First Triathlon – the gear you really need


So you’ve made the bold decision to sign up for your first triathlon, and now you’re thinking, ‘Oh crap, what equipment do I need?’

Don’t worry, with the Australian race season about to begin, you’re probably not alone, as hundreds of first timers will begin their triathlon careers at a local short-course event this summer. So for the benefit of newbies in mind, we put our heads together to come up with our top seven pieces of equipment for your first short-course triathlon.

1. Bike
There’s no getting around it, you need a bike to complete a triathlon. It’s the second leg of any triathlon, and it’s important that you spend a bit of time researching this piece of equipment and talking to a few of your local bike dealers before you make a purchase.

For your first triathlon season, we recommend buying a standard road bike, as it will give you a lot of flexibility in your general day-to-day training. A base-level road bike will give you a lot more freedom. You will be able to commute to work on it, join your mates on the Saturday bunch ride and/or participate in a local criterium road cycling event. The great thing is, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars, as most brands offer a quality base-level road bike for under $1,000 and it will be perfect for your raw level of skill and ability at this stage. Remember, like any piece of equipment, it is crucial that you get your bike properly fitted by a bike fitter. Most local dealers will offer this free of charge as part of the bike purchase, so take the time to get it fitted and communicate to your fitter where you intend to use it.

2. Running Shoes
Although barefoot running has become more popular in recent years, you need a pair of running shoes that will be able to handle the demands of training and racing. Go to a local running shoe shop and get properly fitted to prevent future injuries occurring. Don’t be lured into buying something cheap from a discount store or online, as you won’t know if fits you or suits your running style, which could lead to an injury.

3. Helmet
The days of not wearing a helmet in the early ’80s are well and truly over. These days to complete a triathlon you need a helmet that has passed Australian helmet safety standards. Again, head down to your local bike dealer, spend a bit of time trying on a few helmets to find one that fits well and is in your price range. Helmets save lives, so make sure you purchase one that fits the contours of your head and has passed Australian helmet safety standards. Forget the lure of going for the aero helmet. They only work above certain speeds and just add more to your overall spend.

4. Goggles
A pair of well-fitting goggles is an essential piece of equipment to getting through your first triathlon. For the health and protection of your eyes, spend a bit of time at your nearest swim equipment shop and utilise the expertise of your local dealer to help you find a pair that fit. If you know where your first race is, you might have an idea of what the water conditions are like. This information will also help your local dealer recommend a pair of goggles in terms of lens tint. A pair that fits and can also be used in pool training is the goal for your first pair of goggles. If you take care of your goggles, they can last a lot longer than you think. So make sure you look after them, and if you’re lucky like me, you might still be using the same pair you bought three years ago.

5. Bike Shoes
For us, bike shoes are an essential item for your first triathlon, which will also benefit your general road riding and training. We recommend picking these up from your local bike dealer when you pick up your first bike because if you’re good at bargaining, you should be able to get a few bucks off, and the great thing is you can get the fitter can incorporate it into the overall bike fit.

6. Tri Shorts
This one might seem a bit odd as an essential item for a first timer, however, tri-shorts are a really versatile piece of equipment. If you purchase a pair with a comfortable, slim inner padding, you can wear them during swim, bike and run training, as well as on race day. There are heaps of good brands available now in Australia, so find a pair that fits well and you’ve got yourself a really versatile piece of equipment. The inner padding provides your downstairs equipment protection on the bike, so this is an investment well worth it. We’ve suggested tri-shorts are more essential than full-piece tri-suit or a tri-singlet or jersey because for those who can’t buy everything straight away, you can get away with wearing an old t-shirt in your first triathlon, so as long as your upper body is covered up.

7. Clipless Bike Pedals
A lot of you were probably expecting the wetsuit to be lucky number seven, however, at most races wetsuits are optional, particularly in New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland where the water temperatures are much warmer. Thus, the wetsuit is not essential piece for every first timer, and depending on the water temperature, may not even be allowed to be worn at some races. So, our lucky number seven essential piece of equipment for athletes competing in their first short-course triathlon is clipless bike pedals. Having bike shoes and clipless bike pedals will make your bike riding so much more efficient as you get full return on the power you put down. Just make sure you spend a bit of time getting used to the clicking in the cleats in training before you race.

So there you have it,’s top seven essential pieces of tri equipment for every triathlete competing in their first short-course triathlon. Now get out there and start racing!

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