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I have been talked into participating in my first triatholan by my friends and I am trying to purchase my first bike on a budget! I am very novice and I live in the country where I will be riding on some gravel roads. I am not so much trying to win the triatholan but finish it.

I am looking to get a hybrid bike. I went to performance bikes at lunch and the saleman has me pretty much sold on a Nomad - LTD. It was $549 and on sale for $380. Is that a good bike? Do you think I might regret getting that bike over spending a little more for a Trek? I appreciate any and all help you can offer!

Thanks!
 

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I don't know that specific bike, but I used to buy a lot of stuff from Performance, and I've never felt anything was less than it should have been. At that price level, I don't think any particular bike is going to be significantly better than any other--it's a competitive market, and nobody can afford to put on components that are two grades above what everybody else is using.
Since you're not ultra-serious about this, BTW, I think a hybrid would be a good choice for you--it's more versatile, probably has gearing better suited to a new or casual rider than a full-on racer and you'll use it more after the tri than you would a real racer. If it comes with heavy multi-purpose tires, you might consider changing to lighter ones for the tri, but hang on to the old ones. You may want to ride a trail someday.
You can certainly ride it as it is, though. I got back into cycling after a long post-college layoff on a $300 Mongoose mountain bike, and did my first metric and my first century on it with the original 45psi, 26x2.1 knobbies. I was young and strong and stupid, and it still nearly killed me.
 

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Maybe a cyclocross bike

If your goal is to finish one triathlon then that bike would probably be ok. Any bike sold as a comfort bike is not built for speed. You may want to consider a cyclocross bike. They can be fitted with wide or narrower tires as conditions warrant and allow you to get into a better aerodynamic position. That being said it will be hard to match the hybrid's price point. I am not familiar with the Shimano components that are on that bike and I don't know how they would hold up if you consistently rode them hard.
 
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