What Do I Need for a Triathlon?

If you’re planning to take part in a triathlon, you will need some necessary equipment. The three different legs of the race will require everything from equipment like bikes to clothing like wetsuits and cycling gear. While preparing for a triathlon, all of this can get overwhelming. You no longer have to face the question, “What Do I Need for a Triathlon?” because we’ve listed all the basics for you below.

Bike Helmet

A bike helmet is not optional, it is a necessity – it is required, and it is smart to have. You do not necessarily need to break your budget, as you can use a bike helmet you already own as long as it is ANSI approved. Do note that the bike helmet must not be over 5 years old or damaged in any way since these can disqualify you from participating.

If you’re looking for a more expensive option, aerodynamic bike helmets with precision vents are available in specialist cycling stores that may give you the extra edge you need to win. Just make sure that the bike helmet you choose fits over your triathlon sunglasses.

Cycling Equipment


A bicycle is, of course, required for the racing part of the triathlon – be it an expensive one or one that you already own. You can even borrow one from a friend or relative. Many people have done triathlons with their old mountain bikes, but these tend to underperform. When it comes to a triathlon bike, look for a road bike. It is also recommended to perform modifications that would help you shave off a couple of seconds during the race.


It would be highly beneficial to replace your current tires with slicks, otherwise known as street tires. They minimize resistance and maximize speed, unlike common mountain bike tires which are rubbery and not made for streets.

Clipless Pedals

While a tad on the expensive side, clipless pedals are worth it if you desire high performance and speed. Coupled with special shoes that lock onto the pedals and your feet into position, means you and your bike are connected as one. This provides better control over your pedal strokes and generally more consistent pedaling.


Triathlon sunglasses are incredibly important – both, for the cycling stage and the running one. They not only keep the sun out of your eyes, which would of course obscure your vision, but also protect you from high velocity wind, rain, gravel, and bugs while cycling. One suggestion from experts is to buy a good pair with photochromic lenses. These have the capability of dynamically adapting to every lighting condition, mid-race or otherwise.


A wetsuit is essential if you’re swimming in cold water and can help improve both, your performance and experience. However, there are many options available on the market, and not all are created equal. When shopping for a wetsuit, make sure to target those that are advertised as triathlon wetsuits. If you’re going to be swimming in extremely cold conditions, you should consider investing in a wetsuit with thermal properties.

Triathlon Shorts

A great pair of tri shorts is definitely one of the key components of what you’ll need for a triathlon. Tri shorts are the most versatile piece of triathlon clothing since you’ll be using them for all three activities (swimming, cycling and running). Again, you do not have to break the bank for a decent pair of triathlon shorts. That being said, they are an important purchase as they allow you to skip changing in between races, and many find it important to invest in them. Look for a pair that is both, durable and made of breathable fabric. Another thing you should be on the lookout for is a pair that has a bike seat pad – this will prevent chafing while cycling and will dry after the swimming leg of the triathlon.

For women, this is an entirely different thing. You can easily perform well with a sports bra or a swim top as long as the fabric is not cotton, since that would mean it wouldn’t dry fast enough.

Goggles & Swim Cap

No matter what kind of swimwear you choose, goggles are necessary in order to protect your eyes. Additionally, they help you swim in line, which prevents you from wasting valuable time. A swim cap is equally important since it makes sure that your hair isn’t in your way. It also keeps your goggles in place and reduces water resistance. Swim caps are inexpensive and can be bought at any sports store.

Bicycle Repair Kit

In an ideal world, your bike will function normally, and you won’t need to repair it. However, unexpected things happen and it’s better to be safe than sorry. This is why you always need to have a bicycle repair kit on hand during a triathlon – it can be the difference between you finishing the race or not.

Veteran triathlon athletes have said that some important tools to carry in your bicycle repair kit include tire levers, a pump, an emergency tire boot, a spare tube, and a patch kit. These are the essentials required for any bicycle repair kit. However, if you want to go a step further, make sure to include a multi-tool.

This covers all your requirements for the swimming, cycling, and running components of a triathlon. While skill and practice are the main requirements, a triathlon cannot be completed without these essentials. Now that you’ve received an answer to the question, “What do I need for a triathlon?” you’re all set for your next triathlon!

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our article on Triathlon basics which delves into the history of the triathlon, the different components, distances, and more.

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