Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bike Shopping!

Shopping for new gear is always fun, and shopping for a new bike is very exciting! At the same time it is a bit of an intimidating process. For most of us, this only happens every few years and it's a significant investment so we want to do it right. It's time for me to shop for a new bike, as I've been riding the same Specialized Tarmac Comp since 2007. It's gone through different modifications, but I'm at the point in my performance where a real Tri bike is what I need for my triathlon racing.

Here's my process....
1) Identify my budget.
2) Get a "pre-purchase" fit so that I know what brands/sizes will be my best options. As much as I'd like to buy for looks, it's really the fit that matters.
3) Identify the models that fit in my price range. I am going to sacrifice some "upper end" components so that I can get a good set of wheels (still yet tbd) with a PowerTap. I'm going to put together a spreadsheet of bikes/components and then talk to the bike shops that sell them.
4) Test out as many of the models that I can.
5) Buy the bike that works the best!

I've done steps 1 and 2, and am in the middle of #3.

Last night I met with Branden Rakita, a local XTERRA pro who works at ProCycling here in Colorado Springs. They have a Serotta fit cycle, which is basically a contraption with a seat post and post for handle bars (or aero bars) that can get moved in all sorts of directions. The pedals are attached to a crank which is then hooked up to a computrainer so that power output and pedal efficiency can get monitored. Fancy!
the fit cycle, not really that blurry in real life.
Branden hard at work crunching numbers
After answering a bunch of questions about my athletic history, any issues I've had while riding, how much I train, and so forth, Branden took a bunch of measurements. He checked my flexibility and even measured my feet. Then I hopped on the cycle and pedaled. He made some changes. I pedaled and things moved some more. He measured some angles and distances and entered them into the software.

The cool thing was that the computrainer software has a module called the spinscan, which shows you your pedaling efficiency graphically. I was pretty smooth in the pedal stroke with power distribution, but I learned that my left leg provides 52% of my power, and my right leg only 48%. Interesting, but I'm not surprised, as my left leg is my stronger leg. (Extra motivation to keep up with the strength training to balance out a bit more!)

We then spent a little time looking at bike geometry tables where he picked out a few that would work for me. He'll email me the full results and I'll be able to keep working on item #3 in my process.

Steve gave a great clinic!
Today I actually was at a Bike Fitting Basics clinic run by Steve Vaughan at Bicycle Village after a Team In Training spin class with my team. He did a quick basic demo fit with me on the Trek in the photo above (per my request...heeheehee). It's one I'm considering...

Stay tuned for more updates as I dial in my bike selection!


Terry Odell said...

Spreadsheet, eh? Your father's daughter for sure.

Jess said...

strengthen your right leg by only using it to run. :)

Christi said...

Branden, is great. He has done all my fittings. Good luck with your shopping! Buying a new bike is always so much fun.