After much deliberation, test riding, and visits to multiple bike shops in Calgary (who knew I'd be on a first name basis with so many young, knowledgeable guys!), I took the plunge...
With the expert advice and assistance of ALL the SPEED THEORY staff - I finally chose an ARGON 18 E112 Triathlon bike. My trusty, little yellow, Cannondale road bike has served me well since I purchased it in Feb 2003. It has some major miles on it, but I was ready for an upgrade.
I love my new red bike.
Choosing a new bike is a process - these are some of the questions I asked myself.....
What is my budget? - include extra for helmet, pedals, computer, possible saddle options, water bottle cages, clip-in cycling shoes, basic repair kit, gloves... the list can go crazy, but some are essential (helmet & pedals). Go for the best components you can afford within your budget.
How much riding do I do? Up to x 3/week through the winter on a trainer (5 - 6 hr/week), and ~7-8 hr/week in the summer.
What is my primary focus? Triathlons and road riding, 150 -200 km/week through the summer.
What are my goals? GO FASTER! I love going downhill as fast as I can to make the next transition uphill less work - Talisman ETS and Triclub coaches know of what they speak! I'm not a "light weight" (although I've lost 52 lb in my 5 years of training - and kept it off), so I do have an advantage on the downhills and really work on the uphills.
My gearing (crank set on the front and cassette ratio on the back) also needed serious consideration. All my test rides included that "evil" hill on the south side of Edworthy Park. I went up and down that hill on a Cervelo P2, Trek Madone 5.1 & 5.2, Cannondale Synapse, and finally the Argon 18 E112. The conclusion was definitely a compact crank set (50/39) on the front and an 11/28 cassette on the back. This meant I was able to give up my "granny gear" (3rd ring on the front), but still not die on hills, or worse - get off and push. The 11/28 cassette is a new option available this year from Shimano. The crank set numbers of the front rings (50/39) refer to the number of "cogs" on the ring, same goes for the 11/28 - smallest ring has 11 cogs and each successive ring has more cogs on it with the biggest having 28 cogs.
Bike frame size/wheel size. My Argon 18 E112 is an extra small frame (I'm 5' 2" tall). All of the bikes I test rode were either 47 cm or 48 cm frame sizes. This limits options in regard to wheel size on some models. For example - Cervelo has a 47 cm frame, but only fits 650cc wheels. This is not an issue/disadvantage, but I have been used to 700cc wheels, so I wanted 700cc wheels on my new bike (really a personal choice). The fit of the frame is what's important. Many manufacturers have frames that are "women specific designs" (WSD), but I was able to be fitted on the Argon 18 E112 extra small frame without any problems (OK, they did have to cut the seat post down even more for me). Argon 18 doesn't make a WSD frame, but I did get a carbon frame!!
Bike fit. I did spend time with Adam Redmond of Speed Matrix. He also works out of Speed Theory. He did a complete bike fit with me using the Retul Bike Fit System. It was amazing. I had my Cannondale bike fitted about 3 years after I purchased it and what a difference it made - not only in comfort, but also in the power I was able to produce, so I knew from past experience how important this component is. Adam is a Kinesiologist with a specialty in Biomechanics, so I had great confidence in him. The "Physio" in me likes the science behind the fit process.
I've had my lovely new red bike for almost a month. I did fall off of it on my first ride outside - "OH MY GOD, I DIDN'T SCRATCH IT, DID I"? No, my butt and my knee saved me, but I see my new carbon water bottle cage is a little "scratched" - oopsy. I was so anxious to get a new bike because I was heading out to Vernon with the Talisman Triclub/ETS for a 4 day bike camp May 4-9, 2010. I think I drove Jon nuts for the 2 months prior to this - is the bike here, did you get it in yet, blah, blah, blah. But it arrived, I had a fit with Adam, and I rode it for 4 days straight ~400 km total. I completed a time trial and NO ONE physically passed me! (There were lots of the "big guns" who were faster, but I was first one off and everyone else went in 1 minute intervals and I got to the finish point just in the nick of time!) This was the highlight of my week - that bike is very fast!
Onward to a great summer of training!