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New to Tri's, questions about a bike

Old 09-10-10, 08:00 PM
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New to Tri's, questions about a bike

Hi all, I'm new to triathlons but I have a background in swimming as well as Marathons (more specifically the Bataan Memorial Death March). My first tri is the Houston Triathlon in roughly two weeks, and I need to get myself a bike!

I have a line on several different bikes, but I am on a very tight budget and figured I would consult the forum here. I want this bike to at least last me the next two or three years and possibly beyond that.

My main question is dedicated Tri bike v. Road bike w/ aero bars. I have a line on a 2010 Cervelo P1 for $1000, which I know is a really good price but is still probably beyond my budget at this point in time (regardless of how bad I want it!). My other options are road bikes, one a 2010 Specialized Allez Sport w/ aero bars for around $600 (college discount from a store), and another a custom carbon framed road bike for $900 I found online.

I know the concept behind the tri bike, a more aero position and use the bigger muscle groups, but just how important is using a dedicated tri bike?

What would you guys suggest for a beginner? I really want to stay in tri's because I love the training and getting into shape, but I can't spend too much money because I am a college student on a budget. Any suggestions, tips, etc would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 09-10-10, 08:05 PM
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Some research from UT some years ago showed that a tri bike, proper fit, proper positioning (staying on the aeros the entire ride), shaving, aero helmet, and a few other little things amounted to about 1.5 minutes savings on an Olympic distance ride. (See Triathlon 101, Mora).

I think if you're on a budget, can get a great road bike for a great price, and are willing to focus on what really matters---strength & endurance on the bike---that the tri bike is the WRONG choice right now.

Tilt the bars down, push the seat back, keep the elbows in, and keep your eyes up...honestly, until you're really high level, how valuable are those 2 minutes anyway?
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Old 09-10-10, 11:38 PM
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Alright, first of all, for a first tri, you don't need really anything fancy, assuming you have a bike, you should use it. To answer your question, for a first tri, you really don't need one at all.

Now assuming you have only the choices you gave to us then don't get the carbon bike, unless it is a decent used bike from craigslist, and it fits you. If you have any thoughts of changing from triathlons to cycling-any at all, then get a road bike with clip-ons. If you are sure you want to do nothing cycling related but tri's and maybe a century or light touring, then if you can, spring for the P1, you will not regret it.

I have to say though, two weeks is really just not enough time to get a new bike. What are you riding now? Do you have a bike at all? If you own a bike right now, use that at your tri, and think about if you will get into bike racing besides solo events. If you have not been riding for a while (I am talking a couple of years with only a few spaced out rides or a lot but on a cruiser or mtb-for commuting not racing) then you will likely not be ready for the steep geometry of a racing or tri bike, you will likely fall over a few times, and then assuming you buy a clipless system with that, it will take a few days just to learn how to ride the thing, at all, then riding it fast will be the least of your worries.
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