How to build bike confidence

Joe Beer lays down the fundamentals for increasing your speed and knowledge on two wheels

To improve your bike prowess is to make your triathlon sandwich complete. Whether you’re racing in the UK or further afield, your bike training must be enjoyable and productive for you to be ready for the competitive challenge. Better biking means not only faster cycle splits, but also an improved ability to run afterwards.
When your bike works well you’re safer, more likely to enjoy the miles and much less likely to be thumbing a lift home as you drag your bike along the road. Whether you’re new to tri-bikes or consider yourself a bit of a velo connoisseur, a basic refresher will help you improve.
Biking requires more kit and more knowledge than for the swim or run. Unless you’re from an experienced cycle background, the multitude of parts that make up a bike may be a daunting list to remember, let alone understand. So take time to learn the names and functions of parts on the bike. This’ll pay dividends in the future.
The more you know, the better your money and time will be spent – and to be a good biker both of these have to be invested, constantly. Best sources of info include talking to knowledgeable triathletes and bikies, and local bike mechanics. I would also recommend reading some bike tech books, such as Zinn And The Art Of Triathlon Bikes (
Making your bike a joy to ride may seem obvious, but many triathletes put up with noisy, poorly functioning and even dangerous bikes for fear that 10mins of mechanics could lose them 3km of training. But the upkeep of your bike is vital – your steed has to be a thoroughbred (check out The Joy of Six ‘Bike Tweaks’, above).
Many who fail to finish a race blame the bike and not their lack of investment in it. So see routine maintenance as equalling better shifting, braking and reliability come the all-important race day.
Regularly make a checklist of things to fix and action them. Some people prefer to carry out action immediately after they have finished a ride; others write a list then splurge on the bike on a non-training day. Choose whatever method works for your situation and mindset. Note in your training diary what maintenance and purchases you action and you can rightly feel like it’s part of being a better triathlete.
It’s not riding 80km every weekend or having the latest superlight bike on the block that makes your pedal-spinning abilities grow over the coming months and years. Rather it’s the confidence in knowing that you and the bike are a team, both equipped to work together. Every training ride is not a race to be first. Confidence breeds enjoyment, and that breeds consistency.

Photo credit: Jonny Gawler/Flow Images