Beginner triathlon bike decisions can paralyze any new triathlete starting out on their journey. There is already a lot to get your head around in getting your body used to the demands of the training, getting the basic equipment, eating healthier and picking your first race. The short answer in the beginning is get ANY bike! It does not have to be the best at this stage. Borrow one,start on a mountain bike, dust off an old second hand one.
Do not let the phrase “but I don’t have a bike” put you off starting!
Plenty of people have spare bikes that sit in their garage collecting dust.
Plenty of your friends would lend you a bike for a week or two!
If you have a mountain bike, an old bike, a shopping bike- use that!
It really does not matter.
If Alistair Brownlee(current Olympic, European and Commonwealth champion) rode his mother’s shopping bike in an Olympic triathlon- no-he would not win- but he would still do very well and finish in the top half of the pack!
Equally, you see new triathletes- who have gone out and bought the most expensive beginner triathlon bike- but they have barely ridden it, they cannot handle it round corners or down hills, fall off and look very sheepish.
So if it is your first triathlon- rather than spend money- I suggest you spend time training. You can get away with training on an exercise bike at home or in a spin class at the gym. The longer the distance your event is, the more important it is to be outside on your actual bike. You need to get used to how it feels, braking suddenly, turning, riding with others, hills, wind resistance, eating and drinking whilst cycling ( for longer distances).
In my first triathlon, I used my very inexpensive mountain bike. During the race, the best feeling was passing lots of cyclists on their super, duper carbon fiber bikes on my old clanger.
I ended up coming third! So, THEN I went out and bought a beginner triathlon bike :)
But even then, I did not go all out. I bought a very mid range entry level bike.
It was plenty fine enough. It allowed me to go out with cycling clubs, it made my cycling far more enjoyable and I felt and looked the part. Again you do not need to spend much money on your beginner triathlon bike- you can pick up plenty of these bikes second hand on gumtree or Craigslist from other triathletes who have decided to upgrade.
This beginner triathlon or road bike will be fine for your first season or two. As you improve you can buy a good set of aero bars to simulate the aero position without going all out for a time trail bike just yet. Here is more information on the pros and cons of aero bars.
Focus on this when buying your first beginner triathlon bike:
1) Make sure it has enough gears to get you up steep hills.
2) Make sure the brakes are in good working order
3) Learn basic bike maintenance (especially changing a flat tire). If you bought a second hand bike, take it for a service to ensure brakes, cables and gears are in good working order.
4) Buy a very good helmet. Check the requirements on the race rules and make sure your helmet meets their criteria- or you may be disqualified.
5) Watch good cyclists- and look at their technique and posture. As you get better at cycling, you will be spending a long time in the saddle. Good posture is essential on your beginner triathlon bike to prevent back and neck pain, and also to maximize your power.
6) If you notice aches and pains in your knees- get someone to check your saddle height or pay for a decent bike fit.
7) Buy the best quality bike shorts you can get. ( Do not scrimp and save here-the pain is not worth it).
Bib Shorts are the most comfortable for longer rides as you don’t have elastic around your waist but they pose a certain difficulty with going for bathroom breaks quickly-especially problematic for women.
As you cycle more, it is a good idea to find some friends to cycle with or a cycling club. It will make it far more enjoyable, it will teach you a lot more and you will cycle further and faster than it you went by yourself. It is also safer to cycle in a group.
So the answer to which beginner triathlon bike to get- is still ANY bike!
You do not need 10 brand name recommendations…
Grab a friend’s bike, get a second hand one, or buy a reasonably price entry level bike. The most important thing is getting out and cycling, entering some events and not getting paralyzed over decisions over which bike is best.
PS If you do go and buy make sure you like the color! You will be spending a lot of time with your bike :)
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