Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cycle question for the triathloners - Aluminum or carbon?

ok folks, after a few months of studying triathlon-specific bikes and still feeling pretty stupid about them, I can attest that knowledge is not power, knowledge is confusion. The question is, do I get an aluminum frame or a carbon frame?

Let me tell you where I stand in my Ironman training first so you can help me to better judge the type bike I need. I'm 48 years old and will turn 49 in December. My goal is to do the Couer d'Alene Ironman in June of 2009 and try to qualify for Hawaii in my age group. I'm a sub-3:20 marathoner and am already consistently swimming 2.4 miles a couple of times a month in 1:15-1:20. Here is my thought, and I may be WAY OFF BASE considering that I have never done an Ironman before... If I can complete the swim portion in 1:20, then less than 10 minutes in transition to the bike, then 5:00-5:30 on the bike, then less than 5 minutes in transition to the run, then the run in 4:00, I have a decent shot at a 10:30-11:00 Ironman. Now the question becomes, does that sort of time potentially get me into Hawaii for my age group? I have no idea, but if the bike is the signficant factor, then I'll do whatever it takes on the bike.

I've narrowed my choices down to 2 bikes, both made by Specialized (I chose Specialized mainly because 2 local bike shops carry both Specialized and Trek, and for reasons I can not explain, I just like the Specialized better):

The aluminum frame Specialized Transition E5 Comp (about $1,900) or the carbon frame Specialized Transition Comp (about $3,000). Regardless of which one I buy, I'll upgrade the wheels to the Zipp 404's, which I understand will make a tremendous difference in performance.

Any help that the more experienced triathletes can give me is greatly appreciated.


Shelley said...

With the times you described, you have a pretty good shot, however...have you actually rode a 5hr bike and then ran a 4hr marathon afterwards? You can do all the time calculations you want, what really matters is how you execute it on race day! I know that there are way too many factors that come into play during an IM one being the terrain, the other the weather, mechanical problems, the list goes on and on. You are best to train for those times and then see what happens come race day! Best of luck! I used to have aluminum framed bikes, the comfort factor changed drastically when I went to carbon fiber, for me that's the way to go anways..:-))

Faithful Soles said...

Shelley, all excellent points which I have considered. I know from the 17 marathons I have run that anything can happen on race day. I should have added "under perfect conditions and feeling great on race day". I have never had a problem with endurance, thus my reason for saying a 4 hour marathon. I recently ran the Houston Marathon within only 5 weeks of training in 3:57 and felt totally fresh at the end.

Tri Mom said...

Hi! I came across your blog through another. I just wanted to add my thoughts on your interest in the new Specialized Tranistion. I ordered a 2008 model back in Oct. 2007, and paid in full. As of this week I still hadn't received it. Specialized has had multiple problems with rolling out their bikes this year due to production problems. I couldn't even be promised it would be here by July. I am doing IM Louisville in August, so I had to look at other tri bikes. I ordered a Blue T16 ( yesterday. If you have the time to wait Specialized would still be a good option, otherwise there's a lot out there. The Transition model will not change for 2009, due to all the production problems they had this year. I don't know if this answers all your questions, I just don't want to have someone else go through what I have. Best of luck in all your adventures!


momo said...

so, i don't know if i'm the best person to answer your question because i've never had an aluminum bike. my first road bike was carbon fiber and my tri-bike is titanium. (ok, so i went overboard, but big j had just bought a MOTORCYCLE) i've heard, though, that carbon fiber is much more forgiving and smoother of a ride. if you can swing it, i'd say go for the cb bike.

then the fun starts!

as for your time predictions. i looked at the kona qualifiers from cda from last year in the m45-49 age group. there were six. hopefully this formats correctly...

10:26:03 BLACKWELL JEFF M45-49
10:23:03 ERFURT TORSTEN M45-49
10:27:43 GAISER SCOTT M45-49
10:17:45 GLAUS ERIC M45-49
10:09:00 LYON DAVID M45-49
10:27:42 ZELENT CRAIG M45-49

so, a 10:30 - 11 will probably not get you to kona at cda. maybe a different race if that is your goal?