Pro triathlete Tim Reed on triathlon TT-bike innovations that cyclists copied

(Photo: Instagram Tim Reed)

“Pro cycling vs pro triathlete tech.” A ride with the world-famous cyclist Chris Froome, but also top cyclist and triathlete Cameron Wurf, got Australia’s Tim Reed – pro triathlete himself – thinking about these two sports and how they technologically compare. Because how is it possible that cyclists, despite their big team budgets, innovate only so little and take so long to copy tricks out of the triathlon world? Reed summed up some examples of such innovations. Triathletes may already trust in these for years, but it took exceptionally long before cyclists embraced them.

“The questions and the implementation I’ve seen and been asked by pro cyclists in regards to basic tech advantages, especially in time trials, is absolutely baffling given the budget these teams have to test”, Reed mentions. “We triathletes are definitely total goobers and care little about how something looks if we believe it offers free watts, historically implementing things five years before it’s aesthetically acceptable. Five years down the track, often you see cycling eventually accept the practice.”

Reed follows by summing up some things that triathletes were made fun off initially, but that are now widely accepted by cyclists.

  • Aero bars. “Single handedly the biggest advantage one can gain in a time trial. ‘Tri doggies’ bikes were pimped out with these eye sores years before Greg LeMond (former pro cyclist, ed.) finally rolled around with some winning a crucial time trial in Le Tour.”
  • Tyre pressure. “Even when I rode with ‘Froomy’ this day and got a puncture, they threw me a team wheel and for the rest of the ride I was bouncing all over the road, hating life knowing I was not only uncomfortable but having to ride 10-15 watts more to stay with two fellas I was already battling to stay with”, Reed comments under an old photo of himself with Froome and Wurf.
  • Tubeless and clinchers vs. tubes in time trials. “It’s very tough to get the smooth rim to tyre air transition at wider yaw angles that clinchers can achieve yet some teams still running tubular wheels because they tested faster in a velodrome (which only measure 0 degrees of yaw). Insane to me how little real world testing goes on. Even a wind tunnel doesn’t replicate how air swirls in real life or account for the constant tacking of a bike with the natural pedal stroke motion.”
  •  Aero clothing/aero road helmets, Reed continues without a further explanation.
  • “Letting aero win over weight on courses that really don’t have much climbing.”

“I would suspect the knowledge gap is closing now, but even five years ago it was pretty crazy”, Reed concludes.

Reed, Wurf and Froome during a training ride. (Photo: Instagram Tim Reed)