As the heading would suggest, I am super new to the sport and am planning on participating in my first sprint tri in a couple of months. I am in decent shape after losing more than 100 pounds (my goal, once I reached my desired weight was to start training for a tri). I think I basically have the running and the swimming in hand, but I am getting stymied by the biking, specifically the bike purchasing.
I have read through the "What bike to buy" thread and a couple of other miscellaneous threads on the board, but could still use some help.
Basically, I am looking to spend $1k or less on a bike, so I can get something serviceable that will get me through a season or two to help me decide if I like/want to stick with the support. After visiting pretty much every LBS in town and riding countless bikes over the past couple of weeks, I am feeling completely overwhelmed with decisions.
Some of my triathlete friends say that Sora components are crap and that I owe it to myself to spring for a bike with the 105 grupo. Others tell me they have ridden their sora bikes for 5+ years with no problems.
Some tell me that, as a beginner, I should get a bike with a triple crank. Others tell me that, since Tucson is so damn flat, that a compact crank makes much more sense.
Some tell me that most entry-ish level bikes are terrible for racing purposes and are little more than glorified cruisers. Others tell me that their 20 year old MTBs with crappy components do them just fine.
I'm starting to feel like I don't know up from down or black from white. Can anyone offer some guidance, or suggest some questions that I should be asking salespeople at the LBS?
For reference, the bikes I have ridden and hated were the Fuji Newest 1.0, the Fuji Roubaix, the Raleigh Sport/Grand Sport.
The bikes I am thinking most about right now are:
Specialized Secteur Sport, Trek 1.5, Trek 2.1 (probably a bit out of my reach), Giant Defy 2 & 3.
Any thoughts/guidance would be greatly appreciated.