Triathlon Bike vs Road Bike

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This can be a confusing topic for many people. What’s the difference between a triathlon bike and a road bike, and which should I buy?

Here’s a quick video to explain the differences.

YouTube player

And here’s a chart to guide you on which to buy:

triathlon bike vs road bike
Chart showing the differences between a triathlon bike and a road bike

A few key differences:

  • A tri bike places the cyclist further forward, and more weight on the arms
  • The geometry of a tri bike can help preserve the athlete’s leg muscles for the run, later
  • Tri bikes often have storage for things like water, food, tools, spare tubes
  • Tri bikes put aerodynamics above weight
  • The bike position on a tri bike may take considerable adjustments in order to get right (aero + comfortable)
  • Tri bikes are typically not known for climbing due to their weight and position where you have little arm leverage
  • Some regard tri bikes as being dangerous – the handling is often twitchy
  • TT bikes, or time trial bikes, are pretty much the same thing, but are designed for bike-only races, not multisport races (no swim, no run) and thus are often shorter and don’t have hydration or food storage
  • Tri bikes, unlike TT bikes, do not all have to be UCI legal

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