A Jim of All Trades

A New Bike

with 2 comments

I’ve finally upgraded my bicycle!

For the past five to six years I’ve ridden an early 80’s Panasonic Sport 500 10-speed (the link is about a duathlon, but I talked about the bike some too). It was a bit too small for me, weighed a shade under 30 pounds (that’s heavy in the bike world), and even in its day it would have just been an entry level economy bike. In short, it’s quite outdated and not “nice” in today’s terms. Still, it isn’t exactly a “bad” bike. It’s held up pretty well considering the tough miles I’ve put on it, it helped to get me interested in biking and I’ve learned a lot about bike maintenance and setup from it.

I’ve done a triathlon, two duathlons, and put on tons of training miles with the Panasonic, so feel that I’ve paid my dues and earned the right to upgrade to something more modern.

I picked up this bike used from craigslist a week and a half ago and so far am very pleased. It is a Royal Windsor Triathlon bike.

IMGP0694xs

If you don’t know and haven’t guessed, triathlon (or “time trial”) bikes are purpose built for triathlons and similar races (duathlons and time trials). Though different than road bikes in a number of ways, the two primary differences are that they put the rider in a more aerodynamic position, and they make the rider use their leg muscles slightly differently so that the legs aren’t as fatigued when it comes to the running stage in a race. When climbing hills the rider will typically sit upright with their hands on the outer bars, similar to a traditional bike, but on the flats and downhills the rider will lean forward and ride gripping the center bars with their elbows on the pads, which is a very aerodynamic position. The gear shifts are at the end of these bars for easy shifting without breaking the aero position. The seat post is also at more of an upright angle than a road bike’s which, aside from helping with the aero position, requires more use of the quads (front of the leg) to pedal and subsequently saves the hamstrings (back of the leg) for running.

IMGP0700xss

To be clear, the bike I got is about the cheapest triathlon bike out there. It is missing a lot of bells and whistles that nicer bikes have, it doesn’t have very aggressive geometry and is as “entry level” as these bikes come. I bought it without pedals so am still using my old pedals with straps from the Panasonic while I shop around for modern shoes and pedals.

Still, it’s awesome! Having only ridden a 30 year old bike before, this feels like a Rolls Royce in comparison. The ride is much smoother and I’m much more comfortable on it. It’s much lighter, too. As equipped it weighs about 22 pounds, which is still no light weight, but it’s significantly lighter than what I’m used to and those pounds definitely make a difference out on the road.

Most importantly, it’s much faster. Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say that I’m much faster on it. I’ve only been able to do three rides so far, but each has been faster than the last and all have been much faster than I was ever able to do on my old bike. Whether going up or down hills, and even when doing longer distances there’s no comparison, it’s just faster. I ran following two of my rides as well and that went much better than before with the Panasonic. My time wasn’t anything special for the first run, but I did feel fresher and my legs never bothered me, then on the second run I actually ran my fastest 5k time ever, which is pretty amazing considering I had just done a bike ride.

Overall I’m very pleased. I don’t think I’ll be able to make any more races this year, but I’ll enjoy riding it and training, and hopefully next year I can race more.

Thanks for reading and happy pedaling!

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Written by Jim

July 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm

2 Responses

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  1. So exciting! You had been needing one and you DEFINITELY put your time and work in as far as deserving a new bike, for sure :) Congratulations! She’s a beaut. I did not know that triathalon bikes helped promote use of different muscle groups! This is fascinating. I can just see you squashing your PR out there! Enjoy!

    dinnersforwinners

    July 3, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    • Thanks, Sophie! Hope you’re having a good fourth!

      Jim

      July 4, 2014 at 9:41 am


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