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2007 Tri Pack Survey
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Tuesday 6th March 2007


Tags  Sbr  |  Sigma Sport  |  Total Fitness Bath  |  Total Fitness Nottingham  |  Tri And Run  |  Tri Packs  |  Triuk


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Pretty much all the major tri stores are now putting together complete package deals of bikes, wetsuits, tri gear and essentials like helmets and bike shoes. These bundles will always be priced competitively as compared to buying the bits and pieces individually because the stores have usually done deals with the various manufacturers to promote a specific brand or range of products. And, as we all know, the psychology is in the size of the saving, rather than the size of the price tag...

So, what are the deals on offer for 2007 and are they any good? Before we answer that question we need to make one thing clear, this is NOT a product review -- we aren't making any comments on the products themselves but rather the way in which the bundles have been assembled to give you more, or less, of a deal. None of what's on offer here is bad -- there wouldn't be any point in assembling a pile of crap product and selling it at a discount because the whole rationale for the retailer is that he wants to get you back into the shop to buy all the stuff that isn't in the package! On the other hand, however, you do need to carefully consider what you want the pack for because, as with all things, you are going to get exactly what you paid for and, given that the margin for the retailer has been pared to the bone, that does tend to indicate the sort of products that can be discounted.

The alternative to buying a tri pack is to build your own and, if you base your choices around the ones that the shop has put together then you may well be able to negotiate your own discounts. They might not be as good as the ones in the bundles but you will be getting a deal on the stuff that you want rather than what the shop wants to sell you. Indeed, the better shops will always allow you to tailor the bundles to a degree and many will allow you to substitute a different bike to equal or higher value -- as we have said before, a bike that doesn't fit right is the wrong bike!

Sliding scales

There are, in general, three types of tri pack; starter, intermediate and high-end. Obvious, to be sure, but why are they there and what do you expect from them?

Starter

The low-cost packs are generally intended as a "suck it and see" deal; they don't cost too much, they'll let you try the sport out for a year and you'll look a lot more at home in the transition area than you would with that shopping bike! One possible issue is that they generally include a wetsuit and not everyone is going to be taking on the open water in their first year -- indeed some people never do. If you are only going to look at events that are pool-based then that's around £100 of your money tied up in a rubber suit that's not going to be used! Our advice in this instance would be to negotiate that suit back into the shop's stock and use the value to upgrade the bike. If you need a suit for just one race you can always hire one, some of the hiring deals, especially London's, make this a much more attractive option. Nobody loses and you'll definitely gain because all the starter pack bikes are at the low end of the scale in terms of componentry, wheels and weight. You could also argue that, for a beginner, tri bars are an option best left until you know how to ride the bike properly...

Intermediate

Rather than describe these packs as "intermediate" it would be better to describe them as starter packs for people with a bit more cash! With some exceptions that will be highlighted later, these all offer upgraded items in the major areas of bike, wetsuit and clothing and we'll assume that if you are prepared to spend this much to give the sport a go then you're probably quite happy to tackle the open water events as well.

High-end

It might seem unfair to describe these as starter packs for people with a lot more cash -- but that's really what they are. Anybody who has already spent some time in the sport is not going to be looking to replace the whole deal in one go and they are also likely to be a lot more picky about the component parts of the bundle. What the shops need to be offering here is a real triathlon racing package and not just a selection of bits and pieces. On this basis we would suggest that the bike definitely needs to be a tri-specific bike with all the "extras" like tri bars and a decent tri-specific saddle included and not just based on a standard road bike. This deal really does have to look the part -- you'll be parting with the thick end of £2,000 and, while you'll be getting a decent discount, you should also be getting more freedom of choice.

The breakdown

We have taken the published tri pack offers from all the major shops and broken them down into their major components. For each pack we have shown the retailer's quoted standard and discounted costs and the saving that represents. Where the bike is based on a standard model we have provided a link to that manufacturer's website so you can see the components it uses in more detail. In those cases where the bike is a custom built model the major component parts are listed in the table. Not listed, simply because they all offer it, is that all these shops will do proper fittings, will adjust key components like stems and bars to suit and will tailor other components on an upcharge basis -- if they won't do this then our advice would be to shop elsewhere.

SBR Sports/Bonthrone

  Silver Gold Platinum
Bike Scott Speedster S60 Scott Speedster S40 Scott Speedster S30
Groupset      
Wheels      
Saddle      
Tribars      
Pedals Look Keo Look Keo Look Keo
Bike shoes Scott Comp Scott Comp Scott Comp
Helmet Giro Monza Giro Monza Giro Monza
Run shoes      
Wetsuit Orca EVO Orca Sonar Orca 3.8
Tri kit SBR Trisuit SBR Trisuit SBR Trisuit
Extras T-shirt, bento box, race belt T-shirt, bento box, race belt T-shirt, bento box, race belt
List price £882 £1120 £1465
Pack price £775 £985 £1285
Saving £107 £135 £180

Comment: An interesting way of building the packages here is to keep all the base components the same and only alter the high value items. It is not clear why the Orca 3.8 was selected as the high-end wetsuit as this is definitely targetted to the long-course swimmer - an Apex 2 might be a better match here and we're sure that can be negotiated.

Sigma Sport

  TriPack 1 TriPack 2
Bike Specialized Allez Trek 1200
Groupset    
Wheels    
Saddle    
Tribars Profile Century Profile Century
Pedals Look Keo Classic Look Keo Classic
Bike shoes Specialized Sport Road Specialized Trivent
Helmet Specialized Chamonix Specialized Aurora
Run shoes    
Wetsuit Orca EVO Orca Sonar
Tri kit Orca Basics trisuit Orca Race trisuit
Extras Number belt, Bodyglide, Aquasphere Kaiman goggles, OWS swim voucher, Starting Out Triathlon book Number belt, Bodyglide, Aquasphere Kaiman goggles, OWS swim voucher, Starting Out Triathlon book
List price £901 £1166
Pack price £769 £999
Saving £132 £167

Comment: Two starter packs based on road bikes with basic tri bars and a sensible selection of basic components to match. Stand-out feature of these two is the Extras package which includes a pretty decent book and a trial open water swim session. Sigma will allow any bike of equal or greater (you obviouly pay the upcharge!) value to be substituted while keeping the rest of the pack as is.

Tri and Run

  Starter 1 Starter 2 London starter 1 London Starter 2
Bike Racing II Team Racing I Team
Groupset Campag Xenon 10 Campag Veloce 10 Campag Xenon 10 Campag Veloce 10
Wheels Pro-Lite Como Pro-Lite Stelvio Pro-Lite Como Pro-Lite Stelvio
Saddle Pro-Lite Comfort Pro-Lite Gel Pro-Lite Comfort Pro-Lite Gel
Tribars
Pedals Look Keo Classic Look Keo Classic Look Keo Classic
Bike shoes Lake CX110 Northwave Tribal Lake CX110 Northwave Tribal
Helmet Bell Solar Bell Sweep R Bell Solar Bell Sweep R
Run shoes £60 Saucony voucher £90 Saucony voucher £50 Asics voucher £90 Asics voucher
Wetsuit Blue Seventy Reaction Blue Seventy Helix Blue Seventy Reaction Orca Apex 2
Tri kit Zoot trisuit Zoot Ultra trisuit Orca Basics trisuit Orca Elite trisuit
Extras Kit bag, number belt Kit bag, number belt Kit bag, number belt Kit bag, number belt
List price £1,031 £1815 £831 £1821
Pack price £895 £1615 £695 £1621
Saving £136 £200 £136 £200

Comment: Unlike all the other shops, Tri and Run are using their own bike brand as the base which gives them more scope for flexibility. Theirs are also the only packs to include any sort of run shoe, the voucher is a good idea in that it's near impossible to pre-select run shoes and allows people to quot;top-up" as required.

Total Fitness Bath

  Bronze Silver Gold
Bike Specialized Allez Triple Specialized Allez Elite Specialized Transition Comp
Groupset
Wheels
Saddle
Tribars Profile Century Profile AirStryke With bike
Pedals Look Keo Look Keo Shimano 105
Bike shoes Specialized Sport Road Specialized Sport Road Specialized Trivent
Helmet Specialized AirForce Specialized Air 8 Specialized Decibel
Run shoes
Wetsuit Orca EVO 2XU Comp2 Zoot Z1
Tri kit Orca Basics 2XU Comp Zoot Trifit
Extras Specialized mini pump, saddlepack and puncture kit Specialized mini pump, saddlepack and puncture kit Specialized mini pump, saddlepack and puncture kit
List price £890 £1382 £2050
Pack price £789 £1229 £1799
Saving £101 £153 £251

Comment: TF Bath obviously did a deal with Specialized -- but that's no bad thing! The Gold package is a stand-out as it's exactly what we would expect for a top-end beginner to aspire to.

Total Fitness Nottingham

  Intro Bronze
Bike Giant OCR4 Giant SCR 3
Groupset
Wheels
Saddle
Tribars
Pedals
Bike shoes
Helmet Specialized Chamoix or Limar 520 or Giro Transfer Specialized Chamoix or Limar 520 or Giro Transfer
Run shoes
Wetsuit BlueSeventy Reaction or Orva EVO BlueSeventy Reaction or Orva EVO
Tri kit Orca Race or 2XU Comp Orca Race or 2XU Comp
Extras Elastic laces, number belt Elastic laces, number belt
List price
Pack price £499.99 £599.99
Saving £65.94 £115.96

Comment: TF Nottingham have adopted the same game plan as SBR but more so - these are pure beginners packs with the bike being the differentiator. Interestingly they have built in a range of choice into the base components so catering for fit and style issues and can do the Bronze pack as a lady-specific version. TFN also offer a "build your own" service with a blanket 10% discount. NOTE: the OCR 4 exists but you won't find it on Giant's website -- it's a model that's put together specifically for the UK to make a £299 road bike and, as such, is pretty basic.

Tri-UK

  Pack 1 Pack 2 Pack 3
Bike Giant SCR3 Giant SCR2 Quintana Roo Kilo
Groupset
Wheels
Saddle
Tribars
Pedals Shimano SPD-SL or Look Keo Classic Shimano SPD-SL or Look Keo Classic Shimano SPD-SL or Look Keo Classic
Bike shoes Cannondale RS100 Cannondale RS100 Carnac SFT1 MPS5
Helmet Giro Transfer MET Estro MET Stradivarius
Run shoes
Wetsuit Foor Quantum Foor Quantum 2 Foor Synflex
Tri kit Craft Trisuit Craft Trisuit Foor Elite Trisuit
Extras Aquasphere Kaiman goggles Aquasphere Seal goggles Aquasphere Seal XP goggles
List price £754.92 £991.95 £1916.93
Pack price £499.99 £699.99 £1299.99
Saving £254.93 £291.96 £616.94

Comment: Tri-UK have the sole rights to Foor so they can afford to be more generous with the margins and their base packs reflect that. However, the top-end pack is an absolute stand-out for value and would be hard to beat anywhere else - the bike itself lists for £1299.99!!

Winners and losers

The outright winner in terms of sheer bang for your buck has to be the Tri-UK QR Kilo package -- effectively you are getting all the other stuff for free when you buy the bike. In fact, had we not got the prices from them in an email we might well have thought that this was a typing mistake in the advert -- it's a 32% discount!! At the other end of the scale their £499 package also kicks ass -- compared to the other bargain offering from TFN for the same money it represents an upgraded bike plus it includes shoes and pedals. However, the bottom end is, as its name suggests, is the bottom end and we feel that a more realistic entry point would be at about the £700 mark because there really is only so much you can pare off the bike before it becomes indistinquishable from something you might find on a garage forecourt for £50. The componentry may last a couple of seasons and the bike will weigh a ton -- you really will be better off spending a little bit more if you see triathlon as anything other than a one event outing.

In terms of brand representation in the value stakes we would say that Specialized stand out as being the leader here and that's simply because they offer so many Allez models that you can build a road bike-based tri package on plus they have the option to upgrade to the Transition models for dedicated tri use. Giant have always had a good tri following and while none of the models here would light up the world as a tri bike, you need to move into their higher-end models for that, they do all offer serious value for money. Of the other brands represented it's a little sad to see only one Trek, and that's not even one of their tri-specific models, while Scott are a slightly off-the-wall choice offering Giant-like value but with no discernable pedigree.

Honours are probably about even in terms of the way the packages are constructed as a whole: that said, we did like the extras package from Sigma Sport which went just a bit further than the others and we also think the way SBR only changes the big bits makes it simpler to choose between each level. Of the graded packages, taken on a shop by shop basis rather than comparing shop against shop, the two stand-outs are Total Fitness Bath with their Specialized-based offerings which makes for a very coherent range topping our, as we have said before, with exactly what we would expect for a high-end starter pack and Tri-UK who just cannot be beaten here for sheer value right across the board.


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