I'm probably gonna get yelled at b/c there is probably a thread about this already but here goes anyway b/c i couldn't find it. I just bought a new '09 allez elite in late June and raced my first sprint tri in mid September. I finished the .25 mile swim, 11 mile bike, 3 mile run in 1:18:42 in about 190 place. I would have been 5+ minutes faster had I not drank so much pond water and lost what little I ate around mile 2 on the bike. Now that I know I'm going to keep racing, I'm looking for cheap upgrades that'll make me faster. What do you suggest? I know aero wheels/dedicated TT/Tri bike/powertap or equivalent are all on the top of the list but being a poor college student, I can't afford those right now. I'm looking for things around $100 or cheaper to make me faster. Hopefully I can convince my parents for a tri bike with race wheels as a graduation present, but until then, what should I look for. I'm looking to start building up my Christmas shopping list and it doesn't hurt to start early.
The top two upgrades for you would be a pair of clip on aerobars and an aero helmet. Next to those you're probably looking at a HRM/Cadence. After that you've got the expensive upgrades which would be Wheels, Frame, and Power meter, probably in that order for yourself. A last minor upgrade would be a skin suit, but Im assuming you probably have your Tri apparel which is about the same thing.
Basically for the money to watts saved ratio, you're looking at, Aerobars > Aero helmet > Wheels > Frame. Then adding in those other upgrades (meters and stuff) depending on your level. However, a frame will most likely give you a lot more than power savings, it will make your run split faster, as well as make you more balanced on the bike.
100 representing the best value in terms of time saved per dollar spent
Tight fitting Clothing 100
Low rolling resistant and aero Tires 80
Aero Helmet 46
Training Tools (HR Monitor, coaching, power meter, etc.) 18
Spending extra money on Positioning 16
Aero Fork 14
Integrated Aerobars 9
Wheels (front and rear) 7
Aero Frame and Frok 7
I don't agree 100% with the list above, but I do think the first three are spot on.
For Clothes find a closeout trisuit from 2007 or 2008
For tires, here is some rolling resistance data: http://biketechreview.com/tires/imag...sting_rev8.pdf
When choosing tires remember that in general a wider tire is less aero, so a lot of people run a 20-22mm tire up front and a 23mm tire in rear. Also you'll need to weigh puncture resistance against those factors as well.
Aero Helmet - not all aero helmets are created equal. The Louis Garneau Rocket(without all the vents) and Giro Advantage are two good helmets in partcular.
That list seems reasonable. Narrow, low resistance tires should be well under $100. Decent tri suits can be found for around $100.
Aerobars start at about $100 and go up to several hundred. The real thing with them is you can't just slap them on a standard road bike. The fit is wrong - they'll have you too stretched out. In addition to a more aero position, the bars should have your torso supported on your arm bones (vs a road bike, where you support your torso with your core muscles) - this saves your core muscles for the run. So, to use aerobars effectively, you might need to move the saddle forward and up, drop the bars down (if possible), and play with stem length. Do a search of this forum, and slowtwitch.com, for more info than you can absorb in a single reading.
I guess I thought my list was reasonable:
Aero bars are definitely worth getting. Profile Design T2s are a good aerobar for the money, and you can run them with the pads right on top of your handlebar which is great: http://www.amazon.com/T2-Aero-Bar-Al...ef=pd_sbs_sg_1
Giro Advantage 2s are on sale at a few stores, check Nashbar, Performance, etc.
Almost any given past years tri suits should be around for under $100. Maybe 2XU
Bontrager makes good tires for the money, and are worth checking out.
The trisuit and helmet are great because you can use them no matter what bike you're on.
The aerobars can just stay on your road bike once you get on a tri bike.
You'll need to replace your tires someday and when you do, you could give some thought to their rolling resistance and aerodynamics.