How to do a triathlon on a budget

Triathlon surely has to be the ultimate sport for gear junkies? Most sports provide an opportunity for you get gear obsessed and be sucked in by marketing pitches that guarantee to improve your sporting performance but triathlon trumps them all with 3 sports and lots of shiny gear. Which means doing triathlon on a budget can appear, from the outside, to be impossible as you look at the gleaming carbon on display in any transition area.

But it is possible with some sensible decisions and use of second hand sites like eBay so I thought I’d share my top tips for doing a triathlon on a budget.


 I wore cycling shorts and a cycling top for both my triathlons, don’t assume you have to have a tri-suit, I did a half ironman like this and worked perfectly fine, just make sure you test out running in it of course. Also as recommended by Cathy Drewbies look out for last seasons kit that has been reduced, you can get some real bargains and let’s be honest this seasons colours aren’t going to make you faster no matter what the company tells you.

The swim

Thankfully not too much kit needed here; googles are cheap and most races provide a swim hat. For a wetsuit I thoroughly recommend taking a look at eBay, there are plenty of good suits on there that have had little use after people do one race and then lose motivation. I picked up my suit for less than £70 and it’s in near perfect condition and retails for almost £200.

Triathlon on a budget

The bike

You can of course spend many thousands of pounds on a bike if you so desire and a good TT bike will certainly make you faster but to start out all you need is a road bike. Here again I’d look second hand, there are some great pages on FB to look for bikes and you can definitely get something half decent for less than £500 that would have retailed for around £1,000. Look for a good aluminium frame, carbon fork and Shimano 105 drive train for this price and you won’t go wrong.

I bought a Giant Defy for £450 that would be £900 new in perfect condition with upgraded wheels and gears. Pop some tri bars on it if you want and you have something that is perfectly adequate.

You will of course need helmet, shoes and a saddle bag to hold a spare tube but nothing too expensive if you shop around.

The run

Running shoes are all you need here beyond what you’re already wearing. Get them fitted properly once then just keep buying the same model but last seasons version in the sales, job done.

Cotswold classic finish line

No tri suit, cheap DHB cycling clothing and a smile

Other stuff

You could add a watch to the list but while useful it’s of course not essential. I would consider getting a race belt though, you attach your number to it and it makes life much easier when switching between sports. Elastic laces are another simple and cheap addition that can save you time during transition. You’ll also be wanting some nutrition of some kind but that’s a very personal thing depending on what works for you, do consider something other than just gels would be my only recommendation if doing a triathlon that will take you longer than a couple of hours.

And that really is it, you could probably go even more budget than I’ve suggested but I’d say this gives you a good chance of having a successful and comfortable day and the total budget should be under £700 if you shop carefully. Yes it can feel daunting setting up in transition next to all these professional looking athletes but as you’ll soon find out there are plenty of them who have spent too long shopping for kit and not enough time actually training.

Some useful websites

Wiggle is always my first choice for gear purchases, no one beats them for service (free returns is very useful) and in general the prices is competitive

Sports Pursuit is great for finding old season gear at reduced prices, this site works by offering one time sales of products it’s bought in bulk. It means once it’s gone it’s gone so you do need to keep an eye on it but well worth a look.

Buy and Sell cycling stuff in the South West – if you’re south of the M4 and west of Swindon or thereabouts then have a look at this Facebook page. Loads of bikes and related gear for sale and personally find it easier to deal with sellers than on eBay.

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