Buying a Bike for my first Tri (Read 2834 times)

    So far, you have gotten some really good advice. Being an avid cyclist myself, allow me to throw my .02 in. Visiting a true bike shop is just as important as visiting a true running store for your shoes. I can`t speak for everyone, but I`ll bet you don`t go to Target for your running shoes. Fit is very important when you are considering being on a bike for any length of time at all. And training for an Olympic distance event is going require you to put in several long rides prior to. Just let the guys at the LBS know what you are wanting to get into, and they will help you make a decision. Myself, I would opt for a good quality used or last years new road bike. The reason being, they will fit it to you, the hardware and components will work as they are intended to, (you will have no luck keeping a department store bike adjusted for any length of time), and this will allow you to ride without constantly throwing off chains, truing wheels, etc. A road bike will be very comfortable and extremely lightweight, as you have a myriad of materials of construction to choose from ranging from aluminum to carbon fiber and titanium. It will also be stable and handle well on the road. A true tri bike is meant for going fast, and going fast in as relatively a straight a line as possible. These bikes with their "aero" body positioning are very akward to a rider who is not used to it. Likewise, being in that position for a long time takes the body quite a bit of getting used to. The true tri bike is just a horse of a completely different color. One thing you can do, when you find a good road bike within your budget and that also fits you, they make clamp on aero bars just for people who might want to do an occasional tri or sprint tri, but can`t afford or don`t want to invest in two bikes. All you need to do is bolt them on, make a few adjustments to your seat, which basically moves you and your center of gravity, farther forward on the saddle. This allows you to apply more pedal stroke, much like a sprinter who sprints on the toes and balls of the feet. You can then experiement with that position on the bike, and if you feel like it, you can go back to the standard riding position when your body needs a break. Good luck on your pursuit of the perfect bike. Beware though, once you compete and complete your first triathlon, you will be hooked for life. They are very fun and VERY addicting.
    "I never said it was going to be easy. I only said it would be worth it."
    Al F

      Another concern for the financially strapped student; if sprint tri's are all you were going to do, you could debate the need for bike shoes and clipless pedals but... you said you wanted to do the Oly distance. At that point, there should be no debate, you will want/need bike shoes and the pedals to go with. You can probably find something in the low $100 range but more than likely you are going to be at $200 or above for the combination. There is a lot of choices to make regarding equipment, all of them will have pro's and con's. Sprint Tri's can be found all over the place, you don't need the fancy equipment so an entry level road bike will be fine. If you are really enjoying triathlons and want to do the International/Olympic distance variety, you don't have to have the fancy stuff but you will be wishing you had better equipment. At 23 years old you are getting close to graduating or in grad school. More and more colleges have triathlon teams/clubs, if your school has one, they would be a great resource to help find what you need and help get your training going. Good Luck

        I agree with what most people have said about buying a used road bike.  It's what I did.  You don't want to ride a tri bike first thing.  Really.  It will hurt, and it will be hard to control.


        I disagree on one minor point though: don't put aero bars on a road bike.  Aero bars pull you forward into an aerodynamic position that is great for tris, but if the bike fits you in aero position, it won't fit you in road position (and vice versa).  You'll be more aerodynamic, but your back will be getting stretched weirdly, and you probably won't be able to generate as much power for very long.


         A tri bike is shaped differently from a road bike in tons of little ways.  If/when you want a tri bike with aero bars, get that.  Until then, if the road bike fits you it won't be hurting your time more than a minute or two.

        Obviously IMO.  At the very least, make sure that there's a generous return policy on the aero bars and time yourself a lot before and after putting them on.