Looking for a triathlon bike to start racing?
How much do you need to spend on a time trial bike? Can you use a road bike, or do you need a designated triathlon bike?
This guide will take you through everything you need to know.
Whether you’re looking for an entry level triathlon bike for your first race or you’re looking for a pro-quality time trial bike, there are options for you.
If you’re in a hurry, here are the best triathlon bikes you can buy right now:
What Is Special About a Triathlon Bike?
Triathlon bikes and time-trial bikes are similar to road bikes, but there are some important distinctions.
Despite these, many triathletes opt for a road bike due to affordability. If you’re a beginner, I recommend going for a road bike instead of a triathlon bike.
If you’ve ever seen a bike designed specifically for triathlon or time trial, you’ll know they look different. Where road bikes generally have highly similar forms and tube widths, triathlon bikes get more experimental.
Triathlon and time trial bikes often have large but lightweight tubes and look strange and eye-catching to an outside viewer. The Felt 2019 IA10 Carbon Triathlon Bike is an example of such triathlon bikes.
Seat Tube Angle
A triathlon bike and a road bike have different seat tube angles. This is the tube that goes from the bottom bracket to the seat post.
A road bike’s seat tube usually has about a 72 to 76-degree angle, while a triathlon bike or a time trial bike has a more upright seat tube. They angle 78 degrees and over.
This angle on time trial bikes helps keep your riding position even more aerodynamic than on a road bike. Triathlon bikes’ aero position is also designed to help you transfer energy straight to your legs with the smallest possible effort to not tire them out.
You need that power in your quadriceps for your run, so the smallest possible energy expenditure during your bike leg is key.
Triathlon bikes and time trial bikes, especially those meant for longer distances, like Ironman races, also consider storage needs. The bike design has to accommodate your gear and hydration system.
Triathlon bikes and time trial bikes have an even more aerodynamic position than common road bikes, which use a slightly more upward sitting position. They’re designed and tested using a wind tunnel to minimize every bit of aerodynamic drag that could hinder your performance.
Everything on the best triathlon and time trial bikes, from the handlebars to the internal cable routing, is for maximum performance.
What to Consider When Buying a Triathlon Bike
Take into account the below factors as you narrow your search for the best triathlon bike or time trial bike for you:
If you do faster, shorter races, you should prioritize an aerodynamic riding position. The bike can be heavier than a traditional road bike, and you don’t need to think about comfort like on a long ride.
In long races, such as Ironman and other high-level endurance races, you can get away with a more upright position. Focus on finding a lightweight bike that will help you maintain your energy throughout that mileage.
Comfort is also more important when riding longer distances, so pick thicker handlebars and a more padded saddle.
Your Riding Level
If you’re just getting into triathlon or time trial riding, you should consider the budget. You might not want to invest in a top-level bike or one that’s specific for triathlons and time trials, as they’re often very expensive.
I recommend buying an entry-level road racing bike for your first triathlon. They’re not as aerodynamic and specialized as triathlon bikes and TT bikes, but they’re also designed for riding long distances at high speeds.
The two most important factors in the best triathlon bikes are speed and energy expenditure, but you shouldn’t overlook the frame material.
I recommend going for the lightest bike frame material to save your energy and move faster:
- Aluminum: If you’re on a budget, aluminum is a lightweight bike frame option that’s usually much lower in price than other frame materials.
- Carbon fiber: Featherlight and commonly used in the best triathlon bikes and time trial bikes. A carbon frame is more expensive than an aluminum one.
- Titanium: The toughest and most durable bike frame material but tends to be higher end and quite expensive.
The Reviews: What Bike Is Best For Triathlon?
For me, these are the best triathlon bikes on the market today.
I’ve mainly included road bikes that transform well into triathlon bikes and time trial bikes, with all budget options. I also have some other options in my review of the best road bikes for triathlons if the below don’t meet your needs.
The Savadeck Warwinds 3.0 is a top-quality carbon road bike for an excellent price, and is my choice for the best triathlon bike.
The frame, seat post and fork are all carbon fiber, making this option featherlight at 21.6 pounds. Customers specifically mention that it’s stiff to ride, meaning it’s faster on well-paved roads, but it can tire you out faster.
The bike comes with Shimano Sora shifters and derailleurs, which are mid-range but durable, and Michelin Pro 700C tires. The tires have low rolling resistance, so you can get to full speed without your tires weighing you down.
Everything about this bike is aerodynamically contoured, from the seatpost to the handlebars. It also has internal routing for an even better aerodynamic performance during your triathlon.
Contrary to many road bikes, this model comes with aluminum pedals. Customers comment on how they’re much lower quality than the rest of the bike, but most riders change them for their preferred model anyway.
Overall, it’s a great option for triathletes who want to buy their first race-level road bike. The price point is impressive for this level of a road bike, especially one with a carbon frame. It rides and looks like a much more expensive bike!
- Easy to reach high speeds.
- Excellent first racing bike for long distances.
- Lightweight at 21.6 pounds.
- Shimano Sora shifters and derailleurs.
- The included pedals are of poor quality.
- Bike type: Road.
- Weight: 21.6 pounds.
- Frame: Carbon fiber.
- Gears: 18.
The 24-speed Tommaso Imola is a reliable road bike that’s not the cheapest option on the market but is a good mid-range choice. In particular, it has an aluminum frame, which isn’t the most durable but is great for entry-level triathlon cyclists.
It comes with a full Shimano Claris R2000 groupset that has a long-lasting quality but isn’t the top-of-the-line model. While customers mention the lack of gear quality, this does help with affordability.
Even so, this bike offers a comfortable ride for long-distance triathlons—the handlebar drop is subtle, so you won’t get too uncomfortable when you’re in the lower position.
Also, if you want to keep gear with you on your bike, the frame has drilled holes for fenders, racks and other common accessories.
Be aware, though, that customers mention the pedal quality could be much better, swapping them for a higher quality pair.
- Reliable and responsive.
- Comfortable riding position.
- Easy to customize for carrying gear.
- Great as an entry-level bike.
- Comes with cheap pedals you’ll likely have to change.
- The gears aren’t top quality.
- Bike type: Road.
- Weight: 23.8 pounds.
- Frame: Aluminum.
- Gears: 24.
For those starting on their triathlon training, this 16-speed Schwinn Phocus is an excellent place to start.
It’s a road bike with double-aluminum alloy walls to give the frame extra strength while remaining lightweight. The bike weighs 26 pounds, which customers say is light enough to lift with one hand.
In addition, the Schwinn Phocus has Shimano Claris derailleurs and quality components all around, which isn’t always the case. It also includes aerodynamic handlebars that are comfortable to grip in a long triathlon race.
This entry-level tri bike feels very balanced to ride on and has good ergonomics overall, so you’ll feel comfortable riding it. In particular, customers like how the high-quality aluminum frame feels when riding, and it’s a good investment for triathletes looking for a versatile road bike to start racing with.
On the negative side, some people have found problems with the tire tubes on their first couple of rides. You may have to replace the tubes and make minor adjustments after assembly. Still, that’s a small additional price to pay with such an affordable, high-quality triathlon bike.
- Comfortable and stable.
- Great quality for the price point.
- Easy to gain and maintain speed.
- Assembly issues, you’ll have to adjust the bike before use.
- Some users report problems with the factory tire tubes.
- Bike type: Road.
- Weight: 26 pounds.
- Frame: Aluminum with carbon fiber fork.
- Gears: 16.
While the previous options are excellent, triathlons and time trials shouldn’t only be for those with unlimited resources. This 21-speed Trinx bike is a great option for triathletes on a budget or those looking for a low-priced tri bike for training.
To keep the costs low, the bike has an aluminum frame and the lower-end Shimano A050 shifters and Shimano TZ500 front and rear derailleurs.
They’re still well-made components and should last you a long time, even though they’re not the top-of-the-line options.
Overall, the bike is well-built, and the aluminum frame is light. It weighs about 25 pounds, so it won’t be the fastest triathlon bike on the market, but it’s a good starting point.
If there’s one thing you’ll likely have to change as soon as you get the bike, it’s the rock-hard saddle. This is a common swap when you’re buying a bike online anyway, and it’s a relatively inexpensive upgrade.
Note that this isn’t a high-end bike, and if you get serious about competing, you’ll eventually have to change it. Still, when you’re not sure if you’re going to stick to the sport, this is a good entry-level investment.
- Low price for an entry-level bike.
- Aluminum frame for quality and weight balance.
- Sleek, eye-catching look.
- Likely won’t be the fastest option.
- The seat is uncomfortable.
- Bike type: Road.
- Weight: 25 pounds.
- Frame: Aluminum.
- Gears: 21.
I just had to include this beast of a high-end triathlon bike. It has Felt’s Textreme super lightweight carbon frame and fork that bring the total weight to only 20.7 pounds. It also has that striking appearance of time trial bikes.
In particular, the fork maximizes responsiveness and the pedaling angle to make the most out of every stroke. This way, you won’t lose any power as you’re moving forward during your triathlon.
This tri bike is very balanced, but the aero position also lets you accelerate fast and seamlessly to full speed. For this reason, it’s ideal for use as a TT bike.
In addition, this triathlon bike comes with a higher-end, 22-speed Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain. The Shimano Ultegra Di2 is electronic and gives you faster, seamless shifting.
And the downside? The price!
There’s no doubting that this is a high-quality triathlon bike. So, if you can get a good price on this bike, it’s a great TT bike for serious triathletes.
- Maximum pedaling efficiency.
- Accelerates fast.
- Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting.
- Aerodynamic design all over.
- Responsive steering.
- High-end price tag.
- Bike type: Triathlon/time trial bike.
- Weight: 20.7 pounds.
- Frame: Carbon fiber.
- Gears: 22.
The SAVADECK Warwinds 3.0 Racing Bicycle is my winner out of the best triathlon bikes. It’s fast, lightweight and aerodynamically designed all over for the best performance. The price is also not as high as it could be for this level of road bike.
It’s a good choice for those looking for a bike to start training for a race. Still, it’s not the kind of entry-level model you’ll get frustrated within a year or two after buying your new bike.