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Sick of spending thousands to drop a few seconds from your bike split? How about these (much) cheaper hacks?

Aerodynamic tricks that'll set you back $50 or less

Triathletes are always looking for an edge – especially when it comes to finding a bit more speed on the bike. We’ll spend thousands of dollars on aero extensions (see below). We’ll invest in the latest, most aerodynamic wheelsets. We’ll spend thousands of dollars to be on the latest tri bike.

$6,000 aero bars? Custom bars used by the pros

But what if you could actually gain some valuable seconds, possibly minutes, in your next triathlon with an investment of just a few dollars? Check out these under-$50 fixes that could save you some time at your next race.

Water bottle down the front of your tri suit

We couldn’t figure out why Gustav Iden seemed to be carrying a water bottle down the front of his suit at last year’s Ironman World Championship, but it obviously didn’t hurt his record-setting performance. Turns out Iden isn’t the only one who’s been experimenting with putting a water bottle down the front of his (or her) suit – according to Jim Manton from ERO Sports in California. Manton posted this video outlining the benefits he was able to find when he tested a group of athletes.

Manton tested both a regular, 28 oz (828 ml) water bottle and a plastic, 1.5 l bottle. Universally, all the riders benefitted from using the water bottle, as long as it was placed fairly high. Most of the riders he tested also benefitted from the 1.5 l bottle, but those with shorter torsos didn’t enjoy the same benefits, probably because the bottle was too big.

It’s hard to say whether or not a more expensive water bottle will provide better results – you might want to experiment with that one yourself. It’ll be hard to spend that $50 on a bottle, though, especially one that’s only going to sit in your shirt for the entire race.

Aero Socks

Studies have shown that aero socks can also decrease your drag while on the bike. Entire teams have been kitted with the same socks at the Tour this year, looking to eke out that extra little bit of watt-saving speed.

According to Bruce Lin from the Pros Closet, “when compared to big ticket items like frames, wheels, helmets, and skinsuits, aero socks are much more affordable yet can provide measurable gains.”

This one might be a bit of a challenge for a triathlete – pulling on socks when your feet and legs are wet can be a challenge.

Castelli’s Fast Feet Socks were designed to replace the company’s shoe covers when the UCI banned them (that’s since been overturned), and will set you back $50. There are lots of shorter, aero socks on the market, too, that might be easier to get on, and will also be a bit cooler, that will also save you some watts.

Shave your legs

Yes, we know that no child should ever have to hear their father say “I’ll be a while in the shower – I have to shave my legs.” But it is definitely worth the embarrassment if you’re in the hunt to shave (sorry, couldn’t resist) some time off your next bike split.

According to this Canadian Press story from 2014 that appeared in the Globe and Mail, “the reduction in aerodynamic drag was so significant that even the researchers running the test didn’t initially believe it.”

How to get aero for cheap

How much will this set you back? You probably already have a razor and shaving cream sitting at home.

Tire pressure

As hard as it’s been for us old-timers who were used to pumping as much air into our tires as they could handle, research is now showing that too-high tire pressures will actually slow you down. So, finding the optimal pressure to pump your tires to costs absolutely nothing (you’re pumping the tires up anyway, right?) and can make a huge difference to your performance.

You can dial in the correct pressure using this guid from SRAM, while Hunt Wheels offers this excellent guide, too.