If the challenge of a triathlon or time trial excites you, you’ll want to equip yourself for success, and one of the key pieces of equipment to do so is your bike.
Triathlon and time trial bikes are designed for high speed. They help you transfer maximum energy to the ground to get you across the finish line faster. Check out our guide to picking out your triathlon or time trial bike.
As you start looking at the different considerations when purchasing a competitive triathlon bike, it’s helpful to make a list of the critical points:
Bike size: Remember, by the time you jump on your bike in a triathlon you’ve already done some serious swimming. Trying to jam yourself onto an ill-fitting bike won’t help you excel at the biking portion of the race, and you need to keep those legs as fresh as possible for the run ahead. Choose a triathlon bike frame that fits like a glove. The goal is to transfer all of your energy through your pedals, so make sure you’re seated directly above them. If you’re used to a road frame and suddenly jump onto a TT bike, then you’re going to notice an immediate difference. A TT frame forces your body into a lower, more aerodynamic position than you will ever achieve on a road bike. It’s something that will take a little getting used to at first!
Material: You have several choices when it comes to triathlon or time trial bike frames. There are some affordable steel alloy models on the market that are great when you’re just getting into the sport, but won’t appeal to top level riders who count every gram of extra weight. Aluminum is a popular choice thanks to its light weight and strength, but the downside is the amount of vibration it transfers to the rider. Carbon fibre is the opposite: it absorbs road imperfections well, but isn’t the most efficient, as the slightly flexible frame can actually absorb some of your peddling energy. Titanium is the choice for many top triathlon competitors, but requires a significant financial outlay.
Groupset: The groupset is the set of components that bolt to your frame and allow you to move. Your drivetrain, for example, includes your front and rear gears, derailleur, and chain. We recommend buying the highest quality drivetrain you can afford, as lower priced models wear quickly if you’re doing a lot of training. Other parts like shifters and pedals depend on what you’re comfortable with.
Wheels: Riders of triathlons can choose between smaller 650c wheels or larger 700c wheels. Taller riders might feel a bit more stable on the larger wheels, but this also comes down to personal preference. The only way to be sure which wheel size fits you is to try out the different sizes.
Once you’ve come up with your triathlon bike ‘wish list,’ you should look at as many different makes and models as possible. Maybe you’ll find exactly what you want as a complete bike, or maybe you’ll see that the only way to get the perfect bike for you is to custom build it. Remember that many parts are easy to upgrade later on, so start with a quality frame and go from there. Your triathlon bike will improve as you do!
You’ll find plenty of options on BikeExchange. Then, ride on over to our editorial section for all things bike, including the latest news, reviews, interviews and info on the next bike triathlon.