The Olympics have inspired me to step into the ring of triathlons and Im in desperate need of your help. I got the swimsuit and goggles, Ive fallen in love with my running shoes, but where can I find a solid bike thatll perform in ideal tri-conditions without sapping both my energy and my bank account? Alan Washington, DC
The OCR3 from Giant
So, what kinda road bike? For a basic pair of wheels, it's very difficult to beat the Giant OCR3 (www.giant.com). For $600 you get a light, snappy aluminum frame, good-shifting Shimano drive train, and good-quality Michelin tires. It's just a tremendous buy in a pretty serious road tool. The only drawback is that it's sized small/medium/large, so if you're a between-sizes guy, you might have to make some compromises there. For a step up, the KHS Flite 500 ($1,000) gives you a better-quality parts group with a very stiff frame (better power transmission) and race-ready tires. But its frame may be too stiff if you ride rough roads often. And if you want to spend serious dough, Trek's 5200 is not all that dissimilar from the bike Lance rides, for a lot less money -- $2,800.
You will find that there also are such things as "tri" bikes, which usually have aerodynamic tubing and handlebars set up for long periods crouched over aero bars. A good example: Cervélos Dual Ultegra ($1,600). But they're not "all purpose" bikes, so if you want to ride and race all-around, stick with a true road bike.