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Triathlon Bike Gear Selection

– Gear right, you’ll be fast. Bouncing your bum up and down. Bike gearing. Trainiacs, trainiacs, trainiacs. Bike gearing, bike gearing, bike gearing. I get asked occasionally to do a video on gearing for a bike, and I’m going to totally sidestep the
question about gear ratios and what sort of front chain ring you should be putting on and what cassette you should be putting on. This is just assuming that you’ve got whatever gear ratio has been given to you on the front and the back. Tends to be standard across bikes, and it’s really a longer
video about hills and descents and strategy that is like not
for the average triathlete. Almost all triathletes
should really just be going with the gearing that is given to them on whatever bike they go. Okay, so that out of the way. Then it gets to what
gears should you be using on your uphills, on your
downhills, as you’re going steady. Do you use the big ring, the
small ring, all that stuff. I’ll start answering this question by answering the what
cadence you should be using as you’re in a triathlon. Typically you want to be in the range of about 85 to 100 revolutions per minute. Anything below 85 is really insanely low that I haven’t heard too
many people going down underneath that. Anything above 100 and you’re spinning very incredibly fast. The lower cadences of around 85 to 90, you’re going to be putting out a fair bit more power,
probably going a little faster, but you’re going to be
knocking the stuffing out of your legs a little bit more and putting more emphasis
on your muscular system than your cardiovascular, so
it’s a bit of a trade off. When you get up into the 95
to 100 and 100 plus cadence, you’re putting a lot more of the load onto your cardiovascular system, taking the load off your muscles, so you’ll be fresher for the run, but you probably won’t be going too fast. What Coach Patton always gets me to do is as we start getting close to a race, he starts giving me a cadence target of about 90 to 95 based
off of our target power, and he wants me to get in the habit of spinning at 90 to 95
so that it feels natural. Now how we relate that to gearing is you basically want
to set up your gearing as hard or as easy as you need to go to get into that 90 to 100 cadence. I highly recommend getting a bike computer that has cadence monitoring on the pedals or on the crank arm, but it’s
not absolutely necessary. We’ve actually done our entire
coaching plans for beginners without any sort of bike computer. Once you get into the intermediate
and advanced categories, then you start wanting
to incorporate things like a cadence sensor and speedometers and certainly in advanced you’re getting into power meters like this, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Rule of thumb for that 85 to 100 cadence is you want to spin as fast as you can without bouncing your bum up and down on the seat side to side. You want to be steady on the saddle. You don’t want to be bouncing
up and down on the saddle. Usually ride around as
fast as you can spin without bouncing around is kind of in that 85 to 100 cadence. Anything beyond that and
you start bouncing around a lot, which is not what you want because it’s inefficient, it’s unstable. It’s a bad platform, losing power. All kinds of bad things. Don’t bounce, stay steady. Now do you go onto your big chain ring or your small chain ring? Do you go onto heavy gear
down here or a light gear? How do we choose? Here’s how. So typically, unless you’re on a hill, you’re going to end up
being in the big chain ring. The small chain ring on the inside tends to be for like emergencies only. We’re talking hills, we’re
talking major gusts of winds. When you’re getting up to
a nice high tempo rhythm on a triathlon bike, you want
to be in the big chain ring. Now where do you go on the back? Basically, it’s that you don’t want whatever’s going on in
the back to be crooked. So what you can see right now is that the chain comes from the front chain ring and goes onto the cassette a little bit at an angle like this. That’s not what you want. So a bad gear ratio is where you’re on the big chain ring on the front and way into the, we’ll spin it up here. Like this here is a bad gear ratio because we are on the smallest
cassette here at the back and we are at the big chain ring, so it’s hard to see, but
what’s going to happen is the chain is going to
be pulled off to the side, it’s going to be pulling. Vice versa if you’re on the
small chain ring on the front. So you can see, small
chain ring on the front, not in the big, and then over here on a really high gear,
what ends up happening is the exact opposite, that the chain ends up being stretched out to the side. And what we’ll do here is I’ll
run the pedal up at the front and you’ll hear that the
chain is actually rubbing on the de-railer there, and
when the chain is cocked in this way, you’ll get rubbing on the outside of the de-railer. When it’s cocked from the big chain ring to a smaller gear at the back, it’s going to be rubbing on
the inside of the de-railer. Should be able to hear that. That’s the chain rubbing on
the inside of the de-railer. So what you want to get to is as straight a chain line as you can possibly get. You don’t want big
chain ring at the front, small gear, IE big cog at the back. Ooh, you’re slippy. Or small chain ring at the front and big gear, IE small cog at the back, because that will ruin your chain, it will create a lot of extra drag that you’re going to lose
power and efficiency on. It’s bad for your bike, it
stretches out the chain. So when you look down, make
sure you’re in a gear ratio at the back and the front, that the chain is as straight as possible. And then beyond that, get into
that 85 to hundred cadence, ideally 90 to 95, and you know what, to give you a little bit of an idea about what 87 cadence feels like, here’s a metronome for that. (metronome clicks) And here’s 93. (metronome clicks) And here’s 97. (metronome clicks) There you go, trainiacs. Gear right, you’ll be fast. Dinner time now.

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