Triathlon - Components question
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08-17-05, 12:15 PM
I'm a long-time lurker on this board and have found it very helpful.
I write to ask a question about bike components. I'm looking to buy a new triathlon bike. It seems that much of the price difference between bikes depends on the compoent set (105, Tiagra , etc.).
My question is how big of a difference will better compoents make to my race performance?
Just thinking about it myself, it seems that better compoents will not make me more aero, nor will better compoents make me significantly lighter weight. Further, it seems that most of the popular component packages are adequate for shifting from one gear to another. As such, what is the need/justification for spending extra for better components? Will better components improve my race performance?
Thanks in advance for your comments,
08-17-05, 12:33 PM
If you are looking at Shimano, I would say Ultegra is pretty much as good as Dura-Ace. The big difference is durabilty, and weight. It may make a difference, because there will be better bearings in the better components, making it have less resistance to pedaling. Better shifting, ect.
I have DuraAce my self and love it, I haven't had Ultegra so i cant compare, but what I have read/been told, is that there is a difference, but notw the difference between DA and Ultegra is very little, but the difference between the lower end and the middle stuff is alot.
08-17-05, 02:06 PM
My tri-bike has Dura Ace, my roadie has 105 (with Dura Ace brifters) and my wife's bike has Ultegra. There are differences, but the differences are very subtle. In my opinion, shifting feels a little crisper with Dura Ace, and this difference is not imagined - I set up my wife's bike next to mine on our trainers and the difference in feel is noticable. I suspect that the difference in feel is attributable more to the brifters than the derailleurs. That said, I'm not sure if the difference in feel justifies the price premium.
One reason that some people are willing to pay the premium for top of the line components is the "lust" factor. They love their bikes and want the best components on it. It's not necessarily only about function, but it's also about fashion. As an analogy, a Rolex watch doesn't neccesarily keep time more accurately than a Timex, but many are willing to pay the premium for the perception of quality.
If you are concerned only about performance and not about "bling", and you are on a somewhat limited budget, get a 105 equipped bike (I've tried Tiagra and Sora, and in my opinion, neither feels race-worthy), and with the money you've saved, buy a nice set of wheels. Good wheels will make a performance difference.
08-17-05, 04:46 PM
My brother has a VW Passat. Nice car. V6, leather, sunroof, power everything.
I have a BMW 528i. Also a nice car. Straight 6, leather, sunroof, power everything. Look at them on paper and you would say "wow, the Passat is $28k and the BMW is $48k - why would you pay more?" If you drive them there is a difference. Subtle to some. Very big to others. My friend that I ride a lot with who is the GM of my LBS has been asking me "why spend the money on a BMW?" He hadn't ridden in it or driven it. Recently I let him drive it. He said "oh, now I get it."
Same thing with bikes. Its not just the stats, the weight and the speed. Its the overall feel. For some its worth extra $$ - others its not.
I am looking to buy a tri bike this winter and I am battling with the trade offs. My wife asked me "ok, so lets say you spend $2500 on a tri bike this winter - how much faster will you be than riding your Specialized Allez Elite with aerobars?" My answer- "I don't know - over a 25 mile bike course maybe a minute or two." She said "is that minute worth $2,500?" My answer - "Its not just the minute - its the other stuff." She said "what other stuff?"
08-18-05, 06:41 AM
I've ridden most of the Shimano groups, and Ultegra is on my bike. The biggest differences I notice are smoothness in shifting, weight, and maybe noise. I don't think I'd buy anything less than 105 for myself, unless if it was for a "beater" bike. Especially if the bike is going to be for racing of some sort. Also, since I ride Ultegra, I've never really found much of a difference between that and Dura Ace. Maybe if I rode DA for a long time, I'd be able to tell, but when test riding bikes with DA I really can't feel the difference.
I also wouldn't advise anyone who intends to race to get anything less than 105 components. There are a lot of bikes you can get with 105 components for barely over $1000 if you shop around. And then there are the budget road bikes for $700, and for $300 I think the big jump in component quality is worth it.
I have ridden crap for years, so I know how bad low end components can be. My first real Tri bike was a Kestral 4000 in the late 1980's...a very high-tech bike back then. Now at 47 years old I have the $$, and I now ride pretty good stuff....3 bikes (2TT/Tri and one Road), all Dura Ace 10 all in the $10,000 range or more as a total pkg. The difference is the smooth ride, percision in shifting and braking, and weight reduction - the bottom line Pro level quality. In my last 1/2 IM I averaged 23 mph and it was a blast and seemed effortless. Of course conditioning plays an important role in the level of performance outcomes as well - but having a sweet bike under you limits the excuse to the training and race day preparation.
I have 105, Ultegra, and Dura Ace on my various bikes. The Dura Ace shifts quicker and the brakes just feel better. When I do a crit or road race I enjoy the benefit of Dura Ace. As for tt's 105 is fine, braking and quick shifting are not priorities. There is one advantage for Ultegra is that it is 10 spd and has the external bearing cranks. If you get 105, I would recommend getting the new outboard bearing cranks, maybe a little nicer frame (smoother ride), or investing the extra money in race wheels.
I have 105, Ultegra, and Dura Ace on my various bikes. The Dura Ace shifts quicker and the brakes just feel better. When I do a crit or road race I enjoy the benefit of Dura Ace. As for tt's 105 is fine, braking and quick shifting are not priorities. There is one advantage for Ultegra is that it is 10 spd and has the external bearing cranks. If you get 105, I would recommend getting the new outboard bearing cranks, maybe a little nicer frame (smoother ride), or investing the extra money in race wheels. BTW, Dura Ace does not last as long as Ultegra or 105.
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