Every athlete wants to improve, become faster, more motivated and many constantly ask themselves ‘Am I training too much or too little?. Multisport Consultants experience, teamed with proven triathlon training programs provide athletes expert guidance whilst achieving their goals, building confidence with personalised and comprehensive principles and methods.

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- Cycling

Maximise efficiency to progress your bike leg

Wanting to ride faster?

Cycling is probably the easiest to make some hasty progression

Of the 3 sports probably the easiest to make some hasty progression. This may seem daunting to a beginner who hasn’t had much to do with Bikes before but once you have overcome the initial trepidation you’ll find this comment reasonably accurate.

Triathlon Cycling Training

Like swimming you are supported by something other than your own body weight – unlike running. Therefore, it’s hard to get stress related injuries other than falling off! Again I must stress that we are really only glossing over each discipline to set down some guidelines. There are many books and magazines covering each sport individually and indeed triathlon out there – some are listed in our suggested reading section at the rear of the book.

It’s important to establish a relationship with a reputable shop.

Learn how to ride your bike

Position set up

The bike set up is crucial in that if you are set up incorrectly you will increase the chance of injury and even accidents. To start with, most quality bike shops are staffed by current or former competitive cyclists, who should be able to perform a basic set up of a bike. The bike should be, if set up properly an extension of your body. A very basic and general rule of thumb to find a frame that fits is that while standing over the bike without shoes you have about 2.5cm clearance from the top tube to your crotch.

The aim of having the correct bike setup is to have a posture for maximum efficiency. Positions have some basic generalities, but the final determination should result from the way the cyclist functions.

Your body is the single biggest factor affecting aerodynamics.
It’s therefore important to adapt your body to the lowest and flattest position possible (gradually).

These are other features which also need attention:

    • Crank length
    • Seat height
    • Seat behind bottom bracket
    • Length setting

Saddle height is one of the most important settings to have correct

A number of methods exist in determining seat height.

An ‘old school’ one is: the cyclists heels are placed on the pedals ensuring the leg is fully extended. If the cyclist pedals back wards and the pelvis rocks the seat is too high. Reduce the seat height to the point where the rock just disappears.

Another method is standing and measure from the floor to the highest point in the crouch area, where the 2 hip bones come together. 109% of this measurement is usually optimum saddle height, with saddle height measures from the top of the seat in a straight line along the seat tube to the centre of the pedal axle.

The leg has an optimum position in which it is most capable of applying force to the pedals.

Seat height will also be influenced by seat rigidity, shoe size, high or low heel action or the type of event.

The seat forward and aft position depends primarily on the length of the femur and has been the subject of much discussion.

Cyclists tend to sit further back in their saddles where triathletes in general have adopted forward positions with the advent of aero bars. Bike manufactures continue to produce steep angle frames for triathletes of up to 78 degrees and beyond. The reasoning for this is that it allows you to run more effectively.

A test to see if your saddle is in it’ s correct fore/aft position is to, after making sure that the saddle is in it’s horizontal plane, drop a plumb bob from the centre of the knee joint and if in the right position should di-sect the pedal axle.

As for body length, – a rule of thumb is that while holding the drops on the handle bars, as the knee is at it’s highest point and just starts it’s down ward stroke, you should have up to a 1cm gap between bent elbow and knee – as demonstrated.

To get set up scientifically the fit kit systems that some bike shops use seems to be a proven method to totally correct bike set up.

Your body is the single biggest factor affecting aerodynamics.
It’s therefore important to adapt your body to the lowest and flattest position possible (gradually).

Shoe & Cleat set up

Most pedal & shoe systems today have floating systems that have a degree of side ways movement to accommodate the natural movement of ankle and knee joints.

Pedaling action

The aim here is to apply a continual force to the pedals so to eliminate dead spots during the pedal stroke. By dropping the heel as you approach the down ward thrust of the pedals and lifting the heel as the pedal begins the up ward movement you start to accomplish a term know as ankling.

This pedaling action will spread the load over the muscles and promote a smooth efficient style with the rider being able to go faster and longer.

Cadence (Rpm)

Optimal cadence for a triathlete is between 85-100rpm. Cyclists generally have a higher cadence.

During the base phase each season – you should start out using smaller gears, gradually increasing the load as your fitness increases.

Triathlon Group Ride


Important that the correct choice of gears is made. The decision on the most appropriate gearing to use in cycling is dependent on 2 main factors.

The characteristics of the rider e.g. stage of development.
The type of event and terrain.

Some other important considerations concerning gears.

    • Big gears cause fatigue quicker
    • Recovery is faster on small gears
    • Using big gears constantly causes in time trials limits a riders ability in other events
    • More economical using smaller gears
    • Top time trialists still achieve fast rides on smaller gears coupled with appropriate technique.


For time saving training usually 2-3 sessions per week will take place.
Using a windtrainer will greatly assist in achieving more with less time.

The basis of the week should be 1 long ride – up to over double of race distance at an aerobic heart rate.

1 interval ride – preferably on a wind trainer of around an hour in duration plus anther ride of say, a time trial over 20km once a month over the same course to gauge progress or a undulating type ride working the hills. It’ a good idea to do your long rides in a group from time to time to 1). Have company and 2). Work on skills such as drafting.

All your diligent training and hard earned money spent on equipment should be rewarded with results and most of all enjoyment of the sport. Utilising the services of a coach at Multisport Consultants, especially in the infancy of your triathlon or Ironman ‘career’ will ensure you set off on the right path and get the best results out of your body and the sport.

So what now? To find out about Multisport Consultants training programs available online click here, or if you feel you may require a more personalised training program, contact Multisport Consultants for more details.

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