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Old 09-11-13, 10:06 PM   #1
chembound
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Is it worth it to purchase an uber expensive tribike or not?

I've raced in 5 sprint triathlons and have decided to take it to the next level. I plan on racing in Olympic distance tri's and possibly a half Ironman next year. Up till now, I have been racing with a 2013 Specialized Tarmac Mid-Comp road bike. I figure it's time to purchase a tri-bike. However, I'm not sure if I should an entry level or a more expensive, expert level bike. I know that if I purchase an entry level tri-bike, I'll probably upgrade a few components and wheels. But, I wonder if I'm better off just paying for a "complete" bike.

The entry level bike is a 2013 Specialized Transition (MSRP $2,200) and the advanced bike is a 2012/2013 Specialized S-Works Shiv DI2 (MSRP $11,500 but discounted to $8,500).

I appreciate any suggestions

-Me
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Old 09-12-13, 07:06 AM   #2
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You won't be any faster on the Shiv...
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Old 09-12-13, 11:06 AM   #3
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You won't be any faster on the Shiv...
Not $6000 faster, that's for sure.
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Old 09-12-13, 11:15 AM   #4
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Find a good TT bike from 4 or 5 years ago & put some nice wheels on it. Get a professional fit & train properly. Yes, you should be faster.
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Old 09-12-13, 05:13 PM   #5
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Find a good TT bike from 4 or 5 years ago & put some nice wheels on it. Get a professional fit & train properly. Yes, you should be faster.
Thank you for the advice. I'm definitely going to go the cheaper route. I had my suspicions but feel reassured about my decision
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Old 09-12-13, 11:02 PM   #6
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I would definitely get a Tri bike, expensive one, probably not. The Shiv will make you faster than an entry level bike. I would say its maybe 45-60 seconds every 24 miles and most of that time is from the wheels. For me and most others its just not worth the cost.
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Old 09-13-13, 12:09 AM   #7
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holy god thats pricey! even w/ that discount I would not buy the shiv. wait until you are sponsored and given one.
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Old 09-14-13, 05:24 PM   #8
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I think it totally depends on the level of training you are currently doing or planning on doing next year. Seeing that you are new to tri, could you increase your training? Increasing training will make you much faster than a new bike would. I do well in many olympic distance tris on a mid-1990s Trek. I would increase training before buying a new bike but to each their own as they say. If a new bike will help you fully embrace the sport - go for it!
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Old 09-14-13, 05:35 PM   #9
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I think it totally depends on the level of training you are currently doing or planning on doing next year. Seeing that you are new to tri, could you increase your training? Increasing training will make you much faster than a new bike would. I do well in many olympic distance tris on a mid-1990s Trek. I would increase training before buying a new bike but to each their own as they say. If a new bike will help you fully embrace the sport - go for it!
This.
60 seconds in 24 miles sounds like much, but is nothing compared to how much you can gain by training. At the highest competition level, when training has been maxed out, every second from the bike starts to count. For beginners, invest in training and for the bike, make sure it is comfortable and is nice to operate. For this it should be enough to get the mid-level bike.
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Old 09-14-13, 05:47 PM   #10
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Since you already have a nice road bike, maybe you could take a little more time to cruise craigslist for a TT bike. I see them all the time in this area, in barely used condition, 1/2 of retail, 2-4 years old. I'm guessing people buy them and barely use them or put most of their miles on their road bike instead and only use the tri bike for tri's.
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Old 09-15-13, 08:06 AM   #11
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I did 2 Sprints last summer then jumped to a 70.3 this March and averaged 19.3mph for the 56 on a flat but windy day while riding a CAAD8. This May I had my new Giant Propel for Ironman 70.3 Florida and averaged 20.45mph. In 8 weeks I have Ironman Florida still on my Propel. Not sure if I'll ever go for a Tri bike since I am 63 and just in it to have fun and finish. If you are going for all out competition then the Tri bike will pay off. IMO, it all depends on your goals.

Have fun and good luck.
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Old 09-16-13, 07:46 PM   #12
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I'm in the same position as you. I ran a handful of sprints and one Oly after doing my first tri last summer on a 40# walmart special mountain bike. Last fall I bought a 2001 Quintana Roo Kilo with road handlebars and 650c spinergy blades of death carbon wheels for $500 off craigslist. I raced it early this year and did pretty decent with it at my local events usually placing well on my bike splits both in my AG and overall. I stepped up and bought a Quintana Roo CD0.1 with Zipp 404;s dura ace in July. I had a professional fitting and raced it in my first Oly doing very well on the bike split. Overall in a race I am faster on the new bike than my old road/tri bike but not much. I haven't raced with the old bike since but have had it out on several training rides and my times are almost pretty much the same. On rides with a lot of climbs I am actually faster on the kilo with the road handle bars and 650c wheels. I would say all the gains I saw on the new bike were from the fitting and being able to get in an aero position and not necessarily the bike itself. In a race I can stay in an aero position the entire time, in training I am up down in the drops climbing etc. so I dont think there is much to gain over the old bike.

Looking back I could've likely seen the same gains out of my old bike getting a better fit and aero helmet and, like previously mentioned, working on my fitness. Personally, I would look at your current bike and see what kind of position you can achieve with a set of clip on's and spend the money on a set of wheels and aero helmet. If you can't get in a comfortable aero position on your current bike and stay in it for the entire bike split I would would look for a bike that you can even a cheap one. Then again the Shiv is a cool looking bike, lol!

Now if I could only figure out how to swim!
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Old 09-22-13, 08:41 PM   #13
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I've wondered the same thing. The advice I've been given is that good bikes take seconds off of your race. If you're in the front of the pack and seconds could make a difference in your placing, it may be worth it. The question is, is it worth it to you?
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Old 10-07-13, 02:26 PM   #14
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Going from a road bike to a tri bike will make a significant difference (5 - 10 %) ASSUMING proper geometry, fit, and equal wheels and crank bearings, and that you STAY in the aero position. It also assumes a fairly flat course with not a lot of sharp turns.

Tri bikes (really TT [Time Trial** tend to be a bit heavier and less maneuverable than a comparable road bike. IF there is not a lot of climb or acceleration, weigh is not a penalty, and can be an small advantage. Properly fit, a TT bike can be extremely comfortable despite the fact that you only have one position. Also you can play with fit, adjusting it to me more aero/less comfortable for short races (high forward seat, low aero bars) or more comfortable for a long IM type race with a lower set back seat and raising the bars a few spacers. Competitive Cyclist has a great free fit program with will render 3 different tri fits.

For most of your triathlons have bike portion that tend to be fairly flat and not a lot of turns, a Tri bike will make a difference. If there is a lot of sharp turns, climbs and acceleration, a road bike with aerobars will work better and save you BIG BUCKS!

Don't be intimidated by all the posers with their expensive TT bikes especially if it is a shorter course with lots of turns and hills. You can place much better on a road bike if you ride smart.

Remember a TRIATHLON is NOT a CRIT! There are no awards for a great bike split. Don't burn matches on the bike. Stay in zone 3. Spin uphills and work hard going down.
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Old 11-17-13, 09:15 PM   #15
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If you are planning to do more triathlons in the future then I would spend the money and get a really nice bike. I started with a Trek Speedconcept 7 series and ended up trading up to a 9 series. Best thing I ever did. Though it was more money I am getting what I paid out it with the riding and events I have done and planning to do.
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Old 11-25-13, 06:26 AM   #16
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, a road bike with aerobars will work better and save you BIG BUCKS!

Don't be intimidated by all the posers with their expensive TT bikes especially if it is a shorter course with lots of turns and hills. You can place much better on a road bike if you ride smart.

Remember a TRIATHLON is NOT a CRIT! There are no awards for a great bike split. Don't burn matches on the bike. Stay in zone 3. Spin uphills and work hard going down.

TOP advice there!

If you want to spend the cash, don't let a bunch of guys on the internet talk you out of it... however, if I wanted to get a quantumn leap faster, I'd spend the couple thousand $$ on training time, some coaching and a bike fit to your current rig in a TT position with aero bars.

Plus it's great to go by some of the carbonblingmassif on a road bike

I own both and still do local shorter races on my steel roadie, left the full fenders on for the 100K bike leg of a 111K tri last year, that got some funny looks but plenty of smiles too.
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Old 12-08-13, 03:20 PM   #17
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I know this was not the OP's question, but has been hinted at numerous times. I use to be a serious competitive age-group runner until I fell and injured my knee and cannot do enough running miles to stay competitive. As a result I am considering doing tri's (really Du's, don't enjoy swimming) but the bike portion kinda ruins it for me. In running, if someone in your age group beats you by a few seconds, you have no choice but to train harder, you can't buy your way to a better time, which makes it a truly competitive race of you against your fellow competitors, not who has the deeper pockets. I know many of you will say it does not make that much difference, but the question will always be there, did he beat me because he had the guts to train harder or did he buy his time. And of course, as the original poster asked, right off the bat you have the quandry of what kind of bike to get and at what price, when does the price eacalation end. Any suggestions?
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Old 01-01-14, 01:20 AM   #18
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I know this was not the OP's question, but has been hinted at numerous times. I use to be a serious competitive age-group runner until I fell and injured my knee and cannot do enough running miles to stay competitive. As a result I am considering doing tri's (really Du's, don't enjoy swimming) but the bike portion kinda ruins it for me. In running, if someone in your age group beats you by a few seconds, you have no choice but to train harder, you can't buy your way to a better time, which makes it a truly competitive race of you against your fellow competitors, not who has the deeper pockets. I know many of you will say it does not make that much difference, but the question will always be there, did he beat me because he had the guts to train harder or did he buy his time. And of course, as the original poster asked, right off the bat you have the quandry of what kind of bike to get and at what price, when does the price eacalation end. Any suggestions?
Coming from running myself, I get what you're saying... but I'm not sure I completely agree with this. Wealthier athletes always have access to (presumably) better equipment, but more importantly, also quality coaching and training hours. Your race day performance isn't just about how well you trained, but also how much you were actually able to train. And to a degree, all top performers buy their time - inasmuch as they (like anyone) would perform worse with poorer or inadequate equipment.

To your point/question, however, there's something to be said for dropping coin on the right purchase. For fast, flat courses, a lightweight aero bike makes a lot of sense - if you can maintain an effective tuck for the duration of the race. For technical or climbing courses, the features of that same bike are wasted, since you'll be sitting up on the bars with your hands on the brakes for control. You've got to know your race.

Based on personal experience, the price escalation ends when an athlete realizes that being a mid-pack age-grouper isn't his aluminum frame's fault. Then he trains hard and outpaces riders on more expensive (read: carbon) gear to take the podium for a race. You only need to win once to remember that you did the work - not your hardware.
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Old 01-01-14, 09:17 AM   #19
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I know this was not the OP's question, but has been hinted at numerous times. I use to be a serious competitive age-group runner until I fell and injured my knee and cannot do enough running miles to stay competitive. As a result I am considering doing tri's (really Du's, don't enjoy swimming) but the bike portion kinda ruins it for me. In running, if someone in your age group beats you by a few seconds, you have no choice but to train harder, you can't buy your way to a better time, which makes it a truly competitive race of you against your fellow competitors, not who has the deeper pockets. I know many of you will say it does not make that much difference, but the question will always be there, did he beat me because he had the guts to train harder or did he buy his time. And of course, as the original poster asked, right off the bat you have the quandry of what kind of bike to get and at what price, when does the price eacalation end. Any suggestions?
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Old 01-01-14, 01:01 PM   #20
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I say, if you have a good fitting road bike stick with it for a while. Start by picking the low hanging fruit. What I mean is that you will get the most bang for your buck by changing the aerodynamic profile of the rider. You will be "almost" as fast as a dedicated Triathlon bike. When I upgraded my road bike for Triathlons I made changes as follows:

1. Added Stubby triathlon bars!! Big difference. They are designed to go on a road bike and will help you maintain your riding geometry. MOST bang for your buck!!

2. Removed frame bottle cages and added "between" the triathlon bar water bottle.

3. Got tight fitting Triathlon clothes.

4. Got aerohelmet

5. Added rear wheel AeroJacket covers.

With these additions, a good aero fitting and time in the saddle to get you comfortable staying in a aero position for a extended period of time you WILL be faster. How much is based on your cycling endurance.

After I made theses changes, I was averaging 3-4 mph higher speed for my normal training loop.


PS:
I used this setup for one Triathlon season. I eventually did get a Triathlon bike. I was faster on the Triathlon bike, but it was pretty expensive for the small increase in speed I gained!
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