experience with triathletes. You could also ask your prior fitter about this problem and see what he/she has to say. Perhaps there was some confusion.

[Aikidoman]  Is this something I can "fix" at home? Move the saddle forward a cm at a time with some rides in between to check on feel?

[FitWerx] If you move the saddle forward at home you'll want to make sure you maintain reach and drop. This would require investing in a longer stem or extending the aerobars. It's usually best done by an experienced fitter as it's possible to make things worse if everything isn't carried forward properly.


[9FAITH] What's the best type of pedal for someone with a lot of lateral foot pain? Should I look for less or more float?

[FitWerx] Lateral (outside of foot) pain is typically caused by shoes that don't fit right, improper forefoot and arch support in the shoe, and even positioning of the cleat underneath the shoe. Unfortunately it's tough to tell exactly what's causing it without seeing you in person. You could try different shoes and see if it feels any different. You also may need more medial foot support in the form of custom footbeds, various wedges underneath the cleat.

[9FAITH] That makes a lot of sense, my foot feels much better with arch support.

[FitWerx] If you have flat feet or low arches, or are known to pronate when you run, you may need some support under your arch. Extra support on the medial (inside) of your foot will help distribute pressure toward the inside and possibly reduce pressure and pain on the outside. I hope that helps.

[Slowburn] What about numbness in the feet, I have experienced this and thought it may be attributable to my saddle (ISM Adamo racing saddle)?

[FitWerx] Foot numbness typically occurs along the ball of the foot or toes. Shoe fit, cleat position, and the need for arch support are the usual culprits again. If you have medium to high arches, you have a more localized area under the ball of your foot to take all the pressure from the pedal stroke. A custom footbed or orthotic is the best method to evenly distribute pressure under your entire foot. Also, if your cleats are positioned too far forward of the ball of you foot, it can reduce circulation...and lead to toe numbness. If this is the case, moving your cleats back can help resolve the numbness problem.

[Slowburn] Thanks, I will have to try that. I thought where the saddle hits me was cutting off some nerve or something.

[FitWerx] It's possible that the saddle can pinch nerves, but the vast majority of time it's a problem in the foot itself.

[chirunner134] Should your triceps and shoulder hurt if your new to a tri bike?

[FitWerx] If you're positioned properly, your triceps and shoulders should not hurt.

[chirunner134] I feel like my arms are not parallel to the ground should they be? My elbow is slightly lower than my wrists

[FitWerx] I you're experiencing pain, your elbow pad width may be too narrow or you're not supporting yourself on the front of the bike with your skeleton (upper arms). In this case it's a fit related issue and I recommend seeking out the help of a bike fitter that can address your issues while you're on your bike.


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date: May 30, 2008


Fit Werx offers the most scientific and complete bicycle fitting services in New England, the Northeast and beyond. Regardless of where you are from (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Australia, Macau...) a Fit Werx' bike fit is guaranteed to be worth the trip.


Fit Werx offers the most scientific and complete bicycle fitting services in New England, the Northeast and beyond. Regardless of where you are from (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Australia, Macau...) a Fit Werx' bike fit is guaranteed to be worth the trip.

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