Road bicycles and triathlon bicycles are a weakness of mine, I love them. If you haven’t had the chance to ride ridiculously expensive French made carbon fiber bikes I definitely suggest it. Once you through your leg over an 11 lb road bike that almost climbs itself up hills I think you’ll be hooked too. I worked in a high end bike shop and got to be around some of the coolest bikes in the land and that is where my obsession escalated. The problem with bikes is they’re expensive and usually you have to choose just one, so I thought I’d give you my bike obsessed opinion of my favorite bikes. Just as a disclosure, I’m not getting any free bikes or gear here, just letting you know what I think. I’ve broken it down into three major price ranges to fit almost anyone’s budget for a new bike.
$2,000.00 and under triathlon bikes:
The Felt S22 priced at $1,599.00
If I was buying a bike for under $2,000 I would think pretty hard about maybe just getting a road bike. At this price range you’re a bit limited on what kind of frame materials you can get because you’re pretty much going to be getting something in aluminum. Once you get above this 2,000 mark you’re going to have more options and you’ll start to have access to carbon frames. A good option too is buying last year’s model because you’ll be able to get more for your money and typically nothing dramatic has changes. All this being said my favorite bike for under 2,000 is the Felt S22. It is made of 7,000 series aluminum and a pretty decent mix of components including some Shimano Ultegra derailleurs. The Bike looks pretty cool too which helps you to look fast at least. The whole thing weighs in at just under 20 lbs, according to Felt anyways. This bike will definitely feel harsh on long rides because the aluminum is a stiff material, but overall I think the bike would perform nicely for someone jumping in to do sprint distance or olympic distance races. I did my first Half Ironman on a heavy Trek 1,000 road bike so you could definitely finish a longer race. The first piece to upgrade on this bike would definitely be the wheels though!
$2,000 to $5,000 Triathlon Bikes:
The Look 576 Retailing at $2,899.00
Just a slight move in price brings a lot more as far as bikes go, we can now begin to look at carbon fiber triathlon bikes. This price ranges has some serious options but my favorite and highest value bike is the Look 576. The bike is cool and has some great features about it, but it isn’t a super common bike in that you see all the time. With a Sram Rival build the bike retails at $2,899. The components are pretty good, and the bike comes with some nice training wheels, although I would still upgrade the wheels to maybe a set of Easton EA90 Aeros and I’d still be under the 5,000.00 mark. A really cool feature about this bike that I love, that other may not is the seat mast that has to be cut when you get fit to the bike. This is cool because then the bike is custom tailored to you, but this could kill your resale value if you can’t find someone with a similar build to you. The seats can be adjusted by elastomer bands by about 3cm once the cut is made. There is also another version of the same bike that has the normal seat adjustment screws. The frame weighs in under 1100 grams which is pretty good and it is also made in France.
$5,000 and up:
The Cannondale Slice Hi Mod Retailing at $6,899
If you’re going to be putting down some serious money you’re either going to be investing a great frame and building as you go, which is most likely for most people or you’ll be buying the whole thing all at once. If I was dropping the money I would prefer to have the bike built to exactly my specifications which means I wouldn’t want to be getting a bike from a company that produces its own components like wheels, handle bars etc. simply because I don’t think you get your money’s worth. An example is Trek and Specialized for example. If I’m dropping 10k on a bike, I would much rather have Zipps or Mad Fiber wheels rather than Bontrager or Specialized brand wheels. The Bike I really like for this price category is the Cannondale Slice Hi-Mod. The bike comes equipped with Sram Red, some killer parts, Cosmic Carbonne Aero wheels and is a pretty awesome bike overall. Cannondale’s BB30 bottom brackets are bullet proof and the bikes are stiff! The bike is priced at $6,899 which is actually a pretty sweet deal and a lot of bike for the buck. Throw is some aero wheels and you’ll be styling!
If you’re new to the sport you’re in for some serious sticker shock, especially if you have a non triathlete spouse! You get what you pay for though and bikes can last a long time when well maintained. Be sure to try as many different geometries, and frame materials to compare rides as you can before you take the plunge. I’d love to know what you think below and let me know what your favorite bike is by leaving a comment.