Beginning Triathlon, What to Spend Your Money on Part 2: Bike
In the second part of the 3 part series, I want to talk about the sport of cycling and how to get into it without having to sell your soul.
Bikes can be very expensive. In an effort to keep things as light and stiff as possible, expensive materials as well as lots of research and lab testing must be performed. When first getting into the sport, it is important to make sure that you like riding bikes before you invest too much. I suggest borrowing a friend’s bike, or demoing one from a local shop.
Once you have decided that this sport is for you, it is time to look for a bike of your own. Here are some of my guidelines for buying your first bike:
- As a triathlete, decide if you want a triathlon specific bike, or a road bike. If your goals are to be fast and competitive, I suggest a triathlon bike. If you are more looking to enjoy the sport and it’s health and happiness benefits, I suggest a road bike at first.
- Get the nicest frame you can afford, you can upgrade the components later.
- Test ride bikes. Every bike feels different. Read reviews online and ride around the bike shop parking lot on bikes you are interested in.
- Used bikes. If you are on a tight budget, there is a huge market for used bikes. You can expect a bike to depreciate 30-40% after one year of use.
- If you are buying new, purchase from your local bike shop. Building a relationship with a shop is smart because they will be there to help as you grow into the sport.
You bought your bike, what else do you need?
- Helmet. They are all safe, so pick the cheapest one that is comfortable and looks good.
- Shoes. Comfort is key. The fancy carbon soles are nice, but not necessary.
- Pedals. This is personal preference. Like everything in biking, you will pay more for less weight.
- Clothing. The big one is bike shorts. Comfy shorts are worth the added price, save money on everything else. Go to a store and try them on.
- Bottle cages. No need for carbon, get two of the cheap plastic or metal cages.
- Flat kit. Nothing is worse than being stranded with a flat tire. Make sure you have everything you need to fix a flat tire on the road. Your bike shop will show you how.
You are ready to ride! Ask your local bike shop about group rides, the best places to ride, and even rules of the road for cyclists. It can seem overwhelming at first, but soon you will be an expert and be able to help others who are looking to get into cycling.