My First Triathlon Bike

The secret’s out:  While home for Thanksgiving, I visited Syracuse Bicycle three times in two days and officially joined the speed club—hello, 2013 Cannondale Slice 5 105!

2013-womens-cannondale-slice-5-105

Sigh, what a beauty.

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Basically since the start of the season, my coaches have been on me to get a time trial/triathlon bike (TT).  Even though I knew this purchase would be necessary, I waited.  The last thing I wanted to do was learn how to ride a new-to-me bike during the season, and plus, in terms of finances, it was advantageous to hold off until after Kona; that’s when older (2013 and 2014) models go on sale.

Anyway, I didn’t blog about what happened behind the scenes of my bike selection process, so here’s a summary.

Researching, aka envying others’ bikes

Yes, I love my road bike.  Yes, I know it’s about the engine and not the car.  But I experienced some serious bike envy this year—especially at Age Group Nationals.

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Lots of staring occurred, but I didn’t truly start my research until October.  At first, it was informal:  simply talking to teammates and coworkers, asking which bike they ride, and figuring out why they chose it.  From these conversations, I slowly developed a passing knowledge for components and started to read up on a few brands.  By the time I went home for Thanksgiving, I had narrowed down my selection:  I wanted an entry-level ride, preferably a 2013 Trek or Cannondale (but I wouldn’t say no to Felt or Cervelo).

So why entry level?  At this point in my triathlon career, I don’t need the latest and greatest in terms of bike technology; and because I’m relatively inexperienced, the difference between entry-level components (like Shimano 105s, which are perfectly fine) and those that cost more (like Dura-Ace) probably wouldn’t be incredibly noticeable.  Not to mention I have an unexplainable fear of riding a bike that’s too good for me.

With this in mind, I wanted a bike with a baller frame; down the road, I reasoned, upgrades to components could be made.

And why Trek or Cannondale?  I ride a Trek roadie, so trying the brand’s Speed Concept TT made sense.  And my coworkers talked up Cannondale’s Slice big time.  Not that it matters, but four-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington rode a Slice.

More researching, aka taking what the defense gave me

With my TT options narrowed down, the next step included calling Syracuse Bicycle, explaining my situation, and seeing which models would be available.  Over the phone, we determined a 54 cm TT frame would most likely fit. (I’m 5’10” and ride a 56 cm road bike.) It’s an odd size to begin with, and since the shop held its annual winter clearance sale, a lot of inventory had been cleared out to make room for 2015 models.  There was one option:  the 2013 women’s Slice 5 105.  Bingo!  I read up more on this bike specifically and knew that barring some sort of catastrophe, this would be my new ride.

Seeing the Slice

On Friday morning, I brought my cycling shoes and shorts to Syracuse Bicycle and hoped to test ride the Slice.  In typical Central New York fashion, we got a ton of snow, so riding around the parking lot wouldn’t work.  Another factor I failed to consider included the seat post; unlike road bikes where you can adjust its height, seat posts need to be cut on TT bikes.  This combination meant it wouldn’t be possible to get a good feel for the bike before buying it.

This made me uneasy at first, but I remembered a handful of my teammates and coworkers bought their bikes without riding them. (Maybe this is normal?) And this would’ve been my first time on a tri bike, so it would’ve felt awkward anyway.

At this point, I relied on my research:  Cannondale makes one of the most versatile, high-quality frames on the market, so getting fitted and dialed in wouldn’t be a problem.  I also heard Cannondale bikes work really well for riders with long legs.  And on a vain note, the red matches my team race kit—and we know it’s all about looking good in race photos.

Fitting

With the bike purchased (a big thank you goes out to Santa for my Christmas present for the next five years!), the next step included getting a general fit.  As cyclists and triathletes know, there are several in-depth fitting processes options (which I eventually plan to do), but a general fit offers a good starting point.

2013-womens-cannondale-slice-5-105-syracuse-bicycle-fitting

First, the seat post was cut, and then David, the fitting technician, determined how much the aerobars needed to be cut.  The cockpit area—including the aerobar width—fit perfectly, which David said is very rare.  During this process, I swapped the stock saddle for the Bontrager Hilo RXL, and pedals, a water bottle cage, and mount for my Garmin 310XT were also installed. (Although I’m thinking about getting a straight-up bike computer so I’m not fumbling around in T2.)

Riding

TBD—the Slice still lives in CNY, but my parents plan to bring it down to New York City in a few weeks.  When it arrives, I’ll put on my trainer tire and start riding it during CompuTrainer classes.  The sooner I can become comfortable in this more aggressive position, the better—because my first race of the 2014 season is only four months away!

26 responses to “My First Triathlon Bike

  1. SO exciting! I wish there was an equivalent for running — maybe it’s racing flats? Anyway, congrats on the awesome new tri bike!! Maybe I’ll see you on it in action in Central Park one of these days :)

  2. Congrats!! it’s always a little erve racking to make such a huge purchase in my opinion. I lucked out and took a used 2011 slice 105 off my brothers hands mid summer. i’m super excited to rebuild my cycling base on a tribike this year!

    • Wow, that’s awesome! It’s all about taking what the defense gives you, right? I cannot wait to start riding and racing on it!

  3. Sweet! So glad we could help and can’t wait to hear more about you tearing it up in 2014!

  4. That’s so excited! I’m totally a die-hard Cannondale rider and I am anxiously waiting for my new bike (Cannondale Supersix Ultergra) to get shipped to the store within the next week or so. Of course, winter in Upstate means trainer rides for now sadly, but I know I’ll be itching to get it out once the salt is off the roads! I’m sure that your new bike will totally be motivating and help you kick butt next season!

    • I’ve heard great things about Cannondale bikes, so I can’t wait to take it out and start riding! But like you said, it will be hooked up to the trainer for the foreseeable future.

  5. So pretty! I know you must be over the moon excited. This is really going to make your tri season interesting!

  6. How exciting! At some point I need to get myself a proper bike for triathlons. I can’t wait to hear more about how you’re liking this bike.

  7. So so pretty! Congrats new bike mama! Make sure you whisper sweet nothings into her crockpit ear when you get her into the city! :-)

    I think you mentioned earlier in a post that you were trying out new saddles. I have the Cobb V-Flow on my tri bike and like it. Definitely get a good saddle and then seek out a bike fit after.

    Does he/she have a name yet?

    • *Sigh* I cannot wait to start riding it! No name yet, but I’m sure it will come to me during a ride. :) And yes, I’m testing a few saddles now. Still have the Cobb Gen2, which is awesome, and I hope to try the V-Flow sometime next week. Anything will be better than my old road saddle.

  8. I saw your bike photo but didn’t realize you purchased it! Congrats on such a big and adventurous part of your life!

  9. I’m so glad you love your bike! I can’t wait for you to get it to you in NYC so you can start riding it! Going the tri bike route was the smartest decision we made as triathletes, you’ll love it!

  10. SO excited for you. Cannondales rock (also NEVER new the thing about long legs #notetoself)…can’t wait to hear how you like it!!!

    • Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard: the frame is built for riders with long legs/short reach (or shorter torso), which makes sense. And don’t quote me, but I think Trek builds its bikes the same way.

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  12. Is it weird that I felt like the picture of the bike should be framed? Beau-tiful :)

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  16. Just came across your site. I signed up for my first Tri (Syracuse Iron Girl) this summer just looking for information for a newbie!

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