The Best Tri Bikes for the Ironman

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In triathlons, anything can go wrong. From traversing open waters with hundreds of other swimmers, to a hamstring pull while running, the sport offers variety, and plenty of opportunity for error. In fact, a bike malfunction during the cycling segment could be a race-ending event. For this reason, choosing the right triathlon bike is an important decision.

Start Simple

bike's wheel image by Ekaterina Sidorenko from

No triathlon is complete without the cycling leg, and to cycle, you need a bike, and not just any bike – you need a good bike, a safe bike. It needs to be a bike that will get you from A to B comfortably, and in one piece. Even if you are an experienced cyclist, finding the right bike to train and race with can be intimidating. The choices alone can stop you dead in your tracks. If you are serious about racing, the right bike is essential, but you don’t need anything fancy to get started, just one with two wheels. As a general rule of thumb, get the bike that is best used for where you plan to ride it. Mountain bikes are popular, so if you have one, just put some road tires on it and take it for a spin to see how it feels. Used bikes are another option – just be sure it is the correct size for you and is in good condition.

Types of Tri Bikes

Road bikes are designed for the road, as the name would imply. A hybrid bike is a cross between a road and mountain bike, and if you are new to riding, a good place to start. There are also women-specific frames, for added comfort. A triathlon bike is basically a road bike with extra features. A triathlon bike, or "tri bike," is lighter and faster, with a lower center of gravity. The aerobars are lower, allowing the rider to tuck-in and become more aerodynamic. The tubing is also built for aerodynamics and offers less wind resistance than mountain or common road bikes. Select a bike that fits you well. As a general rule of thumb for size: When you straddle the bike, there should be about a fist's distance between you and the top tube. If you are in the market for a new bike, visit a reputable bike shop to get properly fitted.

What to Look For

To the amateur cyclist or triathlete, a bike is a bike. For the serious athlete looking to shave time off a personal best, the right bike can make all the difference. The best triathlon bikes are made well and made to last, have seat tube angles that match your body type, aerodynamic frames, and are made of lightweight, aluminum tubing. Fuji is a good example of a bike manufacturer that builds a quality, tri-specific bike, at an affordable price of around $1,500, as of 2011. gave the Fuji Aloha kudos for its solid construction, many amenities, and price tag.

Save Some Money

The average price of a quality triathlon-specific bike is $2,500. If this gives you sticker-shock, know that it is possible to find a good, used racing bike. Visit your local bike shop to see what it has in its used inventory. If what you're looking for isn't in stock, get measured, then leave your specs and the price range you're looking for with the staff and ask them to call you when a trade-in arrives that matches your specs. You can also check garage sales, online advertising websites, and the classifieds in your local paper for a deal on a used tri bike.