HealthTraining & Performance

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


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.

Giant FCR 3W

FCR 3W Bike

You’re probably looking at a hybrid. Marin’s Muirwoods ($429;, 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; 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; 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;, gloves (Pearl Izumi Gel Lite Tour, $20;, and glasses (Performance Vector Multi-Lens, $50; Don’t forget as well a pump (Topeak Peak Blaster;, tube patch kit and levers ($8), and seat bag (Cannondale Fast Bag, $20; 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!

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Filed To: Triathlons
Lead Photo: courtesy, Giant