There was a comment made at the orientation meeting on Saturday that one item where price/quality really makes a difference is in bike shorts. Does anyone have a brand recommendation for shorts for guys? Also, a reasonably priced helmet (aka not $200) for someone just starting out?
There wasn't any mention really made of bike computers, etc. Do people use these? I know we talked about heart monitors but any thoughts?
I had a bike computer pu on my bike and I love it. It is easy to see while riding so you know your current speed, average speed, distance, time etc. It doesnt have to be an expensive one. I think mine was $25 adn $5 to install. Also I got an ironman $160 helmet on Amazon for $45. You dont have to pay alot for a nice helmet just shop around.
I can't speak for men's shorts, but in general you will notice that the more $$$ bike shorts have more stitching/sections in the padding. I.e. not just one giant chamois. The stitching is "anatomically" correct to cushion whatever parts need it :). The shorts are def an area to spend the money. I'd say around $100 or more for good ones. I bought a pair that I considered crazy expensive, but then I wore them non-stop for a full year.
As for helmets, there was a story about a guy whose head was run over by a truck (literally like an eighteen wheeler or something crazy), and his helmet saved his life. Where was it from? Walmart. They all perform the same, the main difference is ventilation (which matters in the summer), and the look cool factor (lcf)...which matters on the race course. Kidding! Check out bikenashbar.com or performancebikes.com for good deals, but make sure you get the right size and get it fit properly - VERY important.
Phew...as for computers, they aren't too bad and even cheap ones work pretty well. Fancy features are cadence and heart rate. I am selling a Cat Eye bike computer with cadence for $30, let me know if you are interested. You generally have to get the bike shop to put it on. Personally I always try to do it myself and something doesn't work.
You don't need a $200 helmet for this sport. I have a $40 one. I used it for my last half Ironman. I'll use the same one for my full Ironman at the end of the year. The high priced ones (i.e.,the fancy smancy aero helmets) aren't necessary. At the sprint and Olympic distances, that helmet will save you a few minutes at most. Unless you are aiming to place in your age division, I wouldn't get it.
The only thing that I think you should get starting out is a bike computer that tells you your speed and cadence. The ones with cadence is a few dollars more than the one without it. The advantage is that the cadence one is fixed to your rear wheel. This will benefit you if you ever get a bike trainer for the winter months.
All other stuff you should delay until you get a better handle on the sport. Otherwise you will be spending a lot of money on things that you may not need. You are new to the sport. Get the training in and reward yourself with the toys later.
As far as bike shorts, I have the ones from Performance. It's worked great so far for me. I've used in on century rides as well as long training rides.
For bike shorts, I love Pearl Izumi, which has a wide range of styles and prices. As for a helmet, I think I bought an entry-level helmet at a club merchant partner for about $50 with the discount and have used it for everything from sprints to two Ironmans. And as for bike computers, it is a nice little accessory, but I didn't get one when I was in NTP and didn't suffer for it. If you are choosing between something like pedals and bike computer, I would definitely go for the pedals instead.
I can only speak for women, but I was talked into buying Terry Bella shorts (for 90 bucks! chamois must mean spun gold?), but they have been worth every penny. I got mine at teamestrogen online, but I think REI has them as well.
I went back to buy a second pair after wasting lots of cash trying in vain to find a comparable cheaper pair. My happy butt says buy them!
Thanks for the suggestions everyone-- very helpful!