Well I said that I was not going to do it this season, but
I cracked. I
broke down and bought a new bike. I went out and bought a shiny new Cannondale road bike. I am quite proud of my little purchase. Here's how I
got to buying my new bike:
I decided that after my two
thousandth visit to the local bike store and becoming close personal friends
with the local bike mechanic, I figured that it was time for a new bike.
I needed to get a bike that I could
race triathlons, as well as race road bike races. I also wanted a bike with
at least Shimano 105 components. These are third down on the scale of bike
components made by Shimano; the best being Dura Ace (which is what Lance,
and rich guys with nothing else to spend
their money on have on their bikes), next is Ultegra (this is what was on my
bike that I sold for my wife's engagement ring), then there is 105, after
that Sora and Tiagra. The main difference in most of these components is
weight and durability. Obviously if you are going to be logging in a ton of
miles, you do not want something that is going to break down every 200
miles, and conversely you don't need to be spending a ton of money if your
only riding on the weekends to the doughnut shop.
When I started to shop around for a
suitable bike, the first thing that I did was to go to a shop and test ride
the most expensive bike that they sold. There was no way that I could
afford the bike, nor did I have any intention of even trying to buy it. I
just wanted to see what it was like to ride down the street on a four
thousand dollar bike. It was quite an experience, I do recommend it.
(Note: if you are going to do this at the same shop that you plan on
actually buying a bike, come back on a different day, preferably when the
guy that let you take out that four thousand dollar bike is not working.)
I finally narrowed my bike
selection down to three bikes: The Giant OCR 1, the Specialized Allez, and
the Cannondale 700 multisport. The Giant and the Specialized were very
similar, they both had Shimano 105, 27 speed components Mavic CXP 22 wheels,
and Aluminum frames. The Cannondale was equipped with 105 18 speed with an
aerodynamic composite frame and also came equipped with
Profile Aerolite aerobars, Mavic CXP 21 wheels, and an aero fork. The
prices were similar, both the Giant and the Specialized were about one
thousand dollars, the Cannondale was about two hundred dollars more. Was
worth the extra money? Yes I thought, so I decided to go with the Cannondale. I liked the frame better, the ride was more comfortable , it
looked cooler than the other bikes and I could not bring myself to purchase
a road bike with a triple chain ring while living out here in Indiana.
Now for the accessories:
I did not need to purchase aerobars since the bike came with them, as well as the fact that I bought a
pair in the beginning of the season. I think that aerobars are essential
for competing in triathlons, they reduce wind resistance on the bike and
increase speed. I have gotten so used to them that when I take my old bike
out without the aerobars attached, it feels weird.
Clipless pedals are another
essential if you are going to be doing some serious miles on a bike. They
increase power and make climbing a lot easier. I did not need to purchase a
new pair of pedals, since I already owned a pair of Look pedals that I had
from my racing days. I did purchase a new pair of
bicycling shoes, they are Specialized. I do not know the exact model,
but they are a middle of the line pair. I also purchased bottle cages that
mount on the rear of the saddle, this is to be aerodynamic while riding, or
to make your butt wet if you move too far back in the saddle.
The coolest thing that I bought is
a CO2 tire pump. It is great, it works off a CO2 cartridge that can be
purchased at Walmart or Kmart and inflates a tire in about 3 seconds. It
was great to use during a race, or even on the side of the road. The unit
is compact and fits underneath my bike saddle.
I think that the best thing
to do before going out to buy a bike, is: 1) know what your price range is,
2) know what type of components your are looking for, and 3) find a bike that is
comfortable as well as looks cool.
When I was
about 12 or 13 years old, my father took me to buy a bike. I was so excited
I couldn't wait to get to the store. My two best friends, Steve and Ben,
both had BMX bikes and my hopes were that I would be coming home with one as
well. So my father and I hopped into the light blue Ford Fairmont station
wagon and headed to the store.
I am not quite sure how the rest of the story unfolded;
however, I ended up going home the owner of a brand new 10 speed (make and
model I don't recall). I believe his reasoning for changing my mind, which
seemed logical to me at the time, was that because I was a little taller
than other kids my age; I would be getting much taller when my growth spurt
started. The economic reasons for this transaction were never shared with
me; however, I am sure they were also a factor.
Needless to type, I am still waiting for the growth spurt he
predicted. In addition, I lived in a town where everyone rode their bikes to
baseball practice and through yards, etc… so my 10 speed couldn't go in the
places where others were riding. Lastly, my friends would soon be starting
to drive and that left me with no interest in riding a bike around town
anyway. All of these factors contributed to the bike remaining unridden and
taking up space, rotting under my parents back porch.
It is with the above anecdote, that I can share the two most
important questions to ask yourself when going to buy a bike. They are:
what activities do you envision yourself using the bike for? And, what are
you looking to spend?
What activities do you envision yourself using the bike
Before even going to the bike shop, take some time and jot down what uses
you have in mind for this bike. Envision yourself owning your new bike. Do
you see yourself tooling around the trails? Do you see yourself as the next
Lance Armstrong? Or, perhaps you see yourself as a little bit of both or are
If you see yourself as tooling around the trails, the answer
is obviously mountain bike.
If you see yourself as the next Lance, the answer is road bike.
If you see yourself as a little bit of both or are unsure,
than you have two choices, starter road bike or a starter mountain bike.
Another option is the hybrid bikes, but most bikers don't consider that a
Should you decide on the road bike, go cheap. You will ease
the strain on your pocketbook but limit yourself in use to road activities.
Sure you can ride through a field, if you had to, but do you want to? If so, you may need a different bike.
If you decide on the mountain bike, you can tool around the
town, trails, campus, etc… you can even do a little bit of racing should the
mood hit. If you decide you are going to use the mountain bike for racing,
buy yourself some slick tires so you can use them in place of the mountain
bike tires. This will allow you to go a little faster than you could on the
regular tires. NOTE: not to discourage you, but keep in mind that people who
are actual bikers will consider you a "FRED" (dork) for using such an
archaic method rather than the state of the art equipment that is available
to the public. Should anyone voice their opinion, your retort is, "kiss my
In all cases, the most important thing is to be a participant
and complete your goal. I don't care if you do it on a Trek 5900 or an old
model Schwinn. As long as you are a participant you are already completing a
task that many others don't have the fortitude to attempt. If anyone thinks
less of you because of your equipment, they are materialistic and not worthy
of evolving societal norms.
In addition, if during your race you find that you absolutely
love the competition and want to upgrade to a road bike. You are wiser and
have a backup bike for tooling around the trails. However, if you find that
you completed your goal and don't want to compete again; you just saved
yourself some dough.
What are you looking to spend?
If you have narrowed down your bike search to mountain or road, the next
choice is economics. If you are the type of person who likes to drop cash on
a whim, than this is an easy question for you, just pick a bike, pick a
color and start riding.
However, if you are like most people, you need to remind
yourself of budgetary requirements and allotted spending. For example, when
I bought my bike, my wife and I were closing on a home, and we were
expecting our first child. These factors required me to put some cash aside
little at a time and buy my bike at the end of my personal layaway method.
It was a great plan for me and didn't tick my wife off too much.
Whether you've decided on a mountain or a road bike, I would
still consider getting a lower to middle end bike. No matter how much a bike
shop may push the upper end equipment, the bottom line is that what you
envision may not come true, and you don't want to have broken the bank on
your new purchase. In addition, all bikes have such great components you
really can't go wrong. As you move up in price you are talking lighter and
sturdier. But this can also be achieved to an extent with periodic upgrades
should you decide to stick with the sport.
Also, my experience has been that used bikes don't have a
great resale value. So if you find out that you don't enjoy riding your soft
tail XR9800, that you spent $2,000 on, you won't be worrying all that much.
Hope this helps!
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