An old friend from high school got in touch with me about getting into tri's down the road. I thought that this might be one of those threads that would be worth sharing:
I am looking to get a road bike with an end goal of getting into triathlons. I don't have a lot do disposable income for new toys, now that I am a Dad, to go and get this years bike etc. Any advice on bikes that may be a few years old that are of equal quality with less weight to the price tag? Thanks man and no rush on the reply. I hope all is well my friend. -Nick
Hey buddy! I'm happy to help. I'm also stoked you turned to me for some advice. The triathlon market is growing and in the bike world it is the one segment that sees a particular kind of growth that we don't quite get. Either way, there are more and more bikes coming available for that kind of racing. What you need to keep in mind is that these bikes are hard to fit, especially on the low end. Sizing is very confusing as well.
TT (time trial) bikes, used for triathlons because they have the fastest positioning for wind ought to be your first consideration. So if you're about my height, 5'8", then you might want to try a small. you can start to look at mediums when you get about 5'10" or taller. They fit especially weird.
Everyone is migrating towards carbon TT bikes. That means they're dumping their aluminum TT bikes for the newer and better carbon. So the market is 'relatively' saturated, with the hard part being that the market is still small. The beauty of it is, because it is small you should be able to get into one of these bikes for a song. So next, what bikes are any good?
Specialized makes an aluminum shiv. The shiv is basically the most coveted bike in triathlon land. my buddy is actually selling one. he's long legged and riding a medium, 5'10". Fuji may still make one. Trek has one that might be worth looking into.
If you want to go there route of a road bike, every bike sizes differently. 5'7" - 5'10" can fit anywhere from a 51cm to a 55 cm depending on manufacturer. These bikes are more prevalent so it would be worth your time to look into some of the main brands: Specialized, Trek, Cannondale because of quality control in house. You're more likely to get a used bike that will hold up better over time.
The popularity of regular road bikes is prolific at the moment. So these bikes will cost more on the used market. They are often used for triathletes training for their events. Many of them use them for their race as well. I don't usually recommend this because training for your event includes training on the equipment you plan to use. It helps you to eliminate the odd quirks in both gear and technique.
I didn't give any specific models in part because I don't really know all the lines out there. I've been drinking the Specialized coolaide for a while and their race bikes are pretty dang nice. There are some other great tt bikes out there for sure. But it is always a gamble. In the used market, you can't be too careful.