Do I really need a new bike for my first triathlon?
Easing gently into triathlon training deep in the winter months, I’d been taking the softy’s option of starting my preparation for the bike leg in the gym. Training warm and dry with TV or tunes, the chance of a chat with friends and a coffee shop on the way out – what’s not to like?
A few weeks in, however, with the first signs of spring on the way and the clock now counting down towards the race, it was time to dust off my bike and head outside.
In the back of my mind I think I knew that my old MTB might not be up to the job. My first exhausting training ride confirmed this. The bike had served me well for many miles of recreational cycling, through several countries and for well over a decade. However, this bike just wasn’t built for speed!
My expectations for the race had shifted somewhere along the way from wanting to “just get round” to starting to think about getting some speed up. I needed to invest in something with a bit more oomph.
As a triathlon newbie and someone with limited bike knowledge, I found the process of choosing a new bike surprisingly hard work. The choices are endless. It is easy to be put off by the technical jargon and weighing up what you need (and just as important what you don’t need) can be tricky.
Having got through the other side, here are my suggestions for taking the pain out of the buying a bike for your first triathlon:
- Put the kettle on, set aside a couple of hours and fire up the laptop. Do as much research as you can from the comfort of your own home. There’s a ton of useful information and reviews online, try and digest as much as you can before you even set foot in the bike shop.
- Shop around. Not just for the best price, but to find someone who talks your language and listens to what your specific needs are.
- Jump on and get the feel of as many bikes as you can. It may be obvious, but always go wearing clothes that allow you to do this. Test the bike out, outside if possible.
- No question is too daft to ask. You’ll probably be spending a lot of money and you want to get it right. I was glad I’d asked “does it come with pedals?” as I was planning to ride it home and it didn’t.
Ultimately, I settled on an adventure road bike and I love it. It gives me the speed I’m after but is versatile across terrains and I can happily take it off road. It’s got just enough (metaphorical) bells and whistles for me – hydraulic brakes and 105 gearing – but I’m confident that I’ve not gone OTT.
Finally, it has a relaxed geometry which suits me. Yes, I want to go fast but I also want to do it in as much comfort as is reasonably possible – sorry purists but life’s too short for unnecessary pain!