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Retardedchicken
 
Buying a road bike for triathlons

My girlfriend and her mom both have finally convinced me to do at least one triathlon this summer. There is, however, one major issue and that is that I do not own a road bike. I know these bikes can be pretty damn expensive (I'm being told well over $1,000 for a good one). I don't want a pimped out road bike per se; I want one that is a good bargain.

For those who ride and have a decent knowledge on bikes, what are some things to look for in buying a road bike?
Old 01-20-2010, 10:07 AM Retardedchicken is offline  
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RazorWind
 
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For a beginner, the only thing that should really matter to you is the way it fits your body. If you get one that doesn't fit you, you'll absolutely hate riding it. The good news here is that with modern frames, as long as you get the right size, most designs can be adjusted to fit you.

The first question I'd ask you is, what is your actual budget? Road bikes start at about $1000. There are designs that are specifically made for time trial racing (which is what the bike leg of a tri is), but they're generally priced a lot higher.

Knowing the budget will help narrow down what your options are. Used bikes are a better deal generally, as they depreciate even more rapidly than cars, but until you're fairly experienced, you're generally better off buying new from a good shop that can help you adjust and maintain the bike.

Without knowing the budget, I'd say look at a new road bike like the Specialized Allez or Cannondale CAAD9. You should be able to find these in the $1200 to $1600 range. If you want something a little nicer, look at the Specialized Roubaix, which is a full carbon fibre frame (feels noticeably different from aluminum or steel).

These aren't triathlon-specific like the Cannondale Slice and Specialized Transition are, but that's probably a good thing for your situation, as the position you have to adopt to ride a real triathlon bike (such as the Cervelo P line) sacrifices a lot of comfort for speed, and generally isn't so great for a new rider. The triathlon-specific bikes are also generally more expensive, but the Cervelo P1 is a pretty sweet deal if you want to go that route. Fuji has one that's reasonably priced as well, as I recall.

Also, remember to budget for most or all of the following:

Pedals - new road bikes usually don't come with them - $75 to $100.

Shoes - You need special shoes to use the pedals - $100 to $200.

Helmet - Like it or not, you'll probably need this to participate in an organized event - $50 to $200.

Padded lycra shorts - trust me - $50 to $150.

Tires - The stock tires on a lot of bikes suck ass and go flat a lot. I like Michelin's Krylion Carbon model - $30 to $50 (get these from ProBikeKit.com)

Edit: The selling point that a lot of shops will pitch to you is the "componentry." This is stuff like the brakes and shifters. There are two major brands - Shimano and SRAM. Within each brand, they operate pretty much the same, with increasing cost getting you more exotic materials and generally more durability. I like Shimano's 105 and Ultegra lines, and SRAM's Rival and Force lines.
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Last edited by RazorWind; 01-20-2010 at 11:04 AM..
Old 01-20-2010, 10:57 AM RazorWind is offline  
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bizzz111
 
Are you looking to compete in a triathlon, or just complete a triathlon?

If it's the former, you'll probably have to spend a lot more than $1000 to be competitive. If it's the latter, any roadbike off craigslist will do.

Something like a trek 1000 won't win you any races (unless you bike a lot) but can be had very cheap used and is a decent entry level bike. Head to a bike shop, find out what size you need, then start trolling craigslist. I wouldn't buy a new snazzy bike until you are pretty sure that you are going to really put some time into biking.
Old 01-23-2010, 11:50 AM bizzz111 is offline  
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Retardedchicken
 
I should have mentioned that earlier, I am not at this time looking to compete in triathlons, I just want to finish them (and beat my girlfriend) for the time being. Her mom also does tri's and she has a lot of friend who are pretty hardcore bikers. I may talk to her and see if any of her friends have bikes they need to sell.

Thank you for your help you two!
Old 01-23-2010, 01:32 PM Retardedchicken is offline  
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Jehannum
 
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Go get fitted. Brand matters fuck all if the bike doesn't fit you.

Once you've found a frame that you can live with, make sure you get a 105 or better gruppo. Fucking Sora or Tiagra will leave you stranded or pissed off the whole race.

Aluminum road bikes are a lot less expensive than composite, and while they are a bit more lively on the road (you feel a lot more of the bumps), with a carbon fork, you'll be able to easily make the distance.

I do centuries (100 mile races) on an aluminum Scattante R330 (the very lowest end of Performance Bike's house brand) upgraded with a hodge podge of 105 and ultegra. I stay away from composites because 1) I'm a fatass, and 2) I'm a cheapass.

All told, I'm at around $1k building my road bike, but that also includes things like 36 spoke wheels (again, I'm a fatass) and commuter gear (like my cyclomputer and my lights).

Edit: and Razorwind is dead right about tires. You don't need some Schwalbe super-tires, but you'll need better than the Kenda POS's you'll get with a new bike. I destroyed those things in 400 miles. I switched up to some Continental Gatorskins shortly after that, and have put 1100 miles on them, and they're still going strong.
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Old 01-23-2010, 02:54 PM Jehannum is offline  
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Retardedchicken
 
Do you guys have any sites that I can go to that will give me a good knowledge of road bikes/biking?
Old 01-24-2010, 10:09 AM Retardedchicken is offline  
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Jehannum
 
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bikeforums.net has a roady forum.

roadbikereview.com is good for comparing when you've got some parameters in mind.

By far, the best resource you'll have is a local bike shop.
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Old 01-24-2010, 12:31 PM Jehannum is offline  
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Menel
 
This is a REALLY good time to buy, they are all on clearance, last years models.

Last year I picked up a $1500 aluminum frame, carbon forks/seatstays, Shimano 105 components for $688 out the door after clearance+sale+discounts.

Check your local pike shops, Performance/REI, independants. Some of them like Performance and maybe REI even offer lifetime adjustments/tuneups for things like cables getting loose or wheels needing truing.

Don't cheap out on shorts, Canari $40, ugggh. Go the distance on $75-100 izumi's.

I use Mtn bike shoes, cheap base Shimanos, were like $55. Mtn bike shoes work just fine for raod cycling, most do. And the shoes have more rubber on the bottom if you are doing any walking around. I mainly road bike around town, so it's nice when I get off to go in a store, walk on sidewalks, hike a mountain (common destiation is to bike out to nearby state parks and go for a short hike, etc) Road shoes are slick plastic on the bottom.

But if you are strictly using it for racing... then maybe you want road shoes *shrug*
Old 01-24-2010, 01:12 PM Menel is offline  
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js8244
i fucked a 17 year old on my 21st birthday and this is all i got.
 
Now is a good time to spring for a road bike as Menel said. One of the guys I bike with picked up a Cervelo for 1200 full ultegra last year right around this time. The nice thing about those is that they're designed to be competitive in both triathlons and road races. Like they said above, good shorts are a must, I prefer bibs over regular style shorts, but that's purely personal preference, especially during transitions in a triathlon.

If you're looking to go pretty cheap, Redline makes/made an entry level road bike, the R750, that can be had for around $650. Tiagra components, decent geometry, but get fitted, the sizes run pretty small.
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Old 01-24-2010, 06:08 PM js8244 is offline  
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RazorWind
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jehannum View Post
Go get fitted. Brand matters fuck all if the bike doesn't fit you.

Once you've found a frame that you can live with, make sure you get a 105 or better gruppo. Fucking Sora or Tiagra will leave you stranded or pissed off the whole race.

Aluminum road bikes are a lot less expensive than composite, and while they are a bit more lively on the road (you feel a lot more of the bumps), with a carbon fork, you'll be able to easily make the distance.

I do centuries (100 mile races) on an aluminum Scattante R330 (the very lowest end of Performance Bike's house brand) upgraded with a hodge podge of 105 and ultegra. I stay away from composites because 1) I'm a fatass, and 2) I'm a cheapass.

All told, I'm at around $1k building my road bike, but that also includes things like 36 spoke wheels (again, I'm a fatass) and commuter gear (like my cyclomputer and my lights).

Edit: and Razorwind is dead right about tires. You don't need some Schwalbe super-tires, but you'll need better than the Kenda POS's you'll get with a new bike. I destroyed those things in 400 miles. I switched up to some Continental Gatorskins shortly after that, and have put 1100 miles on them, and they're still going strong.

My experience with Tiagra has been that as long as you adjust it right, it'd be fine for fairly hard riding. It's not as nice as 105 or Ultegra, but it's cheap, and works pretty well. I've never raced on it, though.
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Old 01-25-2010, 08:23 AM RazorWind is offline  
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RazorWind
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Menel View Post
I use Mtn bike shoes, cheap base Shimanos, were like $55. Mtn bike shoes work just fine for raod cycling, most do. And the shoes have more rubber on the bottom if you are doing any walking around. I mainly road bike around town, so it's nice when I get off to go in a store, walk on sidewalks, hike a mountain (common destiation is to bike out to nearby state parks and go for a short hike, etc) Road shoes are slick plastic on the bottom.

If you're doing triathlons, DO NOT take this advice. Mountain bike shoes are made to be used with a totally different style of pedal than road shoes are. Among the disadvantages of this are that the dominant pedal design for mountain bikes (Shimano SPD) is not intended for the pattern of use that a road bike sees, and you'll wear them out and start pulling the cleats out of the pedals if you're a serious athlete.

Not all road bike shoes are slick plastic on the bottom. The cheap ones generally are, but Sidi makes several that have rubber grip things on the bottom, and Look cleats have this as well (although the rubber wears off the cleats after about 1000 miles or so).
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Old 01-25-2010, 08:27 AM RazorWind is offline  
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stupid dumbass
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Used bikes are a very good deal compared to new. I helped my friend build up an litespeed titanium triathlon bike with full 105, we were about $1,200 in for everything including pedals, tires, etc.

Don't completely agree on Sora/Tiagara comments. My first bike was a trek 1000 and once the stuff is dialed in it's fine. One thing I've noticed moving up to 105 and Ultegra is that the higher end groups are much more tolerant of poor setup. The Sora/Tiagara Trek I had shifted fine as long as it was adjusted well. One turn in either direction of the barrel adjuster and it starts to suck. The 105 on my current bike, otoh, is frustrating to tune because it's so damn tolerant. I can turn it several clicks in either direction and it doesn't make a different as to the quality of the shifts. I put about 2000 miles on the Trek 1000 and had very few mis-shifts.

Also, shorts are a must. Not sure I agree with the "good shorts" comments however, I have a fairly uncomfortable saddle and ride the $20 nashbar house brand shorts. I've done a century in them no problem. I'd try the cheap ones first to see if you have a butt that can tolerate them :-P YMMV.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:59 PM stupid dumbass is offline  
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