First time triathlon - advice needed

Please can anyone help with some advice for a first-timer? 

My husband has just signed up for a triathlon (he's a complete novice, decent swimmer and commuter cyclist, not much of a runner) and is looking for some advice on the best sort of entry level bike to get.  The first triathlon is a 40km cycle and I would guess at this stage that will be his norm for a while yet.

Any advice would be much appreciated particularly around the advantages of a tri bike versus a road bike, price range and suppliers.  He's being doing some research on the internet and through friends, but I suggested giving this forum a whirl (I am a regular post-er on the running related threads).

 thanks in advance for any advice

Hegs x


  • Hi, i am a first timer and have just brought a road bike. A friend of mine did a tri last year on a mtb and said that although he got on ok the first thing he did afterwards was buy a road bike! Plenty of deals to be had at the mo!
  • ok i would definitely say avoid the mountain bike or a hybrid. I would go for a road bike that you can add tri bars to for racing. What he needs to do is get the miles in first and thats best on a road bike. . If he likes tri then an out and out tri bike would be the next step but a lot of us are fine with road bikes- after all you only spend a tiny amount of your riding time racing.
  • I bought a road bike, stuck some tri bars on it, best of both worlds.

    Now of course if I had the money & space for a TT bike......

  • Hegs - there is no real rush to buy anything.  Once you start buying you are on a very slippery slope and can spend a fortune.  Most people do their first races on whatever bike they have in the garage, but if he's signed up to a race with a 40k bike leg then there is a good chance that there won't be too many real beginners at that.  Thats a sweeping assumption but probably reasonably accurate. There is a risk that he won't like it - so spending £1000s for your first race might be a bit pre-emptive.  On the other hand, and as we all know, tri is a reall hoot so that is unlikely!

    Do you have a budget or is money not an issue?  No need to answer that... but you can get a very good entry level road bike for about £300 - and the prices then rise up with no real ceiling!  Tri bars (aero bars) can be clip on, so you can add them later.  I would say as a minimum you need any bike (make sure it's in good condition), a helmet, and a good pair of runing shoes.  A one piece tri suit will make the whole thing easier and you can swim/bike/run in it and a good pair of running shoes.  If you are going for lycra tri suits get a £5 number belt too as safety pins and lycra don't mix well. Also essential to buy a good puncture kit with tyre levers and an under saddle bag to put them in - he will get punctures - and a bottle cage so that he can carry a drink on the bike.  You will therefore also need a small pump for the bike and I would recomend a track pump to.

    If you are going to kit up properly then you could consider clipless pedals & shoes, bike gloves, bike type sun glasses, waterproof bike jacket, cycling leggings/shorts.... the list goes on and on.

    Good luck to him - hope he enjoys it.  Which race is he signed up for - will there be any pirates there - always good for support.

  • Claude Butler San Remo £299.00. No idea what it's like but apparently Evans do them and basic entry level treader.

    Make sure your tyres colour match your wheels and shades must be ubercool. Gloves with fingers missing make you look like you know what you are doing to Joe Public, especially if you leave them on in the run. When you stand to pedal, make your bike rock from side to side to look like Power God, get Ironman tri bars to make you look like you can do one. Say words like carbon weave, wattage, 12/25, titanium and century rides.

    Don't run in cycling shorts though, like running with a poo in your pants as a nipper. Don't mount bike in transition, people shout at you, do consider piracy, people shout at you louder and insult you too.

    Above all, everyone is there for themselves and to join in, no-one gives a cr4p about whether your kit is worse or better than theirs. I followed a couple of lads for 4 laps of Dorney Lake, couldn't catch them at all and they spent the whole time yakking about the state of the world.  

  • and commuter cyclist

    What sort of bike does he use for his commute?

  • I got management sanction for a shower at work so I could use the bike to get there. Helps that one of directors wife is a tri bod and he a bike ponce. Couldn't get permission from building regs. So that's buggered. Nowt to do with it, sorry.
  • what do you mean could couldn't get permission from Building Regs - who told you that.  I'm a facilities manager/property bod and that sounds rubbish.  where is your office?  How big?  Where was the shower going?..... happy to look at this for you if you want to email with some details.  I might be able to advise how to get round building regs.  It is very rare for there to be a flat No to applications.  What did they say when they said no...  By Building Regs I presume you mean the District Surveyor.  DS's are normally really helpful.  I wonder if some cycnic somewhere has decided that this will be too expensive and are using this as an excuse to let you down nicely........

  • PSC, according to the builder, apparently, the likely place for it to go was in the disabled loo, turning it into a wetroom. But building regs state that the loo has to be a certain size and it would have reduced the available space for any disabled employees. The builder said permission would not be granted.

     Either that, or try and put it in the main loos which would a) mean that we might be scraping against the minimum loo requirement and b) the drain off would have meant putting a false floor in to get a shower to drain properly which would have been to costly (fair enough on that one).

    Based upon that advice, we decided not to proceed, didn't actually get as far as a district surveyor.

    So ultimately, yes, I suppose it ws a cost issue. 

  • Thanks folks, really helpful.

    He commutes (did, I should say, we moved out of London and 35 miles into town on the A3 would be a bit much on a bike!) but it was mtb with road tyres on it so not really tri-appropriate I gather.  His bike is also a bit knackered now (about 10 years old) so time for a new one and frankly any excuse!  It sounds from here though that he's best off with road bike, so thanks for that.

    He's entered the London triathlon with a couple of friends - they're fairly well-seasoned but 'fun' triathletes and so whilst he wants to keep up with the Joneses a bit he doesn't want to spend a fortune in case he doesn't like it (I'd be surprised, it'll only be the run that would put him off).

    Hegs x

  • Plenty of peeps do London Tri on mountain bikes, and shopping bikes for that matter.
  • thanks again, i'll point him to the link JD, looks like it'll give him a lot of pointers.

    I'm beginning to get tempted to enter myself, after all this researching on his behalf! (if I didn't have FLM to train for).

    Hegs x

  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    Do both then !
  • Has anyone looked at the Boardman Bikes in ..dare I say it..Halfords.? Look Pretty nice to me and getting a lot of good reviews.
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