Road bikes are designed aerodynamically to give you speed, and keep you light on your wheels.
Nobody needs this more than a triathlete.
While road bikes and triathlon bikes have their differences, many triathletes require both. One for racing, the other for personal use.
I’ve tracked down the five best road bikes for triathletes, in my opinion:
Road Bike vs Triathlon Bike: What’s the Difference?
The main difference between a road bike and a triathlon bike is the use. While a triathlon bike is a form of road bike, it’s not for casual use. It’s a tool for racing.
You can use a regular road bike, like the ones I’ll review later on, for a triathlon. But pay attention to the differences before you do.
The main differences include:
- Riding position: Road bikes allow more variety in riding position.
- Comfort: Triathlon bicycles are not comfortable, where road bikes are moreso.
- Handling: Road bikes have drop handlebars, which are easier to handle than triathlon bicycle aero handlebars.
- Speed: Triathlon bicycles are speed machines—road bicycle speed is more reasonable.
- Weight: Triathlon bicycles are far heavier than road bicycles.
What To Look for in a Road Bike
As a seasoned triathlete, you’re probably an expert in shopping for triathlete bikes now, but not road bicycles. Or, as a beginner triathlete wanting to start with a road bicycle, you’re an equal novice.
There are a few things you should look for in a road bicycle that’ll help solidify your choice.
The difficulties of aero handlebars can stay far from your mind. Classic road bikes have drop handlebars, or “drops”, which hang neatly downwards.
Some less typical road bicycles have straight handlebars. Riders who desire a more upright position may prefer these over drops.
Road bikes have ultra-thin wheels. Some may have thicker tires, which I feel would suit someone living in a bumpy area.
As well as that, the typical wheel size may be either:
- 700c—which can encompass various sizes in inches.
- 29 inches.
Many manufacturers are pushing the larger, 29-inch wheels lately. I feel they’re becoming more popular—so larger wheels are more road bike, where 26-inch wheels are more mountain bike, in my experience.
My top picks for a road bicycle frame are:
- Carbon fiber.
- Steel or carbon steel.
Aluminum is the cheapest and lightest, found in budget bicycles as it’s so inexpensive. Carbon fiber is the strongest, still light, but costly. Titanium is the middle-ground between the two, but I don’t see it used often these days.
On the other hand, some road bicycles use steel for its durability—even though it was more popular decades ago. This makes the bicycle heavier—which isn’t typical of road bicycles!
Road bicycles need to keep up with motor vehicles as much as possible. As a result, they’re usually light—my best road bicycles have all been 20 pounds or under. They were always swift, easy to handle and simple to store.
If weight matters less to you, you could go heavier. I wouldn’t recommend much over 30 pounds, though. It’s too far from a classic road bike for my liking.
The Top Five Best Road Bikes for Triathletes
I’ve done my research, and found five excellent road bikes I feel are up to triathletes’ standards. They may not be for racing, but work wonderfully for a triathlete’s commute.
I feel this is the perfect road cycle for a triathlete. It’s high end, well-built and I’d think it was a triathlon bicycle if not for the drop handlebars.
The starkest difference between this 22-speed road runner and a triathlon bike will be the weight. At only 18.3 pounds, it weighs in similarly to an outdoor powertool, like a chainsaw or electric lawnmower. Thus, it’s easy to transport and wholly liftable, but its heft is considerably less than a triathlon bike.
Once you get over this difference, it should be easy to transition to a road bike. The lightweight carbon construction is high-quality, reminiscent of the pro-quality a triathlon cycle holds.
Although, it’s definitely still a road cycle. It’s aerodynamically contoured, around the seat post, seat tube and states. And you’ll find no external cables, further enhancing the clean airflow as you cycle.
The lack of cabling on the outside makes it simpler to handle, too, as there’s nothing sticking out to get in the way. The rigid torsion also provides easy handling. If you combine these features, you have a bicycle fit for someone wanting an easy, relaxing ride. I feel it’s a perfect switch from a triathlon bicycle’s irritating handling features.
One thing missing that triathlons may like in a road bike though, is the standard 29-inch wheel size. Though their slim physics denotes the wheels road-ready, this bicycle sports mountain bicycle sized wheels.
- Internal cabling provides a clean visual and easy handling.
- High number of speeds making it appropriate for all-terrain conditions.
- Thin and lightweight frame, for speed and easy storage.
- Strong carbon fiber construction.
- A sporty visual in two of the three color options.
- Smaller wheels than expected on a road bicycle.
- Internal wiring makes it harder to detect any faults in the wires.
- Wheel size: 26.8 inches.
- Brakes: Linear pull.
- Frame material: Carbon fiber.
- Weight: 18.3 pounds.
For triathletes wanting to ride with their families, I think this bike could be the right fit.
I wouldn’t call this a bike for kids. In my experience, children prefer a more comfortable, fully upright cycling position. But as kids transition into young teens, onto road bikes, this could be a pick.
This aluminum cycle has sizes ranging from extra small, to extra large. That means this one bicycle will suit heights 4’10–6’6! An excellent array for triathletes and their families of any height.
Another reason I think it’s suitable for families is its aluminum crafting. This is a lightweight material, but not costly. So, it won’t be too pricey to replace the bicycle as young teens rapidly become adult-sized.
It also shouldn’t be too heavy for the family—the large size weighs only 21 pounds. This denotes that smaller sizes will be even lighter. Easily handled by young teens, who often carry backpacks ranging from 18–30 pounds anyway!
Lastly, I think the flat handlebars will suit almost any rider. You can lean forward as if they’re drops. But, they also allow for a slightly more upright position than a typical road cycle.
So, once again, it’s excellent for triathletes looking to relax and ride with the family. You could get a matching set!
- Comes in an array of sizes, to suit anyone.
- Great pick for triathletes looking to teach teens about road riding.
- Comes in two non-divisive colors.
- Allows for a semi-upright or dropped riding position.
- The single-speed makes this great for learners, and triathletes looking for a break from the many gears of triathlon bikes.
- Customers report that this bike requires lots of maintenance.
- Some users found the seat extremely uncomfortable.
- The pedals aren’t great—consider replacing them.
- Wheel size: Varies.
- Brakes: Caliper.
- Frame material: Aluminum.
- Weight: Varies, large size weighs 21 pounds.
I feel this is a fantastic road bike for commuting triathletes. Perhaps you train somewhere away from home, and keep your training bike there. Or maybe, you just want to enjoy cycling as a hobby on the way to a day job.
The cycle is a balance between road and triathlon, because it’s not wholly a road bike. Due to the single speed and the straight bar, it’s technically a hybrid bike, but built for the road.
It’s also heavier than a typical road bicycle, but not as heavy as a triathlon cycle. Steel is a heavier material, and forms its construction. So although the exact weight is unspecified, I can speculate. Plus, the package it comes in weighs 35 pounds.
The wheels are further from what you’re used to. Unlike strictly road bicycles, the front wheel is larger than the back. This is great for boosting power and stability over rough terrain—and as we know, potholes can be an issue on roads!
The larger, less aerodynamic front wheel shouldn’t hinder your speed. You’re a triathlete—you know how to gather and maintain speed.
- Large front wheel adds stability.
- Heavier weight is reminiscent of triathlon bicycles.
- Straight handlebars allow for a range of cycling positions.
- More comfortable seat than many road bikes.
- Sturdy steel frame.
- Plain yet chic color options.
- Single speed may be hard to adjust to for seasoned triathletes.
- Riding flat with straight handlebars may put pressure on the forearms.
- Buyers found the assembly instructions difficult.
- Wheel size: Unspecified.
- Brakes: Caliper.
- Frame material: Steel.
- Weight: About 30 pounds.
I feel that this is the bicycle to get if you’re looking for a higher end, yet still affordable, road bike.
Taking a break from hybrids for a moment, this is a true road bike, In my opinion, it’s an excellent downgrade for a retired triathlete, wanting something fantastic, but not wow-worthy.
One middling feature is the speed options. There are 14—more than the typical 10 on triathlete bicycles, but fewer than my top pick. For me, it’s plenty, it can tackle a hill, some bumps, and the general road.
The speeds can handle whatever you throw at them—as can the wheels. At 28 inches, they’re close to what you’d expect from a road bike. This is large enough to handle a lot, while they remain thin for aerodynamics purposes.
To sum it up, this is the perfect step down from a triathlon cycle in my mind.
- Large wheels for great support.
- Lightweight material with a sturdier one where it counts, in the fork.
- Thicker seat than many road bikes, for added comfort.
- Stylish color options, red and purple.
- Not too pricey for its quality.
- Excellent range of gears.
- Some carbon fiber, sturdy but light, would be nice for the price.
- Users found the tubes needed replacing soon after purchase.
- Difficult to assemble.
- Wheel size: 28 inches.
- Brakes: Caliper.
- Frame material: Aluminum, with steel fork.
- Weight: Over 25 pounds, approximately.
We’re ending with another hybrid cycle made for the road. The only element that reveals its hybrid nature is the straight handlebars, and slightly comfier seat.
This is a lightweight for the material, yet strong bicycle with a steel frame. The frame is durable to handle city riding, where it’s easy to pick up a ding or a scratch or two.
I feel the handlebars are perfect for city riding. On busy streets, you need to be cautious and watch at all times. I find it’s easier to do this from an upright position.
Being single speed, I feel it’s also safer. You never have to worry that you’ll be going too fast, and unable to change gears in time. With this cycle, you always know what you’re getting.
If you’re a triathlete looking for a sensible, higher-end bicycle for city riding, I feel this is the perfect pick for you.
- Limited lifetime warranty.
- Single speed keeps it simple.
- Durable frame.
- You can switch between coasting and fixie riding.
- Straight bars are great for city riding.
- Only one color option.
- Lightweight for steel, but heavy for a road cycle.
- Requires expertise to build.
- Wheel size: Unspecified.
- Brakes: Caliper.
- Frame material: Steel.
- Weight: 31 pounds.
The Best Road Bikes for Triathletes Conclusion
There are five fantastic finds here, that in my opinion fulfill a specific purpose well. But the overall best in my mind is the Savadeck HERD6.0 T800 Road Bike.
It embodies everything a road bike should be, in comparison to a triathlon bike. I find its speed, visual and overall configuration to be splendid. It’s an excellent example of a more casual bicycle for a triathlete—and I think it may even be suitable for triathlons in an emergency. Although, it’s a little light for that.