How to choose your triathlon bike
A triathlon bike is similar to a road bike but its aims is to allow a very aerodynamic position. Indeed, thanks to good aerodynamism, the triathlete will gain in power, minimise their efforts and save themselves for running.
The triathlon bike is therefore very specific and the use of a classic road bike is completely possible if you're only beginning in the triple effort. It's versatile and therefore usable on all types of terrain and the position is comfortable to begin to grasp the discipline.
You have to choose your triathlon triathlon according to your practice: leisure, regular or competition.
The choice of frame
- If you start the triathlon, you can choose a classic road bike, in which the design of the frame makes it possible to have an advanced position but high enough to be comfortable. An aluminium frame is perfectly suited for occasional, lightweight and solid use and it's the most common material on an entry-level to mid-range bikes. For a regular practice and if you seek performance, you can look for a carbon frame that will be more rigid and yield a good energy output.
- For the more seasoned competitors, opt for an aero road bike with very wide and profiled tubes on the frame, which favours a very leaning forward position to increase aerodynamics. Be careful as this bike will be a heavier and less comfortable than a classic road bike.
- If you seek speed, you will opt for a Time Trial bike that has a plunging geometry and good aerodynamics, a frame with a more pronounced seat tube angle, and a low seatpost and hanger. Everything is studied to have the most extended bust as possible.
In order to improve the aerodynamics triathletes are truly looking for, extension can be added. They make it easy to lower the bust and provide better aerodynamism. Short extensions are especially used in drafting races since they're allowed on this type of race, classic extensions are longer and allow the elbows to rest on armrests for a more comfortable position and, finally, some extensions are integrated into the handlebar.
Carbon or aluminum rims? Again, everything depends on your practice, and the wheels have an influence on efficiency and comfort. Aluminum wheels are lightweight and resistant: they are preferable for mountain use. Carbon wheels are designed for performance and are light, rigid and comfortable. On carbon wheels, the transmitted energy is immediately relayed, so they yield a good energy output on flat terrain but the braking is less effective than on an aluminium rim.
Wheels with spokes or lenticular wheels? Triathlon bikes have fewer rays than road bike wheels, making them lighter. On Time Trial bikes, it's possible to have a spoked wheel at the front and a lenticular wheel at the back. It's a solid wheel which makes it possible to be pushed by the wind in the manner of a sail, an option reserved for the most seasoned riders.
Classic or tubeless tyre? Conventional inner tube tyres are the most practical and easy to use but are more prone to puncture. The tyre is very light and provides comfort, good manoeuvrability and optimal performance. Combining it with a carbon rim will make it an ideal wheel for competition. The only downside: the tyres are harder to assemble and repair than conventional ones. Tubeless tyres, without inner tube, are also becoming available on the market, and offer comfort and performance close to the racing tyre. However, special rims are needed and few brands currently produce tubeless tyres.
The group contains the pedals, the derailleur, the cogset, the chain, the brakes and the shifters. The more you pay, the lighter it will be. We see more and more electric groups appear: they allow a very fast and precise gear shift but they are expensive and weigh down the bike.
Be careful to choose a crankset suitable with your practice: the most common is the compact pedals with a double tray. The cogset's size can vary depending on the terrain of the route, and you can add cogs if riding in the mountains for example. If you're a beginner, a triple tray is the perfect choice to go anywhere.
It's important to try out your triathlon bike before you buy it, to make sure it's compatible with your body so you can get the best possible performance out of it.