In a typical triathlon your time will be spent:
It doesn't take a huge leap to work out that getting the bike phase right will make a huge difference to your overall performance.
It is also true that the most expensive bit of kit you will need is probably going to be the bike.
But if you are a novice do not go out and buy an expensive Tri Bike!
Ultimately, as you progress in the sport you will want invest in a specialised bike - with "whistles and bells" but we firmly believe your first Tri bike should be the one you've got.
If you don't come from a cycling background then your focus should be on getting the bike set up properly for you and getiing some miles under your belt.
If you have a bike we suggest you get it professionally serviced and then get it properly fitted to you.
Saddle height,position, angle and handle bar hieght and angle are all important and affect the aerodynamics, your ability to deliver power to the peddles and the energy you will expend.
A bike shop should be able to do this for you and we also offer the service.
As a novice you have prpbably not cycled the 20 or 40 km expected in sprint and olympic distance Tri's so simply getting used to that distance should be a major focus. You shoudln't go out and cycle those distances every time but building up gradually makes sense.
If you haven't been cycling for many years then start with a couple of rides a week for prhaps half an hour. Once you comfortable with this up the number of rides per week and gradually increase the time.
The aim at this stage is just to ride at a comfortable pace - it would be possible to hold a conversation with someone - for an extended period
Your real goal at this stage is fatigue resistance rather than speed. Develop this fatigue resistance and you can move on to much more specific training:
- Muscle strength
- Muscle endurance
- Cardio-vascular endurance
As you build up up to your first competition you can start adapting this to develop the specific qualities;
For strength, find some short steep hills and ride them in a reasonably high gear.
For speed and increased endurance you can add in some intervals with short recovery periods perhap 5 x 2 minute hard with 2 minutes recovery.
You should also add in what are called "brick" sessions. cycle a moderate distance and follow it immediately with a run. You will be shcked the first time you try this by the way your legs don't seem to want to work.
Your First Tri Bike
Simply put, the best bike for your first - and first few Tri's - may well be the one you have now.
The most important thing is that it's upto the job whether it be a road bike, mountain bike or hybrid.
There is little point is purchasing the latest model low profile speed machine costing thousands only to find, a handful of races down the line, that Triathlon may not be for you.
And by the time you have a few Tri's under your belt you will have a much better idea of what actually suits you.
There is no doubt that an investment in a state of the art bike will reduce your bike splits but for now, let’s be in it to complete raceses whilst having fun.
Once you get to the point where training is going well and the time differences are getting less and less, you can always even upgrade by stages, perhaps a wheel upgrade option as a compromise before pusing the boat out.
In the meantime...
Is it mechanically sound:
- Responsive brakes with plenty of ‘meat’ on the pads?
- Secure bolts and wheels?
- Working gears?
Then make it as good as it can be:
- Keep tyre pressure at the upper end of the recommended limit (see tyre side-wall)
- Make sure the wheels are ‘true’ and not rubbing against the brake pads
- Check the braking surface (rims) are clear of dirt to provide a good braking surface.
- Is it the right size? If not, you could be promoting injury and certainly won’t be maximising your enjoyment or justifying the training you’ve done. If it's not - beg borrow or... no don't steal - but get an inexpensive replacement
- Is it comfortable? Saddle, position handlebar set up? A body position set up will ensure greater comfort, safety, efficiency - and therefore speed.
And remember, it’s about the person on the bike. Let’s face it, Chris Froome would beat us all even if he rode a BMX!!