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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Buying a road bike for a triathlon...looking for advice from other mtn bikers.

A few years ago I bought a "comfort" Giant mountain bike and then in 2005 I bought a Giant XtC, and I've really enjoyed them.

A friend and I are seriously considering entering into the Sado Triathlon this year, which would be my first triathlon ever. (The biking portion is 105km, and I'm only looking to finish, not trying to beat anyone else.) If it weren't for the fact that I pretty much need a road bike for the triathlon, I wouldn't consider getting one.

So, here's my issue. I'm a tall guy in Japan, and I'm not going to find a bike shop that stocks my frame size locally, and while I can speak Japanese, it's certainly not my native language. I'm pretty comfortable with the idea of picking up a 500mm Giant road bike (they've worked for me so far) but I'm thrown for a loop with the different handle bars. (The kind that shoot out in front of the bike, the traditional road bike handles and the flatbar bikes)

In my first quick search, the FCR2 was my gut instinct, because I'm comfortable with the flatbar set up on my mountain bikes... But I'm wondering if anyone here is a mountain bike rider that has purchased/ridden a road bike specifically for a triathlon, and if they might have any advice for me.

At this point, I'm still going through the paces of making sure I can handle the running and swimming, since the race is in the beginning of September...but I'd like to order this by April or May if I'm going to enter the race.
 

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For a triathlon you essentially need a TT bike with aero bars looking something like this:


These bars allow you for several different riding positions, you don't have to neccessarily ride in aero tuck. For good advice, however, you'd be better off posting this question on MTBR's sister site - RBR https://forums.roadbikereview.com/ in triathlon section. A lot of the riders there ride mountain bikes as well, most riders aren't limiting themselves to one type of riding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the great reply. It looks like, since I'm really buying this bike for the purpose of riding it in a triathlon, there would be some tangible benefits to picking up a "triathlon road bike" with the unique geometry and aero bars.

It probably won't surprise you to hear there's a limited selection of bikes in Japan, and with my budget, this is looking the the obvious (only) choice. [520mm should be big enough for me at 187cm, right?]

Thanks for the link to http://forums.roadbikereview.com/, I'll be taking a lot of the questions I'm sure to have over there!
 

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105km of cycling in a tri? thats a longish triathlon you got there. typically its 1/5 of that I think.

see if you can find any tri-specific bikes within your budget. they are essentially cheaper time trial bikes with a slightly different frame geometry. road/tri bikes are very similar at the same price points, so choosing one isn't as hard as an mtb. also if you've never ridden in aerobars before they might not be much of advantage to you and you'd be better off simply getting a road bike. you could always buy clip on aerobars later on. either way get a bike asap and start practicing with it to get used to the new riding position - either in the drops or in the aerobars.

even if you live in Japan you've still got to find the right frame size though - fit is essential! if you are 187cm tall you need a frame around 57-59cm I think
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Vetallist said:
105km of cycling in a tri? thats a longish triathlon you got there. typically its 1/5 of that I think.
Yeah, that's why I just want to finish.

Also, a major reason for only riding mountain bikes is very simple: Japanese roads are very crowded, narrow and crooked. The Japanese guy who introduced me to the triathlon made it very clear that every person in his triathlon training team has injured themselves riding road bikes during training, and I don't know a road bike owner in Japan that hasn't injured themselves on it. Japan is NOT a the ideal country to own a road bike in.

Vetallist said:
see if you can find any tri-specific bikes within your budget.
The only tri bike under my budget (100K yen) is this one:
http://www.louisgarneausports.com/bike/tri-mer.htm

It has the more upright (76 degree angle seat) seat angleand the larger frame size (at 520mm) is big as virtually every other road bike in my available in my budget in Japan. The problem is, even it's more expensive cousin
(http://www.louisgarneausports.com/bike/tri-mer-ex.htm) is limited to only a 490 and 520 frame) I can't find a tri-bike larger than 520 for less than Y150,000, and even then, going outside of that would only give me a 540 Felt S32 (http://store.yahoo.co.jp/cycle-life/fe-07s32.html)

If I leave the tri bikes and just look at a road bike, I'm still limited to a 560mm frame, still not quite ideal, and the geometry takes more out of my running muscles...

Vetallist said:
even if you live in Japan you've still got to find the right frame size though - fit is essential! if you are 187cm tall you need a frame around 57-59cm I think
Argh. The right frame size might means importing...which means import taxes and huge shipping fees, which means the triathlon starts to become prohibitively expensive.:(

I know it's not ideal, but wouldn't it be possible to get the 520 tri bike in my budget and jack the seat up? Like I said, I'm not trying to set any kind of land speed record, I'm just trying to buy a bike now (2007 models are out in March here, and if I'm still hanging in with this triathlon idea, I'll get one then) and train on it until the race in September? Naturally, if there's a huge impact, I need to know about it before I waste my time and money on something that won't work...but I'm hoping the difference (at a moderate pace) wouldn't be that big...

Also, Vetallist, thank you very much for your informed and helpful replies. I really do appreciate your help and advice.
 

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I wish there was a more qualified person to give you advice on triathlon bikes, peteer01, but since no one else is replying I'll answer to the best of my knowledge. My own experience is limited to having aerobar clip-ons on my road bike, which I use rarely.

Before you start picking between different bikes you've got to find a bike that fits properly - fit is more important than all the specs combined! My best guesstimate going by your height alone is that you need a 58cm frame, 56 cm at the very least. You can get more accurate info by doing online fitting at http://wrenchscience.com/ or http://www.competitivecyclist.com/

To make a shorter frame work you'll need a long seat post and the longest stem you can find (>150mm). Still 52cm frame seems like an overkill - way too small. You might get away with it on a short ride, but I don't think 105km will forgive you.

So start with finding the proper frame size. I take it that your budget is around $800-$900. I think that you should stick with a road bike, as there aren't many (if any) tri bikes available in this price range, whereas you'll have a great deal of choice with the road bikes. What kind of terrain will the biking portion take place on? Tri bike only makes sense on straight and flat roads. If there is some cornering/climbing involved then you are definitely better off with a road bike. Also steering a bike in the aerobars takes a lot more experience, and you'll need to do a lot of that in Japan I take it, to get away from cars and pedestrians during training. If there aren't any bikes larger than 52cm in Japanese bike shops look at online retailers, such as bikesdirect, ibex, performancebike, etc. Local ebay or craigslist perhaps? Find out what their shipping charges are and how much its going to cost you to get your bike delivered - it might not be as outrageous as you think. They have some quality bikes for $500-$600, so even with $200-$300 in delivery charges you should still make your budget.
 

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Vetallist said:
...I take it that your budget is around $800-$900. I think that you should stick with a road bike, as there aren't many (if any) tri bikes available in this price range, whereas you'll have a great deal of choice with the road bikes. What kind of terrain will the biking portion take place on? Tri bike only makes sense on straight and flat roads. If there is some cornering/climbing involved then you are definitely better off with a road bike. Also steering a bike in the aerobars takes a lot more experience, and you'll need to do a lot of that in Japan I take it, to get away from cars and pedestrians during training. If there aren't any bikes larger than 52cm in Japanese bike shops look at online retailers, such as bikesdirect, ibex, performancebike, etc. Local ebay or craigslist perhaps? Find out what their shipping charges are and how much its going to cost you to get your bike delivered - it might not be as outrageous as you think. They have some quality bikes for $500-$600, so even with $200-$300 in delivery charges you should still make your budget.
I agree than a standard roadbike is going to be the more likely choice in that budget range. Rather than bull-bars, it may be best to go with standard road bars and add clip-ons. That's pretty common with novice Trialthletes who want a bike that's useful for the open road and still competitive.

I'm not sure if you'll find any online bike dealers in the US that ship to Japan, though. I know we here at IBEX do not. Aside from overseas shipping costs being several hundred dollars ($300+ sounds about right), there are compliance and warranty coverage issues on our end as well as duty and tax issues on the recipient's end that make it impractical to do so. If the OP makes shopping trips to Hong Kong, as some of my friends in Japan do on a regular basis, he might find some bargains there. Otherwise, I think it means working with a local dealer even if they have to special order the model and/or size he needs.

MTBR's sister site, RoadBikeReview.com, has a Forum dedicated to Racing, Training, Nutrition, Triathlons that might provide some more on target info.

Regards,
Jack A.
IBEX Bicycles
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Vetallist said:
Before you start picking between different bikes you've got to find a bike that fits properly - fit is more important than all the specs combined!...get more accurate info by doing online fitting at http://wrenchscience.com/ or http://www.competitivecyclist.com/

To make a shorter frame work you'll need a long seat post and the longest stem you can find (>150mm). Still 52cm frame seems like an overkill - way too small. You might get away [a smaller bike] on a short ride, but I don't think 105km will forgive you.
ibexbikes said:
I'm not sure if you'll find any online bike dealers in the US that ship to Japan...Aside from overseas shipping costs being several hundred dollars ($300+ sounds about right), there are compliance and warranty coverage issues on our end as well as duty and tax issues on the recipient's end that make it impractical to do so.
Alright, it's looking like fit is very important, and that fit is something I will not be able to solve in my budget while I'm in Japan.

I'm planning to visit Hawaii with my wife in March. (just a long weekend trip) Assuming I can pack one bag and then bring a bag and the bike back with me, that might be the best (only) way to get good fitting bike in my budget into Japan. (Anyone have experience bringing/packing a roadbike for international flights?)

Vetallist said:
What kind of terrain will the biking portion take place on? Tri bike only makes sense on straight and flat roads. If there is some cornering/climbing involved then you are definitely better off with a road bike.
The triathlon will be flat, straight and road closed to cars on that day...so for the triathlon, I think a triathlon bike will still be best if I can find one in my budget in the states.

If I'm going to be staying at a hotel for 4 nights in Hawaii, that's not the largest window for getting a bike shipped to me, but even a LBS in Hawaii should have a better selection (in my size) than Japan stores.

Will it be possible to order a bike online and have it delivered to a hotel in Hawaii within that small time window? Also, now that I'm looking outside of Japan, I have absolutely no experience with ordering bikes online or from US LBSs. Any advice on a $600 triathlon bike in my size range? (Again, this bike is essentially only for the triathlon, and I'm just looking for a bike I can ride 105K and still run (or even limp) 20K after riding [which is why I'm leaning towards the tri specific bikes])

Again, sorry the barrage of questions, and I genuinely appreciate the help!
 
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