Choosing a bike is one of the most vital decisions any triathlete can make. After all, biking is the longest even of a triathlon, so you’ll be spending more time on your bike than in your swimsuit or running shoes. One of the most recurring questions newbie triathletes ask is “what is a triathlon bike?”
In this post, we’ll talk about what a triathlon bike is, how it differs from a road bike, and how to choose the right one for your needs.
What Is a Triathlon Bike?
A triathlon bike is a variant of road-racing bikes, specifically designed to optimize aerodynamics by reducing drag. Triathletes gain a significant advantage riding this bike as it consumes less energy due to its geometry. This bike design lowers the cyclist’s torso to reduce drag and improve aerodynamics.
Triathlon Bike vs Road Bike
The most notable difference between a triathlon bike and a road bike is the frame geometry. Triathlon bikes have a steeper seat angle, whereas the seats on a road bike are usually flatter. Another huge difference is that a triathlon bike includes aerobars instead of just regular handlebars.
While you can use both bikes for a triathlon, road bikes aren’t great if you’re prioritizing aerodynamics. They have slimmer frames and thinner tires and are not as comfortable as triathlon bikes. Here is a break down of the key features of each type:
Key Features of a Triathlon Bike
- A triathlon bike has aerobars
- More aggressive frame geometry
- Usually more expensive
- Better for speed and more aerodynamic
Key Features of a Road Bike
- More versatile
- Less expensive
Benefits of a Triathlon Bike
If you’re interested in becoming a triathlete, you must learn the benefits of a triathlon bike and choose one for yourself accordingly. Triathlon is a demanding sport that requires proper training and equipment. The following are three areas in which a triathlon bike can enhance your performance:
The most outstanding benefit of a triathlon bike is the seat position. With steeper tubes, the angle of the seat tube forces your hips to sit forward, which reduces the tension of your hamstrings and quadriceps. Road bikes typically have a 72-degree seat tube angle. In contrast, a triathlon bike’s seat tube angle is closer to 78 degrees.
Since you can’t legally draft in most triathlons, you’ll need an extremely efficient bike that saves you as many glycogen units as possible when you ride. Thanks to aero bars, riders can place themselves in an extremely aerodynamic position with comfort and ease, up to many hours at a time.
A triathlon bike features more storage options such as water bottle holders and compartments for keeping tools, inner tubes, and snacks. Since a triathlon race is much longer than a typical bike race, riders usually keep an emergency puncture kit to give them a sensible advantage.
How to Choose the Right Triathlon Bike for You
Whether you’re registering for your first race and purchasing your first triathlon bike, or you’re a veteran looking to add another great bike to your collection, choosing the right bike is key to be competitive.
The following are 4 steps you should take to make sure you get the right triathlon bike for your needs:
1. Goal Assessment
The first step in choosing the right triathlon bike for you is arming yourself with information regarding your goals and expectations. You should be able to answer the following questions:
- What type of triathlon are you participating in? (Sprint, Olympic, half ironman or ironman)
- How much triathlon trainingdo you plan to do?
- What type of terrain will you be riding on? Hilly or flat?
- Do you have any back problems that might restrict your mobility? If yes, you’ll need a smaller/shorter bike so that you’re more upright.
The answers to all these questions should help you understand what you need in terms of features and benefits from your new bike.
Once you’ve determined the features and benefits your new bike should have, it’s time to think about the practical side of your purchase – balancing your budget? Sure, you can opt for a high-end triathlon bike, but there’s more to the equation. You must consider your riding and racing habits, including how much time you’ll spend on the saddle.
Match your goals with the key features of the bikes you’re looking up, such as ride quality, uphill acceleration, frame quality, wheel weight, and popularity, etc. There are lots of great bikes out there, so do your due diligence to ensure you get the best one in your budget. All these factors will influence the price.
3. Make a Short List
Following your research, the next step is to narrow down the market into a shortlist of viable and affordable bike candidates. Look up product reviews of reputable bike brands and disregard those with bad track records of performance. Even if you don’t get the best one in the market, let yourself fall in love with the bike you’ve chosen by spending as much time with it as possible.
If you’re not happy with the list, consider getting yourself a frame kit and build a custom one with professional help.
4. Get a Bike Fit
Getting a proper bike fit is the most important factor in optimizing your biking performance and comfort. As soon as you pay up, find an experienced bike fitter in your area, and work with them until you’re dialed in with your new ride. Bikes are made to be adjustable for a reason. Humans come in different shapes and sizes, so custom adjustments are vital in achieving the optimum riding position.
Our Final Thoughts
The best bike for you will depend on what you want to get from it, how often you’ll ride it, and what sort of riding you’ll be doing. Our general advice is to buy the best triathlon bike you can afford to notice the quality difference in terms of comfort and performance.
So, if anyone now asks you, “what is a triathlon bike?,” you can answer confidently.