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Essential Triathlon Gear and Clothing Guide

Triathlon Gear If you’re reading this, you must have signed up for one of the biggest adventures of your life – racing a Triathlon. Or looking at attempting one. Or just inspired by a friend or colleague and have embarked on the journey to understand more about this endurance sport.

Triathlon Gear

While training for each of the 3 sports is critical, the gear you would use for this endurance event is equally important. Training and racing with the correct equipment give the athlete performance gains, and more importantly prevent injuries and also ensure the athlete is comfortable over the hours of running, riding and swimming.

As with most investments – having clarity on your racing goals is critical to ensure you invest correctly. Looking to race more than a few triathlons or an Ironman? You’re ar better off investing in some good quality high-end gear from reputable brands right from the start. Looking to attempt your first Tri event to test the waters? Don’t spend quite as much! Get the basic minimal equipment and gradually upgrade over time as you get hooked like the rest of us!

A PRIMER ON TRIATHLON SPECIFIC FEATURES

You’ve decided on investing in some tri gear – the standard question we get is “what should I look for?“. With all the choices available in the market, its critical to have a basic understanding of tri-specific features to make a more informed decision on your purchase.

1. COMPRESSION ZONES

Compression zones create a graduated compression directed towards the heart, very similar to how carbon fiber lay-up is done to build a carbon bike. This is done primarily to improve blood flow and ensure circulation to all muscles and extremities.

The material is “tighter” than non-compression clothing and also provides adequate muscle support to help reduce fatigue on long, hot rides.

2. HYDROPHOBIC TECHNOLOGY

Hydrophobic technology on clothing basically repels water. If you pour water over the fabric, the water just rolls off without being absorbed. A fantastic feature when you get out of your swim leg and start off on the bike leg. Your apparel is a lot more comfortable, helps you warm up faster and also ensures your apparel is lightweight as water can weigh you down significantly.

Hydrophobic technology in the triathlon apparel world isn’t new tech but it’s an area that’s constantly seeing improvement. Initially, tri suits with hydrophobic tech had issues with ventilation but nowadays, to overcome this hurdle, manufacturers have employed the use of durable, hard-wearing nanocoating on the fabric surface that allows for good ventilation and water-resistant properties.

3. TRI-SPECIFIC CHAMOIS

Athletes spend a long time riding their bike, typically in an aerodynamic position that can put undue pressure on soft tissue and compress sensitive nerve endings and cause numbness over time. Chamois is the light padding in cycling shorts that prevent this.

Every tri-suit should ideally have a chamois that is comfortable, lightweight, and water-resistant if not waterproof. Traditional cycling shorts have slightly wider and heavier chamois that would rub against the triathlete’s inner thighs and cause chaffing. Tri-suits and tri-shorts have narrower chamois that do not interfere with your thighs.

4. AERODYNAMICS

Aerodynamics is an important aspect for every triathlete as drag and resistance are the biggest factors that slow down athletes during the swim and bike stages and are major buying factors when it comes to tri-apparel.

Triathlon Gear 4

Contrary to popular belief, the most drag resistant fabrics are not those that are super smooth, but those which are slightly rough. A smooth fabric allows air or water to attach to it at a molecular level, which creates a ‘tugging’/drag on the fabric which causes a turbulent flow around the surface; increasing resistance.

Well designed, fabrics actually ‘induce’ a very thin, controlled layer of turbulent flow over the surface, which acts as a super-slick surface for the bulk of the air/water flow to move over smoothly. New fabric technology for a competitive edge has been developed by multiple manufacturers in the tri-suit industry. They all try to achieve a common goal of reducing drag and increasing efficiency wherever possible.

5. OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

U.V protection and heat management are also key features to look out for as the endurance event can span multiple hours, in scorching heat and searing temperates – both of which can be detrimental to athlete performance.

Zippers help keep you cool under the sun. You can get both front and rear zippers that are easy to put on and take off. Moisture-wicking fabrics help maintain optimal body temperature in both hot and cold conditions. In hot conditions, it facilitates the absorption and evaporation of sweat which maintains bodily temperature. In cold conditions, it pulls cold moisture away from the body, reducing the amount of energy required to stay warm.

Since the athlete spends a lot of time exposed to the Sun and harmful U.V Radiation, having suits which have inbuilt U.V protection is a definite positive to look for.

TRIATHLON GEAR CHECKLIST

Whether you’re a pro or beginner triathlete, these are the 10 pieces of kit every athlete needs when taking part in a triathlon.

  1. Triathlon Suit
  2. Swim Cap
  3. Goggles
  4. Helmet
  5. Cycling Shoes
  6. Bike
  7. Running Shoes
  8. Energy Bars/Gel
  9. Hydration
  10. Triathlon Multi-Sport Watch

TRIATHLON SUIT

A tri-suit is a multi-purpose item of clothing that you’ll wear throughout the triathlon and comes in either a two-piece or one-piece variety.

  • Fabric is similar to spandex – tight but with enough give to be snug fitting and comfortable.
  • Breathable, quick-drying & stretchable
  • Designed to dry off quickly after the swim
  • Provide cushioning for the cycle, and keep you moving freely during the run
  • Minimize friction areas by using flat stitched seams or laser stitched seams to prevent chafing.
  • Quick to put on and remove to help you breeze through transitions
  • Compression materials to lend your muscles a helping hand

As with most items, the more you pay the greater is the quality and feature set offered.

TRIATHLON CYCLING HELMET

Triathlon specific cycling helmets aim at providing superior protection, whilst still being lightweight, aerodynamic and efficient at cooling. You could use any type of cycling helmet for a triathlon but there are a few crucial advantages that tri-helmets give you.

TRIATHLON CYCLING SHOES

Tri shoes often have better ventilation and quick-drying properties than normal road cycling shoes. Other than that, tri-shoes also feature heel loops that help you pull your shoes on and off much faster. Tri specific cycling shoes have dials to adjust the tension on the fly and a modified tongue for an easier and faster ON/OFF action.

SWIMMING GOGGLES

Goggles are essential to not only ensure you can see underwater but to also keep water out of your eyes during your swim. Fit is important as incorrectly fitting goggles will be filled with water as soon as you start your swim and will slow you down. Tinted goggles ensure you can see clearly on a bright race day even with the sun reflecting off the water.

Nifty features like anti-fog technology, men and women-specific fits and seal technology for a leak-free, comfortable fit, and reduced marks around the eyes are all important aspects while choosing the correct pair.

Top 10 Cycling Trends for 2018

Cycling Trends

We all remember our very first bikes, and think about how much has changed in the cycling world since!

Remember downtube shifters of the 70s? Those things are now in the past. The advancements in cycling over the years have made our rides smoother, faster and more comfortable, and bikes more durable and light.

Think back to last year, since then road bikes have become faster, shifting is going digital, and mountain bikes are changing their frame geometry. It’s exciting to see what changes and trends will continue into 2018 and beyond.

So whether you’re a newbie to cycling (maybe considering your first tour), or a committed cyclist takes a peek at a few of our predicted top cycling trends in 2018 before you hit the road or the trail.

1. Manufacturers Are Going Aero

Time trial/triathlon bikes are no longer the only bikes being built for speed and aerodynamics. Ever since the UCI has declared a 6.8 kg minimum race bike weight limit, many top-of-the-line road bikes can’t get much lighter, but they can continue to get faster through better aerodynamic design.

For example, Giant’s new Propel Disc aero road bikes are first of its kind for the popular bike manufacturer. First seen last year in the Tour de France, the Propel Disc is now available on the public market. Giant claims it has the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio of any bike in its class and has lower drag coefficients due to the addition of disc brakes.

The Specialized Tarmac has a new D-shaped frame and new seat tube and Seatpost design that makes it more aerodynamic. The new Orca Aero from Orbea is a beautiful aerodynamic design that pushes the boundaries of speed. You’ll start seeing many of these new bikes at all the big cycling tours in the coming racing season.

Learn More-People think we’re from another planet’: meet Karachi’s female cyclists

2. Disc Brakes Are Becoming Mainstream in Road Cycling

Once the brake system just for mountain bikes, disc brakes are continuing to become more mainstream in road cycling. The pro cyclists are still trialing the disc brakes in the peloton, but they are likely to become standard in road bikes in the coming years.

German pro cyclist, Marcel Kittel, road last year on a Specialized Venge ViAS Disc on the Quick-Step Floors team. He became the first rider to win a stage of the Tour de France on a bike with disc brakes. Many of the high-end 2018 bikes come standard with disc brakes, like the Trek Emonda, Giant Propel, Scott Foil, and more.

3. Gravel Bikes Continue to Gain Popularity

We said it last year—gravel bikes are becoming more popular worldwide in 2018. Gravel bikes are a versatile bike on and off the road making it attractive to a variety of riders. Last year gravel bikes exploded in popularity across the United States and they are growing rapidly into the international market.

Gravel events are also popping up everywhere—there might just be one on a forest road near you!

4. Wheels and Tires Are Still Getting Wider for Road Bikes

Once again, we predicted this last year. The trend is still continuing into 2018. While 25mm wide tires are still the standard for road bikes, 28mm isn’t uncommon.

Unlike like traditional rim brakes, disc brakes allow manufacturers to offer more clearance for wider tires and wheels. We predict that the 27.5 x 2.6 width will become the momentary “standard” this year.

5. Power Meters For All Budgets

Power meters are no longer for just the pro cyclists and the wealthy. With new technology and new manufacturers jumping into the market, power meters are becoming more affordable. Shimano, one of the cyclist’s largest component manufacturers, has finally decided to dip their toes into the game this year.

While the jury is still out on the new Shimano Dura-Ace R9100-P power meter, Garmin has released the new Garmin Vector 3, which measures leg power independently. The budget-friendly Vector 3S, which measures one leg and doubles it for total power, will gain more attraction this year due to its price tag under $600 USD.

6. Indoor Training is Getting Smart

Smart trainers are becoming more popular, like Zwift, TrainerRoad, and other apps. The new Wahoo Kickr Climb is the first of its kind by simulating climbing. The indoor trainer adjusts the front end of your bike to simulate real-time grade changes. You can ascend hills up to a 20% grade and descend down to a -10% to mimic real road conditions.

7. Mountain Bike Frames Are Changing

Cycling Trends

Not only are road bikes getting more aerodynamic, but mountain bike frames are changing. The top tubes are getting longer and the head angles are getting slacker. With the changes in the top of the frame, offset forks are becoming shorter to adapt to the wheelbase. The Transition Sentinel is pushing the design of mountain bikes with its new steeper seat tubes.

Longer travel 29ers are becoming popular. The Orbea Rallon is an innovative design that is leading the trend of slacked-out 29ers enduro race bikes. The new geometry turns these popular cross-country and enduro racing bikes into a fun all-mountain trail bike, too.

8. Shifting to Digital Shifters

Both mountain and road shifter are continuing to go digital. While we predict that digital shifting is not going to stick for mountain bikes in 2018, it will continue to grow in the road cycling industry.

FSA just released their new K-Force WE groupset and Shimano has updated its Ultegra Di2 set this year. While we’d like to see digital electronic shifting on the lower end models of bikes, that is probably not going to happen this year.

9. Integrated Cockpits Are Coming

Once mainly reserved for TT/triathlon bikes, integrated cockpits are becoming more popular in road bikes as road bikes continue to become more aerodynamic. Integrated cockpits have their pros and cons. They can help tidy up cable routing and save weight. But, if you ever want to change the length of your stem or make any changes to your bar angle, you can’t do that without swapping out the whole assembly.

10. eBikes Will Continue to Become Popular

It doesn’t matter if you think riding an e-bike is cheating or not. They are continuing to become popular for both mountain and road bikes. The Market Urbanism Report predicts that 2018 will be the year of the e-bike.

Many bike manufacturers are making them now, like Giant, Bianchi, and Focus. Cities like San Francisco and New York City have electric bike-share programs that are a huge hit with commuters and tourists.

eBikes are not just commuter bikes either. The Focus Project Y looks just like your fancy road bike, but with a hidden motor inside. It just might be the perfect commuting or touring bicycle. Our bike partner, Orbea has a collection of road, mountain, leisure, and urban e-bikes to meet all your riding needs.

Give an eBike a try—we think everyone should love them.

Are You Ready to Ride?

With over 30 years of cycling tour experience, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry. If all these 2018 bike trends are making you excited to ride, why don’t you get in touch today and start planning your ultimate bicycle adventure? We’d be happy to talk shop and share a few more of our favorite new trends this year. We offer awesome bike trips around the world, and you can even try some of the latest technology with our top-of-the-line Orbea bikes.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can go about planning your ultimate cycling adventure, sign up for our free email course.