Let’s be clear, you do not have to choose the most expensive Triathlon Bike money can buy to have success in Triathlons! Many people start with a basic, drop-handlebar racing bike. The more expensive a bike is though, the lighter and stronger the components are and this could give you an edge in competition, especially at higher levels.
How to Make Your Triathlon Bike Choice
- Decide on your budget and stick to it – but buy the best bike you can afford!
- Know exactly what you will be using it for (for example, one bike might be better for sprint triathlons and another better for an Ironman race).
- Know the distances you will want to ride.
- Know the sort of terrain you will be covering as this will affect your bike choice in terms of the number of gears you will need.
- Know the amount of training for a competition you are likely to be able to do.
- Do you have a back problem? If so, choosing a bike that enables you to ride in a more upright position will be a better choice.
Triathlon Bike Frames
Carbon frames are no longer out of the price range of amateur competitors but the cheaper models available in this type of frame do not really have any advantages (even in terms of weight) over comparable aluminum frames. If you have a low budget, an aluminum frame is often a better choice.
Wheels and Tires
Spend any spare budget you have on wheels and tires. These will make the most difference to your performance. Good Aluminum wheels are a much better choice than the cheaper Carbon ones and are definitely better if you are going to be riding your bike on a daily basis, not just in competition.
Tires that are lighter and more resistant to punctures are a very good investment for obvious reasons. The type of tire you use will depend on the type of your wheels and are either ‘Clinchers’ or Tubular (Tub) tires. Buy the best you can afford and take advice when starting out as to which would be best for you.
Should You Have Aero Bars?
For a beginner, this is a matter of personal choice. Aero Bars, also called Tri Bars do enable you to ride in a more aerodynamic position so could give you a competitive edge. General advice would be to begin without them and be sure you are comfortable with the bike and riding position before considering add-ons like these.
Choosing a Saddle
This is definitely a case of “try before you buy”! There is no perfect shape or type for competition and it is not necessarily the case that a wider saddle will be better for you. The best one is always going to be the one that is most comfortable for your anatomy especially bearing in mind that triathlon shorts tend to have less padding than bike shorts!
Triathlon Bike Pedals
Whatever bike you start with, make sure that if the pedals are not the type that you clip your cycling shoes into, you get them changed for ones that are. This type of cycling shoe/pedal combination gives more control, is more comfortable and most importantly is the most efficient way of transferring the power of your legs to the bike!
This article is just an introduction to choosing a first Triathlon Bike but we hope that you find the information a helpful starting point when making your choice.