You’ll quickly learn that your cycling bibs (or shorts) and jersey are among the most important pieces of the tri training wardrobe. The Pearl Izumi Attack Jersey ($70, Pearlizumi.com) and Bib Shorts ($105) make for an affordable combination with the essential features. Look for a form-fitting and breathable jersey with storage options and bibs with a semi-firm chamois to support your weight over longer distances.
Look for a bottle that seals well and quickly dispenses big sips of water with a soft squeeze. The Specialized Purist ($13, Specalized.com) nails all the basic functions and aims to eliminate the plastic taste that often comes from cycling bottles.
You’ll likely go sockless for races, but plan to purchase a few pair of firm-fitting, wicking—and stylish—socks like the Defeet Classico Socks ($13, Defeet.com) for training sessions.
If you’re planning to race in your cycling shoes, it’s wise to pick a triathlon-specific pair. You’ll want a semi-tight fit (for maximum power transfer) that doesn’t create any pressure points. The Specalized Trivent Expert shoes are easy to get on and off and fit a wide range of foot shapes.
Transitioning to a clipless pedal system takes some research and plenty of patience. The three-hole cleat design, found on the Look Keo Plus ($100, Lookcycle.com), makes for a large contact surface to help both beginners and experts clip in with ease. Pay attention to the weight of the pedals (the Keo Plus comes in at 129 grams)—the lighter the better.
Avoid the dreaded bonk by bringing along a tasty fuel option like Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews. Make sure your fuel choice fits in your jersey, satisfies your taste buds, fulfills your carbohydrate needs and is easily consumed while in motion. Try a few options and pick based on taste and stomach comfort as well as nutritional properties.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of cycling helmets available today, but keep your first helmet purchase simple. Look for a safe, comfortable, well-vented and light option. As one of the most affordable helmets with MIPS—a new technology that reduces rotational forces in a collision—the Giro Savant MIPS helmet ($110, Giro.com) fits the bill. It’s also available without MIPS ($90).