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2017-08-30 11:26 AM


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Subject: Aerobars or powermeter?
I'm 40, a PhD student (so money is tight), ride a 2014 Trek Madone, and have done two triathlons. I don't anticipate buying a tribike or doing more than one tri a year. Just signed up for my first HIM, the hilly St. George, which means I'm going to need to increase my mileage a good bit. I'm probably strongest in the swim, then run (though nursing a chronic r. calf issue), weakest in bike.

I've read a good bit, but wondering about advice from others.

Is it worth it getting an entry level powermeter? What about aerobars? (If you could only do one, which would it be?)

I have a lot of Amazon credit, and can get the Redshift aerobar/seat system there, but the powermeter choice is really slim. So that's a factor too.





Edited by BrooklynBen 2017-08-30 11:27 AM


2017-08-30 2:26 PM
in reply to: BrooklynBen

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?

Since you're on a road bike, I would keep a good fit for that and add in something like Profile Design T2+DL or ADL if you wanted aero. These should drop in place without being so obtrusive towards functioning well as a road bike. Then see how much (more) leftover you might still have.

What kind of powermeter was being considered too? Basically, not really big on the shifting position (and it's ~$330) even though the engineering of doing that is interesting.

2017-08-30 3:13 PM
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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
Originally posted by BrooklynBen

I'm 40, a PhD student (so money is tight), ride a 2014 Trek Madone, and have done two triathlons. I don't anticipate buying a tribike or doing more than one tri a year. Just signed up for my first HIM, the hilly St. George, which means I'm going to need to increase my mileage a good bit. I'm probably strongest in the swim, then run (though nursing a chronic r. calf issue), weakest in bike.

I've read a good bit, but wondering about advice from others.

Is it worth it getting an entry level powermeter? What about aerobars? (If you could only do one, which would it be?)

I have a lot of Amazon credit, and can get the Redshift aerobar/seat system there, but the powermeter choice is really slim. So that's a factor too.






I am far from being an expert, so what I will tell you is what I have seen many times suggested on the forums here - get comfortable on the bike you have, invest in a pair of shorty aero bars that do not require you to change how you ride the road bike, and spend a lot of time riding mostly hard

As for the power meter, there are many, and soon to come even more, newer power meters on the market, which for those of us with tighter budgets means deals to be had. I have often seen recommendations to buy a used Powertap rear wheel, and fit it with a cover which effectively gives you a rear disc wheel, with power. This can be useful both in training, outdoors or inside on rollers/trainer, as well as on the race course. Keep your eyes open for a deal on a used deeper front wheel, and you are set up nearly as well as if you were on a tri bike.

I realize this does not really answer your question of which one to buy, but it is the suggestion I have seen the most, by folks who do know what they are talking about (brigby above being one .

As for the Amazon credit, you will always need to buy tires, tubes, and other cycling stuff, swim stuff - jammers, goggles, wetsuit...as well as gifts ... Or, buy something that someone will def need, sell it for cash, then hunt for the deals I suggested above...

Best of luck with your journey, and the PhD !



Edited by triosaurus 2017-08-30 3:15 PM
2017-08-31 8:43 AM
in reply to: BrooklynBen

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?

The power meter, even a cheap one, is only really useful if you know how to train with power.  Otherwise, it's just a bunch of nearly meaningless numbers.  

Depending on what "hilly" means, the benefit of aerobars decreases greatly.  If you can stay aero (i.e. short rollers), they will be a good investment and can be had for <$100.  I've seen about 1 mph improvement with aerobars on a road bike.  If you are up and down (i.e. longer climbs and faster descents where you aren't comfortable in an aero position), the benefit goes away and you're just adding weight to your ride.  The other caveat with aero, if you haven't trained to ride aero, you'll have a hard time maintaining that position in the last half of the ride.  As for other changes, moving the seat forward helps with aero, but changes your riding dynamics which can be...surprising...at inopportune moments if you don't understand what you're doing.  

What would be your personal benefits of spending precious $$ on either course?  Are there other non-tri options that yield greater personal benefit?  (These are rhetorical questions...answer for yourself...)

2017-08-31 11:05 AM
in reply to: McFuzz


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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
Thanks all.

I'd be looking at one of the cheapest powermeters, as recommended by http://dcrainmaker.com
2017-08-31 11:22 AM
in reply to: BrooklynBen

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?

The single-side Powertap P1 pedals just came down in price. With the DCR discount, it would run you about $530. 

I recently decided to take the plunge into power. I had been thinking about my cycling, and concluded that I don't have a very good grasp on my perceived effort level. Power training would help with that. I also concluded that I'm not a very strong cyclist. Power training would help with that, too. Perhaps what should guide you is where you think your actual weakness sits. The aerobars would help a bit in terms of reducing resistance (and, therefore, effort). If you're already dialed in to your effort, and happy with your output, this would be a good choice. If you think you could improve your effort/output, perhaps the power meter would serve your goals better.



2017-08-31 8:28 PM
in reply to: BrooklynBen


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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
Originally posted by BrooklynBen

I'm 40, a PhD student (so money is tight), ride a 2014 Trek Madone, and have done two triathlons. I don't anticipate buying a tribike or doing more than one tri a year. Just signed up for my first HIM, the hilly St. George, which means I'm going to need to increase my mileage a good bit. I'm probably strongest in the swim, then run (though nursing a chronic r. calf issue), weakest in bike.

I've read a good bit, but wondering about advice from others.

Is it worth it getting an entry level powermeter? What about aerobars? (If you could only do one, which would it be?)

I have a lot of Amazon credit, and can get the Redshift aerobar/seat system there, but the powermeter choice is really slim. So that's a factor too.




Powermeter. . . and the decision isn't even close.

Aero bars on a Madone are only permitted when doing a hill climb TT in France and then must only be put on right before and then taken off right after.

2017-08-31 9:10 PM
in reply to: BrooklynBen


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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?

Since money is tight, I would get a pair of aerobars you can add to your road bike for <$100, and call it a day. 

 

Powermeters are definitely a luxury item and not required to train well - quite a few top pros prefer to NOT train with a powermeter. 

 

The main reason I would suggest for YOU to buy a powermeter with limited finances, is if you were wedded to heavy indoor bike training; in that case, you'll use it day in day out and likely have workouts tailored around your FTP (power). 

 

But otherwise, you'll get maximal bang for the buck by just clipping on a pair of aerobars to your road bike to get more aero. 

2017-09-01 11:22 AM
in reply to: yazmaster

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
My first 5 years of triathlon were on a road bike with aerobars. I had a forward seatpost similar to what you're seeing on Amazon. Aero is aero uphill or not and I have yet to see a 70.3 course to where a road bike is more beneficial than a TT OR road bike w/aerobars.

St. George is hilly yes, but it's "only" 2,815 feet or so of climbing and there's quite a lot at the end. But before the big climb at the end it's just like any other 70.3 course where you'll want to be as aero as possible because you'll want to save every watt you can for that run.

i did IM Branson 70.3 a few years back which had about double the elevation gain St. George has and I guarantee I shaved some time and energy with my road+aerobar setup.

What really helped me was that i payed $250 for a Retul bike fit that optimized that road+aerobar setup and got me very close to an ideal TT position even though I wasn't on a TT bike.

What will your winter training look like? If you can ride outdoors and can learn how to use power based training, that might go a long way IF you do the work. If you will ride indoors then you can do power based training without a power meter by using "virtual" power if you have the right trainer setup.

Whichever direction you choose, PM or aerobars simply riding lots between now and race time will pay the biggest dividends. Find some hills and/or hilly courses to train on. If you can't find those, make sure your shorter rides have big power intervals in them.

I might be joining you in St. George, still not sure if I can work that one in.



(St George HIM bike.JPG)



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St George HIM bike.JPG (135KB - 3 downloads)
2017-09-01 11:14 PM
in reply to: reecealan


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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
Ah, thanks for the climbing profile! That last hill looks brutal, and just as you're really tiring at the end.
I'm in So. Cal near the mountains, so hill and outdoor training through the "winter" (it was 106 degrees today) is not really a problem.
2017-09-05 9:30 AM
in reply to: BrooklynBen

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
Sweet! A couple friends of mine do GMR which looks to be perfect training to get you ready for some climbing action! I haven't done that route yet but I've got business out there in October, might rent me a bike and give it a go.


2017-09-06 3:35 PM
in reply to: reecealan

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
Originally posted by reecealan

My first 5 years of triathlon were on a road bike with aerobars. I had a forward seatpost similar to what you're seeing on Amazon. Aero is aero uphill or not and I have yet to see a 70.3 course to where a road bike is more beneficial than a TT OR road bike w/aerobars.

St. George is hilly yes, but it's "only" 2,815 feet or so of climbing and there's quite a lot at the end. But before the big climb at the end it's just like any other 70.3 course where you'll want to be as aero as possible because you'll want to save every watt you can for that run.

i did IM Branson 70.3 a few years back which had about double the elevation gain St. George has and I guarantee I shaved some time and energy with my road+aerobar setup.

What really helped me was that i payed $250 for a Retul bike fit that optimized that road+aerobar setup and got me very close to an ideal TT position even though I wasn't on a TT bike.

What will your winter training look like? If you can ride outdoors and can learn how to use power based training, that might go a long way IF you do the work. If you will ride indoors then you can do power based training without a power meter by using "virtual" power if you have the right trainer setup.

Whichever direction you choose, PM or aerobars simply riding lots between now and race time will pay the biggest dividends. Find some hills and/or hilly courses to train on. If you can't find those, make sure your shorter rides have big power intervals in them.

I might be joining you in St. George, still not sure if I can work that one in.


2nd that on the Retul bike fit. Just did one, tweaked my road bike with Profile Design bars to pretty much give me the right geometry. Aside from the fact that my road bike is not, strictly speaking, a tri-bike, it at least gives me a mix of both worlds for training. Currently I race on a P3 with an aftermarket cockpit. Beyond the 20 mph point (assuming no wind) I swear I get + 2 mph more on the Cervelo. TMI - hoping to upgrade to Di2 or eTap soon.
2017-09-06 8:24 PM
in reply to: BrooklynBen

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?

Echoing some of the things already said.

If this is for a road bike, then a pair of shorty bars would be a quick solution that instantly makes you faster anytime you're down on them.  The cost per second saved is very good value, especially since the benefit is immediate.

A power meter is a good investment, but only if you use it properly to train harder and/or to pace your races more effectively.  The instant you buy a power meter, you are not any faster than you were before.  You have to earn that potential speed increase by learning how to effectively train and race using that power meter to see the benefits.

If you're on a tight budget for a power meter, and your main focus is triathlon, then it is hard to beat a used powertap rear wheel, a disc cover, and also shopping around for a front race wheel.  It can all be had for less than $1000, maybe even less than $700 if you really shop around and gives you all the benefits of training and racing with power, as well as having a really fast race day setup whether you are on a road bike, road bike with clip ons, or a tri bike.

2017-09-07 8:54 AM
in reply to: BrooklynBen

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
I second the Power Meter.....and it's not even close.....sentiment.

It'll change the way you train AND race.
2017-09-07 9:33 AM
in reply to: nc452010

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?

aerobars and its not even close.  No matter how much I stare at my stem, I won't be faster on my road bike than my TT bike.

2017-09-07 9:38 AM
in reply to: dmiller5

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
Will putting aerobars on a road bike make it a TT bike?


2017-09-07 7:51 PM
in reply to: nc452010

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?

Originally posted by nc452010 Will putting aerobars on a road bike make it a TT bike?

for your reading pleasure

aerobars and its not even close.  No matter how much I stare at my stem, I won't be faster in the drops than on aerobars

2017-09-08 10:11 AM
in reply to: dmiller5

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
Training and racing with power......I cut :21 off my best HIM bike split..... and PR'd my last HIM by over :30 (I also had the best run - off the bike....despite it being a pretty tough run course).

I'm not going to imply that 100% of that was attributable to owning a PM, but I'm quite certain it's been the best investment I could make for triathlon.

Yes.....I was on my tri bike. But, I was on it every time before, also (apples to apples).

I believe the old saying that most triathletes go too hard on easy days and too easy on hard days. Owning a PM makes doing either of those a conscious decision by the rider.

YMMV
2017-09-08 12:08 PM
in reply to: dmiller5

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?

Originally posted by dmiller5

aerobars and its not even close.  No matter how much I stare at my stem, I won't be faster on my road bike than my TT bike.

If Jason's suggestion of figuring out a way to get both isn't an option, then I agree with Dave.  Clip on aerobars make a lot more sense than a power meter.

Aerobars will make you faster in all cases.  A power meter is a tool that can improve training gains, but similar improvements can be achieved using HR or even RPE.  In other words, aerobars provide a proprietary benefit that can't be achieved through other means, but there are alternatives to a power meter to do more or less the same thing.

 

2017-09-08 12:36 PM
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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
I went back and read the OP's original post. What astounded me when I first started training with a PM ........was how much effort I was putting out, while climbing. I have Louisville coming up (purported to be a somewhat 'hilly' course). IMO, the more ascent you have in the course you'll be riding, the more the PM will aid you in riding a smart race (which includes more than JUST the bike leg).

Can you get the same information from RPE? I don't think so (especially someone who's not done a lot of races).
Can you get the same information from HR? Again.....some might be able to get close, but not someone new to racing.

No doubt clipping on shorty bars will make the BIKE a faster bike. Just giving a different perspective.....and not implying anyone else is "wrong". Would the clip-ons yield immediate results? Yes.

I'd be interested to see this question posed on the "other site".


Edited by nc452010 2017-09-08 12:45 PM
2017-09-08 1:24 PM
in reply to: nc452010

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?

I've seen a bit now or later in this question too. Aero helps now, but the training tool helps more later. The aerobars can be bolted on at any time and adapt too them faster than training methods. Over the long haul, tend to recommend going with improved training earlier more so than aero since fitness is built on prior ability.

Also note that the aero setup in the OP was over $300. Going with the shorty should be $100 or less and might now make both obtainable.



2017-09-11 6:22 AM
in reply to: nc452010

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?

Originally posted by nc452010 I went back and read the OP's original post. What astounded me when I first started training with a PM ........was how much effort I was putting out, while climbing. I have Louisville coming up (purported to be a somewhat 'hilly' course). IMO, the more ascent you have in the course you'll be riding, the more the PM will aid you in riding a smart race (which includes more than JUST the bike leg). Can you get the same information from RPE? I don't think so (especially someone who's not done a lot of races). Can you get the same information from HR? Again.....some might be able to get close, but not someone new to racing. No doubt clipping on shorty bars will make the BIKE a faster bike. Just giving a different perspective.....and not implying anyone else is "wrong". Would the clip-ons yield immediate results? Yes. I'd be interested to see this question posed on the "other site".

About the bold:  yes.  This is one of the things I teach my less experienced athletes.  It's something that all endurance athletes should learn, yet it's neglected by the majority of new athletes.  They buy technology, and in their rush to improve race results in a relatively short time frame, implement a formulaic protocol they read in a book or online, then follow it blindly.  When their tech fails in a race they're lost, and blame their crappy race on technology when it was their lack of skills development.  And, I agree that having a PM can shorten the learning curve drastically, but IME, it's just a tool that provides help, but not an end all be all solution.

BTW, I agree with you 100% that there's no right or wrong answer here.  Either one can help the OP significantly.  It's just a matter of preference and choosing a long term strategy.  You'd see the same variety of opinions on ST.

 

2017-09-11 8:58 AM
in reply to: TriMyBest

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
Common ground. I've been one of the ones who relied only on power numbers......and blew up (not paying enough attention to my HR/RPE. Not fun.

In all of my training, people often ask me how I overcome boredom (ex - an 8 hr workout). To me, there's no time to be bored. I'm constantly cross-referencing the way I feel at any given moment with my HR and power numbers. Some days are better than others.

2017-09-11 9:58 AM
in reply to: nc452010

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?

Originally posted by nc452010 Common ground. I've been one of the ones who relied only on power numbers......and blew up (not paying enough attention to my HR/RPE. Not fun. In all of my training, people often ask me how I overcome boredom (ex - an 8 hr workout). To me, there's no time to be bored. I'm constantly cross-referencing the way I feel at any given moment with my HR and power numbers. Some days are better than others.

This is exactly what I think too when people ask that.  When I'm riding or running, I'm cycling my attention through all those things too.

 

2017-09-11 11:05 AM
in reply to: BrooklynBen

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Subject: RE: Aerobars or powermeter?
Both depend on whether, and how much you use them, and which you would be more inclined to do.

If you get aero bars, or an aero bike for that matter, and are rarely in the aero bars (which is WAY too common) it won't help at all. If you get aero bars (or an aero bike) and with your elbows on the pads you're still higher up than most people on the hoods on a road bike (also WAY too common) it won't help you. An aggressive fit on a road bike in the drops is more aero than 80% of the people out there with aero bars/aero bikes.

Same with the power meter. If you just have it sitting there as an FYI, it won't help you. If you have it there and sort of/ kind of do the workouts, then it will help you a little. If you get a power meter and take it to the house, learn to suffer, then learn that what you thought was suffering wasn't even close, then suffer more, you'll get a lot out of it.

As mentioned, the aero bars have a higher bang for the buck than the power meter right off the bat, assuming you use them.

One last note is that a power meter REALLY helps on hilly courses by keeping you in check and making sure you're not burning matches on the uphills and not coasting on the downhills keeping your output even, and sticking to your race plan.

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