I just did my first sprint tri last week - had a great time, even though I rode my "hybrid" (read: good at everything, right? lol) with slicks - 10 years ago, new, it cost $120. I've already petitioned for a new road bike with aerobar attachments as a Christmas present - but wasn't sure when was the best time of year to buy one? At the end of the season (I'm in VA, so that would be... October?) Christmas? Springtime?
Also, I'm 5'3 and I understand fit is key - any advice for bikes in the $1,000-range (brand, model)?
Thanks for the advice!
First off, welcome to the sport! That's great everything went well enough that you are looking to make the jump into a road bike.
I find the best time to buy a bike (road, mtb or otherwise) is typically in the spring, when all of the new stuff comes in. Starting around the end of this year, you're going to see signs for shops trying to clear out some of the 2009 models, but I have found the best time to buy is actually in the spring.
A newer road bike with the aerobar attachments is a great way to get what you need, without completely committing to the tri-bike. I caution you, once you ride a top end tri-bike (Cervelo, Q-Roo, Kuota, etc.), you're going to want one. Fortunately, there are lots of great bikes out there that can fit your needs. Specialized has the Transition line, Trek has the WSD segment of their bikes too. Regardless of brand or model, I am a firm believer that fit comes first and I would challenge anyone to contradict that statement. My suggestion is that if you get fitted for a solid road bike, you can always slap some aerobars on it and get the fit adjusted to accomodate your position in the tuck--again, putting the emphasis on fit and body position. With your height, you should still be able to find a good ride. Without looking at you and knowing your measurements. . . .uh, your BIKE measurements . . .I would guess you might fit into around a size 49 or 50 bike.
This may not be a bad time to start looking for a new ride, checking out what fits you and your position, keeping in mind different brands and models will have slightly different geometery. Now is a pretty good time to get an idea of prices and what component sets are out there for the bucks so you know how much you should save. Also you can begin to check out different bike shops and see who can offer the best fitting? Who will offer free tuneups? Etc.
I hope this helps! Best of luck and welcome to the world of triathlon.