Braden Currie is one of the fiercest competitors in professional triathlon, and he’s joined Felt Bicycles for the 2021 racing season and beyond. After competing on a variety of different bikes during his career, Braden will now be racing on the IA FRD, a bike that won six straight Kona titles and holds the bike course record at triathlon’s most prestigious event. But Braden’s IA isn’t like anyone else’s—for the first time in his career, he was able to work with our design time to create a custom paint scheme unique to him. And like most professional triathletes, he’s gone to great lengths to outfit his bike with a finely curated selection of components from his various equipment sponsors, all in an effort to maximize his race-day performance.
Switching to a new brand of gear is a challenge, and this is especially true when it comes to bikes. For pretty much any triathlon distance or discipline—if all goes well with your race effort, that is—you’re going to be spending the most time with your bike. A bicycle is also inherently more complex than, say, a pair of running shoes or a wetsuit, because of the various components and unique fitting requirements, as well as its dynamic relationship with the individual. The very best investment that a triathlete or cyclist can make—whether they’re a seasoned professional or a newcomer to riding bikes—is to work with an experienced and reputable bike fitter. Remember, everybody is different when it comes to fitness, racing goals, and riding styles. And every body is different when it comes to things like height, weight, flexibility, limb length, core strength, and myriad other factors that all affect how the rider and bike interact. Make sure that your bike fits you, and never the other way around.
For Braden, working with an experienced and trusted bike fitter was the first step on his journey to getting acquainted with his new Felt IA race bike. Read on to learn more about Braden’s process, and how he went about optimizing his bike for his goals.
“I’ve been working a lot on getting used to the new Felt IA, and it's been a great experience and a relatively simple transition,” says Braden. “A couple of days and some solid testing with [expert bike fitter] Justin Ralph from Cycling NZ and I felt really comfortable and with a significantly more aerodynamic body position than I have achieved before. We’ve been able to play around with a lot of different saddle choices, bar ends, stem reaches, and hand positions. This is going to be a real benefit for me, and it gives me the ability to be in a more efficient pedaling position, as well as being more aerodynamic than I have ever managed to be on previous bikes.”
A proper bike fit is never a static experience—it’s an active one that requires attention and dedication to ensuring that you’re achieving the most efficient performance from your bike and yourself. Major life changes like an injury or a lengthy time off the bike, as well as more subtle occurrences like weight gain/loss or a noticeable change in pedaling strength, can affect how your body interacts with the bike. So it’s important to monitor your comfort level on a regular basis and consult with your fitter if you feel anything is amiss. This is true for both amateur riders and professional athletes like Braden.
“As far as monitoring my bike fit, any changes would generally be due to a niggle or something flaring up in my body, and I’ll need to take some pressure off,” says Braden. “We might make adjustments then. Or if I need to fit a new part like a saddle or something else, then I’ll look at changing the setup or revisiting a full bike fit at that point. But most of the time, if possible, I try not to touch my fit for the season once we get it where we want it to be. That’s the dream.”
“Shimano components are incredibly reliable,” says Braden. “The Di2 Integra system is a really simple and versatile system. I tend to be able to run the same gearing on all courses and it gives me a lot of variation within the gears. It doesn’t limit me to certain cadences whilst time-trialling, which is one of the best benefits to riding Shimano Di2 at present.
“HED have been in the wheel game for a long time, and I really enjoy riding their wheels. I have a few different sets, too. I'll train on the RC6 model and, depending on the race, I'll use either the RC8 with a full disc rear wheel, or a complete set of the RC6 model. They are very stiff and responsive wheels to ride, and I believe wholeheartedly that they are the fastest wheels on the planet.
“Finding the best saddle is key for every bike, and we are working with the Secret Saddle Club with one of their GeBioMized saddles called the Stride. Utilizing this saddle has been a really good change for me. It has allowed me to have a lot more of an aggressive, forward position, and I can sit with a more tilted pelvis which gives me a flatter back. Overall, I have much better and more even contact with the seat. This is probably one of the best changes within the system at the moment.
“For the pedaling part of things, I’m running with Shimano S-Phyre shoes, and pedals made by Speedplay. The shoes have been really awesome. And I tried several different brands and shoe types before finding the right one. They have a power strap on the front that allows you to adjust the forefoot more effectively and get a really nice, tight fit. They are also easy to get in and out of, which is perfect for any triathlon race.”
“My new Felt IA has a custom paint job, and it was really fun to be able to design and make my own,” says Braden. “It’s the first time I have had this opportunity."
Braden's paint scheme—as with the other custom Felt bikes ridden by pro athletes—was brought to life by Bob Thomson, Felt's creative director.
"In 2019, I developed an aggressive, geometric style for our custom athlete bikes," says Thomson. "They received such a positive response from the public that we adapted the design to our production line of model-year 2021 IA bikes. That original design was heavily influenced by the Navy's 'Dazzle Camouflage' paint from the 1940s, and in particular the more recent Sea Shepherd Conservation ship that has a black/grey/blue variation. That's what really started me down the path. Throw in a healthy dose of influence from DSC/Death Spray Custom and artist Filipe Pantone and, eventually, out popped this tonal geo design."
So how did the current design, as featured on Braden's bike, come about?
"For the 2020-2021 custom pro athlete bikes, I blew the pattern up in scale, and added a vague 'lightning bolt' element to it," continues Thomson. "This led to us calling this revised geometric paint style, 'Storm.' This new revision has a more aggressive and bold nature than the previous iteration, which of course suits our athletes well."
"I'm really enjoying riding the bike, especially because it was very easy to become accustomed to riding it," says Braden. "The geometry works really well for my bike fit, and I’m finding it exceptionally comfortable, even on my long training rides. I particularly like the way it handles in crosswinds. It tolerates the crosswinds incredibly well, which allows me to stay in an aerodynamic position. This is really important for racing in my home country of New Zealand as our winds are almost always pretty intense. It's also been pretty revolutionary for me riding a triathlon bike with disc brakes. They give me the confidence I need if I have to pull up and stop in a hurry. I know I have all the braking power that I may want. It's also a really aerodynamic system, with all the calipers being tucked away in the cover of the frame. I know this bike is going to be the ideal race machine for Kona.”
FRAMESET: IA FRD | Ultimate
GROUPSET: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9150
FRONT BRAKE: Shimano Dura-Ace Hydro, 140mm rotor
REAR BRAKE: Shimano Dura-Ace Hydro, 140mm rotor
FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
CASSETTE: Shimano Dura-Ace, 11-30
CRANKSET: Shimano Dura-Ace, Dual-Sided Power Meter, 54/42 chainrings
WHEELS: HED Vanquish RC Pro Series RC4
TIRES: Continental GP 5000
AEROBARS: Profile Design Aeria T4
STEM: Felt Dagger 31.8mm
PEDALS: Speedplay zero aero
SADDLE: GebioMized Stride
HYDRATION: Elite Buta
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