Originally Posted by Laura Lee Adams
My son recently got news that a medical condition will prevent him from participating in the sports in which he has participated for the last several years. He has since decided to take up bicycling and is now training for his first triathlon. We cannot afford much but would like him to have what he needs. Do any of you have suggestions about what bike would be a good one and where might be a good place to purchase a used one? Thank you.
I am a Triathlon coach for a team at a private high School in Hong Kong and have had to deal with this problem from the other end of having a budget that is small compaired to the number of kids on the team. My opinions are my own.
Lets start with the easy part. Any Lycra swim suit will do.
Harder is running shoes. Make sure they actually fit your son's feet. If he has narrow feet or low arches this is especially true.
The bike. Fit, Fit, Fit, Fit, Fit. You can find out how to fit a bike by going to the web sites of custom or semi custom frame makers. Take the measurements and read what they have to say about fitting the bike to your body. That way you have an understanding of how a bike is suppossed to fit. I feel that the current fashion is to have people on bikes that are too small for them and to have the handlebars too low. Even with Aero bars the back should be just flat not sloped down. But the idea here is to educate yourself.
You are probably looking TWO bicycles. An inexpensive, possibly used, racer that has room for fenders so that he can, if need be train on wet road and an event bike that is lighter and faster. Alternately, look at one bike with Two sets of wheels. He should train on the stronger, and heavier set and save the nice ones for a race. This saves you money over time. The training bike does not have to be new as long as it fits right.
Look up these manufacterors and see what they have on sizing.
You'll begin to see that they all tweak the frame different ways but that they work on kind of the same formula.
Don't worry to much about components on the bike. Both Campagnolo and Shimano work just fine. Indeed, I think that most people would be hard pressed to tell any actual difference in performance level of the bottom three Shimano groups. However, I think the most important component on the bike is the saddle. Next to frame size it is the saddle that determines how comfortable the bike is make sure the your son finds the saddle comfortable. If you have two models that use the same frame and have different levels of components then take the cheaper bike. Components, Especially Shimano components, wear out and have to be replaced. The frame can last for a long, long time.
Beyond that a base model will do. If it fits.
I purchased Battaglin road bikes (Http://www.battaglin.it
) for the school that have a lower end Campagnolo group (Xenon) and Aero wheels on them and then added an aftermarket clipon bar. But a Cannondale, Giant, Trek, Lemond or whatever, Shimano, or Campagnolo equiped will do unless it is a converted offroad bike. The converted off road bike is ok to train on if it is setup right but would be too heavy to compete sucessfully on.
Look for a bike that can be ridden in a road race as well as a Triathlon.
I am weird in this area but here is my stable of bikes to give you an idea of what I ride on:
I race on:
1988 vintage Cinelli Super Course
W/ Mixed Campagnolo components. 52/38 chainwheels and 13/14/15/16/17/19/21/23 cassette. We are talking pre-ERGO here! I sit on a Brooks Swift Saddle
I train on a converted Mountain Bike because Hong Kong has storm-sewer grates that wheels less than 30 mm wide fall into. My wife gets tired of me replacing bent wheels so I only take the good bike out once a week and to races. It has a mix of components Campagnolo RD/Suntour Wheels/Mavic FD/Sugino/Tektro/TA and several others with the gearing pumped up a bit. However, if the room was completely dark, I could not tell which bike I was sitting on. They are setup with the same saddle height, same width and drop bars, same brand of pedals and same crank length. The only riding difference is heavier wheels and a 13/32 eight speed freewheel and long cage Campagnolo Olympus rear derailleur.
I hope this helps