|Buying a Triathlon Bike
Buying A Bicycle For Your First Season
Buying the right equipment for your first triathlon can be an intimidating process, especially when considering the amount of money involved. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be complicated, or even overly expensive. In fact, keeping things simple is probably the best approach for your first few races. Most of the questions we get from entry-level triathlete’s are about their biggest purchase of all, their bicycle.
Don’t let your options overwhelm you
When it comes to choosing a bike for your first triathlon, keep it simple. The keys to success on the bike are comfort and safety, which do not need to cost a lot of money. Looking cool is also important of course, but that doesn’t mean you need a $10k carbon fiber TT bike for your first Sprint Distance. In fact, your existing road bike will probably be perfect for your first few races. If you enjoy the sport (and you probably will), then consider an upgrade once you start pushing longer distances and/or feel the need to challenge yourself to a faster time. Buying a set of clip-on aerobars, for example, is a great way to take your road bike, and your speed, to the next level. Consider the Profile Design "T3 Plus" or "Century" series. Both retail for about $110. When buying clip on bars for a standard road bike, make sure that they are not designed for internal cable routing, unless of course you want to re-configure your gear system. One easy way to tell is to look at the end of the bars. If they are closed (where your thumbs rest) then you are in good shape.
Keep it Simple with a Road Bike
If you are in the market for a new bike, we recommend buying a road bike for your first season. Aside from being more versatile, the speed benefits of a time trial or triathlon bike simply do not out weigh the costs (both in terms of price and comfort) for most entry-level athletes. A good entry-level budget might be somewhere in the range of $800. There are several new bikes on the market for 2013 that we recommend in this price range. Every big brand has a great entry-level option, but for us, the 2013 Trek 1.1 is a solid choice. The bike retails for about $750 and comes with standard Shimano 2300 components. It has a responsive, sporty feel and will do well even over longer distances. Another option to consider is the Felt Z100 series (women can check out the ZW100). These bikes are well rounded, include many higher-end upgrades (carbon forks for example), and retail for about $800.
Pay Attention to Sizing
It is worth mentioning that bike "sizing" is different to bike "fitting." A customized bike fitting is not essential, but we recommend it. It will be money well spent once you start pushing longer distances. Most higher-end bike shops will have a trained specialist that will be able to provide this service. Fitting sessions are usually done by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead. Expect to pay between $100 and $200 for a custom fitting.
At the very least you will want to have a good idea of what frame size is best for you- especially if you are shopping online. Road bike frames are measured in centimeters. "Center to top" is the most common approach. It measures the seat tube from the base to the top. The base is the bottom of the tube (bracket) and the top is where the seat post attaches to the tube. The basic measurements you will need to get started are your height and inseam. For a quick estimate of the appropriate frame size for you, multiply your inseam measurement (in centimeters) by .67. For example, if your inseam is 85cm, your frame size would be 85*.67 = 57cm. You can convert inches to centimeters by multiplying by 2.54.
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