I've done my first 3 triathlons this year (1 try-a-tri, essentially a half-sprint) and 2 sprints (500m swims). I'd love a road bike, but since I live in a world where money doesn't grow on trees, that won't happen for a year (two if I'm unlucky).
For now, I'm riding a Nakamura (Sports Experts in-store line, I think). Alivio/Acera/Altus components, basically what I was willing to pay for years ago, when I knew even less than I do now about bikes.
Anyways, I've put slick tires on it, replacing the knobbies. I'd rather save money than invest a ton in the Nakamura, but I'm curious as to whether or not anyone has tips for getting the most out of this bike on raceday.
For example, I know people seem to like pedal upgrades as good value for the money. Presumably, toe-clip types would let me continue riding in my running shoes, but would give some small increase in performance. I'm currently considering this.
I tend to feel very upright when racing, which obviously comes with the mountain bike geometry. Is it possible to lower the handlebars, raise the seat, and possibly move the seat forwards/backwards (assuming my seat allows it, no idea) to get a performance boost, or will I only injure myself?
Also, I know enough to know that not every gear combination is practical, or smart. With 3 in the front and 7 in the back, I've been using 3-7, 3-6, 3-5, 2-5, 2-4, 2-3 (and 1-3, 1-2, 1-1, but only if I offroad). Reading some roadbike threads led me to believe that I might be missing some valid intermediate settings (gear ratios, I guess) between these settings. (i.e maybe 3-4 is something I should use, between 2-5 and 3-5). Is this something that cyclists think about? Do you tend to "know" the order of gear combos, from big/small to small/big? Should I start counting teeth and find some sort of gear calculator? Are the teeth standard for my components?
For now, my project is an engine upgrade, and I feel pretty confident in saying that I shoudl be able to go faster than I've gone, even on a mountain bike. Until the day my dream road bike comes in, I'm stuck trying to make my mountain bike go as fast as possible. It's not an ideal problem, but any help folks could give me on this issue would be greatly appreciated.