Bike Gear

Tools of the Trade (Bike) Attach photos to each

  • Hex Wrench Set / P-Handle Hex Wrench Set
  • Floor Pump
  • Tire Levers
  • Brush Set
    • A good set of brushes helps make bike cleaning faster, easier, and more thorough. This five-piece set includes the essentials, like a large frame brush, a “paint” brush for derailleurs and other nooks and crannies, and long-handled brushes for hard-to-access spots like hub bodies and between the crankset and chainstay.
  • Spare Tube
  • Allen Wrench or Hex key
  • Patch Kit
  • Pedal Wrench
  • CO2 cartridge and Adapter
  • Saddle Bag

Tools / accessories to carry during rides

To fix flats, athletes should carry C02 cartridges with an applicator, at least 1 tire iron for removal, 1 or 2 spare tubes, and an adhesive tire boot to fix cut, scraped, worn or blown out tire sidewalls. Keep in mind that C02 cartridges are illegal for transportation on commercial flights.
During training, a mini back up air pump on longer rides is a safer bet to avoid being stranded.
It is also useful to carry a chain breaker and snap in master link to repair a broken chain link.  Ride leaders and coaches should also carry a universal tool including a few key hex wrenches.  There are two categories for lights: those that enable the athlete to see, and those that make the athlete visible to others.

TOOLS / ACCESSORIES DESCRIPTION
C02 Cartridges
1 Tire iron
Rear lights
1-2 Spare tubes
Adhesive tire boot
Chain breaker
Universal tools

Hydration Systems

Large water bottles are great for all purposes. Most bikes should be equipped with at least 2 cages. Cages that mount upright on the back of the saddle may prove dangerous for emergency stopping. For longer rides most athletes use aero bottles. However, the front mounted wedge shaped bladder actually will make the bike slightly more aerodynamic.

Food Storage

A three pocket jersey will generally hold all of the food or gear needed for many athletes. If the pockets are small or inadequate, an additional top tube mounted bag, just behind the stem will allow for more items. They are a great idea and allow the rider to pull food easily without having to disturb the air flow and disrupt the pedal stroke by reaching back to access a pocket.

 Bike frame materials

The most common bike frame materials are aluminum and carbon fiber. Steel and titanium frames can also be found on some bikes.

Aluminum bikes are durable, affordable and lightweight for their price point.   The downside of aluminum is its stiffness compared to other materials, which makes for slightly rougher rides.  When the time comes to upgrade to a better bike, carbon fiber is lightweight, makes for high comfort and responsiveness, but it comes at a higher price point.

 

Bike Wheels

Bike wheels come in many different varieties. Each kind of wheel has its specific set of attributes, and should be used for specific purposes. Some wheels are designed for training, others for racing in various condition, like different wind conditions or on different course profiles.

Essentially, the variables of bike wheels include:

  • Size
    Wheels come in two basic sizes: 700C (622 mm rim diameter) and 650C (571 mm rim diameter).
  • Aerodynamics
    The aerodynamic performance of bike wheels is always a hot and continuously evolving topic.

How “aero” a wheel is depends on the depth of its rim (up to 40 mm is considered a mid section rim, above 40 mm is deep section rim) and whether it has regular round spokes, more aerodynamic bladed spokes, three wide (very cool-looking!) spokes (three-spoked) or even no spokes at all — disk wheels.

3-spoked wheels perform similarly to disk wheels (see images below), but are less sensitive to crosswinds.

  • Durability
    Sturdier and heavier wheels with more spokes are more durable than their lightweight racing wheel counterparts with fewer spokes. Regular training wheels typically have 32 to 36 spokes, whereas racing wheels may have as few as 16 (front) or 24 (rear) spokes. For training, use a set of durable wheels that can handle the amount of training you do.

 

“The difference between the most aerodynamic wheelset in the world and the least aerodynamic wheelset in the world in a headwind is around 30 seconds over 40 kilometers. Put in perspective that shaving your legs is north of 70 seconds.”

Tires

There are two types of tires commonly used in road and triathlon cycling.

Clincher tires are the standard tires in cycling. They have a separate inner tube. Clinchers are durable, easy to repair and replace in case of flats, and cheap. Ideal tires for training.

Tubulars are lighter, can be inflated to higher pressure for decreased rolling resistance and provide better cornering grip due to their perfectly round cross section. This makes them the tire of choice for many professionals.

However, tubulars are expensive and difficult to install and repair. They are literally glued to the rim, and the very thin tube inside must be sewn back together with the tire in case you get a flat. In practice, this process is so time-consuming that you’re better off carrying a spare tire than just a repair kit when riding tubulars.

 

Tire pressure

“On the most freshly compacted asphalt, the optimal tire pressure for a 170-pound athlete was 110 psi.”

On normal, coarse asphalt around 95 psi was found to be optimal.

Groupsets

The bike groupset consists of brakes and the gear setup components: shifters, chain, chainset and front derailleur (front gears), and cassette and rear derailleur (rear gears).

.

There are three main manufacturers of groupsets: Shimano, Sram and Campagnolo.

Bike shoes

The main considerations when getting a pair of bike shoes are

  • Comfort and fit
    Your shoes must feel comfortable and fit well.
  • Sole stiffness
    The stiffer the sole, the more power is transferred from your working muscles through to the pedal and less energy is lost to flex.
  • Road cycling vs. triathlon shoes
    Road cycling shoes typically have either multiple velcro straps or a buckle system for tightening the fit of the shoe. Triathlon shoes on the other hand only have a single velcro strap. In addition, triathlon shoes are seamless so you can wear them without socks.

On the other hand, road shoes tend to be narrower and have a smaller amount of lateral gliding motion in the pedal clips. This may lead to less stress on certain muscles (e.g. the iliotibial band) and more efficient pedaling.

Helmet

  • short-tailed ventilated road helmet can save you 45 seconds over 40K compared to a regular non-aero helmet. Cost: around $200
  • long-tailed non-ventilated full aero helmet can save you 60 seconds over 40K compared to a regular non-aero helmet. Cost: around $300

So these time savings are actually greater than the time savings of aero wheels, for a fraction of the cost!

Cycling clothing

The main components of a triathlete’s cycling wardrobe are a cycling jersey and a pair of padded shorts.

In addition, gloves are a great addition to your wardrobe, even if you live in a warm climate. Holding the handlebars for long durations can easily cause blisters for some riders, and gloves help protect against that.

Cold-weather jacket, cold-weather tights, shoe covers, wind west, rain jacket, leg and arm warmers, to name but a few.

Tight-fitting clothes is one of the best and most cost-effective investments you can make to become more aero.

Hydration set-up

cheapest way is to just get a pair of ordinary bottle cages and water bottles and putting them on your seat tube and down tube.

Depending on the type of riding and racing you do, you can add bottles almost ad infinitum.

  • In a saddle mount right behind the saddle
  • Between the arms on your aerobars
  • Frame-integrated hydration
    Some higher-end triathlon bikes have the option of integrating a bottle in the bike frame itself. Very aerodynamic, but it comes at a cost.

Saddle bag and contents

  • Spare tube
  • Tire levers
  • Multi-tool
  • Tire repair kit
  • Keep everything you need to repair a flat in your saddle bag at all times and keep the bag on your bike.

Electronics

There are various additional electronic gadgets that you can add to your bike. They range from simple speedometers that show you basic data like speed (duh!), time and distance, to full-blown bike computers with all functionalities you could ever wish for and advanced integrations.

If you have a Garmin or another GPS-watch you probably already get all the data that a speedometer would show you anyway.

The one advantage that a speedometer does have is that you can mount it on the handlebars right in front of your eyes. No wrist-turning necessary to check how fast you’re going. If you value convenience (and safety — in steep downhills it’s best to keep your hands firmly on the handlebars at all times) this could be worth the $10 to $20 or so a cheap unit would cost.

A two-part sensor (one attached to the bike forks, one to a spoke on the wheel) is what actually measures the speed and transmits the data to the handlebar-mounted computer. Many sensors also measure your cadence (revolutions per minute).

If you’re in a situation where you have a sports watch and don’t necessarily need a speedometer you could still by a sensor unit that is compatible with the watch. That way you’d get the cadence data that your sports watch can’t measure by itself transmitted from the sensor to the watch. But do ask about the compatibility before buying!

Bike computers, on the other hand, are a bit like advanced GPS-watches — but mounted on your handlebars. They have integrated GPS units, sync with various sensors, heart rate monitors and power meters, can show routes and directions as you ride, and lots more.

Two excellent options if you want to go the bike computer route are

  • Garmin Edge 520
    This baby has got it all, including a very cool Stravasegment support functionality. Price: around $300.
  • Polar M450
    An excellent option in the budget category at $140. It’s got all the core features that you need from a bike computer, although it lacks some of the fancy stuff that the Garmin has.
  1. Indoor trainers

Photo credit to Jessie Porras / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

As you can imagine this is way more specific cycling training than a spin bike or stationary bike. And it’s also much more fun!

You can adjust the resistance provided by the resistance roller, typically through a user interface mounted on your handlebars or directly from a computer connected to the trainer.

For anybody living in colder climates where the weather prevents you from riding outside for parts of the year, an indoor trainer is a purchase you’ll eventually want to make.

But even for triathletes that live in a climate where year-round cycling outside is possible, one of my top triathlon cycling tips would be to get a good indoor trainer and do some workouts on the trainer. The reason is that you can get so specific with your workouts on the trainer, down to the exact amount of watts, incline, and so on. This makes cycling on the indoor trainer highly effective and time-efficient if structured correctly.

The two most common types of indoor trainers are:

  • Magnetic trainers
  • Fluid trainers

The underlying difference is how the resistance is generated. More importantly for you, fluid trainers are quieter but more expensive than magnetic trainers, and magnetic trainers have a limit on how high you can set the resistance. If you’re a beginner it’s unlikely you’ll reach that limit for quite a long while, though.

There are some other kinds of trainers as well (wind trainers, roller trainers etc.) but I wouldn’t recommend any other type than a magnetic or fluid trainer. Especially for beginner triathletes.

When buying a trainer, take the following aspects into account:

  • Resistance limit
    If you’re a really strong cyclist, make sure you don’t buy a trainer that will limit your training.
  • Noise level
    Fluid trainers are quieter than magnetic trainers, but it all depends on what you can tolerate (and on whether you’re willing to raise the sound level of the TV to out-sound the trainer or not).
  • Price
  • Software and other functionality
    Many trainers come with software jam-packed with training modes, pre-programmed workouts, analysis tools, virtual cycling worlds, real-time online competitions with other riders and what not.
  • Get a large fan(or at least a fan) and lots of water for your indoor workouts. It’s going to make you sweat!

Get some entertainment going. Whether it be music, Netflix or hiring a stand-up comedian, cycling indoors can be tedious if all you’re doing is staring at a wall.