When it comes to triathlon equipment the bike is the area that throws up the most questions, simply because there are just so many options and everyone has advice on what is their favourite. This piece is not so much about comparing one against the other rather it is about looking at what you need and need to know.
- A bike is the obvious starting point. For beginners a road bike with clip on bars is a good place to start for training and racing, however if you want to go fast and run well off the bike then you will need a TT bike. And if you are going to buy a TT bike I would strongly recommend it comes with electronic gearing as it just makes racing so much easier. Disc brakes are probably preferred over callipers as they do stop a lot faster. The most important thing is that the bike is the right size for you. While there are measures you can use to work it out, going for a test ride is still the best option.
- Then we need to make sure that your set up is right. Elbows Akimbo is great for getting the balance right between comfort, power and aerodynamics.
- Drink bottles, if you are riding through summer you will need two cages on your bike. If you are racing long course I would recommend an aero drink bottle (torpedo, Jetstream, profile…) to mount between your aero bars
- Bike computer, while you can use your watch a specialist bike computer is important. I would always want it set up with cadence and HR as a minimum.
- Power meter, if you love numbers and want to know a little more about the work you have completed then a power meter is the way to go. The question is what type- crank, pedals, wheel based they all have pros and cons. Maybe for a triathlete a pedal based system like Assiamo which I use is best as you can easily swap it between bikes but I have also had a Quarq and found it to be super reliable
- Wheels or rims more specifically, can be clinchers, tubulars or tubeless. Clinchers are the standard slower but easier to change and look after, tubulars are probably the best option for racing once you are comfy with changing them but with sealant inside them they are pretty much puncture proof, while tubeless works like a tubular except you can use a normal tube in them if it does puncture.
- Race wheels again if you are serious about your racing there are gains to be made with some deep dish wheels. Again things are always changing on this front. The current trend is for wider rims and wheels with less of an emphasis on depth. Generally deeper dish is better but it can be an issue for handling. While a disc is always best if you want to go fast on a flat course. Plus they sound awesome!
- Bike Knicks and top are a necessity. If you haven’t ordered your Lakers ones yet, make sure you are ready for the next order. If it is wet you need a good wet weather jacket that fits inside your jersey pocket. If it is cold you need long gloves, toe warmers, under shirt, arm and leg warmers.
- Shoes and pedals. Again there are some options here. Road bike shoes with boas , ratchets and Velcro are best for general riding, but for a quick transition you need triathlon specific tri-shoes. One Velcro strap that pulls away from the chain. Pedals are also a personal preference. I have found Shimano to be the best or me over the years.
- Helmets again we have racing options and training options. For training look for a MIPS helmet. In a MIPS helmet, the shell and the liner are separated by a low-friction layer, allowing the helmet to slide relative to the head during an angled impact. However for racing an aero helmet offers significant advantages.
- Tyres again for training you want a harder wearing tyre like a Gatorskin or Rubino pro, while for racing you want a lighter option with a high TPSI count
- Spares – for training you need a spares bag with 2 tubes, tyre levers, sticky patches just in case, and a pump or CO2 inflator and canister- and you need to be able to use it
- Lights, flashers to be seen front and back for city riding and if you are riding in poorly lit areas then you will need a front light of at least 500 lumens to light up the road
- Indoor trainers offer plenty of advantages but their prices can get expensive for a smart trainer If you plan on riding it a lot then a good quality smart trainer is the way to go
There are other items that you can explore but for me this is where I would start.