Triathlon Magazine Canada

Race wheels vs. Power meter vs. Wetsuit

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Best Bang for the Buck Wetsuit

For your first triathlons, you may have borrowed a wetsuit, purchased a bargainbas­ement sleeveless model, or just gone without. But if you’re looking for the best bang for the buck in this $800 range, investing in a full-sleeve wetsuit is a choice you won’t regret. Clint Lien explains that a good wetsuit “will directly impact a triathlete in a more positive open-water experience and will usually give you faster swim times immediatel­y.” Depending on which study you read, and on the experience of the swimmer, a wetsuit can immediatel­y improve swim times by two minutes or more over 1,500 m.

Wetsuits give you extra buoyancy in your trunk and legs, which can immediatel­y benefit swimmers whose legs tend to sink (probably most of us). Sleeved wetsuits give your whole arm more friction against the water, giving you a more effective “paddle.” And wetsuits give mental comfort too, handy for those who fear brushing up against something in the water, and for those who appreciate the peace of mind of feeling more buoyant. What to look for in a wetsuit:

• FULL SLEEVES: a sleeved wetsuit is always faster.

• FIT: getting the right size is key, as is finding a wetsuit that’s snug, but not too tight, around the neck, and one that’s got enough material in the shoulder area to allow for your stroke, but without any bagginess.

• SWIM-SPECIFIC: it might be tempting to go for a cheaper wetsuit meant for scuba or surfing, but these types are very different from a tri-specific wetsuit.

Runners-Up Carbon race wheels

Race wheels look sexy, there’s no doubt about it. But the reality is that for most age-group triathlete­s, upgrading to carbon race wheels just won’t gain you much speed versus the expense – we’re talking seconds over an Olympic-distance bike course. One option is to rent wheels specifical­ly for a race if you want to try them out. That will run you $150 or so. With the fanciest wheels running well into the $2,000s, renting is an excellent option for the wheel-curious, or for those who just want sexy race photos.

Power meter

A power meter is an electronic tool that measures your pedaling effort by a bunch of metrics. It can give you an idea of your overall bike fitness and allow you to track improvemen­ts. Power meters generally come as pedals or cranks. Writes Clint Lien: “Once an athlete has put some time into the sport, a power meter can be a wonderful tool to monitor progress,” but for someone new to the sport, “a simple Garmin will be much more functional.”

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