Absolutely.  There are many ways to modify your present bicycle for competitions.  With spring just around the corner, a lot of folks are gearing up for a summer of triathlon competitions.  Some will opt to purchase a new bike specific to triathlon racing, but others wonder if they can start racing on their present bike, perhaps a hybrid or mountain bike?  The answer is absolutely yes.

I began racing on a hybrid bike, and have seen a surprising number of mountain bikes in competitions.  Granted, moving up to a road bike can increase your average speed by 2-5 mph.  So the serious competitor will want to do this.  But until you are ready for this purchase, you can easily modify your present bike to increase above your current speed.

A smooth tire will increase your speed on a mountain or hybrid bike.The first thing you can do is to switch from your wider, possibly knobby pavement and trail tires to true road tires with a narrower profile.  This reduction in rolling resistance will immediately pop your speed up.  For example the Continental Sport Contact (26 x1.3, $34.99 at Bicycle Garage Indy) will help your mountain bike to roll easier.

Another change you may be able to make is to your handlebars.  Being designed for comfort, many mountain bikes and hybrids place you in a more upright position.  Good for comfort, but not so good for speed.  Switching to a lower, more traditional handlebar position provides a muscular advantage, allowing your powerful gluteus muscles to fire more, thus increasing your power and speed output.   For those approaching speeds of 19 mph, this lower position also provides an aerodynamic advantage as well.

What are these possible changes to your handlebars?

  1. Simply lower your handlebars.
  2. Swap out your handlebars for one with a different angle, which effectively lowers your position.
  3. Replace your more upright handlebars with a flat bar.
  4. Add bar ends to your existing handlebars, which can give you an extra 5-10% of lean AND an additional hand position.
  5. Add aero-clip on bars.

Aero Clip-on Bars allow to maximize your position for a faster ride.

If you aren’t sure of the best option for you, let the Bicycle Garage Indy staff assist you with finding the best tires and handlebars for your particular bike.  For the mechanically minded out there, you can then go home and swap these out.  For the rest of us, just hand these over to the service staff and they can make the changes for you.

Want to learn more about fitting your bike for tri racing?  Want to learn some training tips?  Then come to Bicycle Garage Indy’s first Tri Night for 2011, Preparing for You Next Tri (free, registration required), beginning at 5:30 PM Tuesday April 14, 2011.  You can find out information about our other triathlon nights, and local triathlons, like the Go Girl Triathlon on the Bicycle Garage Indy Triathlon resource page.