Sport of Triathlon is expensive AF. Triathlon bike is probably one the biggest expenses that you will have to make as it may give you the most advantage on the course.
People often spend ridiculous amounts of money on their two-wheeled buddies, but totally forget about the main component of getting faster. I believe that the major gains in speed are being made investing in the engine, that pushes the pedals. For every hundred dollars spent on bike, you got to put another two hundred hours spent in training. Improving the bike will help you only so much, but your body is where all the gains need to occur.
Having said that I’ve been still wondering, how much speed can you actually get on a more expensive “fancy” bike? Why do people spend thousands of dollars on their bikes? Does it make sense?
To answer this questions I went on a ride, comparing three bikes:
I rode the same stretch of the hilly road, totaling of 45 km (28 mi)
Both TT bikes are ridiculously faster than my old road bike on the same stretch of the road (45 km). Argon 18 is the fastest and it’s almost 30 minutes faster than my old bike. Aquila is 5 minutes slower than Argon, but it worth considering that I ran race wheels on Argon, while the other one had a set of training wheels on. I am pretty sure that Aquila would go as fast as Argon on the same set of wheels.
Argon 18 E117
To be honest it was a love from the first sight. More about purchasing and the price I payed for this used bike is here.
Below are snapshots taken from Strava. 34 records were set on Argo, averaging 227 Watts (guesstimate calculated by strava software).
Does it worth investing in Time Trial bike? – Yes, absolutely!
How much? – It’s totally up to you and your budget.
Aquila is Canadian brand, based in Oakville and Toronto at the bike shop called Racer Sportif. They offer carbon road, triathlon and track bikes. This carbon triathlon bike came with combination of Ultegra Di2 and Shimano 105 components. Aerobars, as well the handlebars underneath had electronic gear shifting, which moved the chain exactly where it needed to be through a programmed front and rear derailleur position. Standart road wheels.
The best way to test such bike is definitely on the road. Right after the rain I went on a 111 km ride, following the same route I took previously on my old bike. I started at Angus Glen Community Center and headed up north, to the Lake Simcoe.
Pre meal: Banana x2 Dried dates 5-6 pieces
During: 600 Calories: 82C/28F/11P
I forgot to bring my water bottle cages, but found a spartan solution: I used the piece of rope I’ve found in my truck to tie one bottle of water to the frame. Going into the ride already under fueled I didn’t feel particularly strong at any point. I felt thirsty and hungry throughout the ride and every time I wanted to get a sip of water I would have to come to a complete stop to untie my water bottle. After the half mark (55 km), on a way back I got really hungry, but had nothing left, neither fuel or water. My performance was compromised right from the beginning and I didn’t ride hard.
TT Bike: Avg speed 29.4 km/hr
Old Bike: Avg speed 27.3 km/hr
2 km/hr faster
I pushed harder during the first haft, just to see what my time would be at the 45 km mark. I looked at the timer and was pleased to see the number of 1 hr 13 min. This meant that if I was to race Ironman 70.3 with it’s 90 km bike ride, I could theoretically finish the bike course in about 2 hr 26 minutes. This simple calculation made me excited for two reasons:
It was 37 minutes faster from my bike time at Ironman 70.3 Hawaii: 2 hr 50 min
It was only 12 minutes slower from the age group winner and 4 minutes away from the 3rd place.
However, in comparison with the most recent Olympic TRI I did two weeks ago (BRACEBRIDGE OLYMPIC TRI | Muskoka) less than 2 km/hr improvement didn’t seem worth all the hipe and money. Especially considering that I felt like shit during that race and barely did spin the pedals.
Considering that I wasn’t pushing as hard as I would at the race, underfueling and poor hydration on my test ride today, I got excited to wonder what would my time splits look like if all those things would properly align and I came prepared. Not to mention, I was riding on the regular “training” wheels. Aquila bike shop representative promised that putting on the racing wheels will make me about 5 km/h avg faster.
I also didn’t sit comfortably on the seat and my butt will stay sore for a while. I had to move move forward and sit literally on the tip of the seat. Proper bike fit is another variable that can definitely improve my performance.
From design perspective, I am not a big fan of the way bike looks. But again, do I want to be pretty or I want to be fast? Fast!
… Blake doesn’t seem to approve…
The only trouble I had with the bike today was caused by my carelessness, when I put few scratches on the bike. The photo below costed me two nasty scratches on the frame. The wind blew and the bike felt to the side.
Those are pretty big scratches and I was blaming myself all the way back to where I began the ride. I was feeling really bad for being so …. careless I guess is the right word and worried about the charges I’ll have to pay to the owner when I return it back. I didn’t know what is the best way to handle this situation. I put myself in the owner’s shoes and asked, how would I feel in his place? What would I do? Instead of trying to come up with solutions I’ve decided that I will act the way I would like to be acted on, if I were him. I brought the bike back in and I didn’t wait until the owner discovered the damage on his own. I went ahead and showed all the scratches… I explained how it happened and said that I appreciate the opportunity to test ride the bike and will cover all the repair costs in full. It was a lot of money for me. I lost the money, BUT I saved my face and acted as a gentleman. More importantly I saved relationship with Dennis – the owner.
Repair Costs: $450
Overall I am grateful for the opportunity to test pure TT bike and get a sense of it. I’ve also enjoyed this long ride and got the experience of riding in different (aero) position.
The past two years I’ve been training and racing on my 2003 Specialized Allez. I bought it for $300 from Craigslist, while in Phoenix. It got me through a lot. People laugh at me and keep on saying that I should throw it away and get a normal bike. I believe that the only thing that will make you faster in the layer in between the seat and handlebars (yourself). The thought of investing in TT bike been circulating in my head for the past 3-4 months, but I’ve been resisting. I am cheap AF. I count every penny and I am fascinated my the cost of triathlon bikes. A long story short I have finally decided to purchase my first TT bike.
I have zero knowledge about bikes and seeking for advice. I am lost in variety of options and need assistance picking Reliable, USED TT bike. I figured that instead of guessing and talking to salespeople I would ask other triathletes for suggestions.
Success Criteria: 1. I would like to keep the price tag under $2,000 (most likely used), however I will also consider more expensive bikes if they worth it. 2. I don’t care if it’s an older model, what the brand is etc. I choose the bike with the only goal in mind – to get faster and kick some ass on the bike course =) 3. It has to be reliable. 4. Ideally it will already have power meter built in.
Utilize social media. I suggest that you use your local triathlon club Facebook groups, Strava or any social media to get advice from other triathletes. Just mention that you are in a market for a new TT bike, give your search criteria and wait. Even if nobody from your friends sell the bike, there are good chances that they know someone who does.
It’s obviously hard to judge TT bike without riding it for a few hours, but just sitting on it stationary felt good. 54 cm size frame is definitely what I need.
Size Medium: 54 cm Included: Training Wheels: AXIS 2.0 Race Wheels: Zipp 808 10 spd adapted for 11 spd setup (no cassette) $2200 for bike without Zipps
ARGON 18 E-117 TRI – ULTEGRA Di2
By the weirdest circumstances I got connected with Dennis – the owner on Racer Sportif. I rented demo bike from him and returned it back scratched (more details here).
…I brought the bike back in and I didn’t wait until the owner discovered the damage on his own. I went ahead and showed all the scratches… I explained how it happened and said that I appreciate the opportunity to test ride the bike and will cover all the repair costs in full. It was a lot of money for me. Repair costs: $450. I lost the money, BUT I saved my face and acted as a gentleman. More importantly I saved relationship with Dennis – the owner…
We had a great time chatting with him and he mentioned that he might have a used Argon 18 coming in later that week that might be a good fit for me… and it was.
Size Medium: 54 cm Included Extra: Brand new Shimano Ultegra with electronic shifters Di2 Carbon Wheels: RS Real Speed Custom Racing Seat *3-year warranty on both: bike and equipment
Did I like the bike? HELL YEAH To be honest I fell in love with the way it not only looked, but mainly the way it felt sitting or I would say half-laying on it.
Now the main question: HOW MUCH?
Just to give you and idea of what the price is on brand new Argon 18 E117 Tri:
Just to remind you that I am buying a used ~1-2 years old bike with brand new Di2 system installed and tuned at the shop, professional bike fitting ($200-300) AND 3-year warranty on both – bike and all the equipment.
$3,750 (tax included)
That’s the winner. I am a happy owner of Argon 18 TT bike and I pick it up early next week. The price is almost twice higher than $2,000 I set the original criteria on, but I believe it well worth it. Reviews I read online and people I talked to, all confirmed the reliability of Argon bikes, so plus here. It does not come with power meter, but it is still a great price even without it.
I will make another post, sharing my experience with new TT bike and give my honest feedback. Let me know what you think! Cheers