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  1. #1
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    How to build a tri bike on a super-tight budget: One member's example

    (moderator note)

    By request, I've made this thread a sticky. Too often people think that making a tri-specific bike has to be a huge investment, and not everyone has the means or the desire to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to get into the sport. This thread is an example of the fact that you can get a usable bike on a shoestring budget if you take the time to look for the good deals...

    (end mod note)

    I just recently got into triathalons and wanted to do it for as little money as possible. The bike is a 1991 fuji ace that I picked up at a yard sale for $20. After riding it completly stock for a while I picked up the aero bars at another yard sale for $5. Then I got the clipless pedals and a pair of LG carbon tri shoes for $40. Next I got the bull horn bars, stem, and stem adapter all off of craigslist for $20. And most recently I made the foward tilted seat post, and got a fizik saddle off of ebay for $10. So all in all I have about $100 into it, it isnt the prettyest, lightest (26lbs) or fastest bike but it definitly gets the job done for now. I did a sprint tri last weekend in 1:11. I am currently in the process of getting some reverse brake levers and bar tape. So my question for you guys is what do you think of it so far and what other upgrades should I do to it.

    Last edited by DrPete; 06-28-09 at 06:56 PM.

  2. #2
    Multi Jordan300's Avatar
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    That's awesome, way to go!
    5 bucks for aero bars that's fantastic.

  3. #3
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    Bar end shifters.

    How many rear gears does it have? Older bar ends for 6-7-8 speeds can be wicked cheap

  4. #4
    C3 H6 O3 ACID jasandalb's Avatar
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    if it works.... ride the heck out of it.
    great find on the $5 bars!!

  5. #5
    Body by Guinness cjbruin's Avatar
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    Awesome. Ride it like you stole it. I almost think this thread should be "sticky'd" so others can get ideas about getting a bike on a budget. Well done!!!
    Fredo, you're my older brother and I love you...but don't ever take sides, with anyone, against the family again...ever.

  6. #6
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scorpio516 View Post
    Bar end shifters.

    How many rear gears does it have? Older bar ends for 6-7-8 speeds can be wicked cheap
    Yep. Bar ends. Awesome bike. All you need.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Barchettaman's Avatar
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    Great job.

    As far as upgrades go, I found getting the shifters up on the aerobars made a big difference. Stopped me sticking my fingers in the spokes....

    You might even be able to keep the DT shifters you have, and get those barend adaptors. Rivendell used to have them in stock. Otherwise an old set of GripShifts will do the job. I got mine free at the LBS, they´d been in the back of the shop for years.

    I wouldn´t bother swapping the brake levers. Adds to the stealth look.

    You might find an old rear disc wheel for 7 speed cassette (assuming that´s what you have) that someone has ´upgraded´from. Heck, you might come across an old disc front wheel too - whack that on, see what the marshalls say...

    Maybe an old aero wheel....? something like a Mavic Cosmic Expert? From the late 90s. I have one and it´s super smooth, runs great and has proved robust.

    Some race tyres and tubes too maybe.... Conti GP 4000, for example, but that´s not going to make a massive difference.

    2 quick questions - how did you make the seatpost? Are you handy with a welding kit?
    And is that a scooter powered by a car battery in the background of the first photo???

  8. #8
    C3 H6 O3 ACID jasandalb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjbruin View Post
    Awesome. Ride it like you stole it. I almost think this thread should be "sticky'd" so others can get ideas about getting a bike on a budget. Well done!!!
    +1

    Dr. Pete... can you make this happen?

    Maybe we could label it like a "Craigslist/Ebay Finds" if you see something in your area or bike/tri related that you think others may find useful or need you could put a link to it...

    They do it on the Dodge forum I belong to and was able to get some engine parts for my truck for about 80% less then what I would have paid retail/dealership

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the positive comments. It has a seven speed cassete, and I will definitly keep an eye out for a different rim as well as some bar end shifters. The seat post I made out of an old steel seat post laying around. I cut it in half then ground an angle an each end and welded it up. And yes that is a scooter powerd off of a car battery in the background, it was a little project I did a while back.

  10. #10
    Senior Member smittie61984's Avatar
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    I like it it a lot though I keep thinking I should see 1 gear only.

    Your next investment should be one of those full aero-helmets. I'd love to see the looks of people as you pull up on that bike with an aerohelmet. Also the looks of people on nice road/tri bikes as you pass them. Don't forget the bell.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Tyrell's Avatar
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    Nice low-low-budget ride! Looks alot like my bike.

    I was able to move my downtube shifters up to become bar-ends but that was because I came across a set of bar-end shifters where one of the shifters was broken. Used the mounting parts and put on my downtube shifters - viola!

    I'm looking for a seatpost like the one you have made. I've currently got the seat slid all the way forward. If you had a source for cheap, aluminum seatposts, you could probably fab them and sell them. I assume you were carfeul to make sure the saddle sits level and straight with your cuts/grinding/welding?

    And yes, you will love passing people on that ride! Makes me so happy!


  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrell View Post
    Nice low-low-budget ride! Looks alot like my bike.

    I was able to move my downtube shifters up to become bar-ends but that was because I came across a set of bar-end shifters where one of the shifters was broken. Used the mounting parts and put on my downtube shifters - viola!

    I'm looking for a seatpost like the one you have made. I've currently got the seat slid all the way forward. If you had a source for cheap, aluminum seatposts, you could probably fab them and sell them. I assume you were carfeul to make sure the saddle sits level and straight with your cuts/grinding/welding?

    And yes, you will love passing people on that ride! Makes me so happy!
    The seat post definitly made a big difference, and I would definitly recamend it. Profile designs makes a nice aluminum and carbon one called the fast foward post. When I made it I didnt really have to be to percise because the clamp for the seat pivots up and down as well as to the side.

  13. #13
    Senior Member thehammerdog's Avatar
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    One sweeet deal way to go......now go hunt down a better set of wheels and save a few pounds...Once your hooked and beat a few people on$1K rigs then upgrade

    Nice job

  14. #14
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    I kinda like the idea of making this a sticky. I think I'll do it, but I'll change the name of the thread to better reflect the message.
    "Unless he was racing there was no way he could match my speed."

  15. #15
    Senior Member Barchettaman's Avatar
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    Just for anyone looking at this thread for the first time:

    What the OP did with his seatpost was fabricate (very cleverly) a copy of a Profile Design Fast Forward seat post. These things look pretty ugly, but they´re effective at what they do, which is to change the seat post angle from the common road bike 73 degs to a steeper +/- 78 degs, as favoured by triathletes.

    PD make two versions, the alu one is available in 27.0 and 27.2 mm sizes, the carbon just in 27.2. If you ride an older bike with a narrower gauge seat tube then you might have to make your own, otherwise flip your existing seatpost round (if you can) and slide the seat forward.

    The second-hand market for these seatposts is very strong, so you should be able to pass it on in the future for what you paid for it, should you upgrade to a tri specific bike.

    Alu version

    Nitto 66 seatpost - similar idea

    Valdora Ti seatpost - a pricier option.
    Last edited by Barchettaman; 06-29-09 at 05:16 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Barchettaman's Avatar
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    A vintage "tri" bike--how to make one?

    Vintage + Triathlon = :)


    From the Classic and Vintage section, two discussions on making a ´vintage´ Triathlon bike. Lots of good advice there. The second thread shows various options for getting the shifters off the down tube and onto the aerobars.
    Last edited by Barchettaman; 06-30-09 at 05:43 AM.

  17. #17
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barchettaman View Post
    Just for anyone looking at this thread for the first time:

    What the OP did with his seatpost was fabricate (very cleverly) a copy of a Profile Design Fast Forward seat post. These things look pretty ugly, but they´re effective at what they do, which is to change the seat post angle from the common road bike 73 degs to a steeper +/- 78 degs, as favoured by triathletes.

    PD make two versions, the alu one is available in 27.0 and 27.2 mm sizes, the carbon just in 27.2. If you ride an older bike with a narrower gauge seat tube then you might have to make your own, otherwise flip your existing seatpost round (if you can) and slide the seat forward.

    The second-hand market for these seatposts is very strong, so you should be able to pass it on in the future for what you paid for it, should you upgrade to a tri specific bike.

    Alu version

    Nitto 66 seatpost - similar idea

    Valdora Ti seatpost - a pricier option.

    I have a Profile forward seat post for my workingman's TT. It's probably not UCI legal, since it brings the nose of the saddle almost directly over the bottom bracket. I believe the UCI requirement is 5 cm behind. Not sure about USAT regs. But I've never seen any official checking bikes at a tri before, except to make sure you have bar plugs.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  18. #18
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    those seat posts are on ebay all the time, new & used. I bought some of the tri parts for my old road bike that way, works great.

    cool elec scooter & looks like you have some dirt bikes in there too--the sport of Kings & Nobility!

  19. #19
    not a climber
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    What chain rings do you have? 52/42? A possible upgrade, possibly inexpensive, possibly weight-saving, would be your crank. Look for a 53/39.

    Next buy a 54 to replace the 53, and train, train, train until you can push that big gear 54x12. Then you'll pass people!

    I have a 30 year old, Italian, steel bike, which I bought new. Back then I could only afford Ofmega components. I keep it for nostalgia, and I ride it once in a while, just for fun. It has agressive, criterium geometry - very squirrely. I keep the bar height and seat height the same as it was fit for me by the little old Italian guy in the little bike shop in Italy where I bought it (he called me "Lemond"), back when I was flexible and could hunch over that far. Now when I get on it, for the first time in a while, I feel like I'm doing a handstand. It was my first "racing" bike, and yet it fit so perfectly that within the first few rides I learned to handle it's super responsive steering and for years it was the most comfortable bike I've ever ridden. As I said, it's nostalgic. Anyway, over the years I have gently upgraded it to full Campagnolo, to build it into my 80's dream bike. I got my Campy crank, "NOS", on ebay for $25.

    You're wise not to get caught in the marketing induced mindset that you have to spend a lot of money to have fun in triathlon. It aint so.

  20. #20
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    that's awesome! you stole that saddle. and the bars for that matter. 5 bucks for solid, working bars regardless of the weight or brand is a deal. nice job.

    for upgrades you may want to try to score some lighter wheels. some of the early alum aero wheels are still around in good shape for practically nothing. also bar end shifters like everybody said. it's not too difficult to relocate them to the bars, esp for you i'd imagine. maybe throw a new chain on there and some new shift and brake cables. after that you pretty much are there - awesome budget tri bike.

  21. #21
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    Here are a few updated pics. I added new reverse style brake levers as well as bar tape. I also picked up an older zipp 404 tubular wheel off of craigslist for $70 and the aero bottle for $5. I am still looking for bar end shifters but just cant find a good deal on them. If I look around long enough I'm sure I will find some for cheap.



  22. #22
    Just keep pedalling! big_heineken's Avatar
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    Here is mine that I just finished last night:

    Bike: 1986 Centurion Accordo RS $15
    Aero Bars: Forte T2 $45
    Thumb Shifters: Sunrace $10

    I was worried that the rear derailleur would not work with the index shifter, because it was originally friction only, but it seems to work fine after a little adjusting.















    http://s649.photobucket.com/albums/u...albumview=grid
    Last edited by big_heineken; 08-03-09 at 12:49 PM.

  23. #23
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    nice.

    dude, you are the king of finding deals.

  24. #24
    Re-tread
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    Wow - memories. I had a 91 Fuji Ace in college.

  25. #25
    Senior Member jeremyb's Avatar
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    To the OP, you could get thumbshifters like these (or other types) and mount them to the aerobars near the ends. $1 each.

    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes//Produc...2_217490_-1___


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