Last year there was only one Trinity Advanced Pro rolling around Kona, and it was planted firmly against Tim Van Berkel’s keister. Tim takes us through Giant’s new tri-specific rig and explains why it fills him with confidence
Words: Tim Van Berkel. Images: Cameron Baird
As one of Giant’s Global Athletes, I’ve been involved in the prototyping process for their new Trinity Advanced Pro bike. After the launch, I also had the privilege of being the only athlete to ride the new bike at Kona this year. I’ve got to say, it has been incredible being the face of the Giant Trinity. Walking into a bike shop and seeing your face plastered all over the wall is a buzz – but it also takes a bit of getting used to.
The serious side to it all is that not only am I representing the largest bike manufacturer in the world, but I’m also representing triathletes. Giant have worked hard to create a bike that’s tri-specific. Part of my responsibility has been to try and give them an insight into the needs of triathletes competing at an elite level so they could produce the best bike possible. I’m very impressed with what they’ve put together.
Unlike some triathletes, I’m not a ‘gear head’. I’m not someone who drools over the specs of the latest bike. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but I guess my approach is more pragmatic. When it comes to gear, I ask two simple questions:
1. How does it feel? This influences how I interact with the bike and the confidence it inspires in me.
2. How does it perform under race conditions? This where the rubber hits the road – literally. The tech data is meaningless if it doesn’t translate into real-world results.
In the lead-up to Kona I took the Trinity prototype to Boulder, Colorado for my block of altitude training. I then raced it very successfully in
Cebu and on the Sunshine Coast. It has created a lot of interest amongst competitors at all levels, wherever it has gone. And most importantly, I’ve had a chance to check it out both in training and in a range of race conditions.
There’s no doubt that Giant have finally created a bike that is tri-specific. Every aspect of the design has been focused on meeting the specific needs of triathletes. The biggest innovations in this regard come in the form of the integrated hydration and nutrition storage systems – otherwise known as the AeroVault. The Trinity is now arguably one of the most aerodynamic bikes on the market with these integrated systems.
In practical terms, the AeroVault means you can get your gels and hydration without having to leave the aero position. It gives you an obvious saving in energy, but it also takes the hassle out of eating and drinking, so you’re more likely to hydrate when you need it rather than waiting until it’s convenient. Interesting fact: wind-tunnel testing has shown that the bike is actually more aero with the AeroVault system attached than without it. That’s serious integration.
In terms of fit, the new bike was great for me right from the start. One of the biggest changes to the design is the degree of adjustability you have in the front-end set-up. The old bike just didn’t have the same amount of options. The new Trinity gives you more room for adjustment – you can make it shorter or longer, and you can shift the bars or the pads.
The overall result of this is that I’ve been able to get a more aggressive setup on the new bike. And by aggressive, I mean a higher seat, lower bars and a flatter back. In the past, being able to get more aero meant closing up my hip angle. For me, as with most triathletes, hip angle is critical. Reduce that and you bleed wattage. Now I’m able to adjust the bike to get a more aero position while maintaining an open hip angle. I’m also going to shorter cranks to help with this.
As far as feel goes, I thought that the old bike was going to be pretty hard to beat. It was stiff, fast and responsive. But the new Trinity Advanced Pro takes that to another level. It’s super fast and it handles better.
Obviously the wind-tunnel testing confirms the value of the changes they’ve made to the tube shapes and junctions, brake fairings, seat pillar, etc. But for me, the bottom line is that the improvements in performance have translated into increased confidence in the bike, especially on descents where it feels more solid and dependable. The result is that I feel comfortable to push it that little bit harder.
It’s still early days in terms of really getting the most out of the Trinity Advanced Pro. I’m now heading into the fine-tuning phase of the relationship after making what were some fairly radical changes to my position. That’s another thing that really impresses me about the bike: there’s almost unlimited room to change, adjust and then tweak your position on the bike.
Congratulations to Giant for putting together a great machine. I suppose you could argue that I’m biased, but in my humble opinion the Trinity Advanced Pro is at the cutting edge of triathlon bike design. It’s an engineering marvel and a sweet ride. Two thumbs up from me.