BikesRoad Bikes ▪ Triathlon & TT

Triathlon and TT (time trial) capable bikes are designed to enable performance in a unique environment. The cyclist has to be able to manage power and efficiency without the benefits of a pack or drafting dynamics (yes, excpet draft legal events). Triathlon bikes are not necessarily light as an equivalent road bike, but they are stable and capable. Cervelo, Trek & Specialized each offer an excellent choice of entry level and performance builds for Triathlon & TT ready machines that can be riden to train, race and win.

The Triathlon/TT Bikes @ Livermore Cyclery

A First-Timer's Guide to Buying a Trathlon Bike

From Ironman™ official site Written by Carrie Barrett.

To enable the process to be as much fun and productive we offer leading performance and entry level time trial and triathlon frames and bikes from Cervelo, Trek & Specialized. In addition we stock and source some of the best products and equipment for the serious or not so serious triathlete. Power meters, hydration and fuel systems as well as leading edge fitting, coaching and training knowledge to dial and squeeze efficiency and performance from the distinctive style and form of riding a time trial/triathlon specific bike.

The Distance of your event and being Aero

The 3 Priorities of a Proper Triathlon Bike Fit Written by DAVID RIPLEY @ Training Peaks

Triathlon Bike or Aero Road Bike?

Let's first consider the physical differences between triathlon bikes and road bikes and how those differences effect a rider. The obvious difference in appearance between the two bikes is their cockpits, but the more important distinction is found within the geometries of the frames.The most visible differences between a triathlon bike and a road bike include aerobars instead of regular handle bars and many models have specially shaped frame tubing and special wheels. These design features are intended to minimize drag and increase speed (more on this later).

Triathlon Bikes

A triathlon bike has a steeper seat tube angle - that is - the seat tube is closer to vertical than a road bike's - that are typically 75 to 80 degrees, whereas road bikes might be 73.5 to 74 degrees. This steeper geometry places the rider's hips over the crankset which engages their quadriceps more for increased power. Additionally, this distribution of muscle use makes the transition to the run much easier. With the rider's torso also in more forward position, their upper body weight becomes supported by their skeletal rather than muscular system, staving off fatigue. Despite a rather aggressive looking position, the rider is comfortable and aerodynamic, increasing their efficiency.

Advantages of a Tri Bike

  • Transfers more power from rider to bike
  • More aerodynamic bike itself and puts rider in more aerodynamically efficient position
  • Almost always the fastest bike option
  • Allows for an easier run after transitioning off the bike

A simple discussion of the main advantages to using a triathlon specific bike is discussed by Matt Cooke @ Weekend Triathlete

Road Bikes

A road bike with its' more traditional bicycle geometry puts the rider in a better position for climbing, sprinting, cornering and riding in a group. With less of the rider's weight over the front wheel, the bike handles in a more predictable manner. Equipped with drop handlebars and integrated brake/shift levers, a road bike can give a rider more confidence with their hands on the brakes at all times while still offering multiple positions on the handle bars. Road bikes tend to weigh less too. A road bike offers versatility and comfort for a variety of uses, from recreational riding and commuting to many types of racing.

Advantages of a Road Bike

  • Easy and comfortable to ride
  • Corners and handles better, especially on busy roads and trails and in group riding situations
  • Light weight, climbs more efficiently
  • Versatile, works well for many types of riding

So, which bike is better? More importantly; which bike is most appropriate for a rider's needs? Decide what type of riding you want to do and what expectations you have regarding the performance of your bike. Here are a few questions to answer:

  • Are you only training for and racing triathlons?
  • If you're racing triathlons, are you super competitive and are your expectations greater than simply finishing?
  • Will you be doing a multitude of things such as commuting, charity or group rides?
  • Are you looking for a bike that will simply let you participate?

By now, you can see where this is going... If you answered yes to the first two questions, specifically - if you want to complete a triathlon in the fastest time you are capable of - we're going to recommend a triathlon bike.Based on our experiences, most riders will be approximately 2 mph faster on a tri bike than on a road bike.If you answered yes to the last two questions, the versatility of a road bike will most likely be your best solution.