New TT bike...what to train on?

I have been doing triathlon for about two years now, and I have been using a road bike with clip-on aerobars. I just bought a real TT bike since I’m getting more into it and thought it would be worth the money. Now I’m not sure what I should be doing most of my training on, my road bike or TT bike?

TT bike. It’s a different position than your road bike with clip ons. And the TT position is a learned position. Different muscles in the TT position as well. Especially at higher wattages you want to be used to putting out power.

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Absolutely TT bike if that’s your focus. Get that return on the cash you laid out by training on the TT bike through all your TR plans

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I’ve posted this before in regards to your question, but this blog post from former pro Jordan Rapp nails the question. Take the TT bars off your road bike, get it fitted for a proper road position. Do most of your training on the road bike, incorporate maybe 1-2 rides a week on your TT bike into your plan. When you get closer to race day, like 12 weeks out can bump up the rides on the TT bike to 3-4 times.

I’m more of a TT guy and I do not ride it that often unless I’m leading into the TT part of my season schedule. Heck even Justin Rossi, who was a stud TT guy would only ride his TT bike once or twice a week until going into Nats.

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It comes down to hip position. If you’re riding in aero 100% of the time, and few people do who ride TT bikes then your hips are in a fine position. Sitting on the horns shifts you out of position and you are losing the benefit. Train more on the road bike, just need a couple sessions a week on the TT to be fine. No sense if spending a ton of time on it, working probably at a lower % of FTP, and just always being uncomfortable.
Different story if someone gets extra motivation riding their new TT bike. If thats the case then ride whatever works for you.

Maybe I just missed the point of that article, but my (overly reductive, I admit) takeaway seems to be:

  1. The only position that matters on a tri bike is your TT position (agree)
  2. If you’re not in a TT position on your tri-bike, you’re sub-optimal (agree)
  3. Only a few people are in TT all the time (agree)
  4. ???
  5. Road bikes are more optimal in all positions other than TT, and since 1,2, and 3, you should be training on a road bike.

No snark intended, I really don’t get it. The whole point seems to be in the last paragraph, that basically, you’ll do all this training on your road bike and then:
*And it’ll make you feel that much faster (because you’ll actually be faster) when you do take your tribike out for the kind of ride it was designed for – a hard and fast one. *

…But not if you can’t hold an aero position because you never trained it. No snark intended, and maybe I’m just dull after work, I just don’t think I see/agree with the lightbulb moment there.

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My take (and backed up my own experience) is that 1-2 rides per week is enough to be adapted to ride the TT bike. And those rides are best being a workout that is similar to the kinds of racing you’ll be doing on the TT bike e.g. A threshold or SS session.

So the advice isn’t to “never train the TT position”, it’s to train it enough to be adapted to it, but not necessarily more than that. If you enjoy using the TT bike on every ride then I don’t really see any reason not to (unless you’re joining a group ride, in which case don’t be that guy…). Personally I prefer the road bike for most of my riding. Better for climbing, descending and traffic, and better indoors for watching Netflix, so if it isn’t hurting my TT riding then that’s what I do.

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I believe what he was saying is that you should go out and train on your TT bike when doing specific intervals. You do olympic distance races, then if you do 2 weekly SS workouts do it on the TT bike in aero. You’re doing an IM race, well then make sure you’re riding it for your weekend 5 hour ride where 3 hours are at IM race pace.

It doesn’t make sense to just go out on the TT bike for a recovery ride, especially if riding on the horns. Yes you have to get adjusted to riding in the TT position but that does not mean you have to ride in that position 5-6 times a week, and if you don’t you’re screwed.

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That makes sense. And yeah, I definitely have a road bike and would never suggest a tri bike to someone who doesn’t already have a roadie.

Something I’m unsure on is: I can produce less power in my TT position than in my road position (like most people, I think.) I ride my tri bike in training, because ‘train what you race’ and all that. Admitedly, I’ve wondered in the past if I’d be better served by testing/training a higher wattage on my road bike and then XFerring to my TT bike, or if I should stay on my tri bike because that’s the power that really matters. Currently, I’m in camp #2.

Depends on how often you ride. If you ride 5-6 times a week and its winter/base season. I would say no reason to ride your TT bike more than once a week.

Say you have an FTP of 300 on the road bike and 265 on the TT bike. Its better if you can get the road bike up to 320 and then the TT goes up to 285, rather then just working at a lower % on the TT bike.

You can adjust with a couple rides a week and get used to it. I think people over think the whole TT bike power thing. Doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

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+1 on mostly using my road bike and the TT once in a while, until getting closer to an event,

As others have said, riding your road bike isn’t going to hurt you and could help you. Yes, you need to be able to ride aero on your TT bike for the duration of your event at race power but that doesn’t mean you have to do all, or even most, of your rides on your TT bike.

One additional point to riding a road bike (and I seem to recall it being mentioned in Rapp’s article above, but not certain) - safety. You are more upright and visible on your road bike. When you are bent over your TT bike, you are simply harder to spot. Make sure you use flashing lights and, if possible, put one on your saddle back or the bottom of your jersey (NOT the top of the pockets, the bottom of the actual jersey). You want that light as visible as possible and your ass is the highest point staring back at motorists.

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Theres been discussion on both fronts and IMO theres no “wrong answer” but it’s more situation by situation.

Case 1) You train at a higher FTP on the road bike, so increasing your fitness makes most sense on your road bike, which will translate to more fitness on the TT/Tri bike
Case 2) You train in your TT bike to bring your FTP higher (more comfort, etc.) and more aligned to your road bike position. Obviously you will push higher wattage on the road bike, but if you train on your TT bike you can bring the differential down, which ultimately will let you ride faster. Fitness will also increase. Will it be at the same pace as Case 1? Who knows

Obviously you can do a mix of both, which is not bad. Obviously as well this will be race specific, and if you enjoy your road or TT bike more it might be worth doing what you enjoy more, as long as you keep race specific. As per which is better, its a bit of a catch 22 thing; you train on the road bike at your limit to increase your fitness at the expense of the TT position to increase the TT fitness/FTP or you train in TT position at a “sub optimal” limit to increase your TT position fitness/ftp, which will also increase the road bike fitness.

IMO the only way to make the decision with data would be to get an aero sensor (not really available yet) and get your CdA/ftp value at a race RPE and then train to maximize that. I would think in most cases unless your tt position is absolutely maximized, as a triathlete, it makes sense to get used to your TT position in aero. Once you can hold it no problem for a race distance, you could do whatever you wanted with respect to road vs TT bike riding. IMO at the end of the day, as long as your not a pro, it dosn’t really matter. If you ride more and have fun, you will get faster, which will make you ride more and you will get faster… yada yada yada.

Don’t think too hard about it. Get comfortable in your TT position on the bike. If you enjoy the road bike, use it. Just remember to be race specific. And don’t ride the TT in group rides.

edit: I am also in the “train on what your race” camp and I firmly believe in the “train hard race easy” mentality, so I do 90%+ of my training on the TT bike (all my indoor training is on the TT bike). I have been able to increase my FTP quite a bit holding aero. I think eventually I may need to swap to the road to start pushing that FTP higher, but I think that is like the “icing on the cake” whereas the aero position training was building the cake itself. I think for when you are at the point of maximizing your potential then it makes sense to start squeaking ftp or fitness increases wherever you can, and the road bike can be a powerful tool for that specific thing. As for amateurs like us, I think we have a license to use whatever we feel like whenever we want, and if we are on the bike more and have fun we are already winning.

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