Now that another Kona is in the books, are you one of the thousands of people that have been thinking about getting in the sport of triathlon and now are pumped and motivated?
Did you start drooling like Homer Simpson looking at a donut when inundated with SO MUCH BIKE PORN with Kona? Orbea, Slice, Shiv, Plasma... if you don't know if you should be looking at the shifter brand, crank arm length, cooler for orange slices (Cannondale Slice), watching out for the armed man in the prison yard (Specialized Shiv) or looking for a blood bank (Scott Plasma), then you're not alone.
To help you out, here are 5 things to consider when you are looking for a trusty steed.
Are you gung-ho committed forever to racing triathlons? Are you medium crispy about the idea or racing triathlons only? Do you want to ride in cycling tours and to work in addition to races? These are the things you need to think about before stepping in a bike or triathlon shop. Know what kind of bike you want. Triathlon bikes are very different than strictly road bikes. If you have the funds, then by all means buy one of each. If you are like most people, then you are looking for entry level to test the waters to see if this whole triathlon thing is for you. Road bike or triathlon bike?
4) Are you serious?
Do you want to just test the waters? If you are looking for a new entry level bike, be ready to drop $700 for a quality entry level road bike. Expect to drop $1500 for an entry level new triathlon bike. Know what your budget is before you walk into a store. Look online for price ranges to know what you should expect to pay depending on the level of quality you want.
3) All bike shops are not created equal.
When you know what you want and are ready to make like a winning slot machine (think about money just flying out of your pocket), then check out multiple shops. Do they have a warranty plan? Do they offer free service if you buy a bike from them? Do they have multiple locations? Do they offer discounts on parts if you buy their bike? There is plenty of game in town, usually. Must bike shops will offer incentives other than price discounts to get your business.
2) Work it.
If you find a shop with a bike you like at the price you want, but are so-so on the shop, then see if the shop you like will price match to get your business. Don't take advantage of shops, but that's capitalism. You have choices, so don't settle.
1) Ride the bike.
Don't just look at it. Ride it around at least for 10 miles or 30 minutes. The geometry can vary from brand to brand. You don't want to drop $700 for a bike that gives you back issues. Bike shops won't return your money for a bike that does not fit you properly unless they fit you incorrectly. Make sure the frame feels comfortable.
Bonus tip) call around to see if shops have a later year model that they need to sell.
Bike shops don't like excess inventory of 2 year old bikes they didn't sell. Sometimes you can find a diamond in the rough by finding a new bike that's a year old that no one bought for a substantial price discount.
Good luck in finding that ride!
Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com, married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans. Ryan is also the Kansas City Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughts HERE and he collects race reviews at www.Triathlon-Reviews.blogspot.com. Contact Ryan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan.