I decided on getting a road bike with clip on aero bars for my first few triathlons. A while back when I was looking at road bikes, a LBS did a quick fit on me and said that I would fit on a 51 or 52 cm frame. This was for a Trek bike.
Since I am buying a used bike, are all frame sizes about the same or will some fit differently. I have never owned a road bike, so I am not sure of how it should feel. The bike I purchase will be fitted at a LBS after purchase. Also I read that people sometimes feel too stretched out when adding clip on aero bars onto the road bike. Since I am going to have it fitted at a LBS with the aero bars, would it be a good idea to get a road bike with a frame size on the smaller side, or can these things be corrected with other aftermarket equipment.
The answer to your first questions are yes and yes. They're all about the same size, and all fit differently -- the differences are subtle, but it's that subtlety that seems to matter for fit. You have a ballpark w/ 51-52cm. Different makes in a size bigger/smaller may feel closest to what you experienced w/ the Trek.
Yes, aerobars will stretch you out if you just slap them on. Rather than buy a smaller bike, buy a forward seatpost (google it) to correct your position. This aero position is a totally different beast than a regular road position, though, so be prepared to have to switch between and it may feel weird. But it beats the cost of a second bike.
Good luck, Jason
I actually think there are different in sizes between manufacturers. My first road bike was a Trek and was a 60cm. My next two road bikes were a Cannondale and Specialized both 58cm. My tri bike is a Cannondale and is a 56, although I will admit that is a little small for my height, but I prefer it for my tri bike. In addition to the forward seatpost mentioned by Jason, you can look at getting a shorter stem on the bike which will bring the handlebar (and aerobars) closer to you. I have read the downside of a forward seat post is that it shifts your weight forward which affects handling and will change the position of your legs relative to the pedals which can cause knee problems (most fitters say your forward knee should be in line with the spindle of the pedal when the cranks are horizontal).
Ouch I do not like knee problems. Is it required to get a forward word seat post to properly be in the aero position?
I have a fast-forward seat post if you want to check it out. email me firstname.lastname@example.org you can borrow it or ride my bike and feel the difference.
That would be great. I will get in touch with you after the holidays.
I used the road bike with clip-on set and it worked for me. With the danger of oversimplifying a fairly complex topic(but it wouldn't be the interweb if we didn't) you will probably be OK with the LBS recommended size. Bike fitting is complex b/c each adjustment that you make to one area effects another area and every individual is unique. But the overall goal is pretty simple: Put the parts that have to work in the most efficient position to do their job and the non-working parts in the most comfortable, non-energy consuming position possible. So basically your legs don't have to reach at the bottom or the knee and hip angles get too acute at the top and you can rest on your arms. Moving the seat forward does not have to change the knees relative position to the pedal b/c the cranks move in a circle. If your position moves forward, but you are able to keep the proper angles, the bottom of the pedal stroke becomes 7 o'clock(or wherever) instead of 6 o'clock.
As you move forward the handling will change, as the center of gravity will move forward as well. For me, the seat also had to raise to keep from getting too acute. This also raised the center of gravity. That said, you are setting the bike up to time trial, not crit, so handling takes 2nd place to speed and efficiency.
I think if the bike you buy basically fits you at first, without, for example, the seat post being totally maxed out, the LBS will have enough leeway to make the adjustments to dial in the bike in for you.
Keep in mind the cost of the used bike plus the fitting cost and any parts the fitter wants to change out might come close to the cost of a new bike, especially if the LBS includes the cost of a basic fitting with a new bike. Keep in mind the club partners that give a discount plus shops probably want to reduce inventory for the off season.
Andrew, if you get a chance to try the seatpost, go for it. It definitely affects handling by putting you forward, like all TT bikes, and isn't as ideal as a dedicated TT frame for weight balance, but it's pretty good to get you aero.
Stephen, where did you read that the fwd seatpost could cause knee issues? Aerobars w/o fwd seatpost would cause larger fit problems (being folded over) for hamstrings and lower back. And I've used a forward seatpost for 2 years w/o problems. As to knee over pedal spindle, I give you the esteemed Mr. Sheldon Brown's view. www.sheldonbrown.com/kops.html Not trying to be nasty, just curious to see that point of view since I'd seen all evidence to the contrary.
Jim brings up a good point about discounts this time of year at the bike shops. If they'll throw in a fit, a real full fitting (not just seatpost height and handlebar rotation), that could be a nice deal.
I can't remember where I read that as it was a while ago and I may be mistaken (this is not where I had read it, but this link explains a seat position too far forward can cause knee pain http://www.cptips.com/knee.htm). Agreed that being stretched out is worse, thats why I would opt for a shorter stem to bring the aerobar closer, but I am not a bike fitter and can only speak for what I find comfortable.
Once I get back from visiting home for the holidays, I can start searching around. Is it pretty common to find a forward seatpost at local bike shops to try on their bike or a bike I plan to get?
Aside from the bike, is a wet suit still recommended when swimming in the may/june time frame? Is there any other things that I should be looking at purchasing?
When you start looking for bikes, we have a 2010 Cannondale CAAD8 in a size 51 on clearance at REI. I don't remember the model or price exactly, I think it's about $750. Thought about you when I saw it. I don't know that we have a forward seatpost in stock to throw on for you to try but I could check.