Q:

Can you help me get geared up with biking equipment for a triathlon?

I’m training for my first triathlon, and I'm an experienced swimmer and runner, but no cyclist. What type of bike (hybrid or road) would you suggest for a 23-year-old female? Also, any ideas on a specific model—preferably under $500? Susan Athens, Georgia

Jul 20, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Giant FCR 3W

FCR 3W Bike

A:

Your budget is going to limit your choices. But that’s probably OK. Get a bike, get some experience with it, and as time/budget/interest allows, move up the cycling food chain.

You’re probably looking at a hybrid. Marin’s Muirwoods ($429; marinbikes.com), for instance, offers a fairly fast ride in a bike that’s based on a mountain-bike design but without the suspension components that add weight. It has a triple chainring that makes hills much easier, and a comfortable geometry. It’s not a racer by any means, but a bike that can move along. Giant’s FCR 3W ($480; giant-bicycle.com) has very similar geometry and specs, with maybe a little zoomier seat position for better speed. I think Giant bikes offer excellent value. Scott’s Sub 30 ($560; scottusa.com) is zoomier yet, with a nicely low handlebar position that lets you get into a wind-cheating position even though it has “straight" handlebars.

It’s difficult to find a true road bike (with drop handlebars and skinnier tires) for under $500. K2’s Mach 2 is selling for $700 at REI, and that is one of the better buys around. It has an aero road-bike position, a light aluminum frame, and a reliable Shimano/FSA drive train. And its well worth upgrading as time goes along with better wheels, tires, and so on. You can also troll around for something used; a bike that’s a year or two old will often lose 40 percent of its new value.

One problem with bicycling is that it’s pretty equipment-intensive. You will, of course, need a helmet (Giro Kaya, $30; giro.com), gloves (Pearl Izumi Gel Lite Tour, $20; pearlizumi.com), and glasses (Performance Vector Multi-Lens, $50; performancebike.com). Don’t forget as well a pump (Topeak Peak Blaster; topeak.com), tube patch kit and levers ($8), and seat bag (Cannondale Fast Bag, $20; cannondale.com). Cycling-specific clothing is nice, as well—look for house-brand items from REI, Performance, or Bike Nashbar. It can all add up when you’re just starting out.

Hope that helps, and happy riding!

You’ve seen our picks for 2007 Gear of the Year, and now the entire Outside Summer Buyer’s Guide is online. Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including road bikes.

Filed To: Triathlons, Road Bikes

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