Many athletes start by trying out a triathlon because a friend or teammate dared them to do something more challenging.
You could be a competent swimmer, runner, or cyclist, but you still feel like there’s more you could be doing, so you enter a triathlon to try it out. Since this is your first time doing something like this, you naturally hope that you’ll be able to complete it on time and preferably not come last. But you think what bike should I get, or will my bicycle I have work?
These are some of the best bikes for a triathlon:
- The Ventum One Z-Shape
- The Argon E-117 Tri Disc
- S-WORKS SHIV DISC LIMITED EDITION
- The Cervélo P3X
- The SCOTT Plasma 6
- The CANYON SPEEDMAX CF 8.0
A Triathlon bike is obviously more than just a frame with wheels, but it is the starting point. The remainder of the accessories and add-ons, including the gearset, tribars, aerodynamics, and onboard storage we cover in this article, will help you beat your best time.
It might be challenging to sort through all of the information online when there are so many professional triathlon bike manufacturers and add-ons. So we’ve compiled the best advice, research reports, and user reviews to help you choose the best bike for you.
1. The Ventum One Z-Shape
The revamped front end of the Ventum One is focused on adaptability and speed. With the telescopic monoriser and tilt feature and the enhanced pad stack and reach, you may get the best fit and aero position possible. In addition, with enhanced adjustability, superior braking, and more storage, this bike is the most aerodynamic Ventum to date.
As seen during the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, the revolutionary Z-shaped frame design increases stability in heavy crosswinds. In addition, athletes can hydrate without sacrificing their aero position thanks to Ventum’s unique hydration bottle fitted into the top tube. Because the bottle decreases aerodynamic drag, the Ventum One is said to be the only bike faster with hydration included.
The quickest fork Ventum ever produced after countless hours of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and rider-on testing. Improved airflow around the wheel and disk brakes’ higher braking force give the stopping power and acceleration you desire. The bike will pleasantly purr away without any fuss when you get into your aero position.
The Ventum One is probably one of the most comfortable bikes we’ve ever ridden for long-distance, straight-line riding. But it’s on the straights where the bike truly shines. The frame’s adaptability to road irregularities is impressive. The arm cup cushioning is enough to be comfortable without excessiveness, and the front end is reasonably comfortable and allows for a lot of flexibility.
2. The Argon E-117 Tri Disc
This bike is intended to be a low-cost, easy-to-ride entry-level solution for cyclists looking to purchase their first bike for a triathlon. The Argon Fit System is designed to deliver consistent performance and ideal placement for riders of all sizes, regardless of your build, gender, or riding style.
While many manufacturers optimize performance and weight objectives for a medium-sized frame and then scale up or down, Argon evaluated each size’s performance based on the unique characteristics of that geometry. The Argon E-117 is made entirely of carbon fiber and has Shimano Ultegra derailleurs combined with Dura-Ace lever shifters that react quickly to gearshifts to keep you on pace.
The E-117 comes standard with an ISM PR 1.0 saddle with no nose. The nose-less feature makes the seat more comfortable while in the aero position. The added disc brakes help bring the fast bike to a stop in no time. The best news about this bike is that it is not only for triathlons but also UCI-approved, allowing you to compete in any UCI-sanctioned event. For more information on the specifications of this model, have a look at this
3. S-WORKS SHIV DISC LIMITED EDITION
The special edition has a particular painting that provides the effect of a myriad of various shades depending on how the sun’s rays fall on the frame. Unfortunately, they are limited to only 500 individually numbered, limited-edition bikes, making this a rare find if you can afford it. In addition, the design does not meet UCI requirements. However, this bike can be used for the cycling portion of triathlons.
The Nutrition Fuel Cell is a section in the down tube to store food, gels, and other refreshments. This container makes it convenient for the rider to fuel up. In addition, it is a breeze for fueling up on the go with the compartment that can fit around 20 gels, bars, and chews. The fuel box is nicely shielded from the wind, which helps with aerodynamics, but you must remove the nutrition fuel cell to gain access to the flat tire kit or the Shimano Di2 A-Junction Box.
The wheelset is from the Roval brand, which Specialized owns. Roval AFD1 is the Roval CLX 64 Disc rim. The wheel has a central lock rotor for front and back 160mm rotors. The wind-optimized 64mm profile also means the wheels are aerodynamic, and they readily maintain speed once up to speed. For a more in-depth look go here
4. The Cervélo P3X
The Cervélo P3X is a triathlete-specific bike with a precisely crafted frame. Its one-of-a-kind carbon frame is devoid of a seat tube. The light and rigid carbon frame allows riders to accelerate swiftly. With cushioned forearm rests, the aero bars are incredibly comfortable. You can adjust the seat angle from 77 to 81 degrees giving you the flexibility to fine-tune the bike to your preferred riding posture.
Expert triathletes praise this bike’s integrated top tube bag, allowing users to carry and access gels, bars, and other stuff while riding. In addition, climbing the hills on this bike is a breeze, and riders may modify the bars’ angle between 0° and 15° using the Speed Riser.
The P3X Disc Ultegra Di2 R8060, with the racing wheels, comes in black with a red accent. Meanwhile, the frame stiffened by 8% at the head tube and 15% at the bottom bracket. Unfortunately, this bike is not UCI legal and therefore only allowed in triathlons. Although this bike is less expensive than Cervélo’s P5X and other triathlon bikes, most riders will agree that it is still costly.
5. The SCOTT Plasma 6
SCOTT has outdone itself with this beautiful and aerodynamic Triathlon bike. But, of course, it’s also essential to have the perfect fit, and the Plasma 6’s Syncros cockpit lets you alter height, extension angle, pad location, and breadth. So although this model is only legal for triathlons, you could still use the Plasma 5 in other UCI races.
The usual position for the downtube for the greatest aerodynamics is just behind the front tire, but this comes apart when the wheel moves marginally when steering or in crosswinds; so, the sufficient distance between the front wheel and down bar is optimal in practice to prevent turbulence and drag.
The back wheel, unlike the front, is always aligned with the seat tube. Therefore, the location spacing of the back wheel has a significant impact on aerodynamics. The closer the tire is to the seat tube, the greater the aerodynamic benefit. There are six distinct wheel mount modes to let any rider move the tire into the most aerodynamic position, regardless of the wheel size or tire choice.
The Plasma 5 was ahead of the competition regarding storage integration. However, the new Plasma 6 takes things even farther. Since the beginning, integrating hydration, nutrition, and storage has been a design cornerstone. The integrated hydration and nutrition systems are positioned perfectly to allow you to refuel without leaving the aero position.
The storage box and Seatpost are shaped like a unique airfoil, and they also serve as a great place to store spare components. In addition, there is a storage box for gel placed right on top of the bottom bracket that is easily reachable while riding. Finally, for additional storage, they added a box for nutrition attached to the cockpit and a prominent storage box below the seat tube to add tools or other items.
6. The CANYON SPEEDMAX CF 8.0
The CF 8.0 is the series’ smaller, more affordable triathlon bike. Despite the bikes’ numerous similarities, the CF 8’s headtube differs from its CF SLX and CFR siblings. Both have a step-down recess that allows the aerobar-stem combination to lie flush with the top tube for optimal integration and performance, which the CF doesn’t have, making it seem cluttered.
The Canyon Speedmax CF 8 Disc Di2 bike is super-fast and super-comfortable, with plenty of versatility for time trialists of all abilities. On the other hand, the CF range is all about users’ comfort and enjoyment. The taller headtube provides greater front-end comfort, while the chunky seat tube shapes assist in absorbing road irregularities.
It accelerates rapidly and maintains momentum with ease when pedaling. Because the front end is not as forcefully set as some of its competitors, you will feel more confident once you’ve dialed in your time-trial position. The high-riding stem and headtube arrangement can make the front end seem a touch light at times.
Everything you need during a competition is within easy reach on the Speedmax CF. Put your energy bars and gels in the top tube of the Bento box. The bracket box at the bottom provides easy access to your tools. Carrying up to 5 water bottles full of your favorite beverage has no aerodynamic consequence.
7. The FELT IA Triathlon Bikes
The list of the best triathlon bikes will not be complete if we don’t mention a FELT. The IA range results from 30 years of iterative design and laborious development, and its competitive results speak for themselves. It’s worth noting that the IA has won the Kona World Championship six times in a row and owns both the bike and overall course records.
When looking into the different models from FELT, it can be somewhat confusing to decide which one is best for you. The differences between the FELT AI FRD and the FELT AI Advanced are mainly on the front end. The front end of the FRD has an integration cockpit, whereas the advanced IA features a separate front end. You will always be better off with an adjustable front end such as the one on the advanced.
The integrated CALpac 2.0, FELT’s newest top tube storage system, is included with the IA. Some riders have complained about the storage system on the top bar. The way in which the integrated storage is designed causes the rider to struggle when trying to remove items from the bottom of the holder. They end up damaging the top rubber, and there is no third-party replacement for that box.
The IA uses thru-axles rather than standard quick-release skewers to meet the increased stopping forces generated by disc brakes. It’s a tried-and-true design that improves the rigidity of the frame-to-wheel connection while also providing a more secure interface between the bike frame and the wheel. They also offer an IA with rim brakes for those who like a more traditional feel.
8. Honorable Mentions You Might Consider
- Quintana Roo V-PR
- Trek Speed Concept SLR 7 Gen 3
- BMC TIMEMACHINE 02 TWO 2020
- GIANT TRINITY ADVANCED PRO 2
How Do You Choose The Best Triathlon Bike?
The best advice I can give you today is to find a professional cycling shop near you and try to get a test drive on one of the triathlon bikes. Unfortunately, many people do not have the luxury of having a pro cycling shop in their area and can only buy online. Building a good connection with your local bike shop will be extremely helpful if you pursue triathlon more seriously.
Your specific objectives and requirements will differ from those of others, so you must make the best decision possible for you. You must determine if you want a specialist triathlon bike or a solid road bike that will suffice for the odd triathlon you may enter. Almost any bicycle will work if you are a beginner.
If you decide on a dedicated triathlon bike, don’t buy the first one you come across. Make sure the bicycle is comfortable for you. You will be riding this bike for a significant length of time, and if you do not enjoy it because it does not fit your physique, it will influence your personal best. On the other hand, you may have the most expensive, fully equipped aero bike and still have a bad ride if it doesn’t fit properly.
Before we go into detail about what to look for in a time trial bike, please don’t buy a specific bike because that is the only bike they have available in stock. Instead, take your time and get the best triathlon bike you can afford.
Choosing Between A Carbon Or Aluminum Frame
The bicycle frame is undoubtedly the most significant component. One of the most important factors to consider when picking a frame is the material it is composed of. Aluminum or carbon may be used to create extremely lightweight bicycles. On the other hand, a carbon frame will almost always be lighter than an aluminum frame. This is because carbon fiber has a strength-to-weight ratio that few materials can match.
However, not all carbon is made equal. More fillers are used in lower-grade (or modulus) carbon, saving cost but increasing weight. A carbon frame with a lower modulus can weigh more than a high-end aluminum frame. You get what you paid for in this situation; therefore, don’t always go for carbon because some aluminum frames might be better for your situation and budget.
You will find varied opinions on what is more important: the frame or the wheels. I recommend purchasing the best aero frame you can afford because it will be far less expensive to update the wheels later than the frame. But face it, the structure and wheels make the bike; the rest adds to the speed and comfort.
The Right Wheels Will Make A Difference
There’s nothing quite as stunning as a pair of deep carbon wheels for a triathlon, and they’ll save you valuable seconds while you’re racing against the clock. Aero wheelsets maximize efficiency, allowing riders to get the most speed from their watts. In addition, the bike portion of your upcoming triathlon or your time trial goals may benefit from a wheel upgrade to beat your personal best.
The rim depth is the most crucial component in wheel design. The deeper the rim, the more aerodynamic the wheels are, and they slice through the wind better. It’s essential to consider the course’s wind conditions while choosing your wheels, not just for performance but also for your safety.
Deeper wheels are often quicker, but not always.
Depending on the path of the wind, certain wheel depths and shapes are more suited. A deep “V” shaped rim, for example, is extremely fast into the wind. As a result, amateur cyclists may find themselves in the grip of a scary ride when there is a crosswind or a sudden powerful gust. Therefore, the deeper rims can function as sails, pushing the wheel forward and making bike control difficult.
Many professionals have a range of wheelsets to select from, depending on the event conditions.
You Need Aerobars For Speed
Aerobars, also known as triathlon bars, are handlebar extensions with cushioned forearm rests that assist riders in getting into a more aerodynamic posture by tucking their body forward and dropping their torso. In addition, the increased seat tube angle seen on triathlon bikes can reduce the power required to ride the bike by 20%.
Triathlon bicycle geometry has an impact on the bike’s handling and comfort. For example, when performing a lot of climbing, a steep seat tube angle is not as pleasant or efficient as a more relaxed angle. Also, compared to riding a road bike with your hands on the handles, an aerobar allows a better posture for speed. Aero bars enable riders to stretch their arms out and get as close to the bike as possible to lessen wind resistance.
Complete Aerodynamic Design Features
Triathlon bicycles get designed to slice through the wind, from the aero position on the cockpit to the onboard storage solutions. However, most aero bike designers do tunnel testing on everything to ensure the contour of the bike and the rider will decrease drag as much as possible. For example, a tri bike’s tubing will encounter less drag resistance in the wind than a road bike, saving you energy.
You Need Storage On A Triathlon Bike
You need proper storage for longer triathlon competitions, like the 70.3 and full Ironman distances. Because the cycling leg of a triathlon is the best time for racers to focus on absorbing fluids and calories, onboard storage for hydration and nutrition is critical. Some bikes have built-in storage, while others can fit add-on compartments such as top tube storage boxes and rear storage.
Picking the Gearset
Your equipment will be heavily determined by the terrain you’ll be traversing. When it comes to chainrings, you have three options: normal 53/39, semi-compact 52/36, and compact 50/34. A wide range is provided by either 10 or 11-speed cassettes. Plus, replacing a cassette is simple enough that you can experiment with it.
Final Thoughts On Evaluating Your Decisions Before Buying
The Components: are all the minor pieces that allow you to shift and peddle on your bike, making it operate. Fortunately, components are pretty straightforward to update, so if you start with mid-level features like Shimano 105, you can always upgrade later with superior parts like Shimano Ultegra. Of course, if you want the best, go for Shimano’s Dura-Ace or SRAM’s eTap AXS, but be warned: once you go electronic, wireless shifting, you’ll never want to go back!
Your Comfort: Comfort reigns supreme. Have a professional take your precise measurements and test your flexibility when you go into the bike shop. Ask them plenty of questions about the type of riding you intend to conduct.
The Cost: Beginners should invest in the highest-quality bike they can afford. Yes, this might mean a more costly cycle, but it will save you money in the long run. A higher-quality bike has a better feel, is lighter, and performs better.
Determine your Commitment level: Determine how serious you are about cycling and what you hope to gain from it. And your preferred price range may influence your commitment. For example, not everyone enters triathlon intending to compete in an Ironman. But, if you want to do many races and spend a lot of time on your tri-bike, you might want to pay a bit more for all the extras.
Experience and knowledge: Purchasing a new bike is thrilling, but it also comes with many confusing terms and equipment. Therefore, your expertise and experience will also determine the sort of bike you buy. The best way to properly comprehend them is to ride a tri bike. You may read all the specifications about a bike you want, but you won’t know what you like until you experience it.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson