Elena’s custom triathlon bike

Every now and again I work with a rider who absolutely NEEDS a custom bike – Elena is on the shorter side, and proportionally has shorter legs. She struggled to fit on stock bikes; her previous bike in an XS size wouldn’t actually allow her to lower the saddle enough. And left the bars comparatively very high. She is also trained by renowned triathlon coach Brett Sutton, who favors a very forward position. AND Elena also wanted to use a mid-foot cleat position to help with the transition to running, which further hindered her saddle height problems.

With all these factors to consider, it was fortunate that Elena was able to visit in person for a lengthy fit session. We really pushed the limits of the adjustment on the fit-jig, but I was able to gather the data to create a design that would actually fit her, allow her to achieve an aerodynamic position, and offer plenty of adjustment so she could fine tune actually having a bike that fits her for the very first time.

I would have loved to have built this bike around 650C wheels. I consider that a great wheelsize option for shorter riders. Unfortunately the industry has thought otherwise – Hed, Zipp and Enve no longer produce wheels in this size, and tire choices are very limited. So my challenge was to fit Elena’s numbers around 700C wheels and have everything work…..

Crank length is 155mm, so I increased the BB drop to 85mm to maintain pedal-ground distance and lower the center of gravity. Which didn’t help the quest for keeping the bars low…. We went back and forth on rim brake versus disc brake – in the end discs made more sense, not just for the improved braking, but in terms of there not being much room to fit a rim brake on the fork, and the fact that 3T make a disc fork with a very short axle-crown. This fork, combined with a custom headtube to integrate the lower bearing, and a Syntace dropped stem, allowed for getting the bars low enough without having to resort to a custom cockpit or combined fork/bar.

The seattube angle is a steep 84 degrees, with the custom seatpost reversible for going even steeper if needed. That mini seatpost is secured into a custom drawn aero section seatmast. An aero downtube and drastically ovalised toptube complete the front triangle.

For ease of travel and adjustment, we went with mechanical disc brakes. The seatstays are carefully shaped to snugly fit around the rear caliper, which has internal cable routing through the downtube.

Shimano’s Di2 supplies the shifting, with synchroshift operated from the basebar or the extensions. Braze-on’s are included for the toptube bento box.

The complete bike comes in at 18.6lbs. Elena worked with Roger at Svelte Cycleworks on the paint design, which was applied by Colorworks.

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