How to Choose a Bicycle for Triathlon

Last Updated on July 9, 2020

How to Choose a Bicycle for Triathlon? With the idea that “every second count,” the time trial bicycles appeared more than 25 years ago. Bikes that during these years have undergone a great evolution and have led them to be one of the most necessary things in the world of cycling.

The much-coveted “goats,” as they are known in the world of cycling. Those machines created and designed with the clear goal of achieving through aerodynamics gain the maximum possible seconds to the clock.

how to choose a bicycle for triathlon

Goats are a real visual pleasure for bicycle lovers, and the truth is that their price and their price does not stop growing, especially since they are used as bicycles for a triathlon.

In this article we are going to compare you to that type of bicycles so concrete: analyzing the main differences between the triathlon and route bicycles, making clear which bicycle is best for each triathlon modality (Olympic triathlon, sprint or for long-distance), the explanation of how to adopt a road bike to triathlon, in addition to offering a selection of the best bikes for triathlon initiation.

Differences Between a Triathlon Bike and Road Bike

Here we present the main differences between a triathlon bike and a road bike, focusing on the characteristics of a triathlon bike.

Firstly, we must pay attention to the name. Although, as is logical, both are bicycles for cycling, it is usually linked to cycling, the classic road or road bike, while the famous goats are used to connecting the practice of triathlon or the time trial. Now, let’s go to the mess:


The big difference lies in the geometry, or what is the same, in the design of the bike. Bicycles for triathlon are more aggressive in the aesthetic sense of the word.

They usually present a position of the saddle a little more advanced with respect to the axis of the pedal, making it easier to maintain a more relaxed posture of the upper trunk and to work more muscularly with the quadriceps than with the hamstrings.

In addition, the position more advanced of the cyclist, and the fact of being closer to the handlebar allows us to roll in a more aerodynamic position and thus facilitate the support in the triathlon couplings.

Aerodynamics and Wheels

Another big difference between the two types of bicycle lies in the aerodynamics. Bikes for triathlon are much more aerodynamic, with the clear idea of reducing the resistance of the wind against them as much as possible.

In the same sense focused on aerodynamics appear differences in the wheels. The wheels triathlon, tend to present much more profile, while road cycling bikes have a lower profile.

Some triathletes decide to ride their bicycles for triathlon with a lenticular wheel. The lenticular wheel is a totally compact wheel, without spokes, and is used above all in flat and windless terrain.

However, most triathletes use conventional wheels to train. These provide more stability, greater durability, and are much cheaper.


The development is another differential aspect between both bicycles.  The gear As much of the dishes as of the cassette, it is considerably larger in the triathlon bikes than in the route bicycles.

The road bike is usually marketed with the compact development (50 teeth on the big plate and 36 on the small one), although some less prepared people choose to mount the triple plate and others more prepared decide to mount for the competition the classic development (53 × 39). On the other hand,  most triathlon bikes are already assembled with the development 53 × 39, or even with a 54 large plate.

These differences make a logical sense:  triathlon bikes tend to roll on flat terrain, where the speed is higher, and a larger development allows you to print more strength in each stroke, while conventional bicycles have to be prepared for all land and to climb the great slopes of mountain passes.

This choice has a special effect on the cadence. With a higher development, it will be more complicated to maintain the optimal pedaling frequency while with smaller plates and bigger sprockets it will be easier to maintain the agility of pedaling and to roll in the best zones of cadence for each terrain.

Differences in the Handlebar

At a visual level, the first thing you notice is the difference between handlebars. The road bike has a conventional handlebar, the classically curved handlebar with the shift and brake levers, while the triathlon bike has an elongated handlebar, with a shorter width and two long protruding bars.

These “bars” are the couplings, also known as aero bars, and allow the cyclist to roll in a more aerodynamic posture, with the body more stretched, thus reducing the impact of air with the body.

how to choose a bicycle for triathlon


The concept of aerodynamics is not usually linked to comfort. Generally, they are terms with opposing forces: if we win in one, we will be losing in the other.

Triathlon bikes are far less comfortable and manageable than traditional road bikes because the posture above them greatly punishes the back. So, if we have back problems, suffer some muscle injury or just looking for fun, the best thing to do is buy a road bike.


The regulations, especially in the case of triathlon, must be taken into account before making a decision. In sprint and Olympic distances, the use of “goats” is generally not allowed, but in the long and medium distance modes (Ironman and half Ironman) the use of these bicycles is allowed.

The main reason for this aspect of the regulation is in the danger that exists when rolling in a group, and in the dangerousness of the couplings, those “horns” that protrude from the bicycle and that in case of fall could be nailed to any other participant.

Mixed Road and Triathlon Bike. How to Adopt a Road Bike to Triathlon?

Given these variants and due to the high economic value of buying a triathlon bike, there is the possibility of buying a mixed bike between triathlon and road bike. What would be a hybrid road-triathlon bicycle?

This system of mixed couplings makes them the best choice for bicycles to start triathlon. The system is ideal for newcomers to triathlon and for those who, for one reason or another, do not have two bicycles.

The mixed system consists of “adapting” a road bike to triathlon. Generally, the changes that are made are the assembly of some couplings in the handlebar that allow the triathlete to be fitted when necessary, thus preserving the developments and characteristics of a road bike, and the introduction of profile wheels to gain aerodynamics.

The best models to turn them into mixed or hybrid bicycles are those that already have a quite aerodynamic geometry with tubes in “racing” format. So that. Some couplings and profile wheels are the first step to transform your road bike into a “goat” for a triathlon.

If you want cheap triathlon couplings to start practicing this sport and start to feel what it is to do a trailer, you can buy some at a very good price here.  If we had to choose a specific model of cheap couplings for triathlon bicycle handlebars, perfectly compatible with all bicycles, we would opt for West Biking.



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