How to Know When It's Time to Upgrade Your Triathlon Bike


It seems like every few months bike manufacturers come out with lighter, faster, cooler—and more expensive—models. How are you supposed to know this time it's worth dropping the cash on a new ride, or if you should settle with accessories, biding your time until an even lighter, faster and cooler option hits the market? Reasons to upgrade can be logical and emotional, but to help make your decision a little easier, we came up with a few tips to consider before saying goodbye to your old standby and finally trading it in for an even better version.

Have More Fun

Upgrading to a new bike just for the fun of it may be hard to quantify and is likely even harder to justify. But there's no denying that riding a new tri bike is pretty darn fun. If you can afford it, that may be all the reason you need to upgrade.

Your Bike Sustained Damage

If you've sustained any damage from crashing your bike, or it topples over when you lean it on something, you should consider upgrading. Inquire at your bike shop about what might be covered by a manufacturer's warranty.

Wear and Tear

Bikes don't "wear out"—if they're not stressed or damaged, aluminum, steel and carbon bikes will last for years. But parts do wear out, especially if left unserviced. Chains stretch, cogs wear, brake pads disintegrate and bearings grind. If you're looking at more than a couple hundred in repairs, it might be time for an upgrade to your bike components instead of a one-for-one swap.

Better Fit

If you did not get a bike fit before you bought your current ride, you might have an incorrectly-sized bike. A better fit may allow you to go faster with less effort by allowing you to be in a more aerodynamic or comfortable position.

Improved Aerodynamics

New tri bikes have more aerodynamic designs than their predecessors. This means that a greater percentage of your effort will translate into speed instead of overcoming wind resistance. So although speed is not free, it can be bought.

Enhanced Shifting

The latest bike drivetrains from SRAM, Shimano and Campagnolo offer precise shifting in both electronic and mechanical versions that are sublime. Mechanical shifting feels light, crisp and responsive. Electronic shifts are so fast, and you can run your entire gear range with the press of a button; automatic shifting is literally at your fingertips. If you don't want to spend $1,000 or more, you can upgrade your existing bike's drivetrain for just a few hundred.

Superior Braking

The whole point of a tri bike is to go as fast as possible. So, do disc brakes help you go faster? Not really. But they do offer braking that is superior to traditional rim bakes in all conditions. If you routinely ride in wet conditions or on roads that are technical with a lot of elevation changes, you might want to consider upgrading to a tri bike with disc brakes.

Accessory Integration

The latest and greatest new tri bikes offer integrated storage solutions that allow you to carry extra nutrition and more spare tubes and CO2 cartridges hidden in aerodynamic compartments.

Lower Weight

Although bike weight affects climbing by only small margins, a lighter bike may be easier to handle—and more fun to ride. Light race wheels can spin up more easily and may respond to your input more readily compared to heavier hoops. However, you can upgrade your race wheels without upgrading your whole bike, and your ride will feel almost new.

An Offer You Can't Refuse

Do you get those marketing emails about great deals on bikes and accessories? Check them out before you delete them. Every now and then, a great deal on a new bike can be found—like an end-of-season sale or new-old-stock inventory-clearance event—and the timing might be right for you to upgrade.

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