Thursday, March 10, 2011

Calling All Cyclists and Triathletes!

I've called upon runners already to help with some shin splint issues (more to come on that once I finish writing that post - it's a doozy!).  This time I am calling upon any cyclists and you awesome Triathletes (I claim no bias) out there.

I am looking for advice on upgrading my road bike.  Got any thoughts or suggestions?

I currently have a mid/late-90's steel frame TREK 470 Road Bike.  
This is unfortunately the best picture I have of the bike without going down to storage to take it out. 
The bike's technical details are HERE.  I bought it cheap off of craigslist and the owner said the only things that have been changed since the original purchase are the bar tape and the seat.  Everything else should still be factory.  Overall, it's been a great bike!

Going into my second season (and knowing this is one of many more to come), I would love to buy a full tri bike, but the expenses aren't in my favor at the moment, so I am looking to upgrade my current bike.  I have a few thoughts of things I could upgrade, but don't know exactly where to start.

1.  Professional Fitting
This will be done no questions asked once the weather turns more permanent spring. 

2.  Clip-on Aerobars
I will eventually buy a tri bike, but until then I figure I can get used to the aero position using clip-on aerobars.  I have looked them up online and I must admit I'm surprised at how much they cost, ~$100+ (double my naive prediction). In my short search I did find a couple cheaper sets, HERE and HERE, but does the cheaper price mean they're worthless?, I have no idea.  Do you guys have any suggestions for what might be a good price range or make/model for a first pair of aerobars?

3.  Cycling shoes and pedals
At the moment, I have cages on my bike and I put my running shoes on in T1.  I admit that I FLY through T2 transition, but I hear a lot about how actual cycling shoes can really help your ride.  Is there a big difference between cages and clipless pedals?

4.  Wheels
I know that the wheels can be one of the biggest components for speed (one bike shop associate even suggested putting high end wheels on an entry level road bike; he said I'd get a faster ride for cheaper that way).  I simply have not spent time looking into wheels, so I don't know what to expect for price or what makes/models are really feasibly in making a difference with a beginner/intermediate versus trying to shave seconds for an elite.

If you guys have any suggestions for what would be the best place to start or even suggestions for any of the above thoughts, I'd be more than happy to hear about them.  I am still very much a novice when it comes to bikes.

Thank you so much!!

Stay fit.  Stay healthy. 


Megan said...

I wish I could provide more insight here, but I'll chime in on a couple things. Aerobars have a good cost:speed ratio. Meaning they are one of the cheapest thing where you can gain the most speed, so I believe the cost is worth it.

I have clipless pedals and they freaking rock. No pressure points like cages often can give you and you feel totally connected as you drive forward. Worth it.

Good luck! Also, Bicycling Magazine has a buyers guide right now as well as Triathlete mag - both are insightful.

TriGirl said...

I have heard and read that you can get a tri bike or upgrade the crap out of your current one, but if you're looking to increase your aerodynamics, change your helmet. The ones that are elongated at the back apparently have the biggest impact on wind resistance (not speaking from experience though). I have to second Megan as well--you can learn a lot from magazines these days (Runner's World, Bicycling Magazine, Triathlete, etc...)

Jess @ THIR said...

1. If you want to pay postage, you can have my old aerobar extensions. You have my email if you want to find me :P
Only thing is, they are purple atm. A can of black spray paint can fix that.

2. I read some research and a $300 aero helmet can give you more speed than a $3000 set of wheels.
So that's where I will be going first off!!

3. I would get clipless pedals and tri shoes. Not cycling shoes, they are too hard to mount and dismount with (and uncomfortable to run in!!). It will give you some extra on the pull up, and less fear of feet slipping out of the cage.

So yeah, email if you want those extensions!

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

Wow. I hadn't even thought about the helmet. Good point!!

Megan, I found the picture of the triathlete and bicycling buyer's guides in your blog. I'll see if I can go find those today. Thanks for the tip!

I really appreciate the suggestions!

5 Miles 2 Empty said...

Jess is right, when you get the clip-in shoes you want tri shoes, they have a drain at the bottom and are easier to put on.

I really have nothing for you here on gear or upgrades. I am still trying to figure it all out. But I am thinking now I need a high-speed helmet...dang it. =)

JohnP said...

That is a great bike, I love it! I just finished a half IM on something similar.

Forget the aero-crap i.e. clip-ons and aero helmet if you can. That money is best saved towards a new bike. Not because what you have is no good, but because what you have may be wearing out -? That drivetrain will be a pain to maintain due to compatibility issues with the newer stuff.

Get the SPD shoes though. That is woth its weight in gold.

Great bike though, if it was my size I'd buy it from you :)