It's been over a year since pro triathlete Jesse Thomas shocked the world at the 2011 edition of Wildflower, winning the race wearing a pair of gas-station-purchased aviator sunglasses. The cheap shades have become his signature, and he continues to wear them en route to some great finishes, including the successful defense of his Wildflower title back in May.
Thomas just got the brand new 2013 S-Works frameset, freshly built for the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada. We got an exclusive look around the bike just as the Specialized mechanic, who calles himself the "Spider Monkey," was finishing up the build.
Now, Thomas is definitely riding some very high-end equipment. The S-Works frameset module and Shimano Di2 component group will cost you almost $10,000. But interestingly, the rest of his bike is fairly economical. He uses two bottle cages (one BTA bottle and one off the back of the saddle), and both of them are just plain-jane Specialized Rib Cages (which work great, by the way). Instead of a disc, he's got a disc cover taped onto his Rolf Prima TDF60 rear wheel. His "flat kit" is just a can of Vittoria Pittstop taped to the seat tube. And as already mentioned, he rocks a pair of $10 sunglasses he found at a gas station.
Thomas' bike is proof that not EVERYTHING in triathlon has to cost an arm and a leg. Of course, the core of his bike is built around one of the finest bikes we've ever reviewed, and the Di2 components are undoubtedly top-of-the-line. But there are definitely places on a triathlon rig where inexpensive solutions can work very well indeed. Not everything is done the same way I'd do it - in particular, I hate disc covers. But no two people are ever going to agree precisely on how their rides should be set up - that's the beauty of it. So much of a triathlon bike is modular, up to the user to decide what's going to work best. This particular constellation of parts represents the intersection of Jesse's sponsorships and his personal preferences. And clearly, the result has been working for him. Good luck out there, Jesse! Tomorrow is going to be a tough day against a pretty stacked field.