A triathlon bike can be difficult to choose, and there are several things to be aware of when you are hunting for the perfect bike for you.
A lot of people are a bit confused when it comes to buying their first triathlon bike. I can understand how it can be a confusing topic, because there are so many issues involved.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
For instance, how much can you afford, buying used or new, how do you get the right size, what make and model is best, and a dozen other questions.
The first thing to ask yourself is how far you plan on taking your triathlon career? For example, there are many people who plan on spending a year to take their one shot at the Ironman Triathlon.
Along the way, they may do a few Olympic distance triathlons or a half Ironman. Regardless, they are pretty certain they will not be having a long career.
If that’s the case, it would be a bit extravagant to spend thousands of dollars on a high-end, state-of-the-art bike.
A USED BIKE IS AN OPTION
Really, I think it’s wise for any beginner triathlete to look for a good quality “used” triathlon bike and try the sport out for a season and see what they think.
During that time you will learn more about triathlon bikes and have a better idea what you would like if you decide to upgrade.
Here are a few facts I have learned over the years about the bike you choose and the roll it plays in your Ironman Triathlon, or in a triathlon of any distance for that matter.
MOST BRAND NAMES ARE RELIABLE
Pretty well any bike brand will do nicely. Most manufacturer’s have reputations to uphold and make really good products that will easily withstand your training rides and races.
So don’t obsess too much about what make and model to buy. There is not a great re-sale value on bikes. If you are selling your one-year-old bike, this is not great news, but if you are buying your first triathon bike, this is “really” great news.
There are always triathletes who are upgrading to what they think is a lighter, faster triathlon bike that will enable them to cover the bike distance of their next Ironman a bit faster. That means they have to sell their old bike.
These same triathletes will most likely want to have “new” accessories on their new triathlon bike as opposed to taking them off their old bike.
This means there will be bikes out there that are fully equipped and ready for a triathlete to take it over. By fully equipped I mean water cages, computer, aero-bars, and clipless pedals.
So if you are planning to take up the sport of triathlon or plan on tackling Ironman Canada, or Ironman Lake Placid, or Ironman South Africa, or Ironman Calgary 70.3, or any Ironman race for that matter, I would recommend you find yourself a well-maintained, fully equipped, used triathlon bike.
You should be able to find a perfectly fine triathlon bike for under $1000 U.S. Maybe even far less than that.
It’s not necessary–or really all that wise–to spend $5000 on a new bike when you have not given yourself a chance to try out the sport of triathlon. There is plenty of time to upgrade your bike should you choose to do so at a later date.
WHERE SHOULD YOU LOOK?
So where do you look? I know what I would do. I would go to your local bike shop and tell them you are in the market for a used bike and to call you if one turns up.
The reason I like this idea is because often new bike buyers want the bike shop to help them sell their old bike so they can buy a new one. This way, the bike shop has a potential buyer for the used bike.
Most newspapers have listings for sporting goods. I would try there as well.
If a nearby fitness center, school, or College has a triathlon program you might try their bulletin board. If there are no bikes for sale, perhaps you can put you own “bike wanted” sign up. For instance….Wanted: ready-to-race used triathlon bike.” If you know the frame-size you want, include that as well.
There are a few important things you should know about a triathlon bike. The most important consideration is the fit of the bike.
If the frame is too big for you, you will be extending your legs too far on the down-stroke of the pedaling cycle. This is poor technique and will not be using your large-muscle groups to full advantage.
If the frame is too small on your triathlon bike, you will be all scrunched up and again, you will not be using your leg-power to full advantage. Always keep in mind that you have to run once you get off the bike.
Your goal should be to get off the bike in as good a condition as possible in order to tackle the run portion of the triathlon. That means having a bike that is sized just for you so you can maintain a smooth, energy-saving cadence is essential.
When you go to look at a used bike have a look at the rear gear cluster. If it’s caked with oil and dirt you most likely should be looking elsewhere for a triathlon bike.
To me, that indicates that the bike was not properly cared for and who knows what else is wrong with it. If the chain, frame, and gear-cluster sparkle and shine, there’s a better chance the bike has been well-maintained.
At the very least, if you are not able to take the bike for a spin, be sure to get on it and see how it feels as far as fit. If it’s close, but not perfect, there are adjustments to the seat and handle-bars that can be made to provide a better fit for you.
MAKE SURE THE BIKE FITS YOU
You will read this several times on my website. It simply can’t be stressed enough. Whatever bike you buy, it would be well worth whatever it costs to go to a professional bike dealer to have them adjust the bike to fit you.
Even before you head out to begin looking for a used bike, you should ask them what frame-size would be best for you.
If you are lucky enough to be able to purchase a used bike from a reputable dealer, that would be the best route to take. That way they will make sure the bike fits you and most likely will tune it up for free.