If you are new to triathlons and are looking for some advice on what kind of entry level bike to purchase for your first triathlon, event then you’re in just the right place. Here we discuss everything you need to know about what to look for your new sport.
Before jumping straight in and running off to purchase your new triathlon bike, you need to first consider several important points. As a beginner who is just getting into the sport, it will be a better idea to get used to how the transition and overall event works with a regular road bike, before splashing a load of cash on a bike specific for the sport.
However, if you are more used to competing and think it’s time to move on to a more qualified bicycle, then you will need to ask yourself (or the store attendant) the following questions:
- What distance will I be cycling?
- How much training will I be doing?
- Will I be riding on hilly terrain or flat surfaces?
- What is my budget?
Why is a triathlon bike so much better than a road bike?
The first goal is that it is more aerodynamic. It is built for going in a straight line and getting you down in that aerodynamics position where the mass of your body is tucked in together, and you are out of the wind as much as possible.
Braking is not a huge concern, rather, taking yourself out of the aero bars and being able to brake so you can go in a straight line and go ahead of everyone in front of you.
The second cause that a triathlon bike is better for triathlon depends on how your body sits on a triathlon bike. It opens up your hips, and your body should be elevated, so, when you tire out the front and back of your legs, it will become a lot more equally than if you are scrunched up on a road bike.
Which means that when you get out of the bike, you are going to be fresher for the run. If you are going to spend money and get yourself a new proper road or triathlon bike, one of the biggest things you need to restrain is an entry level bike. If you buy a cheaper bike, you are not getting a lot. Instead, you are wasting your money on a non-triathlon bike. So, It is better to go for a three-thousand dollar or up for a bike where you will be more comfortable while doing your race.
What do I need to know before buying a Triathlon Bike?
What are the points you wish to know when buying your first ever triathlon bike? In this article, you will be given three options to figure out which bike is the right type for yours. It will depend on how you are getting into the sport, and what your intentions are in your first year.
1. Am I going to make Triathlon a routine?
If you are that person who will not make triathlon a part of this routine or if you are not sure if you are doing another set of the race, then you can go for a mountain bike.
The only downside to this is that you are going to feel a little bit silly walking past those who have ten or fifteen thousand dollar bikes in the transition zone. It is not like it will hurt you or it is that of a big deal.
You only need a bit of gut to suffer through that feeling of being a little out of place in your first race. Don’t ever let anyone look down on you just because you have the least bike on the train, at least you are getting into the sport.
2. Am I going for my first triathlon race?
If you’ve gone through your first triathlon and would want to pursue another race, you may opt to spend a little money for your bike.
But if you are not sure of how things will go during your training, how long are you going to train or what you really want out of a bike, it is recommended to buy for a used bike for now.
The reason for that is you don’t know exactly how your training is going to turn out, what types of races you are going to do, and what do you desire out of the sport.
So, paying top dollar on a new bike might hurt you in the long run because, just like cars, bikes tend to depreciate.
What you need to do is go to a local bike shop, get them to the size you up for a bike – that is going to be critical. Once you get sized up, look for second-hand bikes online, like craigslist. Don’t be too fussy about what brand of bike you will get.
Just look at something that is an entry-level price point where you won’t spend a lot, and that will fit right for you. And that will get you through your first one or two seasons in the sport.
3. Do I need an upgrade from my entry-level bike?
If you’ve obtained it a season or two on that entry-level bike, and you know precisely what you require out of a bike, you know how you should train, what type of races you want to do. Then, this is the time to have fantastic sport and proceed into your local bike shop and have them set you up for a bike.
You have two options when buying a bike. The first option is that you can have a road bike and try and turn it into a triathlon bike.
It is where you end up taking a road bike into the next level by putting on a pair of aero bars and setting it up as close to a triathlon bike as you can.
There is a difference in how you sit with a ride bike and a triathlon bike. It is recommended to get an aero road bike at your local bike shop, and they should be able to set up that road bike similar to what a triathlon bike is for.
There’s a fair bit of difference in how your body sits on a bicycle between a road bike, and a triathlon bike is for.
This works well for someone who tends to ride in a group because a road bike has excellent handling skills and all of the controls are up on the handlebars in one area.
You can brake, and shift up and down as you need. So, it is safer for riding in a group.
Strapping on some aero bars to a road bike and using one for a triathlon is perfectly acceptable, it depends on what the majority of your riding outside of the sport is like.
4 Do I need to improve my aerodynamics?
If you are into triathlon then you ride by yourself. It means that you are getting solo miles to prep for your next race, then, you must start getting into the pure aerodynamics triathlon bike or a proper triathlon bike that is made to help you go fast, and in a straight line.
What to look for in a triathlon bike
Ok so now you are aware of your unique requirements, here are the elements that are important to look out for when shopping for your new bike:
It is pretty normal for most modern bikes to have around 18 gears. However, some bikes can feature up to 30!
Here’s where the question, ‘will I be riding on hilly terrain or flat surfaces’ comes in. If you are going to be cycling mainly on a flat pavement or road, then you won’t need to focus too much on the gears.
However, if you plan to train or compete in more hilly areas, then you are going to want to know about the gears. Lower gears will come in really handy and will make it somewhat easier for you when you are trying to push yourself up that dreaded hill.
The two most common frames to choose between are carbon and aluminum. But how do you know which one will be best for you? The main difference is that a carbon frame feels much lighter (most of the time) than an aluminum one, which in turn, makes it generally more expensive. And really, there is nothing wrong with a cheaper aluminum frame.
In terms of damage, an aluminum frame is likely to suffer a dent or bend but is usually easily fixable, but with a carbon frame, damage could happen internally and not be noticeable to our eyes.
If damage goes unnoticed, then overtime, the inside of the frame can become weakened or cracked. If you are involved in a biking accident, then a carbon frame can actually shatter and will be unfixable.
Our advice? Unless you have a large budget, are an avid and serious triathlete or biker, then we’d recommend purchasing an aluminum bike.
If you have opted for a regular bike (not a specific tri bike), then you can always look at adding on an aero bar, or tri bar to the frame you already have. This add-on piece of equipment will help you to ride with a little more aerodynamics, and hopefully shed off a few crucial seconds to your race time.
When it comes to adding an aero bar, there isn’t really one that is overly better than another, because it comes down to personal preference. It will be a good idea to test a few different ones and ask yourself which one is most comfortable and which one can you see yourself using?
The most important thing to make sure of when purchasing a new bike? The comfort of the saddle! The types of saddles out there are endless, but if your saddle is not comfortable for you, then that really is no good.
Remember, a saddle is not a ‘one size fits all’ type of deal. Try and test different saddles to see what works best for you. If you are a female, then saddles that are slightly wider and shorter tend to work better.
And of course, it needs to fit. If the saddle is too big or even too small, you will slip off of it and won’t be able to get the right momentum when cycling. Our advice is to try several different saddles out and also to remember that if this is something that is new to you, it is likely that you won’t instantly find any saddle extremely comfortable. As long as it fits your body shape and doesn’t dig or irritate in anyway, you should be good to go.
Even if you opt for a road bike, getting the right pedals will be a really important focus. The best kind of pedals to use for triathlons are the ones that allow you to clip into your shoes. Yes, you will also need to invest in some cycling shoes.
Getting pedals and shoes that go together is essential. How do these pedals work? They feature a spring-like mechanism that attaches easily to the cleat of your cycling shoes.
When purchasing the shoes, make sure they are snug fitting without being too restrictive and make sure they don’t crush your toes! You should be able to wiggle your toes without your feet moving around the shoe. In addition, the soles need to be stiff, so as to make sure you maintain power and strength throughout the cycle, as well as so you don’t feel the hard pedal through your shoes.
Wheels and Tyres
If you are going to splash out on a bike for your triathlon, then we’d suggest focusing most of your money on the wheels and tyres. When it comes to your triathlon bike, you need to ensure that you have one that has a low rotating weight. This simply means the wheels and the chain need to be as lightweight as possible so that you go faster and perform better.
When it comes to the material of the wheels, again we’d say to go for aluminum. Why? Because although carbon wheels are good, they are pricey, and if you want really good carbon wheels that make a true difference, they are REALLY pricey. And also, carbon wheels are easier to damage and can be harder to control.
As for tyres, first you need to know the difference between the main two types. These include clinchers (which are the most common type and feature a tyre and a separate inner tube) and tubulars (which has it’s inner tube sewn into the tyre, and then attached to the rim).
Our recommendation for triathletes would be to go for clinchers simply because of their convenience. You can change out the inner ub if need be relatively quickly and easily and then carry on riding.
Our wheel and tyre advice is to spend the most money on them, and get the best you can afford.
Your new bike has to fit you! Make sure the saddle goes to the right height for you, so that you can sit comfortably on it. And do the same for the handle bars. Can you get all the features to suit you just right?
And last but not least, don’t forget your helmet!