No matter the length of the race, the bike portion of the triathlon is always the longest. It ranges anywhere from around 13 miles for a super-sprint triathlon to 112 miles for an Ironman race. Cycling will also generally be the most costly of the three sports in terms of equipment. But don't let this deter you; you can get quality cycling products at reasonable prices at Sierra Trading Post.
As in any sport, there are triathlete purists. While these pedants may insist that you must race on a tri-specific bike to be a true triathlete, you don't. Unless you plan on racing competitively at Kona, all you need is a road bike.
Most road bikes on the market today feature an aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, or an alloy frame. Aluminum and alloy frames are lightweight and affordable and often use carbon fiber for the fork, seat stays and even the chain to further decrease overall frame weight.
If you are a more experienced cyclist, you may want to invest in a titanium or carbon fiber frame. These materials are seemingly weightless and are generally more expensive. However, if the frame is well-made, it can last a lifetime.
When choosing a bike, you will want to know enough about size, symmetry, and materials to get a frame that fits your body, riding style, and purpose. A comfortable, perfect-fitting bike means your skills will improve immeasurably on each ride. And it all starts with the frame. Handlebars, stems, and saddles can be swapped out or adjusted to create a better-fitting bike. But getting the frame right is the important first step.
The most basic means of sizing a bike frame is its "height," which is actually the length of the frame from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the top tube.
Tip: Bike measurements for triathlon and road bikes are often in centimeters because of cycling's European history and because centimeters are generally more precise than inches.
The geometries of bike frames will differ slightly, even between bike models from the same brand. Because of these differences, the most accurate way to fit a bike is to research the specific model you are considering and find its exact dimensions. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow. Use the standard chart below to get an idea of the bike size you'll need. To use this chart, you will first need to get an accurate measurement of your inseam. Follow these steps:
Look at the chart below to determine your best bike fit.
|Your Inseam in Inches||Bike Frame Size in Inches||Bike Frame Size in Centimeters||Top Tube Size in Centimeters||Your Height in Feet and Inches|
|Conversion:||1 inch = 2.54 cm||1 centimeter = .394 inch|
Remember to apply these measurements with some leeway. If your inseam measurement or height falls within a range, round up if your number is closer to the higher number in the range or round down if your number closer to the lower number in the range. If you are shorter or taller than the heights in this chart, you will have special requirements with your frame size so contact our customer service product specialist for more information.
While your new bike may look perfect-shiny paint, neat gadgets-you still need to get your bike to fit your bod. Handlebars can be swapped, saddles can be adjusted, and gearshifts can be moved, all to create a personalized fit and the most enjoyable cycling experience.
There are no indisputable rules for adjusting your bike to fit your body. The right fit for you will depend on your body shape and how you like to ride. To get the right bike fit, you have to do two things:
The following fit suggestions are general guidelines only. They'll provide a good starting point for you to fine-tune your bike fit.
Saddle position is largely a matter of personal preference. However, as it affects your body while riding, it's important to find a position that works well.
To find the handlebar height that works well for you, start with your handlebar stem about 1" lower than the height of your saddle. Slightly higher handlebars help with lower back pain. If you find that you want a lower, more aerodynamic position, lower the handlebars slightly.
While you can certainly race in a tri-suit, a swimsuit, or a pair of bike shorts, you will need some cycling-specific clothing for all of your training sessions in order to make even your longest training rides comfortable.
Performance cycling clothing is generally made of moisture-wicking fabric and is tight-fitting for better aerodynamic performance.
The most important cycling garment you will buy will be your bike shorts. These are usually made from a nylon or Lycrar blend, are skin tight, and have a moisture-wicking padded chamois (pronounced "shammy" for us English-speakers or "sham-wah" for you Francophones) for comfort in the saddle. These are typically worn next to your skin (sans undergarments) to reduce chafing. The close-fitting fabric reduces chafe-causing wrinkles as well. While they may look simple, cycling shorts are high tech garments. Here's the lowdown on construction.
Bike shorts are constructed of panels that contour the garment to fit the body in the cycling position. The more panels, the more curvature they'll have. As a general rule, high-end cycling shorts are usually eight panel models and less expensive shorts feature six panels. Cycling shorts with only four panels are designed for spin/cycling classes where riders remain in a more upright position on a stationary bike than they would on a road bike.
Cycling shorts are designed to move with your body so it's important to be aware of the seam location in relation to your body's natural contours. Identify how the seams will affect you while you ride. Many manufacturers are making seamless cycling shorts, so if you're sensitive, look for a model with hidden or no seams.
Waistbands range from ½ inch covered elastic bands to 1 ½ inch athletic bands with a drawstring. Shorts with an elastic waistband are less likely to dig into your skin in the riding position. However, if you want some minimal fit adjustments, look for shorts with a drawstring.
According to cycling lore, in the early days of professional cycling, some racers would put cold steaks in their shorts for padding and relief from saddle sores. Luckily, fabric technology and chamois construction have drastically improved.
There are several different chamois styles on the market and the fabric and construction of these styles can vary. Keep in mind that the main purpose of the chamois is to wick moisture away, prevent chafing, and provide some comfort in just a few thin layers. Look for shorts with a layer of foam or fleece for padding and a top layer made of technical fabric that wicks moisture away and breathes.
Tip: While bike shorts are gender-specific, some men wear women's shorts and some women wear men's shorts. It's really a matter of personal comfort.
All cycling jerseys are made of moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep you cooler in warm weather and warmer in cool weather. They are usually cut with a longer back for better coverage in the riding position and feature a zip-up front for ventilation. Cycling jerseys can be sleeveless, long-sleeved, or cap-sleeved. Choose the jersey that best fits your training conditions.
Tip: Avoid cotton fabrics when you ride because they retain moisture which can weigh you down and cause chills at high speeds.
You have two options when it comes to pedals: toe cages or clipless pedals.
Most entry-level road bikes are equipped with standard "toe cages". (These may also be referred to as "toe straps".) As the name implies, these pedals feature a cage into which you slide the front of your foot. They also feature adjustable straps that you tighten around your foot so it remains in the cage and flat against the pedal while you're riding.
Toe cages are good for beginners because they don't require you to invest in new pedals or cycling-specific shoes. They also provide a slightly improved performance over flat pedals by increasing the power in your pedal stroke (by virtue of your shoe being held firmly against the pedal). The downside to toe cages is that straps frequently need to be adjusted on the fly and this requires you to bend down, which can be destabilizing until you become proficient.
Clipless pedals require a special cycling shoe that features a cleat fitted to the sole of the shoe. This cleat interfaces with a locking mechanism on the pedal. The term "clipless" could also be interpreted as "cageless," because clipless pedals do not have an external toe cage. Cycling shoes have stiff or rigid soles to maximize power transfer and efficiency during each pedal rotation.
Yes, clipless pedals will be awkward when you first use them, but they are definitely worth the effort. You will greatly improve your cycling performance because of the increase in power you get with every pedal stroke. Here are some tips to help you master clipping in and out of your pedals.
All USAT-sponsored events require that you wear an undamaged, unaltered helmet during the race. Many states also have some type of bike helmet law, so if you don't have a helmet already, you're going to need one.
The best type of helmet to buy is one you'll actually wear. That may sound like a no-brainer, but vanity has been known to trump safety when it comes to wearing a helmet. Just make sure to purchase a helmet that is cycling-specific and has an adequate number of vents to allow airflow through the helmet.
To find your approximate helmet size, measure around your head, just above your eyebrows.
|Head Measurement (Circumference)||Helmet Size (Numerical)||Helmet Size (S, M, L)|
|20 1/2 inches||6 1/2||Extra-Small (Toddler)|
|20 3/4 inches||6 5/8||Small|
|21 1/4 inches||6 3/4||Medium|
|21 5/8 inches||6 7/8||Medium|
|22 3/8 inches||7 1/8||Medium|
|22 3/4 inches||7 1/4||Large|
If your circumference measurement falls between two numbers: