Making the decision to undergo a triathlon is a massive one and one that typically requires a great deal of thought, consideration, and planning. This includes mapping out a training program, getting to grips with the routes and requirements, and, of course, purchasing and breaking in new equipment.
While new gear may be essential for your training in the running and swimming elements, there is one activity where this will make the biggest difference: the triathlon.
Choosing the right bike in this section can make or break your whole triathlon, and so is a decision that needs to be taken seriously.
The issue is that there are a huge number of triathlon bikes on the market, and they all claim to be the best. With so many options, making the right decision for your event can be a challenge, especially for beginners, or those seeking an entry-level option.
Fortunately for you, we have decided to take the hard work out of your hands and put together a list of the very best triathlon bikes for both beginners and more experienced riders.
Whether this is your first triathlon, or you are looking to break a personal best, read on for everything you need to know to make a smart, informed decision, and choose from our premier picks. All you have to do is focus on your success!
OUR TOP PICK
When you are just starting out on your triathlon journey, the chances are that you will be prioritizing ease and comfort over speed - in the early days, you are mostly getting used to the sensation and experience of a triathlon and, as you will soon learn, comfort is key!
OUR TOP PICK
With amazing shock absorption and an easy-to-use gear system, this Nishiki mountain bike is a great place to start your triathlon journey.
It also has the added bonus of being super durable and built to last, allowing you to invest in a bike that will grow alongside you as you gain more experience and confidence with triathlon.
A heat-treated steel frame and 60mm travel fork offer a stable, comfortable ride, while aluminum wheels and 26-inch tires help you stay balanced and focused no matter how tricky the terrain.
Comfort is also key with this model - the sport saddle seat is specifically designed for longer rides and will keep you comfortable for mile after mile.
When you are starting out in triathlons, you may be surprised at how uncomfortable you get, and how quickly this can occur, and so a dedicated sport seat is an absolute must.
- 26-inch tires and aluminum wheels allow you to tackle any terrain
- Heat-treated steel frame for a long-lasting bike
- Sturdy and durable to help you keep your balance
- Stay comfortable with a sport seat
- Shimano drivetrain allows you to tackle slopes and hills with ease
- A little pricier than some other options
If hybrid bikes are more your thing, then the Anasazi model is the perfect pick for you.
Hybrid bikes are becoming increasingly popular in the world of triathlons, and this option is ideal if your route includes uneven or bumpy terrain or unstable riding conditions.
The frame is made from hard-wearing, durable aluminum, allowing you to cruise smoothly and easily, whether you are navigating smooth city pathways or bumpy, narrow single tracks.
In addition, 700C wheels are tough and durable, allowing you to navigate rocky trails as easily as you would your local sidewalk.
The Anasazi is also great for beginners thanks to the inclusion of an 8-speed Shimano drivetrain - not enough to leave you feeling overwhelmed or confused, but plenty to allow you to stay in total control with every turn of the pedals.
Tektro Novela brake discs help you stop immediately for safety, and this bike is sure to be your new best friend when you hit those triathlon trails for the first time.
It is also a great cost saver - rather than invest in multiple bikes for different routes, this single unit can handle it all.
- Super-versatile - covers a range of terrains
- 700C wheels keep you balanced and even - even when competing on rough terrains
- 8-speed Shimano drivetrain for greater control
- Quality Tektro Novela brake discs for extra safety
- Hardwearing and durable for added longevity
- Quite expensive for a first or early bike
Smooth, sleek, and comfortable enough for long distances, there are plenty of reasons that this Tamarack bike is a top choice for many cyclists every single year.
When it comes to comfort, you will not find a better option, and - as we mentioned - this is a quality that is too often overlooked when it comes to choosing a bike; usually to the detriment of the competitor!
As well as comfort, you can also enjoy plenty of power thanks to a 7-speed Shimano drivetrain, allowing you to cruise easily no matter the terrain.
Durability is another key advantage of this model, with a Hi-Ten steel frame and 60mm travel fork offering a great combination of longevity and power, while the inclusion of a gel comfort saddle keeps you in the correct position, protects your posture, and helps to ensure a more comfortable ride.
As an added bonus, you can benefit from super soft, triple-density grip handles for extra comfort while on the go.
- Built for comfort with a gel comfort saddle
- Triple-density grip handlebars offer extra support and comfort
- 7-speed Shimano drivetrain puts you in charge
- Hi-Ten steel frame is built to last
- Great price for new competitors
- Does not come with a kickstand included
Experienced Riders/The Best of the Best
Whether you have been training for a while and want to upgrade your existing bike, or are simply keen to grab the best model from the outset - and have the budget to do so - let’s take a look at the bikes at the higher end of the budget, aimed at more experienced competitors.
If you are looking to kick things up a notch, this Aggressor Pro bike from GT is an ideal option.
The inclusion of a 6061-T6 triple triangle frame, crafted from quality aluminum, means that this is one of the most durable, hardy options on the market, and will stand you in good stead for a number of years to come - no matter how hard you push it on the trail.
An 80mm travel suspension fork means that the bike handles like a dream, and can be used to its full advantage by someone who knows how to handle it.
With a 21-speed drivetrain, you can be confident that you will be able to tackle any elevation with skill and ease, making this perfect for ever-changing trails and terrain.
As an added bonus, the 160 millimeter mechanical disc brake system allows you to stop at a moment's notice - providing that you have the skills to stay on.
Overall this is a tough, durable and powerful bike - perfect for those looking to take their PB to the next level, or even go all the way and secure a win.
- 21-speed drivetrain allows you to handle a range of elevations and terrains
- 160mm mechanical brake distance makes stopping fast and easy
- Very durable and long-lasting
- Stunning design to help you stand out from the crowd
- Very lightweight and easy to handle
- Can be quite noisy when in use
If you are facing a race that is likely to include uneven terrain, then the GT Avalanche bike is the ideal option for your needs.
Smooth 29 inch tires keep you safe, even, and well balanced, even when tackling tough and uneven terrain or complex routes.
The inclusion of a front coil spring suspension fork also helps to make your ride smoother and more comfortable - this is important when you are facing travel across an enormous number of miles.
As well as giving you the comfort to tackle a lengthy race, the Avalanche also offers plenty of power with a 27-speed drivetrain for an effortless ride, and hydraulic disc brakes allow you to stop safely when the route dictates it.
When it comes to investing in a bike to last, this is also a great pick - a durable 6061-T6 aluminum triple triangle frame keeps you stable, efficient and ensures that your bike will stand the test of time.
- Very comfortable, even over long distances
- Durable, sturdy frame - an investment build to last
- 6061-T6 aluminum triple triangle frame keeps you balanced on the road
- 29-inch tires help keep you smooth and comfortable on the route
- 27 speeds for amazing versatility
- Quite pricey compared to other models
For the ultimate control and stopping power, no matter your route, this Schwinn mountain bike should be on top of your list.
A Schwinn suspension fork, coupled with an aluminum mountain frame, is ideal for managing bumps and crevices on your track, keeping you focused, on balance, and on course for a win, and 75.5-inch all-terrain tires offer extra comfort and stability - both important when you are traversing long distances.
Speed and power are also provided thanks to a 21-speed drivetrain, giving you the flexibility and power that you need to get ahead of the pack.
If you need to stop in a hurry, you can rest assured that you are in full control with front and rear v brakes.
This is a bike that allows you to take total charge of your race and is a must-have for anyone looking to take their triathlon success to the next level.
- All-terrain tires keep you on course at all times, no matter how bumpy the road
- 21-speed drivetrain offers total control over your speed and power
- Frame is durable, sturdy, and build to last
- Front and rear v brakes make it easy to stop
- Warranty for parts only lasts for 30 days
Start off on the right pedal with this quality model from Eurobike, and make sure that you speed ahead of the competition in no time!
A 21-speed transmission system means that you are able to handle pretty much anything the course has to throw at you, and, in the hands of an experienced, confident cyclist, this can be the difference between a win and a loss.
The inclusion of curved handlebars is also an advantage, reducing the resistance you encounter from riding strokes, and saving you precious energy - this can be very useful when you have to tackle the run ahead. In addition, the position and design of the handlebars also helps to increase your speed.
A high-carbon steel frame is sturdy, durable and strong enough to withstand multiple races, while still remaining light enough to help you move quickly.
The inclusion of 700C wheels also allows you to tackle everything from flat roads to dirt tracks, sloping terrain to high winds with ease and confidence.
- 70CC tires allow you to tackle a range of terrains
- Curved handlebars increase speed and reduce resistance
- Designed to reduce fatigue where possible, allowing you to conserve energy
- 21-speed transmission is ideal for a range of weather and road conditions
- Sturdy, durable frame
- A little heavier than other options
For a slick, super high-quality machine that is guaranteed to put you ahead of the competition, this road bike from industry leaders Schwinn is a must-have investment.
If you are already confident on your bike, but looking to go further and faster, then this is an ideal option, and every inch of the model is designed for superior performance every time.
A full Shimano 105 22-speed drivetrain allows you to tackle any terrain with total confidence, while the inclusion of a Shimano 105 50/34Y compact crank and shifters will put you streets ahead of your rivals.
The frame is made from quality carbon for a sturdy, lightweight finish, while the race carbon fork comes with carbon tapered steerer to give you those precious extra seconds.
The tires of the model are designed to get you over that finish line first, and are versatile enough to adhere to any surface with ease - no matter how many races you compete in, you will only need one bike.
As an added bonus, the seat and saddle are designed for maximum comfort, allowing you to hit the ground running on your run.
- Designed and manufactured by industry leaders
- Comfortable enough for a long triathlon ride
- Shimano 22-speed drivetrain for plenty of choice
- Lightweight carbon frame is built to last
- Offers a faster finish for longer
- Very expensive compared to other models.
Best Triathlon Bikes Buying Guide
So, now that we have taken the time to consider the very best bikes on the market, just how do you go about finding the perfect model for your race? Fortunately for you, we have put together the ultimate guide to help you make a smart, confident, and informed decision.
There are a number of factors to consider when making your purchase, and we will explore these in greater detail below.
Geometry and Seat Angle
Geometry plays a major part in helping any bike to fulfill its intended purpose - and this is particularly important for triathlon bikes, which need to play a number of roles.
They need to be comfortable enough for riders to stay on for lengthy, extended periods of time while remaining in an aerodynamic position.
In addition, the bike needs to be comfortable enough to allow the rider to run comfortably when they dismount.
The seat tube angle is one of the most important considerations here; this refers to the angle that the seat tube is at, in relation to the ground.
Place an imaginary straight line between the front and rear dropouts, and measure the seat tube angle against this.
Seat angles will not change much and, as a general rule, will sit at between 71 and 74 degrees, depending on the model.
As a rule, triathlon bikes will have a steeper seat tube angle compared to road bikes, and will typically be between 74 degrees. Some models may even reach 80 degrees or even higher.
You can adjust and influence the seat tube angle by changing the saddle set back position, making it steeper or slacker, so make sure that you have plenty of options if this is important to you.
The more intense the seat angle, the more the hamstrings and glutes are engaged through each pedal stroke.
This not only offers greater power but saves the quadriceps for the running portion of the triathlon, increasing your chance of success overall.
As an added bonus, the seat angle also allows riders to maintain an optimum aerodynamic position, as well as reduce their frontal profile - this can reduce the surface area that is meeting the wind, and shave precious seconds off your time.
While it is relatively easy to adopt this position, it can be tricky to maintain over an extended period, especially if your hips and lower back are not particularly flexible.
Many triathlon bikes will also come with longer top tubes, and elongated reach, and, once again, this can be advantageous for your posture.
Both features stretch the rider out further, allowing you to achieve a more aggressive, horizontal position.
There are two benefits here - the first is that you will be more aerodynamic - more on this later - and the second is that your weight will be more evenly distributed between the two wheels, allowing for better balance and a more comfortable ride.
As we mentioned, seat angle makes a large difference in your chances of success when competing in a triathlon, and has an impact on your posture.
In order to help you attain and maintain the right posture while racing, many triathlon bikes will have slightly shorter crank lengths than road bikes.
This, in turn, impacts their ability to use and adopt specific types of saddles, which can better cater for and support the more pronounced anterior pelvic tilt that comes when you bend forward on the bike.
When the saddle is adapted, the angle of the hips can open up more widely, and this makes it more comfortable to retain the position for an extended period of time - such as a triathlon race.
As a result, it is a good idea to opt for a bike that offers a shorter crank length, as this will improve your comfort during the race.
As we have mentioned elsewhere, aerodynamics are a crucial element of triathlon bikes.
In some races, being able to gain a seemingly tiny advantage will add up once you have clocked up the hours and miles in the saddle.
In many models, aerodynamics are enhanced by making the most of oversized tube profiles on the front forks, seat tube, and down tube, which help the wind to pass alongside the bike more smoothly, and with less deviation - this can otherwise slow you down and hold you back by causing turbulent air flow and increasing your overall drag.
Some manufacturers may also cut the “tail” from an oversized tube profile to reduce the overall weight of the bike - this also creates a stiffer, sturdier structure, and mimics the look, feel, and experience of an oversized tube profile.
If you are looking to maximize your chances of a win, then it is a good idea to consider aerodynamics as a matter of priority, and opt for a model which makes the most of oversized tube profiles.
A small advantage in the type of bike could see you enjoying huge gains on race day, so choose wisely.
Storage is another important and interesting element to consider when choosing your bike, as it needs to be carefully implemented and designed in order to maintain a focus on advantageous aerodynamics.
Due to the nature of the races, triathlon bikes will need to incorporate more significant amounts of storage, while still making sure that the bike gives you an advantage in the competition.
Many models will “hide” or integrate a number of key elements, including storage, as well as cables and brakes.
When you buy a triathlon bike, you will generally notice that brakes at the front of the bike are located inside the forks, behind the forks, or hidden behind the fairings.
Those brakes at the back of the bike will be placed out of the way of the wind, underneath the bottom bracket area, or in partial tube cutouts located on the seat stays.
In some cases, the cables may also be placed internally - this not only helps to aid aerodynamics and keeps you flying along, but it also reduces the risk of the cables becoming damaged by environmental factors - this can be particularly important if you are competing on unforgiving terrain.
In addition to considering the integration of cables and brakes, you also need to consider the integration of storage systems for other essentials, including fluid, nutrition, and tools - these can make or break your triathlon experience.
The design of triathlon bikes has come a long way from the days of rear water bottle holders, located awkwardly behind the seat, extra saddle bags located on the sides, or chunky storage cases placed on the top tube for food.
These days, designers and manufacturers have more sophisticated options, and this mainly involves integrating storage solutions into the bike design.
As an example, there are models available that allow you to carry water in the actual frame of the bike - this eliminates the need for a water bottle and can be incredible for improving your aerodynamics.
Integrated food storage is also an option, with clever slots designed to fit nicely between the front and rear wheels, or the seat tube and rear wheel.
When you are looking for your bike, take some time to consider how important storage is for you.
While grabbing all the bells and whistles can be exciting, this is also likely to come with a high price tag, and this can be intimidating for newbies.
Most entry levels will be able to give you what you need, including steerer tube, traditional fork, stem, and handlebar combination, but are unlikely to offer more sophisticated storage solutions.
While this can put you at a disadvantage in terms of aerodynamics, it does mean that such models are easier to maintain and adjust, and this is important when you are still learning, or new to the sport.
The more expensive bikes, however, are likely to come with complex storage setups - this boosts aerodynamics, but can make maintaining and adjusting your bike trickier. Ultimately, the best option here will depend on your own personal preferences.
Frame Shape and Size
Bike manufacturers may also enhance the aerodynamics of the bike by altering and adjusting the frame shape for the best results, focusing on dropping downtubes to reduce the space between the front wheel and the downtube - this helps to improve airflow.
Other models may use dropped seat stays, which helps to limit the extent to which the frontal area contracts the wind, and reduces the drag on the bike, allowing you to maintain your speed. In some models, the seat stay has been eliminated to give you the ultimate edge.
The wheels of your bike will also play a part in your decision, especially if aerodynamics and speed are your main concerns.
As a general rule, the deeper the wheel profile, the more aerodynamic the bike.
There is a flip side to this, however - deeper wheel profiles also make the bike a little trickier to handle, as side wind will have a greater impact compared to a shallower rim.
In addition, the extra material required for a deeper wheel profile can make the ride harsher and less comfortable, due to the lack of comfort offered by the deeper wheel.
As a result, this may not be the best option for beginners, or those who seek to prioritize comfort over everything else during their ride.
As we have mentioned, comfort is key when you are competing in a triathlon, and you need to find a bike that you are happy to ride for miles at a time.
During these competitions, you can expect to be riding for anything upwards of 90km, and this can take a few hours for hardened pros, or over six hours for ultimate events such as an Ironman - you need to make sure that you are comfortable in the saddle, and not exerting too much energy.
In addition, you will need to hop straight off your bike and into a minimum run of 20km, so staying comfortable is crucial.
For this reason, a test ride is an essential part of buying a new bike -this is the only way that you will really get a feel for the model.
Try and get the bike for more than just a quick spin; ideally, you will need a few hours, or a weekend if possible, to try and stimulate the types of conditions you will be facing on the race.
Event expos are a great chance to try out different bikes; demonstrators and sponsors will typically have a range of models to try, allowing you to make the best decision.
Alternatively, try and call up the places you are interested in purchasing from - they may have demo models available to try.
No two competitors or cyclists are made the same - every human comes with unique body composition, shape, type, and size, not to mention a range of mobility and flexibility.
As a result of this, you need to ensure that the bike you choose can be adjusted quickly and easily, allowing you to adjust your position as and when required.
The most important element here is to start off with a bike that is the perfect size, to allow you to adjust as needed.
The best triathlon bikes offer a range of levels for cockpit adjustment (not merely forward and back), and will allow for the front pads to be moved forward, backward, further apart, or closer together, as well as up and down as your needs change.
When making your purchase, check that you are happy with how the adjustability works and that there is enough “give” for you to be comfortable.
We have briefly touched upon the importance of the right saddle, and this cannot be overestimated - you will need a triathlon-specific saddle for optimum results.
While this is not quite so critical for newbies and beginners, experienced riders will find that a triathlon-specific saddle offers a more bent, aggressive posture when on the bike, as well as a more prominent anterior pelvic tilt for the optimum position.
In addition, these saddles tend to be shorter than those for traditional bikes and offer greater comfort thanks to a cutout section in the middle.
This works to alleviate pressure on the softer tissue of the pelvis - this is compressed when using a standard saddle on a non-specialist bike.
Shape of Extensions
Another point of consideration is the shape of the TT extensions - this can play a large role in how comfortable you are on the bike.
Extensions come in a variety of shapes, including pointing upwards, straight, or curved, and the best option here is really personal preference - the priority is to keep the wrist in a neutral position, with right angles at the shoulders and elbows.
In this position, you will have more than adequate support for the upper body, and can cycle without worrying about restricting your blood flow, or impinging any nerves - this can be very painful.
When you are purchasing a standard bike, your “gear talk” will focus on ranges and ratios. For a triathlon bike, however, you will be focusing on whether you opt for a mechanical or electronic - and the latter tends to be the best option for a triathlon bike.
This frees up your hands - there is no need to move your hands to the bar ends to shift gears - and also removes the lengthy cable routing process, as the cabling is all internal.
Electronic gearing also offers sharper bends and longer tube lengths, and some have extras, including offering the chance to change gear from the brake bars and the TT extension.
New innovations and ideas are constantly growing and evolving, and for experienced riders who are looking to win, the gearing and gear system will be a major consideration.
Perhaps one of the largest factors in your decision will be budget. As a rule, those who are new to triathlons, or entering their first race, can afford to opt for a lower-end model.
Here, the focus is often on simply completing the race, and so you will not see much benefit from the extras that come with top-end models.
For those at the top of their game, however, or who are chasing a win, remember that it can all come down to quarter seconds in the final event, so opting for the best bike you can afford may be a smart move - especially if this promises to help with your aerodynamics, speed, and power.
Choosing the right bike for your triathlon can be tricky, but will ultimately depend on your goals, the level of experience, and the budget that you have to spend.
Remember when it comes to a triathlon, comfort is key, so take the time to make sure that you find the perfect bike for your needs, and you will be well on your way to success!
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