Cycling is your passion. You’ve reached the point where you want to get to the next level in cycling, and can afford the same equipment that the top professionals use. How many bikes do you need? What should you get? When we look at the pros (who can get whatever they want), we find that they use a small number of bikes – each with a different role.

Here are the roles I find that work best for them NB: I apply this model to cyclists who wish to have the best:

1) Road Bike with Power Metre:

This is the primary “everyday” bicycle. Almost all of the top racing cyclists – along with a growing number of active recreational riders – use power meters. I recommend either an SRM or a PowerTap to compliment a sturdy road bike. I specify a stiff, yet comfortable frame with Campagnolo Record or Chorus components (unless the client insists on Shimano, but that is another story!)… and a set of light but sturdy wheels like the Reynolds Alta Race or Spinergy Xero Lite. I developed the road “fit” model to work around this bike, as the majority of riding time will be spent on it to improve form and technique. Triathletes will also spend most of their time on this bike, learning to ride fast and improve their handling skills NB: This is normally achieved by riding safely in groups with faster riders.

2) Light Road Bike for Climbing:

The climbing bike is a very efficient, lightweight machine. It has a geometry similar to the primary bike, but with lighter components and no power meter. It can act as a spare bike when your primary bike is in maintenance.

When training using power, it’s easy to be focused on the numbers and to lose much of the sensory input we get from a “pure” bike ride. I’d suggest that one of your bikes has no more than a minimal computer – perhaps a Garmin Edge, or even nothing at all. This is so you can either race by feel, or ride for the sake of riding.

The “light bike” is a very popular choice for recovery rides, fun group rides, and for aggressive group rides in the hills. I also find that many people tend to put the ‘more exotic’ components on the climbing bikes. By having less use than primary bikes, these ‘climbing bikes’ are able to have a greater number of sensitive and/or delicate components.

3) Time-Trial Bike:

This bike is only necessary for Triathletes and for people who want to do time-trials. I do not recommend this as the “only” bike, as riding time-trial bicycles in fast groups is strongly discouraged. These bikes do not handle as well, and if one is in the aero bars one cannot safely take part in an echelon. Team time-trials are different, of course, and training for them can and should be done on this bike. I believe that ‘if one can ride fast, straight and smooth on a road bike, transitioning to the time-trial bike is easy, safe and effective.

4) Travel Case vs. Travel Bike:

There are pros and cons for each. It’s nice to travel and ride. Using a case allows one to use his or her bike and go anywhere. Using a break-apart bike, one can have a “titanium copy” of their custom road bike in a durable format along with a small travel case that falls within the airline size-range criteria. This is great for international travel and for situations where a large case isn’t possible.

5) Track bike with road fork and front brake:

This is definitely not for everyone, but it’s a tremendous training tool all the same. One can get an unbelievable workout in a short period and can develop awesome bike-handling skills with a bike like this!

To sum up: I feel that an individual who wants to “do it right”, can benefit greatly from a few great bikes with the following parameters:

  • A fully defined Precision Laser Fitting.
  • An educated and informed plan to specify frame and components NB: These bikes last a long time, so planning here maximizes enjoyment and makes the investment the most cost-effective.
  • A plan for improving riding skills, training, and goals for improvement.

I follow the saying that was overheard in an Indy 500 team garage: “The best we can get is barely adequate!”

About the Author

KGS Bikes is known around the world as the premiere bicycle-fitting studio and boutique. Kevin Saunders, President, has over 25 years experience in bicycle fitting and high-end bicycles. In addition to fitting services, KGS Bikes sells bicycles from Parlee, Serotta, Zinn, Co-Motion and Guru. Visit http://www.kgsbikes.com and our blog at http://blog.kgsbikes.com for more information.

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