When I started triathlon way back in June of 2011 (I know seems like just yesterday, no?), I wanted to make sure that I actually liked the sport before investing in a fancy bike. I also wanted to get more experience riding a bike so that I would know what kind of bike I actually wanted.
The Decision to Buy
In my early days of riding a road bike, I wasn’t sure that I liked it. My first real bike ride was during a practice triathlon with the Tri Club and I was bored on the short 7 mile bike portion. As I started cycling more, my back and butt hurt so much that I could barely imagine riding 40 miles let alone 112. However, once I got more experienced on the bike, it grew on me (and the pain went away, or at least started later in the ride). I started enjoying our 2-3 hour bike rides, especially if the weather was nice. There is something pretty exciting about riding a bike down a big hill or covering more miles than I do in three days commute to work in just one ride.
Sometime in the Fall, after my 2nd triathlon, I decided I’d start saving for a bike. I was hoping to have the money by at least February so that I’d have time to practice on my new bike before the 70.3. Mike and I started dubbing every opportunity to not spend money as one to put money toward the “bike fund.” In September, Mike purchased his first triathlon bike (he rode a very old road bike that he purchased used for less than $1,000 for his first Ironman and all previous triathlons) after doing A LOT of research. Every time he got on a computer he was researching the best bike for his buck. He ultimately purchased a Cervelo P2 and was very happy with its performance.
When I started looking at bikes, I went straight to the women’s triathlon bikes, namely the Cannondale Slice, which I thought was the most attractive of the female triathlon bikes. However, it was slightly out of my price range. I started window shopping at the local bike shops (there are two within walking distance of my house so we went to each of them several times) and I started talking to bike shop employees about triathlon vs. road bike, womens vs. unisex bike options. I asked more experienced triathletes what they thought. I came to the consensus that having a women’s bike doesn’t matter (basically the handle bars are closer together for women’s smaller shoulders but I have quite wide shoulders so this really didn’t matter), although they are more attractive to me. On the argument of road vs. triathlon bike though, I was torn. Some said, “If you’re going to own one bike, own a road bike.It’s more comfortable and easier to handle.” However, Mike pointed out that he was perfectly comfortable in the non-aero position on his P2. Some said “If all you are going to do is compete in triathlon, get a tri bike. Aero bars on a road bike are very uncomfortable and you will want to be aero in the Ironman.” I also questioned my ability to actually stay aero during the Ironman since I chose a race with such a hilly course. So…Road bike? Triathlon bike?
So over the holiday break I did some more serious bike shopping. All I had to do was ride the Cervelo Ultegra P2 for 10 minutes and I knew I’d found the one.
And even better, Cervelo was having a deal where if you found someone else to also purchase a Cervelo, you each got $1,000 off!!! I ended up with a sweet 2012 Cervelo P2 for under $2,000. I scored! I purchased the bike at Nytro, a popular local bike shop, and also got it fitted that same day.
Some fun facts about Cervelo and the P2 in particular:
- The P2 is very popular due to its ability to fit people very well. This is due to its “tried and true geometry” according to OnOnTri.com.
- At the 2010 Kona Bike Count published on the LAVA Magazine website there were 468 Cervelos on the pier in Kona out of 1661 total bikes counted. Fully 28% of the field was on Cervelo. The remaining 72% of the field was divided up among a scattered 51 brands (source).
- Chrissie Wellington road a P2 for many years and won more than one Kona Ironman World Championship on it (she is now sponspored by Cannondale so she rides one of their bikes).
- Aside from reducing drag resistance, the aerodynamic design of the P2 Ultegra increases speed. It is equipped with excellent components, including the handy rearwheel cutout, higher headtube, narrow TrueAero tubeset, and internal CableStop (ICS) (source).
- Cervelo has won the Best Team Bike category of the Cycling News Reader Poll for the last 7 years.
Riding My New Bike
The first few times I road my bike it was on my trainer in my living room. I didn’t have my power meter set up yet so I can’t say if there was a difference in power on the new bike, but I can say that I could feel that it was far superior to my old bike. A week after my purchase I finally had the chance to take the P2 out for it’s long ride debut. We rode about 38 miles down the coast and down the Oceanside bike path. I could tell an INCREDIBLE difference in both power and comfort. I was even able to ride in the aero bars for the majority of the miles on the bike path. Mike and Jeremy who usually ride several minutes ahead were quite surprised at how close I was behind them each time we stopped. I found it easy to hold a pace nearly 2 miles per hour faster than before and I was passing both men and women cyclists throughout the ride. By the end of the ride, I was confident that I had purchased the right bike for me.
The only discomfort I’ve experienced on my new bike is the seat. Since I purchased a uni-sex bicyle, I was given a men’s seat. Obviously my body isn’t made the same way as a man’s. I am currently on the hunt for a new bike seat and have been given some great suggestions. I’m currently trying out a tester seat for the week and hopefully I”ll have a new seat by next week.
I’m very satisfied with my decision to purchase a new bike and also with my decision to purchase a triathlon bike. I was told that triathlon bikes are harder to handle and manage, but honestly I’ve noticed no difference. When I’m not in aero, it isn’t really an issue to reach across to my aero bars and shift.
Do you have a road bike or a triathlon bike? How did you decide which brand/style bike to buy?