There are some pieces of equipment for triathlon that you just must have, and one of the most important pieces of equipment is a bicycle.
The options are endless! How do you narrow those options? Well, the first thing you need to do is determine your budget; an entry-level road bike runs around $500 and you can spend over $15,000 on a top-end triathlon (aka TT or time trial) bike.
Many newer triathletes opt for a road bike because they have a lower entry-level price point. The thought process goes something like this: “I don’t want to invest a lot because I’m not sure I am going to stick with the sport.” Then you can buy clip on aero bars to help with the aerodynamics. This is a very common and affordable way to break into the sport. However, the geometry of a road bike is different than that of a triathlon bike and when you add clip on aero bars, it might not be as effective or comfortable.
When it comes to buying a bike, whether it be a road bike or a triathlon bike, the single most important thing is to buy one that fits! You can look at guidelines according to bike manufacturers, but do yourself a favor: get out and test ride a handful of bikes to see which one you like best. Most reputable bike shops will help you set the bike up for your size, but it is recommended that you also get a bike fit. This usually comes when an athlete starts to either a) complain of discomfort or b) be more competitive. Most bike shops have bike fitting services for an extra fee, and it is well worth the investment.
Another item to consider is a set of pedals. Road bikes will come with platform pedals (flat pedals so you can ride with almost any shoe). Triathlon bikes typically come without pedals. You may wish to invest in a set of clipless pedals, because they offer more benefit to cycling than platform pedals Clipless pedals allow you to “pull up” with one leg while the other one is pushing down, giving you more power. There are a variety of pedals to choose from. You will then need to buy a cycling shoe and put the cleat (that comes with your pedals) on. If you are going to get pedals and cleats, buy these before you go for your bike fit as it is an important part of the fit.
Lastly, you must have is a helmet. I believe you should always wear a helmet while riding your bike, even if it is just to go around the corner. Once again, there are many great helmet manufacturers offering several styles and colors to choose from. You want to look for a helmet that is CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) approved. There will be a sticker inside the helmet to identify that it is approved. Helmets also come in different sizes, so find one that fits snugly on your head without feeling too tight. Most helmets offer the ability to make some slight fit adjustments.
These are just the basics to get you started. As you progress in your triathlon career, you will find there are an abundance of options no matter what you need. These couple of items will get you started.
Next week, we will talk about transitions. Until then…Tri Right!