The best Ironman bike for you may not be exactly what you had in mind.
If you are quite new to cycling and thinking of perhaps taking on your first Ironman Triathlon there are a few options for you to consider.
There has been a lot of progress in the gear that is available to those who are interested in becoming triathletes. The past few decades have seen a wide variety of triathlon bikes and accessories flooding the market.
It can be overwhelming to many people when it comes to making a decision about what type of bike to purchase.
They may not know the brand names, quality, or exactly how much they should be spending to ensure they are getting value for their money.
There are several things to consider before jumping head first into the purchase of your first bike.
WHAT IS YOUR BIKING SKILL LEVEL?
Your ability as far as cycling is an important consideration when it comes to making your bike purchase.
Many people who feel the urge to take up the sport of triathlon or have a desire to reach the Ironman finish line may not have even been on a bike since the glory days of their youth.
It’s true that you never do forget how to ride a bike, but it’s a different challenge altogether when you are out on the triathlon highway along with a few hundred–or when it comes to an Ironman Triathlon–perhaps a few thousands other cyclists.
If you do not have a lot of experience biking out on the open road then perhaps you should consider another option that will give you a better chance of easing yourself into the sport.
CONSIDER A ROAD BIKE
Yes, there is quite a difference between a road bike and a triathlon bike.
First of all, your chances of finding yourself a good used road bike are pretty good. If you are new to cycling as well as triathlon it makes perfect sense to begin with a road bike and give yourself time to gain more cycling skill without spending a lot of money.
A road bike is configured quite a bit differently than an actual triathlon bike. A road bike is far more forgiving when it comes to cornering and offers a wide variety of hand positions because it has the standard “drop” handle-bars.
A triathlon bike on the other hand is configured lower and for more “straight-ahead” speed. They take a bit of getting used to and do not offer as many hand positions that are crucial to a novice biker so they have more control of the bike and feel more comfortable.
ADD TRIATHLON ACCESSORIES TO YOUR ROAD BIKE
The pedals that your cycling shoes snap into are a much better option as opposed to using the old style toe-clips. If your feet expand in the heat, toe-clips can be very painful. Also, you simply do not have as good a spin technique as sometimes your feet will be a bit loose in the toe-clips.
If you do opt for a road bike as the bike for you and become comfortable with it as you begin training in earnest, then there is a natural progression you can make as your biking skills develop.
I would say that the next step that makes the most sense would be to add profile bars to your road bike. You could also add the proper “snap-in” pedals, bike computer, and extra bottle cages etc.
This way you have several more options especially when it comes to climbing and descending hills. It’s quite natural to be a bit nervous if you are just getting used to the speeds your bike will go on steep downhills and the extra hand positions will give you a better sense of security.
WHEN IS IT TIME FOR A TRIATHLON BIKE?
You can see how different an actual triathlon bike looks from a road bike. Notice how it has no “drop handlebars” and does not give you as many hand positions. It even looks more uncomfortable than a road bike and it will take some getting used to.
You will have a better idea after going the Ironman distance on your road bike if it is the best Ironman bike for you and just what direction you want to take your triathlon career.
You can always upgrade to a high-end triathlon bike at a later date if you decide to take that route.
I actually had my best Ironman result ever as an age-grouper and ran a 3:34 marathon off the bike and it was a “road bike.” It was called a Nishiki Altron and it cost around $1000 at the time.
I made a classic mistake and reasoned that if I bought a more expensive triathlon bike, that I would go even faster. So I bought a triathlon bike for around $5000 and never, ever biked as well as I did with my road bike that cost $4000 less.
Of course that does not mean you will have the same result and the best Ironman bike for you might really be an actual “triathlon bike” as opposed to a road bike.
PROPER BIKE FIT IS CRUCIAL
Whatever you decide when it comes to your bike choice as you embark on your Ironman journey, make sure you have the bike properly “fitted” to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a used $400 road bike or an $8000 state-of-the-art triathlon bike, if the fit is not right you will pay for it on the bike course and in the Ironman marathon.
In other words the frame and the handle-bars and seat post should all work together to give you the proper body positioning for utilizing the big muscle groups in your legs to full potential.
This is crucial when you have to be at your best when you get off that bike at the bike/run transition and head out onto the marathon course.
It’s important not to obsess about having the best bike money can buy. Regardless of the quality and glitz of the bike that is awaiting you in the long row of bike racks after you finish the Ironman swim, it is ultimately your desire and heart that will propel you across the 112-mile bike course.
The last think you need is to be struggling along on the Ironman bike course on your ultra-suave, tricked-out, $6000 triathlon bike when someone passes you on a used road bike and calls out nice bike! as they leave you behind in their dust.
The best Ironman bike for you is the one that best suits your budget and level of biking ability.
We at Ironstruck would be glad to help you along any way we can during your triathlon journey. Contact us any time and we will be more than happy to help out.
And that’s always free.
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