I competed in 2015 and 2016 on a Diamondback Edgewood, which is a hybrid comfort bike. Time to get your jaws off the ground! Yes, I successfully competed and completed two sprint triathlons (and trained with an outdoor cycle group) on this bike.
In preparation of my first sprint triathlon, I wondered if I would stick out as the only one without a road bike. I was by far not the only one! There were many types of bikes at the race, both old and new, and ranging from mountain bikes to triathlon bikes. No one looked twice at my bike. It is easy to get into this sport and want to immediately buy the shiny new equipment, spend thousands of dollars, etc. before even competing in the first race, just because ‘everyone’ else is doing so. Trust me, not everyone is doing this and no one is going to think different of you because you are riding on last years model (or a model from 10 years ago). Does your bike work? Do you feel comfortable riding it for 13.3 miles? If yes, use it!
Following my second triathlon, I knew that if I wanted to continue in this sport, I should upgrade but didn’t want to spend thousands on a bike. Yes, the cost could get into the $10,000 range easily. I set a budget of $1,000 and stuck to it. After checking out a few articles (see below), I hit the local bike stores. Most places had well-informed employees. I informed them what I previously competed on, what I was looking for, and my budget. It helped the conversation to tell them my budget up front and no one flinched at what my budget was. No one tried to upgrade me to sell me more than what I was looking for.
I tested a number of bikes at four shops by riding them outside. At one shop, the employee rode with me. I highly recommend this as I was able to ask questions like, why are my shoulders bothering me, how do I use these brakes, where should I be sitting, etc. as we were riding. He was very patient with me and his tips made my ride much better. I would also ask comparison questions such as… I was able to do xyz on my hybrid…how do I do that on this bike? One such example is the front wheel. I typically take off my front wheel to store it in the car for transport. The way to pop off the wheel on the road bike is different than my hybrid comfort. Sizing varies as well. A 54 inch on one brand may not be the same on another brand – you may need a 51 inch instead.
Some of the useful articles included:
Road Bikes: How to Choose by REI
Bike Buying Guide: What to Consider When Buying a New Road Bike by Marc Lindsay
The 10 Most Important Questions To Ask When You’re Buying A Bike by Georgena Terry
Good luck in your own bike hunting!