Oh, gosh, you can get all sorts of bikes for $1,500 and below. It depends a little bit on just what style of bike youre after, as triathlons" and day cruises" is sort of like saying speed boating" and fishing for minnows" when shopping for a boat.
For the triathlon bit, you want something pretty zoomy. Giants TCR A1 ($1,400; giant-bicycles.com) would be just about perfectlight aluminum frame, capable Shimano 105 ten-speed gearing, speedy Xero wheels, and Michelin tires. Cannondales Caad8 Optimo 1 ($1,350; cannondale.com) has similar specs and gear and would be just as home on a fast ride.
Day cruises suggest something more, well, relaxed. Almost a touring bike. Treks 520 ($1,240; trekbikes.com) offers relaxed road geometry, a knee-sparing triple chainring, and lots of attachment points for luggage and racks. Its a very nice bike, but I dont see it toeing the line at a triathlon.
So is there a compromise? Indeed there is. Its the Bianchi Eros ($1,300; bianchiusa.com). This bike has a comfortable steel frame and triple chainring that make long rides a pleasure. But it also has more agile frame geometry than a tourist, along with Campagnolo components for a little Italian flash. You can take this bike out and race, then take a long ride to a country bakery the next day. Great bike. And priced right.
The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.