You raced a few triathlons, and you are hooked. Its time to trade in that beater bike for a fast new time machine. Before you pay out the GDP of an island nation on a new tri bike, here are some things to consider.
*legal notice – Always inform your significant other of these large purchases. Don’t try to sneak a new bike in the garage hoping they won’t notice. Believe me it won’t work.
Have you caught the triathlon bug? Do you see your yourself progressing in the sport, and riding consistently. A Tri bike is a big expense, so let your commitment drive your investment. Garages and Craigslist ads are filled with lonely Tri bikes bought with the best of intentions. The owners raced a couple of Tris, and in the euphoria of finishing, plopped down a wad of cash on a shiny new bike. Then life/kids/job/injury/beer got in the way, and the shiny new steed went unridden.
If you are getting consistent workouts in, and a new bike will take your racing and training to a new level, now is the time to purchase that new bike. A new bike is a great motivator to get you out there riding with great excitement. Its like getting a new car, but you don’t have to ride everyone around the block when you bring it home.
Let’s get this out of the way, Tri bikes are expensive, and in some cases ridiculously expensive. Consider your budget and weigh your options when choosing a new bike. My advice is to get the best quality bike you can afford. A well made bike that is properly maintained can last 10 years.
Here’s the main items that drive the cost of a bike:
- Frame Material/Design – Carbon fiber bikes are the most expensive, Aluminum and steel bikes cost less.
- Components – (Shifters, Brakes, Derailleurs, etc.) Each component manufacturer produces different groups on different price ranges. Components on entry level Tri bikes are more than adequate. The difference with the higher priced groups is normally weight.
- Wheels – Here’s where you can save some money. Entry level tri bikes will come with decent wheels. Eventually these wheels will wear out, or you will want lighter race wheels. Save money on the front end and get standard wheels, as it is easy to upgrade later.
Many bike manufacturers offer the same frame with different components. If you are on a budget choose the cheaper components. This way you are still getting the great frame, and you can upgrade the parts as you want.
Base Model Triathlon Bikes:
- Trek Speed Concept 7 – $3040 MSRP
- Giant Trinity Compsite 1 – $2500 MSRP
- Fuji Aholoa 1.1 – $1369 MSRP
- Specialized Alias Sport Tri – $2600 MSRP
- Cannondale Slice 5 105 – $2270 MSRP
- Cervelo P2 – $2800 MSRP
This is the most overlooked, but most important factor of choosing a new bike. You can max out your credit card with a $10k carbon dream machine, but if it doesn’t fit, you won’t go any faster.
My advice is to go and test ride some bikes. Have a person from the shop spend time with you seeing how the bike fits your body. A good shop will put you on a trainer and make adjustments to see if the bike will fit you. This is time well spent. If the shop to go to is not willing to take this time, then run away. It is not the shop for you.
We are all a little vain. If I am throwing out a wad of cash on a new bike, I want to feel like a bad ass on my new rig. Some bikes are just plain sexy. They have great lines, a killer paint job and scream to be ridden. The more sexiness the higher the price. Be sure the bike you choose works for your eye, and makes you feel fast.
Bonus – Purchasing
When purchasing a new tri bike, I always recommend going to your local bike shop. If it is a good shop, they will get you fitted, and provide you maintenance and service. You may save a some money going online, but the value provided by a good shop will far outweigh those savings.
Used – If you are on a really tight budget a used bike might be great option. this is a buyer beware situation. I would recommend purchasing a bike that you can actually see in person. Take someone with you that knows bikes, and can help you out.