Friday, February 8, 2013

Hunt For The New Ride

2011 was my inaugural year of triathlons.  Leading up to that year, I knew I had one major item to purchase.  As much as it would have been OK for me to do triathlons in my Fuji hybrid, I decided to get something a little swifter.  After a few trips to a few local bike stores, I ended up back at the same bike shop where we bought our Fuji bikes, Cycle City in Parkville, MO.

I was just looking for a road bike. I knew about Triathlon (or Time Trial) bikes but I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the sport before spending the big bucks

After test riding a Felt and two Cannondales, I made the easy decision to get the Felt Z85.  I loved everything about the bike.  It was a really good, low-to-mid range aluminum frame road bike.  The color scheme was black with red trim; therefore,  I quickly dubbed it K.I.T.T. We raced 6 triathlons that year, including a half ironman at Beach2Battleship.  In 2012, K.I.T.T. participated in a duathlon and a triathlon and has taken me to and from work plenty of times.  We've been through some good times and some bad times.

Not really a good use for my Z85.
For 2013, I decided to delegate K.I.T.T. to the "practice squad".  It was actually an easy decision.  I am ready to step up my game in the triathlon sport and with the bike leg generally being the longest of the three sports, there is a lot of room for improvement (although I'm hoping for a big gain in running this year based on my 2012 races).

So what are my criteria?
  • Triathlon Bike - These are also known as Time Trial bikes; however, more manufacturers are building Triathlon-specific bikes (the geometry and features of the bike aren't approved for cycling-specific races).  Either is fine for me.
  • Carbon Fiber - it is lighter than aluminum, yet stronger than steel.  One of the two Cannondale road bikes I tested in 2011 was carbon fiber.  I rode it simply to try a carbon fiber bike and it was amazing.  While the Felt wanted to take off when I rode it, this one wanted to fly off into the stratosphere (but was out of budget)
  • Fit - I am not about to drop some $$$$ on a bike that doesn't fit.  I think I lucked out that my Felt Z85 was the perfect fit.  What this means is that if I have a bike in mind that I want and the bike shop does not have it in my size, I'm going to have them order it.  (Yes, I had a bike in mind)  Hopefully any credible bike shop won't let you buy a bike that doesn't fit.
  • Upgraded Componentry - This is the shifters, brakes, cranks, derailleurs.. everything on the bike that moves except the wheels and you.  My road bike has decent components (Shimano 105) but I'm looking to take a step or two up.  It doesn't have to be huge.
My original plan was to look at upgrading mid-summer... until my buddy Aaron forwarded me an email from Cycle City indicating all 2012 bikes were 25% off.  Whoa!  

So that got me in the door.  I actually made two trips to Cycle City to check things out before I came to the realization that they didn't have any 2012 bikes in my size.  What that did do was get my mind wrapped around the prices of the 2013 bikes, which they did have some in stock in my size.  They were in budget!

After a week of contemplation and online studying, I decided to go in for a test ride.  I took three bikes for a spin:

Cervelo P2 - Cervelo is the leader in triathlon bikes.  Chrissie Wellington won multiple Ironman World Championships on a P2.  The downfall?  Everyone seems to own one.  I do like to be slightly different but everyone owns a Cervelo for a reason.

I'm still trying to figure out the aerodynamic qualities of the masking tape over the stem.

Cannondale Slice 5 - Good price but the components are the same level as my road bike.  The bike is pretty sexy though.

I do like the black/grey matte finish

Felt S32 - Not really an option due to the aluminum frame but I wanted to ride a Felt triathlon bike in my size.

Hoping it somewhat matches the geometry of the Felt bike I would really like to try.

My route takes me from the bike shop, through the YMCA's parking lot and onto 9 highway.  I then ride 9 highway for a half mile to Main Street.  This will take me all the way down to English Landing Park.  I then follow this in reverse back to the shop.  All in all it's about a 3.5 mile loop; however,  if you've ever ridden, walked, or ran Main Street you know that the return trip is not very forgiving.  It has 130 feet of elevation gain in about half a mile.

Riding these bikes made this incline a lot easier.  They are lighter bikes than my road bike.  I rode the Cervelo first, which actually gave it an unfair disadvantage.  I have never ridden a triathlon bike before, so I spent a lot of the time getting used to the style of bike.  I actually rode it one more time after the Slice to give it another shot.

The Cervelo ticked off all my boxes, although the aerobars need some adjustments for my size.  The Cannondale Slice 5 was the most economical but it didn't have the upgraded components.   If I went up to the higher components then it was likely to be equivalent to or higher priced than the Cervelo.  The Felt S32 was more of a "replacement" test ride.  I've been eyeing a Felt B12 bike but Cycle City didn't have one in stock.  The guy at the bike shop said it would have similar geometry but it's an aluminum bike (although I seriously question the geometry similarities).

B12 - I would love for the colors to be a little more fun, but this is fine.

Based on everything that I've read about the Felt B12 is that it is an amazing bike. It has been completely re-engineered for 2013 and shares many of the "bones" from the flagship DA line.  I love my Felt Z85 so I figured this would have a great chance.

After riding the Felt S32 with the other triathlon bikes, I decided to have them bring one in for me to ride.  The S32 was one of the more comfortable rides but that doesn't necessarily translate to the B12.  This wasn't an easy decision because Cycle City requested a $500 deposit.  While this doesn't lock me into the Felt B12, it locks me into spending $500 at Cycle City.  My size is not an easy sell for a bike shop, so they just wanted to make sure I eventually left their shop with one of their bikes.  If I ended up not liking the Felt, then my decision is to go with the Cervelo.

So now I wait.  I wait for that phone call from Cycle City indicating the Felt is in and I can give it a test ride.  I just hope it's a nice day out and not rainy, snowy, or downright cold.


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  2. My guess is you'll love the B12. I rode one in the fall from Elite Cycles, and am hoping to grab one myself late in 2013... MATCHING COLORS?!?

  3. The one I got from target is $220... Just sayin