Gear Shed

Q:

Got any advice on buying a bike while abroad?

I'm in the military and will be stationed in Aviano, Italy, in June. I would like to purchase a road bike in Italy for half ironman and ironman triathlons. How do I find a reputable bike shop abroad, and what manufacturer would you recommend? Michael San Antonio, Texas

928 Carbon Bike     Photo: courtesy, Bianchi

Bianchi 928 Carbon Bike

928 Carbon Bike

A:For starters, find some cyclists and ask around as to their preferred shop. Or just wander into two or three. Take a look at the selection and see how you’re treated. The Italians take cycling pretty seriously, so you’re not going to wander into too many shops that will do you wrong.

What brand? Wow, that’s a tough choice. Bianchi is always reliable. Its 928 Carbon ($2,600 with Campagnolo Veloce running gear) would be a solid choice in a performance bike that’s suitable for triathlons. You’re also going to run into bikes from Colnago, which are absolutely lovely machines. A real classic is the Master X-Light, with real Italian steel in a lightweight, comfortable, and fast bike. The frame is around $1,900, then you can build with custom specs.

Two factories are near Aviano. One is Pinarello, a much-admired Italian make. They make a true tri bike: the FT1 Triathlon. It’s about $4,000, depending on whether you go with Shimano or Campagnolo running gear, and what level. But keep in mind, a tri bike is pretty specialized. Unless this is a super-serious pursuit of yours, I’m inclined to recommend a good road bike.

Another local maker is Cicli Spezzotto, which is an unknown brand in the United States but well-regarded in Italy. They make a tri bike, too: the SPZ 2000-Speed Air. Expect to pay around $4,500 for it. The very handsome road-oriented Z-108 is more reasonably priced at around $3,500, with Campy Chorus running gear.

I think it would be way cool to visit a factory and pick a bike that way. And you MUST buy an Italian bike. Anything else would be—how do they say?—cosistupido!

The 2008 Winter Outside Buyer’s Guide is now online. From snow sports to trail-running to camping, get reviews of more than 300 new gear must-haves.

Ask a Question!

Our gear experts await your questions. Go ahead, ask them anything.

By submitting above, you agree to the Outside privacy policy. * We might edit your question for length or clarity.

Comments