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How to Choose the Best Beginner Road Bike and Best Beginner Triathlon Bike

by Zach Nehr

Blog ▸ How to Choose the Best Beginner Road Bike and Best Beginner Triathlon Bike

Zach Nehr

Zach Nehr

Zach has a degree in Exercise Science and Psychology. He is a certified coach, Cat 1 cyclist, and is a freelance writer having been published in many of the worlds largest endurance sports publications.

Buying a new bike can seem like a very tall task. You have to know what size to get, what kind of bike to get, and which set of components you want, assuming it fits your budget! But don’t fear; we’re here to help. In this post, we’re going to give you a complete guide to choosing the best beginner road bike and best beginner triathlon bike. First, we’ll discuss budgets and the differences between buying a new bike versus a used bike. 

Next, we’ll talk about the similarities and differences between road and triathlon bikes and why we recommend only one kind of bike to beginners. We’ll discuss frame materials, groupsets, and components for all kinds of new and used bikes. 

At the end of this post, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide for choosing the best beginner road bike and beginner triathlon bike that fits your needs.

Buying a Beginner Road & Triathlon Bike

How to choose a beginner road and triathlon bike:

  • Where to Start When Buying a Road and Triathlon Bike
    • The $3000 Inflection Point
    • Resale Value
    • Buying a New >$3000 Bike
    • What if My Budget is Less Than $3000?
  • Should Beginners Get a Road Bike or Triathlon Bike?
  • Quick Guide to Buying a Beginner Road & Triathlon Bike
    • Step 1: Research Online for Bikes That Fit Your Budget
    • Step 2: Look at Bikes In-Person and Go for a Test Ride
    • Step 3: Dial In Your Bike Fit

Where to Start When Buying a Road and Triathlon Bike

The $3000 Inflection Point

Beginner cyclists should start with their budget when buying their first road and triathlon bike. There is a rough inflection point in the bike industry where bikes become exceedingly valuable for the money. That number is $3000. 

We recommend that beginner cyclists or triathletes avoid buying a new sub-$3000 bike from a local bike shop as their first bike. 

An entry level road bike or entry level triathlon bike costing less than $3000 will depreciate significantly more than a new bike costing more than $3000. 

Resale Value 

One of the biggest reasons we recommend beginners buy a new road and triathlon bike that is more than $3000 is the exceptional resale value. Cheaper bikes (sub-$3000) will depreciate quickly, and there is already a massive market for them on sites like <a href="http://<!– wp:heading –> <h2><strong>Sources</strong></h2> <!– /wp:heading –> <!– wp:list –> <ul><li><a href="https://mymottiv.com/triathlon-bike-vs-road-bike/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Triathlon Bike vs. Road Bike: Understanding the Differences</a></li><li><a href="https://www.cyclingnews.com/features/disc-brakes-vs-rim-brakes/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Disc Brakes vs. rim brakes: Understanding the differences</a></li><li><a href="https://www.bicycle-guider.com/cycling-advice/bike-frame-materials/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener"><em>Bike Frame Materials Explained</em></a></li><li><a href="https://mymottiv.com/what-size-road-bike-do-i-need/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener"><em>What Size Road Bike Do I Need: Everything You Need to Know</em></a></li><li><a href="https://mymottiv.com/beginners-guide-to-road-cycling-safety/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener"><em>Complete Beginner's Guide to Road Cycling Safety</em></a></li></ul> Craigslist and Marketplace

In contrast, a new >$3000 bike can be resold at nearly the same value, given minimal wear and tear. That’s because >$3000 bikes have mid-level components and higher quality materials than sub-$3000 bikes. 

Buying a New >$3000 Bike 

black road bike

We recommend that beginners buy a new bike from a local bike shop, with a value of at least $3000. These bikes will have much better resale value because of the higher quality materials, components, and design. 

Buying a bike at a local shop is a great way to multitask your bike-buying journey. At a shop, you can ask questions about the sizing and components of bikes. You can also ask a professional bike mechanic about the maintenance of a new road and triathlon bike. 

A local bike shop will also have any accessories you need with the purchase of a new bike. This includes bottle cages, lights, helmets, and cycling kits. 

Components and groupsets are one of the main differentiators between sub-$3000 and >$3000, especially for the bike’s resale value. In brief, components are parts of a bike, such as a frame, wheels, fork, and saddle. The groupset refers to the moving parts of a bike and its drivetrain, including the derailleurs, brakes, bottom bracket, and shift levers. 

What if My Budget is Less Than $3000? 

man in red shirt riding on bicycle during daytime

Buying a new bike can be a considerable expense, especially if you’re talking about a purchase of a few thousand dollars. But there is a quick and easy fix if your budget is less than $3000: buy a used bike instead of a new bike. 

When you buy a used bike, you will save money on the depreciation that has already occurred. That way, you get a better bike for your dollar. 

After a few months on a used bike, you will know if you love riding or not. If you haven’t fallen in love with cycling yet, you can resell your used bike for close to what you paid. 

Should Beginners Get a Road Bike or Triathlon Bike?

We recommend that beginners buy a road bike as their first bike. It is easier to find a bike your size as a beginner, and road bikes are cheaper than triathlon bikes. Road bikes also have better resale value compared to triathlon bikes. 

The wider drop bars and a more upright riding position make road bikes much more comfortable for beginners. Road bikes are also significantly more versatile than triathlon bikes. If you only have one bike, you’ll want a road bike that can do it all: long endurance rides, short and fast rides, group rides, AND triathlons. 

In contrast, a triathlon bike is only designed for solo rides, triathlon training, and triathlons. You’ll get much more bang for your buck by choosing a road bike to start rather than a triathlon bike. 

In the bike leg of a triathlon, especially for beginners, overall comfort and control are better than straight-line speed. Triathlon bikes – being more aerodynamic and having aero bars – are faster in a straight line compared to road bikes. But they are slower and more challenging to handle in corners, even more so for beginners. 

As a beginner, there will be very little speed difference between a road bike and a triathlon bike as your race bike. Once you become more experienced and faster on the bike, then a triathlon bike becomes advantageous on the bike leg. 

Road bikes are also better for group rides since they offer more stability and control. You can’t reach the brakes from the aero bar position on triathlon bikes, which is much too dangerous for group riding. The more upright position of a road bike also keeps your head up higher, giving you a better sight line in the middle of a group ride. 

Quick Guide to Buying a Beginner Road & Triathlon Bike

Step 1: Research Online for Bikes That Fit Your Budget

Remember our advice from the beginning of this post: as a beginner, you should buy a new >$3000 bike with good resale value or a used sub-$3000 bike. 

To help narrow down your options, make sure you have one or two different bike sizes that you are looking for. This could be a 54cm or 56cm frame or a Medium or Large. 

Most bike manufacturers have a height-to-bike-size chart that you can use as a starting point. However, every rider has unique physiological dimensions that could affect their ideal bike size.

 For a complete run-down on bike size and how to find the perfect bike size for you, check out What Size Road Bike Do I Need: Everything You Need to Know.

Do some browsing and pick out a few of your favorite road bikes from your research. Next, look up local bike shops to see what bikes they carry and what they might have available. If you have a match or two, you are ready to look at a potential new road bike!

If you are buying a used bike, do as much research as possible on the options you find. Take a close look at the pictures and details of the bike to ensure it is in good working order. 

Specifically, look at the chain, cassette, and groupset for wear and tear. For example, if the chain is black, that is a good sign that the previous owner has not taken good care of their bike. Thus, the components are likely to be worn out; even if they’re in working condition now, they’ll probably need to be replaced soon. 

Step 2: Look at Bikes In-Person and Go for a Test Ride

With a bike or two (or three) in mind, head to a local bike shop and see your options in person. As much as you can read about something online, it is always best to check it out in reality before making the final purchase. 

If the shop has your size available, ask to take the bike for a test ride. A bike mechanic will ensure that the bike is ready to ride, and you should be able to take it around the parking lot or maybe even down the road. 

You should have an immediate feeling if the bike is a good fit or not. If it feels smooth, natural, and comfortable, this bike could be for you. 

If possible, test ride a different size or a different bike for comparison’s sake. Try to notice any differences and if you’re happier with the first bike or the second. It won’t be long before you’re ready to make your purchase. 

For those purchasing a used bike, you can follow most of the same protocol when seeing the bike in person. Any good salesperson will let you test out the product, so you should be able to spin around the parking lot on the used bike. Ask the seller as many questions as possible to be confident in your final purchase. 

Step 3: Dial In Your Bike Fit

Once you’ve picked out your new (or used) road bike, it’s crucial to dial in your bike fit. That means adjusting the handlebars and saddle to fit your body’s dimensions. 

Don’t worry if you’re not a bike fitting expert. A local shop may have a professional bike fitter who can set you up with a comfortable riding position. You can also make some adjustments on your own, as most parts on a bike can be moved around by loosening an Allen key (just don’t forget to retighten it).  

We have a complete guide to finding the right bike fit in our blog, What Size Road Bike Do I Need: Everything You Need to Know.

With your bike fit dialed, you’re ready to ride!

For tips on how to stay safe while cycling, check out our post, Complete Beginner’s Guide to Road Cycling Safety

Sources

Zach Nehr

Zach Nehr

Zach has a degree in Exercise Science and Psychology. He is a certified coach, Cat 1 cyclist, and is a freelance writer having been published in many of the worlds largest endurance sports publications.