i just bought a new bike. the felt b12 is finally mine! it is gorgeous & will make me go so fast – it damn well better… good thing we sold the audi when we did :)
since december of last year i’ve taken 7 really nice tri bikes for test rides. if you are going to spend some serious cash on a bike & you plan to be on that bike a lot (say for 5+ hours at a time) you want to really take it out & ride it; not just tool around a stores parking lot.
while i love the folks at bicycle sport shop & i think they do a great job at what they do they can’t compete with a store like jack & adam’s when it comes to setting you up & getting you on the right tri bike. if you need a good road bike, mountain bike, or service on your bike definitely head to BSS – they’ve saved my butt a couple of times.
i did start at BSS back in december. i road an ’07 specialized transition e5 comp. it was a nice bike but it wasn’t carbon & it just didn’t feel all that hot. specialized has actually totally redesigned the transition for ’08 & according to bicycling magazine it’s a sweet ride. given that the transition is the only tri bike that BSS sells i headed over to J&A's put myself in the hands of the pros. right off the bat i knew i found the right shop – there’s no tooling around in the parking lot with the bike – they fit you & give you the keys to take it out as long as you need. need it for a couple of days to get some time in on it – sure thing!
my first ride was on a quintana roo kilo. i like the QR & since my current tri bike is a QR (a really old ’01 QR that i bought off craigslist – got a great deal actually) i figured i would see where seven years of technology/development had brought the kilo. the kilo has an aluminum frame, not a carbon frame & while this bike retails for $1,600 it is still considered an entry level tri bike. i got out on the kilo & while the fit on this bike was much better (J&A’s sized me for a 54 – my existing QR is a 56 (way too big)), the bike itself didn’t feel all that much different than what i’ve got. so after one long ride on the kilo i passed on it.
*** note: just like car manufacturers, bike manufactures change things up from year to year & most new bikes don’t arrive until late Q1 of the new year since in majority of states folks can’t ride their bikes outside because it’s too cold (doesn’t apply to us in texas). so J&A’s inventory was low & they, like me, were just waiting for the new bikes to arrive. ***
given that the racks in the shop were mostly empty jack set me up on a kestrel talon that had a carbon frame. kestrel is a damn good brand & a number of ironman championship races have been won on a kestrel. however, i wasn’t digging the frame or the look of this bike at all. while looks aren’t everything, when you are shelling out BIG bucks for a bike you want to enjoy looking at it. kristin has already warned me that whatever we buy i need to keep for the next 3 – 5 years so i can’t afford to make any mistakes on this purchase.
once i jumped on that kestrel with a carbon frame i knew there was no turning back to a bike with an aluminum frame. a carbon frame is just so much more forgiving on your body & so much lighter too. i told jack (owner of J&A’s – damn cool cat) that from this point forward i only wanted to ride carbon. we had a problem though - that kestrel was the last carbon bike in stock that was in my price range & until the newer bikes were to arrive there was nothing for me to test ride.
after doing some internet research & talking to friends i narrowed my search down to three carbon tri bikes that were in my price range: the kuota k-factor, the cervelo p2c, & the felt b12. all are damn fine bikes with their own little perks.
of the 3 bikes i was now shopping, J&A’s only carried two of them. they don’t have the distribution rights for the cervelo. the folks down the road, austin tri-cyclist, are the only guys in town with the distribution rights to the cervelo (jack, from J&A’s is working on this). while i am no doubt a huge fan of J&A’s, I needed to see what the cervelo p2c was all about. so i ventured down to the austin tri-cyclist shop & i have to say the cervelo p2c is damn sweet. the folks at cervelo hit a home run with this puppy. not only was it sweet, the guys at austin tri-cyclist were offering it below MSRP & they even were throwing in a package deal to include wet-suit, new shoes, new clips, & helmet for a $100 bucks over what the MSRP was on this bike. at this point i hadn’t ridden the kuota k-factor or the felt b12 (because they hadn’t come in yet) so i didn’t just want to move on the p2c without giving these bikes a chance.
the kuota k-factor was the first of the two bikes to arrive at J&A’s in january. jack called me up & that saturday we scheduled a fit & a test ride. when saturday rolled around i couldn’t wait to get down there & pick-up the k-factor. i ended up taking the k-factor on the 360 loop & back. while a nice ride, i wasn’t impressed. it was the cheapest of the three bikes i was now considering & while it had a carbon frame it just was lacking in so many other spots. i returned to J&A’s & told jack that i’d hold tight until the b12 was in.
at this point i was really getting sick of riding my QR. it didn’t fit me & i now knew what a real tri bike was supposed to feel like.
when the b12s finally arrived in early february i reserved the first available 54 (my size). i scheduled my fit for a friday night; that way i could take the b12 on a long ride with the t3 the next saturday. after work i gave jack a ring & told him i was on my way in to get my fit down. he had bad news – one of the guys goofed the scheduled & let someone else take out the one b12 in my size. i was devastated & a bit pissed because i’ve been waiting almost 3 months for this bike to arrive & when it finally did i still couldn’t get my hands on it. jack could tell i was bummed & that i was getting sick of riding my QR.
jack & i talked later that night & even though they were closing he told me to come down to the shop & he’d hook me up with something very fun to ride the next day. when i got there he had pulled the top of the line kuota kalibur off the rack for me. this was a very high-end tri bike - $4,000+ & if you add race wheels you are easily looking at a $6,000+. this bike was hot & i was looking forward to hopping on it in the morning. i ended up talking to jack for about the next hour while we dialed this bike in to fit me perfectly – no reason to ride a bike this sweet if it didn’t fit me just right. i learned a lot about J&A’s, jack, & the whole austin tri/athletic scene.
needless to say, the ride on the kalibur the next morning was awesome. i was riding the audi (i’m an audi guy – what can i say) of bikes. i was almost nervous that after being on this nice of a bike that the b12 wasn’t going to be all that i had expected it to be. it didn’t matter though – neither kristin nor i were going to spend $4K+ on a tri bike.
that third weekend in february it finally happened; another b12 in my size arrived & jack had it reserved for me. i was pumped to get out on it. unfortunately it rained the saturday & i my first “ride” was indoors on my trainer. the next day was the AT&T marathon & i crashed that race to get in my 15-mile long run. however, later that afternoon i did a recovery ride on the b12 down south with kristin around the veloway & the s. mopac loop - while only a 19-mile ride it felt good. i called jack & he told me to hang on to the bike until the following weekend so i could get a real ride on it. that next saturday the weather turned bad & i found myself indoors with t3 on the trainer for 3-hours – again, not how i wanted to spend my time on the b12. the next day, prior to our long run, ed, noah, i got in a 20-mile ride & we spent a little time on bee caves (fast, hilly, & good turns) & the b12 felt awesome! i called jack right away & told him i’d take it.
it took almost a full week until i was able to make some time after work this past wednesday to make it to J&A’s to get my official fit & actually hand over the cash for the b12. jack gave me a great deal on the accessories that i purchased with/for the new ride along with some other additional goodies for both kristin & i.
it took almost 4-months to find the bike that worked for me. never before has buying something involved so much work, yet so full of fun along the way. a BIG thanks to jack & the guys at J&A’s for working with me on this one. i am one happy client & i’ve got one kick ass bike! coeur d’ alene – here i come & i’m coming on a b12!