Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Girly Girl's Guide to Buying a Bike

Given that QR is one of the awesome Rev3 sponsors for the year, I was sold on the brand from the start. Buying a bike can't be that hard right? Wow-sers was I wrong. Despite the long, challenging, and sometimes intimidating process I'm happy to say that I've learned a lot and have a brand spanking new bike vocabulary.



Looking back 5-6 years ago, one of the first questions that Scott asked me when researching my first tri bike option was "What kind of bike do you want"?

My reply, "A pink one".

Since those days my friends I've come a long way.  (Although I still had A LOT to learn). How does one go about buying a bike? How long does it take? What parts do you need? So many questions! I'm going to share some of the steps that I went through in hopes that maybe I will help some of you all in reducing the headache. For the illicito, it came with frame and brakes only. Everything else I had to figure out. Below are 10 of the big decisions that I had to make.....

1. Brand: This is obviously the best starting point. Things to consider when making this choice: Do you have long legs and a short torso or short legs and a long torso? Certain brands are designed for certain builds. You really don't want to go wrong with this decision. I'm pretty average and made sure my dimensions of of my new bike closely resembled the old one.

2. Size: How tall are you? How much do you weigh? Again no-brainer for me the "shorty". I went with the smallest bike QR had.

3. Crank Size: I had no idea what this meant until my recent new bike purchase. I went with 170 cm as my old bike was 172.5. This is a controversial topic but I decided  that for my height I definitely had to go smaller. To go with my Rotor Q rings, I ordered a Rotor Crank set. And wow does it make my bike look even that much sexier.

4. Bottom Bracket: These size vary. I would check with your bike shop to make sure you get the right size for your frame.

5. Aero bars: What kind of materials do you want? Are you a carbon junkie? Do your bars need to move backwards because the bike is longer? I went with Profile design to give me the extra flexibility to move them back again because I'm short.

6. Wheels: Do you want race wheels? Do you want power? My coach has been pushing the idea of power --so luckily I found a  used powertap from my coaches friend. It was a huge-huge-huge pain in the butt to set up and figure out. The batteries were dead and my Garmin had a bug so the 2 would NOT sync up. After a day with garmin on the phone and new batteries, the power was ready to rock. And coach is happy :) Hopefully having the objective power numbers will lead to lots of good things in my last few races of the season.
7. Pedals: Do you want knee play? I have been using speedplays for years and yes-wanted something pink. I stuck to the same brand with these.

8: Saddle: My philosophy ladies is once you go ADAMO ISM, you NEVER go back. After switching out my old saddle to put the Adamo on the new bike, I learned the hard way. I had to train a few sessions on the old saddle and old bike and forgot how uncomrtable regular saddles are. Ouch...

9. Handle bar tape/Wiring: There are so many more options than ugly white handle bar tape! I love pink handlebar tape and it definitely stays cleaner longer :)You can get pink wire covers too! This was probably frivolous but a must for my QR. Loved how it turned out.

10: Components: Almost forgot the most important part! I went with middle of the line Shimano Dura Ace Components. I had Shimano Ultegra before and had zero problems. I thought Dura-ace was the safe middle of the road option.

I am not yet capable of putting a bike of this magnitude together. I ordered mostly everything and had the bike shop do the assembling. Anyway this list of 10 things includes most but not all of the decisions you will have to make when buying a new tri bike. Once everything was ordered, it took about 2 weeks for assembly and another week for a proper fit. This is NOT something you really want to do mid-season. Big mistake for sure. This is an off season TASK ONLY.

Please email me if you have questions. Some bikes come with components and wheels. I went the customized route to get the best bike I could and because my bike was sold as  "frame only" option.

Thank you Thank you Thank you most importantly Rev3, Alex, QR, and Bicyle World for making my dream bike happen!


  1. I recently bought a new tri bike - about a month long process of searching and I can attest, yes, these are ALL great tips!
    I got pink bar tape, the Adamo (love) and I've been riding on pink Speedplays for a long while...but pink wire covers? Oh, I need!

    Your bike is super gorgeous!!!!

  2. Awesome bike Heidi, congrats! So I was looking at QR too, and love the look of the Illicito, but I have been told you cannot use these on trainers. Did you hear this as well? Well, maybe it doesn't matter too much for you as its always warm in NOLA!

  3. well, I am not in the market for a bike. I didn't know you were a "shorty" per se.

    That struck me as kind of strange in a way, because pictures don't really give you that do they?? unless you had something to compare it to.

    Oh well, hope you are having a nice forced vaca from the Hurricane. :)

  4. Congrats on your bike - she's a beaut!! I love my QR - but I do need a new saddle...I didn't know they had a pink one!!

  5. Nice lookin' bike. And thanks for the post I hope to buy a new bike in the next year so this will help!

  6. jeremy... i've used it on the trainer no problems... the only small problem i had was the clearance for the back whee. it's a tight squeeze and had to go with the smallest tire i could find.