Lisa’s Note: Even if you don’t have interest in doing a Triathlon, I encourage you to read this post for the valuable information on WHEN and HOW to buy a bike–no matter what kind you buy!
Time Trial Bikes
Guest Post by Michael
The last type of bike that we’ve not discussed is time trial bikes. These are also commonly used in triathlon events. The purpose of these bikes is to go as fast as possible over a set course where you are timed.
The most glaringly different feature on these bikes is the handlebars. These are called aero bars. Aero bars are intended to stretch your body out into a longer and lower profile position to reduce wind resistance. Your forearms sit on rests and your hands grab the aero bars at the end where the shifters are. The brakes are located at the end of the wider part of the handlebars which are primarily used for climbing up hills. it presents the obvious question — If I’m tucked into the most aerodynamic position, how do I brake? Well, you don’t. Remember, you’re racing against the clock. You are not going to slow your bike down.
Another subtle difference is the frame. These frames are designed to reduce wind resistance and therefore are as skinny as possible. These bikes usually have a cutout that allows the rear tire to be as close as possible to the frame to reduce drag.
The riding position is also a little different. Beyond the tucked position, these riders typically ride the bike as far forward on the saddle as possible. This position allows for more pressure to be places directly over the pedals as you ride which results in a more efficient pedaling motion.
If you’re on a budget and already have a road bike, you can just attach aero bars and get a longer saddle for it. Whatever you decide, it’s a good idea to make sure you can actually get into and sustain that position while pedaling. Your hamstrings really get stretched out on these bikes and it’s a good idea to make sure that you can actually get into this position before you commit any money to the gear. Again, you don’t want to buy things that you’re never going to use, especially when they’re just going to make your bike heavier.
If you do decide to buy a bike this year, I cannot stress the importance of purchasing it from a true bike store. You cannot simply call up a bike store, say that your height is 5’6″ and have someone tell you what size bike you need. Buying a bike is nothing like buying t-shirts. There are more than 4 sizes and you cannot do it over the internet. You need to be fit to a bike by a proper bike technician. This is why you shouldn’t buy a bike from any store that’s not first and foremost, a bike store.
Now that you know how to buy a bike, you need to know that the months of January and February are the best time of the year to buy a bike. In addition to people being discouraged to ride by the weather, the 2010 models are likely on clearance and your bike store is discounting them to make room for the 2011 models. You may even be able to negotiate the price you pay for a bike, especially if you’re shopping for a higher-end model. You want to take advantage of these deals so get out there and buy a bike ASAP! Don’t wait for the weather to improve because you’ll only end up spending more.
QUESTION: Have you bought a bike yet? Are you thinking about it?