By JoAnne Cranson
All I want for Christmas is some Triathlon Equipment……
But the problem is, I’m new to this sport and don’t know what the “best – tried and true” equipment is. So…. I went to my teammates at Athletic Mentors to utilize their experience and knowledge to figure this out. Together, we came up with a great “wish list” of suggestions for your favorite triathlete (or yourself)!
Goggles: I got a lot of different feedback so this tells me it depends on your face shape and this may be trial and error
- Kayenne Goggles – Smoke Lens for bright sunlight in open water.
- Speedo Vanquisher 2 is good.
- Speedo Jr. Hydrospec for a smaller face shap3
- Roka R1 – amber colored makes the buoys much easier to see in open water
- Aquaman brand is the clear winner. There are many different makes, so it’s based on your budget, but ones like Bionik, ART, or whatever you can afford, you won’t regret it. They have some good sales too. This is a local Michigan business where you can try on the suit for an accurate fit which is very important!
- A one-piece suit seems to be the preference, it’s easier to keep in place. But if you are just starting and want to go with a shirt and shorts you would want to look for specific “tri” shorts, not normal biking shorts.
- Biking shorts have too much padding and are not comfortable to do the run or swim in. It needs to be comfortable, have adequate movement, and dry quickly.
Other items that will help you in training:
- Super Important in Open water swimming – Safety Buoy – Safer Swimmer Float attaches to your waist, has a dry bag you can put valuables in, bright orange so people see you and in emergency you use as a flotation device.
- FINIS paddles for proper stroke practice and Sporti Training swim fins.
- Body Glide to apply to avoid chafing (perfect stocking stuffer)
Helmet: If you want a helmet for road riding, a Smith MIPS helmet is great. There are also specific TT helmets, but those are only used when riding a triathlon bike and offer less wind resistance than a typical road helmet.
- Bike: It depends on what type(s) of biking you will be doing. If you are just beginning and want a more versatile bike that you can go to group rides and ride on paved trails, you should purchase a road bike. I good entry level road bike would be the Giant Contend. Giant TCR is an all-around road bike or you can move up to a Giant Propel – aero road bike. There are lots of used bikes on local website ads to get you started too. Most Triathlon’s have the bikes on paved roads, so to help you go faster ideally you want smooth tires – 25 cm – 28 cm. You can purchase clip-on aero bars once you are very comfortable riding. For aero bars, you want to get them as “flat” as you can to lower wind resistance and the lighter the bars the better. If just triathlon racing and not group riding, you could get a triathlon bike, like a Giant Trinity Advanced. But, you can’t ride a triathlon bike in a group. It is just not safe.
- Biking Shoes with Cleats: These are a little tricky to start using but they are super effective in utilizing your pedaling strength the whole way around the pedal, instead of, just pushing down. For the shoes, there are specific shoes for tri events. The main thing I’ve learned is you want shoes with just “velcro” closures. The other types of shoes take too long to put on, secure the closures, and take back off again. Remember, focus is to save time in transition. The feedback I got on the cleats is “look” type pedals. They give your foot a big base for improved power transfer, and as a result, helps you go faster!
- Bike Seat – this is difficult because everybody has different “sensitivity” pressure points. A good place to start would be the Adamo, the Infinity or other seats with “cut-outs.”
- Bike Computer: This is optional – If you have a running watch that can also track bike speed and other details, you may not need a bike computer. If a bike computer is wanted, Garmin 520 is our team’s top choice. It will also upload course routes, so you have turn by turn directions! If you are limited on a budget, there are other lower priced Garmin computers on the market that will give you mileage, speed, etc
- Water bottle – If you are just getting started, use bottle cages for your water bottles. As you get into using aero-bars or a tri-bike, ideally you don’t want to get out of that aero position to get a drink. One option is Xlab Torpedo Versa – easy to drink from, refill and easily attachable. Another one is Speedfil Inviscid.
Another item that is really neat is the Bontrager Speed Concept Speed Box II. It attaches to your top tube bar and allows you to store gels and nutrition that is easily accessible.
A few other miscellaneous, Biking Items include:
- Underseat bag to carry tire levers, spare tube and CO2 canister;
- Fluid Trainer or Smart Trainer for indoor training;
- “Chamois Butt’r” cream to apply to pressure points areas or, for the ladies, Hoo Ha Ride Glide.
- Shoes: Good Quality is most important. Go to a specialty sports store like Striders, Playmakers, or Gazelle Sports where they fit you personally and even allow you to run on a treadmill in the shoes. Shoes are not something to go cheap on. They are key to getting your feet, knees, and hips “happy” when you are running. Some brands to consider are Hoka, Asics, or Nike Structures.
- Triathlon – Running Watch. Most popular is the Garmin 920XT. A great accessory for the Garmin 920XT is the water-proof heart rate strap you can wear in the water and throughout the race. The Garmin 920 tracks all aspects of your race, even transition times! There are also many screen display options to choose from. It is great for training as it can track your indoor swims or open water swims, indoor or outdoor runs, plus your biking stats too. If you want to look into other watch option, some teammates use Garmin models like Vivoactive 3 or Fenix.
- Sunglasses – Hats: Smith sports sunglasses are the best option. Other suggestions are using a ball cap or sun visor during your run.
A few other miscellaneous Running Items include:
- Race Number belt – to strap around your waist and pin your number on;
- Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp – create for early morning or late night runs;
- Reflective Vest with Lights – creates good visibility for safety in training;
- Stryd – run power meter
Stocking Stuffer: Elastic Laces – for sliding on your running shoes, like Lock Laces
There are a number of local bike shops that have a lot of these items for you to see in person, try-on and get their opinions. Check out Speed Merchants Bike Shop, KLM Bike & Fitness, or Custer Cyclery. For swimming items, check out swimoutlet.com.
It has been fun compiling this list and I’ve learned I want even more items than I thought! I hope this will be a good resource for you too. I encourage you to make it your goal to do a triathlon. You don’t need to have all these items, just get out and “tri” it. You will learn what you really need and can gradually accumulate the additional tools.