Bikes, bikes, bikes

Hello everyone! With itchy feet after my first marathon (and with much extra energy to spare while working to improve my times for the next one), I'm turning my eye to Triathlons. First task: look for a bike!

As my workplace offers the Cycle2Work scheme, it makes sense to go new. Having done a little research, the Carrera TDF or Virtuoso look right for the price, but is it also worth looking at lower-end Specialized models (around the £300-400 mark)?

I was thinking of getting a road bike and switching to cyclocross tyres for everyday use (i.e. cycling to work on a 7-8mi gravel path along the canal), then racing in the road tyres - is this adviseable? Or should I really be looking at hybrid bikes?


  • In my limited opinion you need to spend a little more to get a good bike

    Personally I would go for a Cyclocross and swap in for road tyres if you decide to do a triathlon rather than a cheap end road bike and put cross tyres on

    See if you can stretch your budget on the C2W scheme ... the Carerrais Hellfrauds is it not?  I thought the scheme supported local businesses more now than the large brands, find a LBS that supports the scheme and go and talk to them

  • Never ridden a cyclocross bike so can't comment on their suitability, but I wouldn'tfancy riding a road bike along a canal towpath for nine miles even withknobbly tyres. if you did go for this option though I would suggest hybrid type tyres rather than knobbly cyclocross type.

    If I recall correctly the supplier is selected by the employer so you perhaps won't have any choice. However Halfords do offer a reasonable selection. I was quite impressed by the boardman range.
  • Thanks, this is really helpful. I've only ever ridden second-hand mountain bikes at Uni (before they got nicked) so wasn't sure what to expect; just heard road bikes were faster and they cost a lot more too, on the whole!

    Checked with my employer and apparently it's Evans and Cyclescheme that we're signed up to, so Halfords may be a no-go anyway, though this won't stop me from asking!

    I know this is terribly vague but what should I be looking for in a good hybrid bike? Any advice much appreciated (I'm 5'2 which puts quite a restriction on suitable bikes, I'm guessing?)

  • Road bikes are a lot faster, but if you want to use it for commuting then you also need to think about comfort. I use a road bike for commuting BTW but this is all along roads.

    A broad range of bikes fall under the hybrid umbrella, but the main consuderation us riding position. For the distanceyou are talking about you probably want a bent over position, which is more aerodynamic and generates more power than an upright position.

    Without tryou are looking for a compromise so think about what you want. Do you want a commuting bike that you can use for occasional tri, or do you want a racing bike that you can use for commuting. However, as M..Eldy said, find a good local bike shop through the cyclesceme and try s few out.
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭

    First off I doubt you'll fit cyclocross tyres on a road bike so that's out.   You will fit road tyres on a cross bike so that would be an option but cross bikes tend to cost a bit more than your budget.    

    I would just get a road bike with clearance for mudguards and slightly wider tyres - then fit something very puncture proof and as wide as you can get away with.   I don't know what is on the market like that if anything - I've got a Principia that takes deep drop brakes which would be ideal but they don't make them any more.   

    It does depend on what the canal path is like though - compacted gravel meant for cycling on you don't need particulalry wide or grippy tyres and it's really just something that wont cut up you are looking for - rough mud and gravel is a bit different and then a cross bike or hybrid is probably more suitable.    

  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭

    Oh and mudguards are a must for commuting in the UK imo

  • I don't understand much about how the C2W scheme works, but if you decided not to take advantage of it and figured out what kind of bike you wanted, you can get excellent secondhand bikes on eBay for a fraction of their brand new cost. Meaning that with a bit of careful hunting, you could probably get a £1200-£1500 bike for your £400. I've bought several (off-road) bikes on eBay and I've never been disappointed. My current bike was £750 new, but I got it for £150 and it was in practically un-ridden and pristine condition.

    Just a thought, as £400 for a new bike won't go very far...

  • Start cheap - you may do a couple of sprint tris, decide it's not your bag and end up with a £1K bike you use once per month to go work when its dry.

    Here's the deal

    - spend £400 on entry level bike and you enjoy triathlon - you'll want to upgrade.

    - spend £1500 on a mid-level bike and you enjoy triathlon - you'll want to upgrade.

    So get a cheap functional built proof bike, fit mud guards if that's your thing - personally I'm unsociable and don't.

    In a year's time it will either be gathering dust or sitting on a turbo whilst your new shiny bike becomes your pride and joy.

    Whilst a lovely expensive bike is nice to have, its certainly not required. I averaged 20mph at IM Switzerland on an aluminum ill fitting road bike costing less than £400.

    Sometimes its better to look like a novice rather than a prick with a flash bike that doesn't need it.

    *yours having a new flash bike being built as I type - but I'm a prickimage

  • I'd definitely go for a road bike if you are considering triathlon. If you want new, £400 is really right at the bottom end of the entry level range (below companies like Giant & Specialised etc.). For that price Decathlon bikes get a pretty good write up as bang for buck, and would certianly do the job of an intro into tri. The alternative is to look around for 2nd hand. Some shops do trade-ins, and sell on the 2nd hand bikes. Cheaper is probably ebay. be prepared to watch auctions for a bit & work out what things go for. I think the savings mentioned above are a little ambitious, especially for a road bike - there don't seem to be the same bargains as there used to be. However I got a £600 road bike in mint condition for £310 last year.

    Remember the key thing in a bike is fit. A better bike, which doesn't fit as well is a worse bike - you wouldn't run in clown shoes. If you buy from a decent LBS they should help you get this right, there are plenty of websites to help you get your setup fairly good, or you can pay a lot of money for a proper bike fit specialist.

    Also don't forget the other things you will need - cycle shoes, possibly pedals, cycling gear, track pump & a helmet if you haven't got one.

    Road bike every time from me & then I'd look at building up confidence with road cycling, and do the commute on the road rather than the tow-path.


  • Just upgraded my Carerra TDF. Now I look like a prick but at least I am a comfy one who loves her bike!

    The TDF is now on the turbo and it has been bulletproof. I would say it has been good value (£350) and a good starting point.

  • I did my first season on a decathlon bike
  • muffin top wrote (see)

    Just upgraded my Carerra TDF. Now I look like a prick but at least I am a comfy one who loves her bike!

    The TDF is now on the turbo and it has been bulletproof. I would say it has been good value (£350) and a good starting point.

    Exhibit A

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