So, you’re shopping for more speed without splashing out on a new bike and you want to know what to stick on your list. Ok, here goes…
These have to be your top priority. They’ll put you in a more aerodynamic position and, by doing so, save you a big chunk of time on the second leg.
>>> Best aerobars of 2015
No point bothering with carbon on this budget, especially when you can get a great set of aluminium clip-ons for a hundred quid, such as Profile Design’s T5 Plus bars or the Missile Alloy bars from Pro.
If you go for aerobars, the position you’ve become used to riding in is going to change dramatically.
To make sure it does so in the best way possible (namely enabling you to ride faster in comfort and control), it’s worthwhile getting an expert’s opinion. It’ll set you back around £150, but it might well stop you putting your back out.
You can’t race without a helmet so you might as well wear a fast one.
>>> Best aero helmets of 2015
If you go for the full-on Alien-style headgear, you can spend anything up to £300 (the Louis Garneau P-09 is £224), but you can pick up an aero-optimised – and slightly less sci-fi-looking – road helmet, such as the Specialized Evade for £160.
For £500 you’re not going to be able to afford anything truly remarkable, so banish any thoughts of deep-section, carbon exotica (unless you’re considering second-hand).
>>> Best race wheels of 2015
Wheels will eat up most of your budget if you do decide to go for them and they probably won’t make as much of a difference as an aerobar/aero helmet combo.
But if you do decide to go down this route, you can get a pair of Mavic Cosmic Elite S wheels for £400 or a Fulcrum Racing Quattro wheelset for £300 (shop around for better deals).
If you haven’t got clipless pedals and cycling shoes, it’s probably worth splashing out on them as the stiffer soles and connection to your bike make a tangible difference. If you’ve already got the shoes and pedals, and are looking for every extra second you can get, you may think about tri-specific bike shoes.
>>> Best tri bike shoes of 2015
Shoes such as Spiuk’s Sectors are designed to be left attached to your bike and put on as you ride, saving precious seconds with flying mounts out of T1 (after a bit of practice, it goes without saying).
(Main image: Jonny Gawler)
For lots more bike advice head to our Training section