Gear Shed

Q:

Can I buy one bike for day cruises and triathlons?

I'm shopping for a road bike for triathlons and day cruises with a price tag below $1,500. Any suggestions? Kevin Fargo, North Dakota

TCR A1 road bike     Photo: courtesy, Giant

Giant TCR A1 road bike

TCR A1 road bike

A: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 you’re 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. Giant’s TCR A1 ($1,400; giant-bicycles.com) would be just about perfect—light aluminum frame, capable Shimano 105 ten-speed gearing, speedy Xero wheels, and Michelin tires. Cannondale’s 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. Trek’s 520 ($1,240; trekbikes.com) offers relaxed road geometry, a knee-sparing triple chainring, and lots of attachment points for luggage and racks. It’s a very nice bike, but I don’t see it toeing the line at a triathlon.

So is there a compromise? Indeed there is. It’s 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.

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