The warm weather is at last here, and bringing with it the start of the southern hemisphere’s triathlon season.
The sport of triathlon is huge, and gaining momentum with each year. These days most bike shops in the country will offer at least some triathlon product, but there are definitely a few that stand out from the pack in terms of their tri knowledge, expertise and depth of product.
We caught up with three of the best in the business to find out what this season’s must-haves are, whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate or an advanced triathlete.
Now get out there, find a head wind, and start sucking up all that gruelling, addictive tri training…
SBR in Windsor, Melbourne is no new-comer to triathlon. For around 12 years this shop has been a go-to for all things tri. With a focus on performance based products, this is the sort of bike shop you visit if you’re looking for premium products that are going to withstand all the wear and tear of a triathlete lifestyle. Mechanic Paul has over 20 years’ experience in the pro road racing and triathlete world, so he’s the man when you take your baby in for a pre-race check.
But the real talking point at SBR is now Guru Dynamic – virtual bike fitting technology that sends the old static bike fit into the world of dinosaurs. Get Manager Jay talking about this and you’ll want in on the action – a bike fitting system for all experience levels that finds the ultimate match between a rider’s personal preferences and the bike best suited to them. Experiment – make slight changes here and there and feel the difference immediately. For triathletes who want to get the most speed, efficiency and comfort from their bike leg, this fitting is the answer.
Jay, who’s worked in the bike retail world for over a decade and has been fitting bikes for five years, hasn’t seen anything like it. Regardless of what level triathlon you’re at, a Guru Dynamic fit is worth checking out. Then check these out…
SBR’s Top Beginner Triathlete Product
Xlab Torpedo 100 - Everyone needs front hydration if you’re doing anything longer than a sprint distance.
SBR’s Top Intermediate Triathlete Product
Kask Infinity Aero Road Helmet - One of the best ways to keep aero without always being in the TT position is with an aero road helmet. Heck you can even get aero on your Nan’s old clunker.
SBR’s Top Advanced Triathlete Product
Garmin 920xt - The ultimate and latest creation from Garmin. Your virtual coach and training buddy just got smarter.
For over seven years the team at Chain Gang in Seventeen Mile Rocks, south-west of Brisbane has carved themselves an enviable niche in Australian tri retail.
Although not exclusively tri (Chain Gang also stocks road bikes), the business specialises in the bike leg. Chris and his team understand that triathletes will perform better overall if they can get the most out of their bike leg. Moreover, if they can go well on the bike and be as comfortable as possible, then they’ll ideally reap the rewards on the run. To that end, Chain Gang provides what is pretty much holistic support for triathletes and their bike – mechanical work, coaching classes, nutrition guidance, training programmes and more. They also support a suite of independent local triathletes, they sponsor West Side Triathlon Club and they assist other groups including East Coast Cycos, FATS, Red Dog, Vision Tri and the Springfield Riders Club.
When it comes to race day, Chain Gang is on board helping their athletes well before the event. In Chris’ opinion, nothing should ever be left to last minute. Bikes are brought in for checks weeks out, and all boxes are systematically ticked so that the athletes arrive on race day fully prepared (at least for their bike leg!).
When it comes to tris – Chain Gang shows how a bike shop can be so much more than just a retail outlet. So what do these guys think are the three must-have products for the season?
Chain Gang’s Beginner Triathlete Product
Cervelo S-Series – A superbly aero road bike that is great for cyclists dipping their toe into triathlon. With the S-Series they have a top performing road bike with aero features that are right at home in a tri race.
Chain Gang’s Intermediate Triathlete Product
Focus Chrono Max 2.0 – German engineered Focus bikes deliver incredible, fully integrated technology for a price point that is really going to be hard to beat. This bike offers all the features you’d expect to see from a pro-level performing machine, but at an intermediate cost.
Chain Gang’s Advanced Triathlete Product
Hed Disc Wheel – This is definitely the ultimate in aerodynamic wheels. It’s super light, features negative drag characteristics and is incredibly fast. This is a wheel for the serious triathlete who’s out to compete and get a place.
Adelaide’s Bike Society stocks a lot of tri product that can sometimes be hard to source locally. Their range of Specialized triathlon bikes, blueseventy wetsuits, On and Newton running shoes means they have a dedicated stream of triathletes coming through their doors.
Craig and two of his team are avid triathletes; their personal race experience ranges from sprint to Ironman to duathlons, so their advice is backed up by first-hand knowledge.
But it’s Bike Society’s investment back into the sport that has won them plenty of local admiration. Last year the store launched its inaugural triathlon series in Moana. The sprint races proved so successful (150+ competitors per race) that they’re back again this year; five races will run from October through to March 2015.
On top of this, the store was a driving force behind realising the Qattro Glenelg Olympic Triathlon, of which they are now a sponsor. The event will be held for the first time in February 2015 and Bike Society is sure it will become a big player on South Australia’s annual tri calendar.
The shop is also a big supporter of individual triathletes, and is particularly pumped for age groupers Julianne Schliebs and Shaun Richards, who competed in the recent World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
The shop’s involvement in tri culture probably explains in part why tris are so popular. Craig thinks there is a really strong community engagement and that individuals are made to feel welcomed, rather than intimidated about joining the ranks. Unlike some other sports, triathletes race more against themselves than they do each other, which he thinks is a healthy challenge that has played a big part in the sport’s success.
So what does Bike Society think are this season’s hottest tri products?
Bike Society’s Beginner Triathlete Product
Body Geometry Bike Fits – It’s terrific for beginner triathletes to get the right bike set up the right way from day dot. Body Geometry Fit Integration Technology helps reduce injury and literally sets cyclists up to ride faster, longer and more comfortably.
Bike Society’s Intermediate Triathlete Product
Newton Running Shoes – So you’re getting fairly serious and need the shoes that will carry you through all those kms of training. Newtons are built with Action/Reaction technology to reduce impact, return energy and move you forward to run faster and more comfortably.
Bike Society’s Advanced Triathlete Product
Specialized SWorks Shiv Tri Bike – Say hello to a World Champion winner several times over. The Shiv Tri is a stealth machine of drag-defying aerodynamics, power and incredible speed. The Shiv is most definitely at the pointy end of elite riding.