Let's face it, we all want to ride like the wind...
The single best way to do this is more time in the saddle. Hard work will always outperform any bike component, wheelset or gadget you can add on. Luckily for you that's not the focus of our write-up here - building a smart superbike is!
What is a superbike you might ask? Lot's of folks might have different definitions and that's okay. We simply define it as a dedicated & purpose built race bike for your TT (time trial) or Triathlon specific race events. The goal is speed, aerodynamics & all out power delivery from your pedal stroke.
While many bike manufacturers now offer high end "fully loaded" superbikes, they can still leave something to be desired. Hydration? Emergency kit storage? Rear disc wheel options? Optimized chains? Oversized rear pulley systems? There's a lot to think about. Spending 10, 12 or even 15 thousand dollars on a bike that still needs a few details & items can be frustrating.
Budget - This is of course the primary deciding factor in ANY bike build - superbike or otherwise. If the sky is the limit, more power to you! For most of us this is not the reality of enjoying Triathlon or multisport racing. Be realistic with your budget and goals. Stressing out about paying your rent vs owning that new shiny bike won't make for good training sessions and overall fitness - almost voiding the purchase all together. Once you've gotten real with yourself on what you can afford for a new bike, move on to the next bullet point.
Frame - The frame or frameset is often the largest expense in any bike build. This is what defines your new bike in terms of fitment, function, looks, aerodynamics & overall cost. Today's superbikes are made from Carbon Fiber. It's strong, light & helps keep your power transfer in place. Not all carbon is created equal though. A number of "open mold" frames can be had for cheap. The issue here is you get what you pay for. Having a name brand bike company backing their product is huge. Things happen and unfortunately defects do exist. Start with a good frame (the foundation if you will) and you'll feel confident in every ride - especially with a downhill section and a tailwind 😉
Wheels - Often referred to as wheels or wheelsets, these are the next most expensive option for your superbike. There are a number of factors that go into wheel selections. If you're a female or a smaller rider, a deep section front wheel can be tough to handle with crosswinds. Rear wheels can often be a bit deeper (such as an 86mm) or a full disc. This depends on your average riding speed, climbing strength and which courses you plan to race on. Super hilly? - Go for a staggered NON disc wheel set. Flatter and planning to ride more aero for the races? - Full rear disc and a deeper front wheel can be ideal.
Handlebars & Aerobars - Comfort and position come to mind. What fun is a 100+ mile ride if your wrists or arms/shoulders are aching after just 10? Carbon fiber base bars often help reduce vibrations during riding. They are light, responsive and strong. They also come in a variety of specific sizes and styles depending on your fitment. Having a good local bike fitter you trust is key here. Ask them what they recommend for the style of base bars and if you need a drop set perhaps. Aerobars will end up being critical as well. Too narrow with no adjustment can leave your neck, shoulders and head aching all day. Good adjust-ability (both for height and width) is important. The stem on your new superbike should also be adjustable. Reach and stack are great - but most just offer stack (height) adjustments, which is fine. Too low or too high without being able to change positions makes for a challenging and uncomfortable ride.
Pedals - Cranks - Chainrings - Crank arm length is a long debated topic. A simple, but not end-all-be-all, way of thinking about this is the longer the arm the more muscular your cycling will be. The shorter the crank arm the more aerobic your cycling will be. Both have advantages for race day depending on the course, length and your abilities. The center "hub" or spider of your crank can have a basic standard setup OR can include a power meter. This measures your pedaling output in terms of power (in watts) and cadence (revolutions per minute). The chainring are the teeth rings that connect to your chain and transfer power to the rear whee cog for movement. There are options for style, number of teeth, roundness (yes Rotor makes oval options for an optimal pedal stroke) and material. Generally fewer teeth on the front rings is for climbing and hills while more teeth are for faster speeds and flats.
Seat Selection - There are a number of seating options out there. Split nose, solid, curved, extra padded, no padding - it's dizzying. This is another critical area to have a trusted bike fitter around for. Their advice paired with your riding style can help you make the right selections for a proper seat.
Gadgets - Computers are mainly what we're referring to as "gadgets". These little brain boxes record SO much data about your cycling - especially if you have a heart rate monitor, power meter and/or cadence sensor. GPS enabled for accurate speed recording these are an invaluable too for knowing more about your rides and dialing in your capabilities as an athlete.
Hydration & Fuel Storage - Does your bike have a built in "bladder" for water? Proper bottle holders? What about a water kit in-between the aero bars for constant sipping? Aero bottles for long rides? There's also a dizzying number of options here. Our bike builder listings will have a number of good options for all your hydration, fuel & spare/emergency storage needs.
So...now what?? -- The above bullet points are some of the main things to consider when buying OR building a superbike that's dedicated to your race days. As we've noted a few times we'll be putting together special package listings that include a number of options to help dial in your new bike, optimize all the components on it and have an option for a fully assembled delivery. Stay tuned... 😉