I did my first triathlon (super sprint) last year to see if triathlons are something I would enjoy and I am hooked.
Last year I used my commuter single speed and it worked fine but this year I am training for my first olympic distance. I could either use my commuter again or my 1979 raleigh grand prix.
I have been doing alot of research regarding aerobikes vs. a converted road bike. Basically I am not able to afford another bike especially an aerobike. I have determined through my research that converting a road bike (aero bars and a forward seatpost) will help me achieve the forward position desired but the frame's geometry will still be off. Since the crank will not be in the right place for the aero position it may hinder my run when I get off the bike or even worse cause knee pain.
I was wondering if anyone out there has ever pondered the question of using a road bike the way it is or converting their road bike to do a tri?
Also, does anyone out there have an idea on how to build a tri bike on the cheap?
I wouldn't worry about frame geometry too much as there are things you can do to make your bike more like a tri bike. Yes, adding aerobars and a forward seatpost will help, and even though the bottom bracket may be more forward than ideal, you could always raise the stem some (or put one on with more rise) to compensate. I won't be perfect, but it'll get you closer to tri-bike frame angles. Also, as long as your seat height is adjusted correctly in relation to your cranks, you shouldn't have knee pain. The only way I could see it affecting your run would be if your seat was improperly angled and there was a lot of stress on your lower back. It'll take some tweaking, but as long as your frame has stock racing geometry, your road bike should make a fine conversion.
I have done an Olympic distance triathlon on a 1995 Aluminum Cannondale (In 2008) without any modifications towards a Tri bike. That distance is perfectly fine to ride a regular road bike. I would also argue that if you aren't going to be immersed completely into triathlons, you can stick with a road bike for half IM and full IMs as well. People do centuries all the time on road bikes. The advantage of aero bikes are definitely there. You get less wind resistance and the different angles help you off the bike onto the run. However, for the coin, unless you plan on doing several halfs or fulls, I would just stick to a road bike. The aero advantage is good over a long distance, if you can get comfy down in the bars. I personally use the drops and if I want to lower my time, I put more miles on the bike, not more $$$ into a different one. If you want most of the aero advantages, put some clip on aero bars on the roadie.
After shopping for a tri bike last year, I eventually bought a CX bike. I like the ride better and use it more than I would a tri bike since I only do about 2-4 triathlons a year.
A forward extended seat post a longer stem and aero bars will make your frame geometry similar to a Tri bike. What it will do it place your torso and your thighs in the right position to avoid knee pain, but your neck pain will increase like it does on Tri bikes. Strengthening your neck is vital, you will be a danger to self and others when you drop your head and face the ground to relieve your neck. Get on machine and work that neck before you get on the road