It happened to me a few years back – I had been perfectly happy biking my time away and someone suggested a triathlon. I signed up, excited about the new opportunity but unsure of what to make of it. I had grown up biking and swimming, but only at that point had only recently tried running. Still, I had run out of excuses since I could technically DO all 3 sports. In the store, I’ve heard many similar stories as well. Triathlons can be a great goal for physical fitness, a fun event, or just a chance to try something totally different, so every year it seems more people are taking the plunge so-to-speak.
Where we come in at Erik’s for most first time triathletes is the bike. We’ve got Tri Specialist stores that can get you outfitted for your triathlon, but for most people the starting point is the bike, and we love finding the right bike for you!
Where to Start?
It’s common for someone to walk through the doors with the idea they need a “Tri bike” and for your first time, this isn’t necessarily true, so today I’d like to address what IS the right bike for you, the first time triathlete. Like any other bike, we start with the conversation of how you ride, and form there decide what bike will best meet ALL of your needs. Here are a few models that are ideal for not only triathlons, but also the rest of your riding season. We’ve separated them by category of rider to help you along a bit.
Casual Fitness Riders and Commuters
If you plan to spend most of your time riding on maintained trails and paths, or along streets and roads, but you don’t plan to go long distances just yet, look no further than a flat handlebar road bike. We wrote about these last fall in the post about the Specialized Sirrus and Vita. These are one of the most popular bikes we sell and are built with the straight handlebar of a hybrid or mountain bike – but with the heart, soul and tires of a road bike. In your training as well as race day, you will appreciate the fast gearing, smooth ride and lightweight of a flat-bar road bike. When you’re not training or racing, you will love the fact that you can put bike racks on most of these to carry your work clothes or your workout clothes or for a trip to the store. Many riders also love these for large event rides like the MS150 our Tour De Cure.
Long-Distance Riders and Sight-Seers
For the fastest option without going sport-specific, an all-around road bike is a great option. On race day it’s fast, light and maneuverable leaving you in good form for your run leg. Equipped with drop handlebars (the bullhorn shaped ones) you get a variety of positions to be more aero or gain better control in technical sections or climbing. Road bikes are fast, comfortable for even the longest rides, and can be fitted to the rider with more adjustments than other styles of bike. We’re big fans of the Tarmac, Roubaix, Allez and Secteur for men, and the Ruby, Amira or Dolce for women.
Committed Triathlete or the all-in type.
Are you the type of person that jumps in head-first? If so, or if your first triathlon is part of a greater aspiration like an Iron-distance event, then a triathlon bike can make good sense. A triathlon bike is easily identifiable by an aerodynamic frame, handlebar extensions or aero bars and an aggressive looking position. Because this bike is meant for going the long distances fast while keeping the rider as fresh and flexible as possible to run at the end (Iron distance events are 112 miles for the bike leg and 26.2 for the run leg). While not ideal for group rides and greatly varying terrain, these bikes are a great benefit when shaving precious seconds off your race or if you are committed to training and racing. The Specialized Shiv Multisport and Transition are technologically advanced and designed with tris in mind.
Still not decided? The best thing to do is to talk with one of Erik’s experts and discuss your needs. We’ll get you on the right size bike, adjust it to you and send you out on a test ride so you can see for yourself. When race day comes, we know it all comes down to your training