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How to choose a bike? Benchmark times? ......

Hi everyone

I have been bitten by the Tri bug, I've always done the gym but never really focused on anything in particular. But since being asked about doing a triathlon just before Christmas i can't think of anything else.... I'm totally transfixed on the whole idea. I have all but stopped doing resistance training, I'm now focused on the three disciplines that matter. Anyway, i have about a thousand questions to ask but thought i'd drip feed them over a few weeks!

First and most important is....

...how do i choose a bike? What are the 5-10 key things i should be looking for? There are so many to choose from, it seems like a minefield. Please help in any way you can.

And just a few benchmark speeds would also be good. I have been training for 3 weeks and have managed.....

.....going from being just about able to swim two lengths (fc), to being just about able to swim 400 meters in 8:25. Although this is far from dignified towards the end! I'm hoping to cut this to 7:30 in the next 8 weeks (my first sprint is 26th April). I'd like to hear any thoughts you have on this......

.....doing 15K bike in the gym in 30mins - but thats very very hard, does anyone know how the static bike compares to the real thing? Until i get a bike i am finding it very difficult to assess my performance.

I'd love to hear from you all. I'm so excited about the whole thing i'm close to exploding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




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    deeessdeeess Posts: 150
    gym bikes are be faster - not surprising really given you don't need to contend with braking, corners etc

    i generally do a 10km ride on a gym bike in 17 mins - on the road its a lot slower - especially in London where I take my life in my hands

    i will let more qualified bods comment on bike selection etc

    good luck - it is addictive
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    Wow.......I don't know how much faster my little legs will go! But it sounds like I've got a way to go!! I guess the resistance level on the gym bike does not effect the distance travelled calculation so that must come into the equation somewhere......thanks so much for your reply......
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    bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    On part of the swimming: focus on the right technique. Getting a few coached sessions in would cut more of your time than just racing up and down the lane the whole time. Swimming is 3/4 technique!!!

    Bike : Get a second hand road racing bike, see if you get hooked totri's (you will!). Then get the best bike you can afford; more expensive= better (up to a certain amount).
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    JulesJules Posts: 987
    I'd echo what Benny said about coaching. I can swim for a fair distance but rather slowly, as my technique is rubbish. Until you improve your technique you won't improve your speed much, even if you train a lot. At least that's what I've been told and it does seem to be true for me.

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    BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Bike selection should be based on price (higher is better), colour (red is fastest) and amount of carbon fibre (more is better, regardless of quality or weight)... [:D]

    Seriously, you need to decide on a budget, how serious you are, brand preferences, do you have access to a cycle to work scheme etc etc. The headline advice you'll probably get around here is "buy the bike that fits you best within your budget".

    Swim times: excellent work, and good progress. I would guess you are technique limited at the moment, so stop worrying about timing your 400m swim every session, and do 50 or 100m at a time, concentrating on good form. 20s rest in between efforts will give you enough recovery time. If you don't know what 'good form' is then get a more experienced swimmer or a coach to give you a few pointers. Doing longer sessions where your technique deteriorates will just reinforce that poor form. 8 x 50m of quality swimming is far better than 400m of thrashing.

    Getting down to 7:30 in 8 weeks is certainly achievable with the right technique work.

    As for gym bike times it is almost meaningless to compare to road times. As you say, difficulty setting is the biggest variable. The most important thing is that you are pedalling hard for 30 minutes... just be careful and don't overdo it in your early enthusiasm. You need to get the miles into your legs to prevent injuries when you start to train harder. Back off and try going for a bit longer.

    Finally, you said "I'm now focussed on the 3 disciplines that matter". Bzzt. Wrong! You forgot the 4th discipline - transition. You'll soon need to start doing 'brick' sessions, where you run immediately after getting off the bike. This can be easily done in the gym. Many tri-ers will always have a run after getting off the bike, even if it just for 10 minutes. I cant speak from experience, but I believe the 70.3 and iron distances also add the fifth discipline - eating.

    Oh... and welcome to triathlon![8D]
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    graham33graham33 Posts: 265

    I am still new to triathlon. i bought a £90 bike on ebay - I totally didn't know what I was buying. And it was ok for my first sprint - I then bought a Giant SCR 3. it was £465 - £50 for NOT trading in my old bike!!!!

    And it was SOOOOO much better even though it is still a complete entry bike. Since then i have upgraded the groupset and the wheels. So I would spend £1000 on a bike and it should last a while!

    With times on the road it totally depends where you are - Plymouth where I am there are hills every where so your average speed really suffers. I would mainly work on how hard you are actually working, by using your heart rate.

    But that's just my two pence!

    Good luck for this season.
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    This is all good stuff, thanks so much. I'll probably buy a new bike (as finding a decent second hand that fits may become a pain), and with that in mind i need to know what i'm looking for in terms of spec. I've got about £500 to spend but really don't want to buy something that i'm going to want to change next year (or next event)! I can walk into a bike shop tomorrow and see ten bikes at around £500. Which one is for me? How many gears? What is a good overall weight? etc.

    As for swimming, that's great advise, i'm off to the pool later and will not be wearing a watch (it'll slow me down too much (only kidding))! Focus on the catch today, elbows high....

    Keep the great advise coming.....thanks

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    Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    Whatever you spend on your first bike, after a few races you will become dissatisfied with it want to upgrade it... it is an unalterable law of the universe. So factor in spending 1.5 to 2.0 times what you first spend in about 9 - 12 months. Really, it's a learning experience.. and as you gain in experience, you will realise what suits you etc. Same goes for the rest of the kit though - from running shoes upwards...
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    JulesJules Posts: 987
    There's a recent thread about buying a £300 bike vs a £1000 bike. Have a search for that. Plus if you are an employee see if your employer has a cycle to work scheme - as mentioned above - or persuade them to start one. You can save a almost half of the bike cost and pay the balance in instalments.
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    graham33graham33 Posts: 265
    Jack Hughes wrote:

    Whatever you spend on your first bike, after a few races you will become dissatisfied with it want to upgrade it... it is an unalterable law of the universe. So factor in spending 1.5 to 2.0 times what you first spend in about 9 - 12 months. Really, it's a learning experience.. and as you gain in experience, you will realise what suits you etc. Same goes for the rest of the kit though - from running shoes upwards...

    the Nail has just been hit on the head!!!!!!!!![:D]
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    Like your goodself,

    Im new to Tri, and im soaking up all the advise I can get too

    I've managed to get onto the Cycle 2 Work scheme through work and will be looking at most thing's about £1k, Boardman, FOCUS, Dolan, Kiron (all Carbon bikes) there are other's but as most of the thread's suggest, im going for the best bike the scheme affords.

    Good 'old Ebay and Wiggle are top's for getting deal's on most of your equipment, but running shoe's is another stumbling block. I've had my running style analysed at Sweatshop and Heruns-Sherun's and tried on hundred's of pairs of trainer's (well quite a few each time) and found it worthwhile each time (seem's like Adidas will continue to get my pennies)

    Im planning my year around 5k's, 10k's, a Duathlon and then finally a Tri later on, this year for me is about setting time's and getting used to the events, with next year getting all technical on my arse!!!

    HR trianing, running, swimming, cycling technique's, that and no doubt making a complete fool of meself whilst in transition [:D]

    Oooh it's gonna be a long road.......
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    I agree with all the above posts.

    Re: Bike. Other guys can comment better on the individual makes and their strengths and weaknesses (e.g. Treefrog and others) but, for what it's worth, I have a Felt F5C and love it to bits. And it's red. And carbon. Both of which will become more important to you as time goes on... Seriously though, my advice is to visit a specialist bike shop in your area and ask for their advice. Good shops have enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff and they will genuinely want to help you find the bike that's best for you rather than just pawn off the best model (apart from anything else, they know that a happy customer will buy all their expensive upgrades from the same shop...). It's also worth having a proper fitting - many shops have a set of equipment that enables them to measure you e.g. length of inside leg, shoulder width, arm length etc. etc. that all affect how your bike should be set up. They can print off the results showing ideal measurements and angles, and will normally do this for free if you buy your bike from them (or you can pay £30 ish and use the measurements in other shops or for an e-bay bike). Just be aware that different models use different sizes i.e. a Felt 58cm bike may fit you but, for a Cannondale, you may need 60cm (or 56cm). Never buy without trying it out.

    For swimming, you can get loads of useful instruction tips and video clips for free online. tri247.com has some, as does swimcity.com. I started off by using these tips and sites and then took a swim training course (Swim4Tri) in my second season.

    Re: timings. Rough estimates for average times are: swim 7mins30 for 400m, 15mins for 750m or 30 mins for 1500m. Bike 36-40mins for 20km, 1hr12-1hr20m for 40km. Run: 22-25mins for 5km, 44-50mins for 10km. The bike times vary massively depending on the course and the weather - a flat windless course can be 10-20mins faster than a hilly beast. The run times are obviously affected by the hills and weather, but the key factor is your ability to run off the bike (i.e. the brick sessions that Bopomofo referred to). In my first triathlons my 5km time in the race was more than 5mins slower than my normal 5km run only time - i.e. I didn't practice brick sessions and ended up being cramped and winded on what should have been my fastest discipline.

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    Hi Gary,

    I've just been through the same process with purchasing a new(er) bike, after much investigating and lots of help from the guys on the forum I set a list of critera.

    [ul][*]A decent alloy frame <£1k was recommend over a similarily priced entry level carbon frame

    [*]go for a 105 groupset or above (Ultegra/Dura Ace)

    [*]a triple front ring OR compact chain set - these will give you a ratio of gears that will allow you tackle all terrain[/ul]

    Do get properly measured up at a shop

    After much searching I found a good deal on a 6 month old bike on eBay (picking it up on Saturday... can't wait!!)

    My understanding is that "bike envy" or the desire to upgrade will always exist regardless of the amount you spend.

    Above were my criteria and other might also disagree..

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    treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    EBAY WARNING : I've just got stung on ebay, I bought a wheelset which wern't really what they said they were; the description was correct, the condition was as described but they are a bit on the old side. I hope they are compatible with my bikes, but I think they won't be ! Ah well I'll get some use out of them some how!
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    BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    More details, treefrog? What wheels, how old, and what compatibility probs might they cause? I'm interested because... well... I might make the same mistake one day.
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    treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    Bike frame dimensions changed in 1998ish in order to take the new 9 & 10speed groupsets. Its all to do with frame clearances. This is why you should avoid bikes more than 5 seasons old as they may be perfectly good if a bit old fashioned but you will not get kit to fit them. This why sites like campyoldie do so well.

    The wheels I got were quite cheap and come shod with tubs in reasonable condition.I put a bid of 60 quid and when I checked two days later I actually got them, so it's not a fortune but I feel a little foolish. I haven't tried them out yet and it may be possible to add a 10 speed freewheel, but it will cost another 20 quid - I would have been better off going to my LBS and spending 100 quid and getting a set of Ventos, but you learn. Anyway I'll keep yu posted on how they turn out!

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