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What you should be looking for when buying a bike

No matter what brand or the components you use, four key values come into play when buying a bike

I’m fortunate enough to be sponsored by Quintano Roo (QR) and Shimano bicycle components and wheels. Those two brands make a great bike. I have been a Shimano athlete for almost a decade. Yes, I may be biased on specifics when looking for a good triathlon bike – but no matter what brand or the components you use, four key values come into play:
Photo: Pearl Izumi and iracelikeagirl
  • Brand Support
  • Comfort
  • Components
  • Support from the shop


This fall, I had the opportunity to connect with Peter Hurley, the owner of American Bicycle Group, parent company to QR. We had a great conversation about their PRSix, becoming a part of the QR team and our collective vision on the kinds of things that we could do together. The PRSix was a bike which kept grabbing my eye at the expos and on the long course circuit. I told Peter that I had never ridden a bike with disc brakes (the new PRSix has disc brakes), just that I try to ride my bike as fast as possible.

Related: Road bike or tri bike?

Photo: Pearl Izumi and iracelikeagirl

When looking for a bike, the support of the bike company itself is important. You’ll want to find a company that you have access to (either a local bike shop or direct), and one you can connect with for follow-up. Shop around until you find a good brand you can rely on.


Comfort trumps all. You’ll want to be sure you’re getting a bike you feel comfortable riding. Comfort comes from a proper bike fit and size of bike. Take advantage of testing before you buy, and measuring your body type up to the bike you’re interested in. A good shop will recommend bikes suited to your frame and interests. When I looked at bikes, I made sure to consult with my trusted bike friends and fitters to ensure the PRSix would fit me. I also looked at the brakes and style of riding. The new PRSix has disc brakes – something new to me. This new feature will help improve my breaking ability and getting through corners fast while racing.

Related: Making small adjustments are part of the bike fit process


I’m biased, and rightfully so. I’ve been a Shimano athlete for a decade, and there’s a reason why. They have electrical components at fair prices, and they are what makes my bike ride smooth and fast.

Components are key when looking at a bike. Learn the different levels of components. Shimano has many levels, from entry to full Di2 Dura-Ace. When shopping, I always recommend looking at the middle set of any company. For example, Shimano’s Di2 Ultegra. This groupset includes electronic shifting and is aimed at competitive athletes or dedicated enthusiasts. That said, manual shifting works just as well and is very affordable. A very solid groupset that lasts is Shimano’s Ultegra (manual).

You’ll also want to look at your gearing. For any standard rider, I always recommend an 11-28 cassette and a 53/39. This allows you enough variety in gearing for almost any type of riding.  Again, a good bike fitter and shop will help get you on the right bike.

Lastly, if not first, you want to feel comfortable with the bike shop you’re making your purchase from. If you don’t, you have gone to the wrong shop. You should be able to get measured, talk to them about the riding you plan to do and get answers to your questions. A good shop will recommend bikes suited to your frame and interests. Most shops allow you to test the bike and I highly recommend you do.