General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Priorities for Beginner - Equipment? Rss Feed  
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2019-04-26 3:52 AM


Subject: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
So I am training for my first triathlon - Sprint and have not done any physical activity since forever!

I am 34, 181 height and weight 78kg - trying to get into a routine and build stamina etc.

I have a pool at my condo and I am swimming there. There is a small gym with equipment and I am using the bikes there and have also gone out to a bicycle track and rented a bike there.

I am thinking of getting a bike trainer for home to train at home and also the garmin fenix 5 Plus.

Which one would you say is a priority?

I want the bike trainer and bike so I can ride at home and Zwift appeals to me. I live in Bangkok with crazy (and deadly) traffic so wont be going out on the road, however I can get out of the city by taxi to a track and rent a bike there. It's a hassle really and cost wise and time wise I can only do some weekends.

So Fenix 5 Plus or a bike trainer and bike combo? Can't afford both at the same time!

Does the fenix help with my cycling? Will it tell me how much power I am putting in? Watts wise? How will I know if I am going at a good pace? Does anyone know of any cheap power meters for bike?


2019-04-26 8:07 AM
in reply to: jmods1984


Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
HELP! I need somebodyyyy! HELP!

So should I get the fenix 5plus or a wahoo kicker plus bike?!

2019-04-26 8:41 AM
in reply to: jmods1984

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
That urgent, huh? Definitely a bike and trainer would be better than a fancy Garmin watch. The latter just helps give you some data about your training (which is pretty useless without learning how to use it or employing a coach); the former lets you train effectively in your present environment (which, believe me, I know. I lived in Ho Chi Minh City for my first eight years in the sport) on your own bike.

Not familiar with the Fenix, but to my knowledge the fancy Garmin watches only tell you your watts if you also have a power meter for your bike (and that means you would need a bike, and in your case, a trainer!) The power meter another several hundred dollars and is getting into the realm of "wants", not "needs", not something most people would bother with at the beginner level. You can train by effort or heart rate (if you have a HR monitor and a watch that picks up the signal). A basic bike computer will tell you speed/distance and maybe cadence. Power becomes really useful as a pacing tool for longer races. For a sprint tri, for the race itself, you are going at a good pace (for you) if your legs are burning and you are getting a bit worried that you may not be able to run afterwards. (Okay, maybe for the first one, you could be more conservative!) For training, effort/heart rate will serve.
2019-04-26 9:30 AM
in reply to: jmods1984

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Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
Bike and Trainer 100% I would definitely think that a basic GPS/HR monitor watch will suffice the fenix 5 is the DO EVERYTHING watch and I would consider overkill for a beginner. The general rule that I would always follow when looking at triathlon equipment is does it help build the engine? That means will it make it easier or more likely to actually get the training in. Bike trainer would come shortly after actually owning a bike and running shoes IMO. Well, I guess a swimsuit too. That can be required at some pools.
2019-04-26 10:18 AM
in reply to: jmods1984

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Franklin, TN
Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?

Pretty much what everyone else has said.


1: Bike

2: Bike trainer (either dumb Kurt Kinetic Road Machine or smart Wahoo Kickr, Tacx Neo, etc...)

3: GPS watch (as Jordan said, the Fenix is overkill).  There's several cheaper GPS-enabled watches that will get the job done.

4: Speed and cadence sensors (for using software like TrainerRoad or Zwift on a dumb trainer).

5: Heart rate monitor (Garmin, Wahoo, 4iiii, and many others make these).  You'll want these to be Bluetooth-enabled to be able to communicate on the Zwift platform if you're using an IOS device to access the software.

You don't "need" any of the above items except #1.  The other items just allow you to train with more structure and measure the results.

Priorities I would suggest for someone new to the sport.  1. swim lessons...then join a masters group if feasible  2. bike a lot - different intensities  3. run frequently (mostly conversational pace) and build up mileage slowly.

2019-04-26 11:49 AM
in reply to: JoelO

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
I believe that living as OP does in Bangkok, the bike trainer is, in fact, truly a need! (Unless training solely on a gym spin bike. But one still needs a bike to race on, and it's much better to train mainly on that bike.)

Swim lessons/masters vs. solo training depends on swim background. Bangkok's a huge city with awful traffic--it may not be doable or at least worth the time if OP is a decent swimmer and has good pool access at home. I gave up master's swimming in Saigon when the program moved to a facility that was 90+ minutes away by taxi at rush hour--figured those three hours 3-4 X a week would better be used for sleep, getting work done to free up time for training and sleep, or other training that would yield more dividends than the marginal improvements on effort/pace/form I might make swimming with a coached group. But I was a decent swimmer to begin with and had good pool access at my workplace. Swim lessons might be more realistic than regularly attending a master's group in the OP's case--not likely there is a master's program nearby. Even lessons can be hard to manage in an expat situation--most lessons/groups will be probably set up for locals.

2019-04-26 4:05 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
Priority #1 - basics you need to train.
Workout clothes
Pool/beach access
Swim suit/jammers
Bike (any bike)
Water bottle
(In OP's case bike trainer)
Running shoes (worth it to get properly fitted at a running store)

Priority #2 - basics you need for the race (this mostly overlaps with #1)
Bike helmet
Tri shorts

Priority #3 - things that make training more effective.
Bike trainer (most people)
Coaching/training plan
Swim instructor
Smart watch (if you know how to use it)
Nutrition plan

Priority #4 - things that make training/racing easier.
Triathlon bike
Wetsuit (maybe a priority 2 depending on location)
Tri suit
Go nuts

Theres a lot of little things I'm leaving out and I'm sure priorities can be argued, but this is the thought process I went through, and still go through, as I collect triathlon gear and upgrades. Priorities 1 & 2 will get you over the finish line, priority 3 will help you start to compete, priority 4 might help but not without putting in the training 1, 2, & 3 let you do.
2019-04-26 10:13 PM
in reply to: 0


Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?

Thank you so much for so much fantastic help and replies!

So I guess next question is.....Which trainer and what bike?!

I have investigated and visited to bike shops - Magnus OPs and Wahoo Kickr Core are the two options. The Magnus is a wheel on and slightly cheaper that the kickr Core.

Also what bike. Obviously a beginner and looking to get into the sport, I am enjoying cycling and want to pick it up. I am looking at bikes from decathlon, would you recommend any there?

Also would these be compatible with the trainers? The shop that was selling the wahoo kickr core said I would also need a cassette and they offered a 105 11speed cassette. I would need the bike to be compatible with that if I am getting the kickr.

I have also seen a bike promotion 2014 Marin Argenta SE A6 size 52.5 - Thats the only 'Cheap' bike they had at the bike shop.

So yeah, what setup should I go for to train indoor with Zwift.

I am now leaning towards the bike plus trainer instead of the garmin.


EDIT: I am also looking at swimming lessons, to improve my stroke. I def need this, however at the minute I am just going by myself. Its a 400 m swim I think I can go at it alone this first time and then maybe for the next one get a few lessons in.

Edited by jmods1984 2019-04-26 10:16 PM

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2019-04-27 4:09 PM
in reply to: #5258089

Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
So you can get into tons of money really quickly in this sport. For your first triathlon, I would look into trying to invest as little as possible just to make sure you enjoy it and want to keep it up. I bought all my stuff second hand and saved a great deal.

I’d recommend trying to find a good deal on a used road bike. A wheel on trainer is fine. I actually purchased my trainer second hand as well.

All you need for zwift is a speed and cadence sensor, a bike, and a trainer. Wahoo makes a good speed and cadence sensor for around $50. I wouldn’t look into power meters at this stage. They aren’t cheap and you aren’t at the point of your training where it’s going to do you a great deal of good anyway.

Focus on finding a reliable bike and trainer. Add a speed and cadence sensor and your good to go for Zwift.

Good luck!
2019-04-27 6:52 PM
in reply to: jmods1984

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Official BT Coach
Indianapolis, Indiana
Gold member
Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?

I haven't read all the responses.  I imagine you'll get a wide range of options.

Bottom line, you can't have a good run without a good ride - PERIOD!  That means two things 1)  you need to learn to pace the bike, and 2) the stronger you are on the bike, the better you will run (assuming you have decent run fitness).

With that in mind, my opinion, based upon working with hundreds of athletes over decades is the biggest bang for your buck will be a decent trainer, a speed/cadence sensor, a heart rate monitor, and a TrainerRoad membership (or Zwift but TR allows for more structured workouts in my opinion while Zwift has a better social component).  Obviously you'll need a bike.  You DON'T necessarily need an expensive bike nor do you need a triathlon bike (that can come later).  I just looked at where you are at.  I work with an athlete in Beijing and he needs a VPN to get to TrainerRoad so you may also need a VPN.  A Kurt Kinetic trainer is a great "dumb" trainer and perfect to get started.  Lots of people will tell you that you need a "smart" trainer.  They are nice to have but frankly, just starting out, you need to learn how to ride and "suffer" a little bit before you worry about a smart trainer.  My rationale for all of this is that with TrianerRoad (or Zwift) you can train with "Virtual Power" and thus have very structured, very accurate training (thus eliminating the need for an expensive power meter).  By concurrently using a heart rate monitor, you can begin to understand pacing with a device you can use on race day - the heart rate monitor.  To use TrainerRoad or Zwift you need a speed/cadence sensor.  TrainerRoad has "free." proven, training plans you can follow that will help you prepare for your race.

The heart rate monitor will normally be in the form of some sort of watch.  You can pickup older, reconditioned, or used watches for fairly low prices if you do a bit of shopping.  Amazon is a good place to start.  The watch is the same as the bike, you don't necessarily need the newest watch available.  You need a watch that will record HR and record time.

Beyond the bike, you'll need some sort of clothing.  A triathlon suit will meet the needs of the swim, bike, and run.  Alternatively you can get a swim suit, cycling shorts, and run shorts plus a top of some sort.  You'll need a good pair of running shoes (don't skimp on the running shoes, you'll regret it), and if you go with clip in pedals you'll need cycling shoes.  A pair of goggles for the swim and you're pretty much set.

Good luck, hope that helps.

2019-04-27 8:38 PM
in reply to: k9car363


Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
Very helpful information thanks.

I already have the swimming gear that I need. Also already have a good pair of running shoes as I used to run years back.

I have no bike. No trainer.

I am going to look into second hand bikes, however I think that might be difficult here.

What about one of these road bikes from Decathlon:

Cheapest one is around 250 usd.

Trainer, I would prefer to go for a smart trainer as I do enjoy training on the bike and would not want to then have to upgrade. However I am also open to options.
I have looked at the following:
Kickr Core
Magnus OPS

Cheap dumb trainers available here:
Minoura B60

So I need to pick one of those trainers and then a bike that is COMPATIBLE!


2019-04-28 11:38 AM
in reply to: #5258089

Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
Can’t really make too much out about those bikes. You need to make sure if fits you well first and foremost. Secondly, I’d say make sure that the bike has decent components, Shimano 105 for example. Otherwise you’ll end up spending more in the long run replacing stuff or getting frustrated with subpar performance.

The wahoo trainer is a very nice trainer and should serve you very well.

Zwift is amazing. I’ve basically stopped riding outside because of how dangerous the roads are here.
2019-04-28 2:47 PM
in reply to: 0

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
May be better to go with a decent road bike with good components--there are a lot of crap bikes for sale in Asia. Is bringing one back from elsewhere an option? If the bike is $250 new, I can guarantee you will be wanting to upgrade soon if you spend any time in the sport, or even just cycling! I got my first racing bike (a Trek 1.2) in Singapore when I lived in Vietnam, and ended up getting my first tri bike secondhand from a departing ex-pat. I brought the trainer (Cycle-Ops) back from the US after a trip home. It cost about $75 overweight/ excess baggage fee, but worth it in my book. Most road bikes with standard tires should be compatible with most trainers; not so for hybrids and mountain bikes.

One idea might be to check local tri, biking, and/or ex-pat groups on Facebook to look for secondhand bikes from people who are moving on, or moving up with their bikes. I sold both my road bike and my trainer (I kept another one at home in the US for school breaks) in that way when I left Vietnam.

Edited by Hot Runner 2019-04-28 2:48 PM
2019-04-28 6:26 PM
in reply to: jmods1984

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
Originally posted by jmods1984

What about one of these road bikes from Decathlon:

Cheapest one is around 250 usd.

Decathlon actually sell pretty good bikes. They are a French company that have opened up stores all over the world. I met them last year in Spain and was really impressed with the value of some of their bikes. They are very popular in Europe. The ones I looked at where spec'd with 105 components and better. They sold under the BTWIN brand. A 105 equipped BTWIN is as good as a Giant or Trek with the same components. IMO.

2019-04-29 3:26 PM
in reply to: jmods1984

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Priorities for Beginner - Equipment?
I'd go bike trainer and find a nice used watch on Ebay to track training.
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