When deciding to do a triathlon there is a lot to consider.
Which wetsuit should I buy? (or indeed do they even make wetsuits in my proportions?)
Same again with tri suits. And do I even need one?
Will slipping into shorts and t-shirt after the swim be acceptable?
Will I need to splash out on cycling shorts if I don’t get a tri suit or will it not matter to much over shorter distance triathlons?
What the hell is a tri suit?
Over the next few days I am going to amalgamate some of the information and advice I have recieved on these subjects and more.
And then hopefully once I have completed my first few events I will take a look back and go over that information and highlight that which I found genuinely useful.
I am going to start with where this journey began.
I’ll come out and just tell you which bike I have “settled on” and why.
I am going for a Ribble made carbon fibre framed Sportive Bianco.
“Settled on” is the right expression, Especially if you speak to anyone from any of the LBS (local bike shops) that I have been to.
In nearly every bike shop I have been to I have given them my budget and nearly everytime been advised that I need something slightly pricier, with a different groupset (gears, derauliiers and brakes etc) or this Alu 7005 frame instead of this 6061.
Or again when I raised my price estimations a little, that I infact should settle on nothing less than a carbon frame.
And then looking through the pages of cycling and triathlon magazines you see bikes for anything up to £6000.
I saw a set of wheels for £2000. That’s more than my whole bike budget !
What do they do? Propel you along the cycle part of a triathlon?
Well, I have done my research, and read every article I could, and spoken at length to people at my LBS, but the best advice I have found has come from people on cycling, running and triathlon forums.
There is a wealth of knowledge and if you can weed out the sound advice (that which gets repeated time and again by knowledgable people) and get away from mere opinion then you will find some great deals out there.
I initially decided to set myself a budget of £300 to £400.
Which is alot less than I paid for my old mountain bike 10 years ago and was maybe a little optimistic.
That said, there are some bargains out there to be had second hand but I wanted to have a new bike as a present to myself for getting promoted and for deciding to finally get off my lard ass and do something productive.
Don’t get me wrong. There are new bikes out there well within that budget ( The B’twinn 3 being the best I have found in that price bracket) but I wanted something that would last and that I wouldn’t want to upgrade within a couple of months.
So I settled on a budget of £1300.
It’s an amount I feel comfortable with, but that in no way means that I couldn’t get a good bike for less.
It’s just for that money I can get the bike I want.
I went for the Ribble Sportive Bianco for a few reasons.
Firstly, it has had nothing but steller reviews and everyone seems to agree that you get an awful lot of bike at an amazing price.
Another reason I went for it is because Ribble offer 0% finace over 10 months.
If they didn’t I would have probably gone for the GT GTR series 2 (£750 right now)
The GTR s2 was the bike I initially wanted, and was up to the spec I thought I required but once I read the Ribble reviews and found I could get it on the never never then I haven’t looked back.
The setup I am going for is a Triple 10 speed Shimano 105 groupset. With ITM Wheels and finishing kit.
Deciding which groupset to get has been the biggest headache of them all.
There are so many considerations. Cost, quality, aerodynamics and aesthestics. Not to mention do I need a triple or a double groupset.
I finally decided I needed a triple when someone suggested a compact double.
I’ll explain more about doubles, triples and compacts in a later post as I feel this one is starting to drag.
Here’s a quick rundown of the basic groupsets:
Shimano 2300 is the cheapest of the groupsets and the most basic. It is an 8-speed system, offering eight gear ratios on the rear cassette and two or three chainrings at the front. The STI gear shifters shift up using the brake lever, but shift down using a small button on the inside of the lever, similar to Campagnolo levers.
The most significant upgrade from 2200 to Sora is the additional sprocket, from eight to nine speed. The Sora STI levers include a built-in gear indicator, so you can see what gear you’re in without looking back at your cassette. Sora also uses an integrated bottom bracket rather than the traditional square taper bottom bracket on 2200 and has a much more sophisticated forged crankset. This arrangement is much stiffer, allowing for a more confident pedalling feel during sprints and hard climbs. Sora is generally much better made and finished than 2200 and is a much more attractive and modern-looking groupset.
This groupset offers a 10 speed system and generally has a better finish and quality. The most significant upgrade is to the STI gear levers. Rather than the thumb button used for downshifts on Sora and 2200, Tiagra features a small paddle behind the gear lever. This allows for much easier shifting from the drops, which is an essential feature for racers and fast group riders.
105 uses much of the technology from the Dura-Ace groupset but in a more affordable package. 105 also offers a HollowTech crankset, which is lighter and stiffer than those on lower groupsets. This groupsets also offers internal cable routing – this routes both sets of cables under the handlebar tape, allowing for better aerodynamics and a cleaner look to the front end
Ultegra and Dura-Ace
These groupsets offer essentially the same technology as 105, but with progressively better materials and machining. As the flagship groupset, Dura-Ace features many parts in Carbon
Fiber and exotic parts like fluorine coated bushings. Notably, Dura-Ace does not currently feature a Triple crankset and is available only in Double or Compact configurations.
I went for the 105‘s because it is the same technology as the higher groupsets and I could get it in a triple crankset at the front, which offers me “granny gears” for if I am ever struggling with an accent whilst out riding.
There seems to be a great deal of debate about the shifting performance of different groupsets. The general consensus is that Sora shifts much better than 2200, Tiagra is an improvement over Sora, 105 is an improvement again, and that there is a much smaller difference seen from 105 upwards. The main improvements from Ultegra and Dura-Ace seem to be weight and aesthetics.
So, the Ribble Sportive Bianco is the bike that I have “settled on”.
Although, I haven’t really settled.
It is the bike that I am extremely excited about receiving. I can’t wait.
All the reviews I have read, all the people I have spoken to who have had dealings with Ribble. And the contact I have had with them myself already indicates that I am going to be getting a great bike at a great price.
It can’t arrive soon enough.