Why Are Triathlon Bikes So Different?

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  • Matt Cook
  • |
  • Mar 2, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Why-Are-Triathlon-Bikes-So-Different.jpgAre you interested in participating in a triathlon and wondering if you should look into buying a triathlon bike? The differences between road bikes and triathlon bikes are subtle, but they’re important to be aware of when deciding whether or not you need one. Technically, if it is well taken care of and in good shape, a road bike can be used in the biking portion of a triathlon. Especially if you are a beginner triathlete, and the triathlon you are participating in is less challenging, a road bike will be quite sufficient. As the triathlons increase in difficulty, it may be worth checking out and investing in a triathlon bike, however.

It is always a good idea to train with the same bike you intend to use the day of the triathlon. You do not want to be stuck on the day of event, in the middle of a race, riding on an uncomfortable bike. Do your research, talk to other triathletes, and observe races prior to your own. This will help when making a decision about whether or not you should purchase a triathlon bike.

Additionally, think about your general use of the bike outside of the triathlon and how many races you plan on competing in. 

Let’s look at some of the ways a triathlon bike differs from other types of bikes.

Greater Comfort for the Riders

Triathlon bikes are constructed with comfort in mind. This is often a defining factor. The athletes are required to ride for a certain length of time and are then given only a few minutes to transition to the next portion of the race. The bikes, therefore, need to aid the athletes in transitioning from one component of the race to the next without having to worry about their back and legs being cramped or sore mid-race. This could knock their time back in the race. For this reason, comfort and efficiency are essential when designing a triathlon bike, as well as choosing the right bike.

Because of the transition from biking to running, it is important to practise transitions during your training process. Do not buy a new bike just for the race day. Train with the same bike to make certain you will be comfortable while riding. 

Structure of the Bikes

While on the topic of comfort, prominent differences between road bikes and triathlon bikes are the handle design and seat placement.

Instead of regular handle bars, triathlon bikes feature aerobars, which allow for the riders to lean forward and rest on their elbows comfortably when riding. This gives them the flexibility to shift positions while riding to alleviate the stress on their forearms.

Additionally, a triathlon bike is also different because of its seat tube angle. The seat of a triathlon bike is positioned at a steeper angle than a road bike. When leaning forward, riders are put into a more aerodynamic position as their bodies get into a tuck. Furthermore, while leaning forward, they are also able to still maintain a straight back, thus lessening any possibility of soreness prior to the running portion. This overall structure allows for a more supportive ride, reducing the over-exertion of muscles when riding.

Lightweight Model

Cost is always a factor when deciding to buy anything. Triathlon bikes are quite a bit more expensive when compared to other bike models. This is why it is important to research them properly prior to purchasing a bike. The higher in cost of a triathlon bike, the lighter it would be. The lighter the bike, the easier it is on the athlete.


Topics: Triathlon Training


Matt Cook

Matt Cook

Father of 3 and former competitive swimmer, Matt completed his first Ironman 70.3 in 2013 in Muskoka. He has since completed another 70.3 and is planning on doing a full Ironman in 2016 or 2017. Matt took up triathlons for the challenge, to relax and to just to stay in shape so he can enjoy life with his family.

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