Time trial

If you’re a sportive rider, aspiring road racer or a triathlete, time trials (TTs) are a great test of fitness, pacing and mental toughness.

But don’t be put off by the serious racers in skin-suits, aero helmets and their disc wheeled stealth bikes. At club events you’ll be welcome on any road-worthy bike, and remember it’s the clock you’re racing against and your performances.

Why time trial?

EASY TO ENTER: Most cycling clubs will run a weeknight 10-mile, or close to that distance, time trial throughout the summer and into autumn. You don’t need to be a club member; they only typically cost £4-£5, you can enter on the night and are always friendly and inviting. Find you local club at, britishcycling.org.uk/clubfinder

GREAT WORKOUT: The 20-30-minute effort of a 10-mile TT is an ideal session for boosting your lactate threshold and your sustainable high-end level speed. And no matter how hard you think you can push yourself in training, you’ll always squeeze a bit more out when you pin a number on your back.

ANY BIKE: Don’t worry if you haven’t got a TT bike. There’ll be plenty of riders on standard and modified road bikes and you’re really racing against the course, yourself and the clock.

MONITOR PROGRESS: With weekly events on the same course, you’ll get a regular snapshot of your fitness, which will provide a great motivation to train. For triathletes especially, time trials are a great chance to tweak and optimise your riding position.

TAKING IT FURTHER: Open events tend to be more competitive and you can often find yourself on the same start list as pros and Olympic champions. They’re still friendly and accessible though and with race distance ranging from 10 miles to 24 hours, there’s something for everyone. For more information on time trialling go to, cyclingtimetrials.org.uk

Time trial

Converting your road bike for time trials

You can time trial on any roadworthy bike but with a few tweaks, you can certainly improve your road bike’s performance against the clock.

UNNECESSARY WEIGHT AND DRAG: For a 10-mile TT, ditch your water bottle and cages. Definitely remove mudguards and

there’s no need to carry any spares or a saddle bag.

DON’T JUST CLIP-ON: A road bike’s geometry can make it unsuited to just clipping on aerobars. You can end up too stretched, with a closed hip-angle and – although you may be more aero – your power output might be severely compromised.

STEM: Many riders find a shorter stem necessary when using clip-on aerobars on a road bike.

SEAT POST: reversed set-back seat post or one specifically designed to steepen the seat-tube angle, such as Profile Design’s Fast Forward, can give a more optimal open hip-angle TT position with clip-on bars.

SADDLE: Slamming your saddle right forward on the rails also effectively increases steepness but don’t forget you may need to tweak saddle-height too. Also consider a snub nosed TT specific saddle.

RIDE IT: Don’t just ride your TT position on race night or it’ll feel strange, uncomfortable and compromise your performance – so

train regularly and specifically in the required aero position.

Words: Nik Cook Pictures: Joolze Dymond

Check out these 10 TT tips from Chris Boardman