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    What is a triathlon bike?

    Florian Guenet
    Florian Guenet
    Jun 11, 2024 6 min
    What is a triathlon bike?

    But what is a triathlon bike? Is a triathlon bike just a "normal" bike? The answer is... No! So, why is a triathlon bike different? Whether you're just curious about triathlons or looking to invest in specific gear, this article will give you all the essential information you need to know about this type of bike.

     What is a triathlon bike?
    What is a triathlon bike?

    Definition of a triathlon bike

    What is a triathlon bike?

    It's a bike designed with a focus on frame, aerodynamics, wheels, and handlebars to make the sport, which combines swimming, cycling, and running, as efficient as possible. For example, the Canyon Speedmax CF 7 Disc is a triathlon bike.

    Canyon triathlon bike
    Example of a triathlon bike: the Canyon Speedmax CF 7 Disc

    Triathlon bikes are designed differently from traditional bikes. They have a more aerodynamic frame (lower and lighter), making pedaling more natural and aggressive.

    The cyclist adopts a more leaned-forward position than on a standard bike, allowing for better air penetration and reduced resistance, leading to higher speeds and faster progress.

    The origins of the triathlon bike

    Triathlon is a relatively recent sport. It started gaining popularity in the 1980s in the United States before spreading worldwide. Initially, the available equipment was not optimal—uncomfortable and not very aerodynamic.

    Specialized brands noticed this and started developing better equipment. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, companies like Quintana Roo and Cervélo introduced revolutionary bikes.

    Notably, the Quintana Roo Superform was one of the first professional triathlon bikes, featuring an aluminum frame and carbon fork, making it lighter and better suited for the distances and efforts of triathlons, gaining popularity among athletes.

    We also have a complete guide on "How to choose your triathlon bike?".

    Leading triathlon bike brands

    Today, most major sports bike brands offer models suitable for triathlons. Brands like Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, and Felt are well-known, among others.

    The market is currently dominated by Argon 18 (with models like the Argon 18 E-117 and E-118) and Orbea (with the Orbea Ordu). In 2021, these two brands significantly led the market.

    triathlon bike
    Today, the vast majority of sports bike brands offer models suitable for triathlon practice.

    Why is a triathlon bike different?

    While a beginner or someone who occasionally practices triathlons can use a standard road bike, it's still preferable to choose a bike specifically designed for triathlons. The differences between these two types of bikes are notable.

    We have a wide selection of used triathlon bikes for sale on our platform.

    The frame, the main difference

    The frame of a triathlon bike is designed with airfoil-shaped tubes, inspired by airplane wings. These bikes ensure excellent lift and maximum aerodynamic efficiency.

    Their performance has been frequently tested in wind tunnels, ensuring significant gains on flat and rolling sections of races. This design allows the cyclist to adopt a more forward-leaning position than on a regular bike, improving air penetration, stability, and speed.

    We've also got a comprehensive guide to choosing your triathlon bike. Check out our comparison between Craigslist and buycycle to find the best deals on used bikes.
    triathlon bike
    The frame of a triathlon bike is designed with airfoil-shaped tubes inspired by airplane wings.

    Other differences between a road bike and a triathlon bike

    There are also differences in the saddle, handlebars, wheels, pedals, and overall comfort. If you wondered why a triathlon bike is different, here are some answers:

    • Handlebars: Triathlon bike handlebars often feature aerobars. These extensions clip onto the handlebars, allowing you to rest your forearms and save energy.
    • Wheels: The wheels on triathlon bikes are usually slightly higher than those on standard bikes. The rims provide more inertia, increasing speed. Lower wheels and rims avoid the dead weight effect on tough terrain.
    • Pedals: In races, time is crucial. The pedals have automatic clips, allowing you to quickly mount your bike and start riding.
    • Gear shifting system: On a standard bike, gear shifting is often manual. On triathlon bikes, it's usually automatic.
    triathlon bike
    There are different ranges of triathlon bikes depending on your practice.

    What are the different types of triathlon bikes on the market?

    Like all sports equipment, you'll find entry-level, mid-range, and premium triathlon bikes. Each has its pros and cons.

    Entry-level, mid-range, and high-end

    If you're an amateur looking to participate in a small race, opting for a second-hand or new entry-level bike makes sense. If you're an enthusiast aiming to compete in several races or seeking performance, investing in more advanced and more expensive bikes might be worthwhile.

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    CLM, Gravel, and MB

    Classic triathlon bikes are also known as time trial (CLM) bikes. However, they aren't the only ones on the market. There are cross-triathlon bikes (for off-road triathlons), which are designed for rough roads or mountainous terrain.

    For variety, you can integrate other bikes into your triathlon training. Gravel bike sessions or even mountain biking (if you have mountains nearby) can help you build endurance, agility, and speed.

    Check out our comparison between Pinkbike and buycycle to find out where to buy your next triathlon bike.
    gravel bike
    To mix things up, you can definitely incorporate other bikes into your triathlon training.

    Criteria to consider before choosing your triathlon bike

    Are you looking to start triathlon and invest in a dedicated bike? Here are some criteria to consider before making your choice. We strongly recommend taking the time to objectively analyze your practice and level to choose a bike that matches your real capabilities.

    Also, evaluate the terrain where you train and the races you aim for (target distance, elevation, type of terrain). Naturally, budget is a factor, along with the brand and especially reviews from previous users or recent buyers.

    We also have a comprehensive guide for choosing your triathlon bike.

    The most famous triathlon bikes on the market to help you choose

    Several bikes have made a name for themselves (and continue to do so) for the incredible performances they enable. Notable examples include the Cervélo P5, Specialized Shiv, Trek Speed Concept, Quintana Roo PRsix, and Felt IA.

    These high-end bikes are designed to perfectly meet the expectations and needs of experienced cyclists. They usually have a carbon fiber frame, are highly aerodynamic, and feature specific placements to facilitate refueling.

    triathlon bike
    Equipping yourself for triathlon can represent a small budget.

    How much does a triathlon bike cost?

    Depending on the brand and bike specifications, the price of a triathlon bike can vary greatly. Entry-level bikes sell for around one to three thousand euros new. For a mid-range bike, expect to pay between three and five thousand euros.

    Beyond that, we’re talking about premium, high-end bikes like some of those available on buycycle. Top-tier bikes are even more expensive and are often reserved for elite athletes.

    Ready to start triathlon?

    Buying a triathlon bike is an investment. It can be expensive, even very expensive. Therefore, it's essential to make sure you really need one and consider buying a second-hand triathlon bike, like on buycycle.

    In some cases, especially for occasional practice, a premium bike isn’t necessary. You can perfectly well opt for more classic sports or road bikes.