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Who says you can't race an Ironman on a bike that fits into a small suitcase?

Posted Mar 17 2010 2:00pm

Bike1 After this report about the single speed Kona bike, we thought there couldn’t be a more crazier bike to do an Ironman on until we saw this!

Triathlete Chris Bennett’s job as a civil engineer with World Bank meant he was travelling  around so much there was no way he could take his regular bike (cervelo P3) with him to train on, so he decided to do something no-one had ever done before..........Ironman Switzerland on a Folding Bike!

After doing a lot of research on the internet, Chris finally came across a new bike called a “Reach Road”. Designed to replicate the geometry of a road bike, it came well equipped with Shimano components including Sti shifters and best off all fitted in a  standard suitcase, So no Excess baggage charges.

Bike2 After replacing the pedals , tires and clamping on some Profile aerobars, it was time to take to the road.

So how does it ride?According to Chris Bennett on his  Training Blog ( )
“surprisingly well. It is a little bit more ’skittish’ than a regular bike, due I suspect to the 20″ wheels, and this is amplified when you are down in the aero position. However, most people would not notice it. The biggest thing you notice is that it is such a head turner: it elicits comments wherever you go.

The only gripe that I have is with the gearing, but that is an artifact of having 20” wheels. The cluster goes from 9-26 which is a huge range. This leads to a discontinuity in the middle gears where it is difficult to find the ‘comfortable’ gear to be in under some conditions, however, I don’t know how to get around it since the 9 is required when going downhill and the 26 when going up. It’s something which you somewhat get used to, and compared to the advantages a minor bother.

In summary, if you close your eyes you wouldn’t know that you are on a folding bike.”
On the day of Ironman Switzerland the race started in  cold wet conditions, not ideal to try and control those small  wheels, and after a modest swim it was out on the bike. The problem was though, as Chris describes

Bike3  “Usually I don’t mind hills, but I found it exceptionally hard work. Even though I had a good cadence I just couldn’t make good time up the hills. I felt like I was standing still at times – in part because of my small wheels. For the same gear and cadence each revolution moved me 20 inches compared to some 27 for regular bikes. Anyway, no other option but to persevere and put your head down and spin the pedals.”

After a  bike leg of  6:50 and finishing in 14:23 would The Reach be doing any more Ironmans in the future Chris?

“Good question! The bike worked OK for an Olympic distance race but when I did Ironman Switzerland it took too much effort.. The long distance, and hills, took a lot out of me. There is also the weight issue. There is a clear reason why nobody does Ironman on a folding bike!”


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