The triathlon gear basics have been sorted, and now here’s where the fun begins. If you want to progress through the age-group ranks, aerodynamics will become an important addition to all the training hours you’ve put in. A mid-depth 30-50mm deep wheel set can act as a do-it-all training and racing choice, with the clip-on aerobars and tri saddle a fine partnership.
You’ll probably be going longer than 20km on the bike now, so a saddle or top tube bag for nutrition and tools comes into play. And you should really start thinking about getting a bike fit, as there’s no point in attempting to get aero if your saddle is three inches too high and you get off the bike looking like the Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
Total upgrade cost: £1,344
Clip-on tri/aerobars are a cheaper antidote to their integrated siblings, and one that’ll save you 35secs on a 40km bike leg if positioned correctly. Set-up is key, so practise plenty after purchase (around a park or on the turbo is good) to ensure the optimum comfort that’ll leave you in better shape for the run. Profile Design’s V2+ Aluminium is our top pick.
- What are aerobars?
- How to fit aerobars (tri bars) onto your bike
- How much time will aerobars save me?
- Aerobars: Integrated versus clip-on – which is best?
- Clip-on aerobars: 3 of the best
- How to test your aerobar set-up
Although they may not look it, tri saddles will improve your comfort on the bike, keeping you perched on your seat and supporting your sit bones, especially when using aerobars. Prices can go up to £300, such as the Selle Italia seen here, but opt for the Fabric Tri (£50) if you’re on a budget.
It’s hard to quantify the actual numbers, but a bike computer will make you faster, providing you with essential pacing data to avoid going too slow or having a burn out. Demand a wireless unit, and look for GPS, a good battery life, time/distance/speed metrics and more, as well as post-ride analysis such as Garmin Connect. The Garmin Edge 25 here is difficult to fault.
- Bike computer: what to look for
- The best bike computers reviewed
- What’s the difference between a bike computer and a power meter?
TOP TUBE BAG
Simple but effective, a top tube bag will sit on your (yes, you guessed it) top tube and will be able to hold an assortment of multitools, gels and nibbles, especially handy for training rides and racing Olympic and longer. Look for a decent zip and a modicum of water-resistance, such as the Topeak FastFuel TriBag seen here.
All-in-one training and race-day wheels will invariably be an upgrade on those that came specced with your bike. They should offer better comfort, handling and aerodynamics than your basic shallow rims. And remember not to skimp on the tyres. We’ve shot the mighty Mavic Cosmic Carbones here, but you can opt for the 30mm Mavic Cosmic Elites to save some pennies without compromising hugely on quality.
- Race wheels: 4 things to consider before buying
- Which race wheel type is best for me?
- 8 of the best bike race wheels under £2,000
- Bike race wheels: benefits for triathletes
AERO ROAD HELMET
Your head is the first major part of your body to hit the air when riding, so the road/TT hybrid that is the aero road helmet can provide significant time reductions compared to a wind-disrupting vented lid. Giro’s Air Attack is 17 seconds faster over 40km (admittedly when ridden at 50km/h) than its 24-vent Aeon, so the numbers are there. We like the Las Victory Vento.
- Road, aero road and TT cycling helmets: How much difference does the type really make?
- How to choose the right TT/tri helmet
- How to choose the right cycling helmet for race-day
- Aero road helmets: 9 of the best tested on the road and in the wind tunnel
- TT bike helmets: 3 of the best reviewed
HEART RATE MONITOR
A heart rate monitor will give you invaluable data about your training and racing performances, allowing you to understand what zones to train in and those to avoid. Don’t become obsessed with the numbers, though; listening to your body and training on feel need to complement HRM use. The Polar V800 and Garmin’s FR 920XT (the essential multisport unit with swim metrics and countless additional data) come highly recommended.
- Heart rate monitors: how to use them to improve your run
- Triathlon multisport watches: 7 of the best reviewed
- Best heart rate training zones for cycling
- Best heart rate zones for running
A set of protectors for your peepers for both the bike and run is an easily overlooked yet essential buy. Look for comfort and a decent fit that won’t move when you run, and a variety of lens options for year-round riding. Providing a good range of vision, the Tifosi Talos sunglasses are a fine and affordable choice.
- Wraparound sports sunglasses for cycling and running: 6 of the best reviewed
- Glasses: how to clean them without damaging them
A Lycra upgrade is due after a couple of seasons, and now you can pick a tri-suit tailored to your exact race needs. Going for short-course speed or long-course hours? Look at pocket choice and size, the comfort provided by the pad, hydro/aerodynamics and breathability. 2XU’s Perform is our preferred mid-range suit.
- Tri-suits: What are the different options?
- 30 of the best tri-suits reviewed: short-sleeved, vested and Ironman
- Sprint versus long-distance tri-suits
- Tri-suits: what to look for
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