The Bike - Kit Essentials
Equipment, June 12, 2019
Dr Tech returns with his second part of the kit list. It goes without saying that to complete the bike leg of a triathlon, you require a bike. Particularly a bike without any sort of motor apart from yourself. In this article, we will look at what equipment is required to train and race for the bike section. Taking into consideration distance, ability, budget, essentials and non-essentials.
Let's start with the basics/essential bits of kit you will need come race day. These items are what we feel are the basics that will make for a good race and a comfortable day at the office.
Bike - Most important the bike you use must fit and be comfortable. A £4000+ bells and whistles TT bike is useless if it's not comfortable to ride. Start by picking a budget to stick to and go from there. Speak to a good bike shop for advice. For pedals, I would start with flat pedals if you're a new rider, Clip-less pedals for the more advanced. Stay away from toe straps!!!! Look into contact points (bars, saddle and pedals). A good bike shop should be able to help with recommendations.
Helmet - Easy, No helmet, No race!! All helmets must pass the same safety tests before going on sale so you don’t need to spend hundreds on a helmet. That being said I recommend paying as much as you can for a piece of safety equipment. Comfort is key. You don’t need an All-out Aero beak unless you're a the sharp end of a race. Even then if the race is hot you're going to bake. For cold weather consider a skull cap or buff under your helmet.
Shorts/bib shorts - A must protect your nether regions. Look for a good pad that isn’t just a lump of foam that feels like a nappy. This can cause more harm than good.
For winter you can look at leggings or thermal leggings. Racing a Tri suit will have some form of padding so choose depending on the distance. All brands have different fits so shop around for what you find comfortable.
Jerseys and jackets - The adage of layers over one massive layer is perfect for cycling. On a chilly day, you may start with a base layer, A jersey and a jacket. So if you warm up you can remove one and stow it in a jersey or jacket pocket. So look for weather appropriate clothing. Windproof over waterproof is fine for most peoples preference of weather riding. If you commute or are a hardcore trainer then opt for a waterproof jacket as well.
Eyewear - Some cyclists a lucky enough not to need eyewear when cycling but personally I can’t ride very far without my eyes drying out. So choose based upon light and weather conditions. Clear for night riding, Sunglasses for daytime and yellow for foggy days. If you need prescription eyewear then talk to an optometrist for options. Look for something with a slight wrap that fits your head well so wind and debris don’t get behind the lenses. Aviators may look cool but aren’t a great cycling spec.
Gloves - Thin or fingerless for summer to keep vibration down and thicker or waterproof for winter or wetter days.
Drinks bottles - Gotta carry drink somehow ;).
THE NON ESSENTIALS
More than one bike - N+1. N being the number of bikes you currently own and 1 always meaning you need 1 more than you currently have. Road bike, training bike, winter bike, Time Trial bike, mountain bike, gravel bike, Cyclocross bike, Touring bike, Tandem, E-bike (not race legal!). The type of bike available these days is mind-blowing for the newbie. Lucky if you can own several but not essential.
Clipless pedals and shoes - If you're doing your first tri then a pair of flat pedals and trainers will get you through. When you are more into it, then go for clipless pedals and shoes with the correct cleats. If you can try some out and find a pair that suits you and your biomechanics (Whole other article!).
Frame storage - Saddle Bags, Bento Boxes, Pump or C02 canisters. If it won’t fit in your jersey or you don’t like carrying too much then there is a way to carry it. For racing try and go as small as possible to save the excess weight of the temptation to carry too much.
Aero wheels - For the beginner an absolute non-essential. And even for the experienced not suitable for every occasion. Aesthetically the look great on the right bike. Aero wheels start from £500 these days anywhere up to £3000 plus. If you have the ability and budget then go for it but otherwise work on your fitness.
Well, that’s it for the bike kit. No doubt some readers will have more to add to the list as it can be subjective but this covers most bases.
Next up run kit.