Best Triathlon Bikes Reviewed

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Searching for the best Triathlon Bikes? Take a look at the top rated models of 2017, Pros & Cons and what to be aware of before buying them in a store!

Triathlons are dominated by the competitors who put in the most work leading up to the race and dig up the most grit come race day. But it also helps to have a minimalist machine underfoot that slices seconds off your time, whizzes past the competition, and is comfortable to boot.

Canondale Slice 105
  • Canondale Slice 105
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Straight FSA Extensions
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Specialized Shiv Elite
  • Specialized Shiv Elite
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Lightweight/Durable Components
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Avanti Corsa DR Tri
  • Avanti Corsa DR Tri
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • ADT R5 Carbon Frame
  • Price: See Here
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10 Best Triathlon Bikes

 


1. Avanti Corsa DR Tri

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The Avanti Corsa DR is the aero bike option from Avanti designed using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to optimize tube profiles for aerodynamic advantage. The 'DR' stands for 'Drag Reduction,' which is achieved not only through aero tube profiles, but also partial seat tube and down tube cutouts, reducing drag from the wheelset. The Corsa DR utilizes the ADT R5 Carbon Corsa DR frameset with Profile Design T2 Wing with clip-on Aero bars. As a result, the Corsa DR Tri provides the same 'Performance Road Geometry' as the road option, but with a time trial specific cockpit. It's basically Avanti's aero road bike with TT bars.
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Comfort / Stability

A bike with pure performance in mind, the Corsa DR offers no compromise in specification and the result is speed. Whether on climbs, flat pursuits or ball out sprints the Corsa DR feels very quick. In the Avanti Corsa DR is a bike which in terms of performance and should be considered a competitor to any of the top end models offered from other ends.

Durability/ Quality

Avanti has paid attention to detail in almost every aspect of the Corsa DR. Well thought of integration and top end competition combine well to deliver a quality machine. Frame design is top notch and build quality seems good too.

Cost or Value:

Considered one of the best end triathlon bikes that are very affordable.
Pros
  • Smaller and lighter
Cons
  • A little stiff


2. Specialized Shiv Elite

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The Specialized Shiv was created to provide three key elements every triathlete needs: aerodynamics, fuel, and fit. These bikes are all about integration, and very few bikes represent total integration better than the Shiv. The Shiv Elite from Specialized ignores UCI regulations to create a triathlon specific bike complete with the unique 'Fuselage Hydration System' that is built into the frame improving aerodynamics and reducing the need for retrofitting additional equipment.
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Comfort / Stability:

The Shiv differs from most tri-specific bikes in that it doesn’t ride like a tri-specific bike. It rides more like a road bike. It virtually does away with that teetering, newborn Bambi feel you get while you accustom yourself to a tri bike for the first time. It’s easy to control and has the sort of chuck-ability that lets you flick round unexpected potholes and through sharp corners with confidence. The shape of those tubes has been devised to pull the center of pressure created by crosswinds downwards, to reduce their ability to push you offline and increase their ability to push you forwards.

It sounds hard to believe, but when the breeze does decide to blow, it’s almost as if the bike has sorted itself out before you’re able to do anything to settle it back down. The Shiv’s brakes are smooth too, which is a relief given how easily it picks up speed. The internal hydration system provides the same amount of fluid as a traditional water bottle but can be topped up on the go without creating any additional drag. The frame is made from Specialized FACT 10r carbon and, as you can see from the side profile, has an enormous down tube and seat tube, typical of the modern day aero triathlon bike. The Shiv Elite is finished off with Shimano 105 drivetrain and AXIS 2.0 wheelset.



Durability/ Quality

Very stable in cross winds regardless of the big girth and its head and down tubes. The shapes of the tubes have been devised to pull the center of the pressure created by crosswinds downwards, to reduce their stability to push you offline and increase their ability to push you forward. The brakes are smooth and helpful since Shiv picks up speed pretty fast.

Cost or Value:

Despite the own-brand kit, you’re still getting superbike performance at a competitive price.
Pros
  • They are not grabby but they have the power to keep a tight rein on your speed when necessary.
  • Picks up speed fast.
  • Provides total integration.
Cons
  • They are direct mount rather than the traditional calipers.


3. Cannondale Slice 105

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In an era where we see triathlon and time trial bikes adopt enormously thick down tubes and profiles to create the aero advantage. Cannondale claim the Slice is the 'the world's' lightest Tri frame, with the best stiffness-to-weight'. A well as the mechanically designed compliance of the seat and chain stays, the Slice comes with 'AERO SAVE' micro-suspension technology that absorbs road vibration, further improving the ride comfort.
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Comfort / Stability:

Cannondale has gone the other way, relying on 'Truncated Aero Profile ‘shapes of the Slice tubing to create a fast yet comfortable bike. The difference is apparent when looking at the Slice from the side: much less material which saves on weight, and ultrathin seat and chain stays that aid comfort.

Durability/ Quality:

It packs easy and has a normal stem. Normal parts mean less packing for the races. A 1 1/8 steered folk, standard. Full housing inside the frame (meaning no energy drink fouling the house/cable interface) standard. Direct mount Shimano brakes, standard. Its, mechanical and D12 compatible. And no fearing or forgetting proprietary parts.

Cost or Value:

Cost friendly and definitely a god deal for any cyclist.
Pros
  • Light bike, good geometry
  • Best stiffness to weight
Cons
  • Really drops the ball on aerodynamics
  • Direct-mount only brakes

4. Giant Trinity Advanced Pro

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The Giant Trinity got a facelift in 2016 with a new frameset design and geometry to help triathletes achieve their ideal fit. The top-of-the-line Trinity Advanced Pro has been 'engineered to be the world's fastest triathlon bike' and much of the innovative technology has filtered down to the Trinity Advanced model.

The Advanced and Advanced Pro versions share the same frame shape and aero features, the only difference being the 5:1 'Aero Drive Tri' fork and the 'Aero Vault' hydration and storage system on the Advanced Pro. The Trinity Advanced is one of the few affordable triathlon bikes, despite featuring Advanced-grade composite frame and fork, integrated cabling, hidden 'Speed-Control' brakes, and a large degree of cockpit adjustability
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Comfort / Stability

When tested with or without the its hydration and storage units to show whether it has a high degree aerodynamic in a ready race configuration, Giant Trinity Advanced trinity stands out to be very competitive. It stands out as the fastest and also one of the bikes with most aerodynamics with or without its hydration and storage components.

Durability/ Quality

Aero drive Tri Fork boasts a triathlon specific 5.1 airfoil shape, and a new Aero drive Tri Base Bar that also features a 5.1 airfoil shape with a reversible design that is able to offer up to 40 mm height adjustment. Both front and rear Speed control brakes are integrated and hidden from the wind, with the front brake designed to match the profile and trailing edge of the fork and the rear featuring an innovative fairing that is claimed to save 3 watts of drag at 50 kph.

The aero vault storage box is integrated into the top tube behind the stem. It provides 290 ml of storage for on bike nutrition or spare items. Its shape improves aero performance and maximizes stand over height. The soft cover allows access from either side of the box and stops water and sweat from getting inside.

Cost or Value:

The Trinity Advanced is one of the few affordable triathlon bikes.
Pros
  • Design is still very trendy
  • Affordable price.
  • Very good quality/price ratio.
Cons
  • Some models have low engine power.
  • The engine sounds a bit weird.

5. Cervelo P3

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The Cervélo P3 has quickly become a mainstay at the Ironman World Championships, with enough P3s on the Kona pier to be a top brand on its own. You’ll clearly see Cervelo's P3’s lineage in this frame: we’ve incorporated the aero and performance benchmarks of the category-leading P5. You’ll also see our attention to your benchmarks.

The P3 offers our widest range of fit options, easy packing for travel, accessible storage, and all our key aero features to make you simply faster. The new P3 collects many of the engineering advances we made with the P5, and through our industrial design process sketches and smoothes them together to create a bike with speed built in: the new P3 is both stiffer and faster than its predecessor. Whether you’re on a regular training ride or setting a new PB, the P3 delivers motivation by design.
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Comfort/Stability:

The P3 offers sleek presentation of standard components, and intuitive integration means nutrition and hydration options are fast and flexible. Shielding seat stays hide the rear brake, offering an aero advantage while allowing for easy assembly and maintenance. In addition to the standard frame bottle mounts, the new P3 has an accessory mount on the top tube behind the stem and another opening on the back end of the seat post that can accommodate an X-Lab bottle carrier.



Durability/ Quality:

Superbike DNA doesn’t mean complex maintenance rituals: The P3’s non-proprietary components allow for intuitive use and custom set-up. Whether you’re on a regular training ride or setting a new personal-best, the P3 delivers motivation by design. Now with Mavic Cosmic Elite S wheels and outboard shifting on the Di2 version, the result is a bike that’s as ready to race as you are.



Cost or Value:

Cervelo P3 is an affordable bicycle. And you will definitely get value for your money.
Pros
  • Outstanding propulsion transfer and locked-in ride position breed PBs
  • Impressively light, phenomenal handling and crisp controls
  • Superbike DNA; standard parts
  • Has speed built in
Cons
  • Not as aero or comfortable as the best contemporary frames
  • Cervélo’s uncompromising character comes at a price

Now, if you’re new to triathlons, the main difference between a tri bike and a traditional road bike is the geometry, or the frame, and the angle of the seat tube (the long piece of tubing that extends from the bottom of the bike). A triathlon bike has a steeper seat tube angle than a road bike, so it’s closer to vertical. This steeper geometry places your hips over the crankset (where the chains attach), which engages your quads more. Not only does this position give you a better power output, but it actually makes the transition to the run easier since you’re relieving strain on some body parts and engaging others.


The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation of the Best Triathlon Bikes

Triathlon competitors are the best of the best. For the biking portion of their race, they need more than a set of wheels that will get them through a loop around the park.  They need a bike that can handle rough terrain and tackle obstacles, all while being fast. Triathlon bikes are definitely a specialized piece of equipment that can make or break an athlete’s race.

There is a set of metrics we applied when choosing the triathlon bikes that made our list. The metrics we used are based on product research and reviews about the triathlon bikes that are available on the market, as well as questions that are commonly asked about triathlon bikes.  Each of the key factors in creating our list of the best triathlon bikes is explained below.

How stable is this triathlon bike?

Triathlon bikes are engineered by a sport-specific geometry. Although speed is the top featured considered when designing a triathlon bike, the rider doesn’t want to lose control constantly, either.

Triathletes ride bikes that have steep seat tube angles, allowing them to crouch forward in an aerodynamic position. This requires a rider to have good balance, but a bike can be engineered to help keep the rider stable while moving quickly in such a compromising position.

When selecting the triathlon bikes that made our list, we took into consideration the stability features engineered into the frame of each specific bike.

How comfortable is this triathlon bike?

The seat of a triathlon bike (you will notice the seat is a repeated theme…) is set at a steep angle to pitch the rider forward into a more aerodynamic riding position. This means the rider is crouched and bent at his or her hips. The geometry used to engineer triathlon bikes plays a big part in how comfortable riding a tri bike is for your hips. This is especially important to consider since they are being bent and used at all times during a tri ride.

Is this triathlon bike durable?

No one wants their bike to fall apart while he or she is riding it… especially triathletes. They durability of a tri bike affects the overall racer performance of the rider. When selecting the bikes for our list, we considered the longevity of each machine, especially if obstacles and rugged terrain are part of the course.


Other Important Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Triathalon Bike

There are other details that you should consider when selecting a triathalon bike to add to your arsenal of workout equipment. The purchase you make should provide you with a bike that can handle the terrain on which you will be riding, but also moves you quickly and safely.  It should also fit your lifestyle needs, whether you are a serious triathlete or an occasional racer.

To help make this decision a little easier, below are some extra features you should consider when shopping for a new triathalon bike:

  • Maintenance

Triathlon bikes are engineered using a sport-specific geometry, and also have some components that are unique to this type of bike. With this in mind, tri bikes may require some specialized maintenance. You will want to choose a bike that you have the time to care for, or at least have a bike shop nearby to keep it in tip-top shape if you can’t yourself.

  • Your Race Participation

The type of bike you choose needs to meet the demands of the types of triathlons in which you are competing. If you are racing on a road course, a road or racing bike is probably the best choice for you. If your races involve trails or mountain terrain, you will most likely benefit from having a mountain bike. Do you race on both? A hybrid might be a good choice for you, or even having one of each type of bike (if you really want to splurge).

  • Price

Triathlon bikes can be found at a range of prices, from inexpensive to top-of-the-line gold standard. However, you should purchase a bike that fits within your budget but also meets your racing needs. If you break the bank on your bike purchase, how will you pay you race participation fees?


FAQ

Q: What makes a triathalon bike different from a regular bike?

A: The biggest difference between a tri bike and a traditional road bike is the angle of the seat, which is also known as the saddle. The angle of the seat determines how a rider is positioned on his or her bike.

A triathlon (racing) bike has a steep seat tube angle, forcing the rider forward into a crouch, which is a more aerodynamic position, enabling the rider to go faster.

A traditional road bike has a shallower seat tube angle. This allows the rider to sit back. It is a more comfortable position for long rides or when encountering uneven terrain.

There are a few other differences… keep reading to find out what they are!

 

Q: Do I really need a triathalon bike?

A: This really depends on how serious of a triathlete you are. Most beginner-friendly races will be filled with participants that use whatever bike they had laying around in their garage, which is perfectly fine to start out.

However, once you plan on becoming more dedicated to triathlon racing, you should consider upgrading to a bike that is fit for this type of competition. There are four main types of triathlon bikes on the market: road, mountain, hybrid, and triathlon. The differences between these bikes are as follows:

  • Road Bike: A road bike is characterized by skinny tires and a skinny frame, with a typical seat tube angle of 73 to 75 degrees.
  • Mountain Bike: This type of bike usually has wider tires and a deeper tread pattern to deal with off-road rides and obstacles. The seat tube angle ranges from 71 to 75 degrees.
  • Hybrid Bike: A hybrid bike is similar to a mountain bike in that is will usually have wider tires and deeper treads than a road bike. However, a hybrid bike is meant to be ridden on roads and light-off road courses, and is not necessarily meant for the heavy duty-obstacles that can be found on mountain trails.
  • Triathlon Bike: A triathlon bike is also knownas a time trial bike. Their frames and tires are skinny and are intended to be ridden on roads. The real difference between a road bike and a triathlon bike is in the handles. A triathlon bike will have aerobars in place of traditional-style handles. This helps make the bike more aerodynamic to increase speed. Triathlon bikes usually have a seat tube angle of 75 to 80 degrees.

Now that you have this information, think about the type of courses you race. Select the type of bike that is best suited to your race type.

 

Q: What is a seat tube angle and why is it important?

A: If you thought you were done with math classes like geometry when you finished high school, you were wrong. There is a special kind of geometry, called bike geometry, that is used to engineer bicycle frames to optimize performance. The seat tube angle is just one of the features of a bike frame. It is the angle made by the tube that supports your bike seat in comparison to the ground.

A steeper angle will position your seat, or saddle, forward, while a shallower angle will position the seat further back. Steeper angles are better for racing because it allows the rider to crouch into a more aerodynamic position. Shallow seat tube angles is better for more relaxed riding, as it transfers the weight to your hips and glutes.

The steepness of the seat tube able varies by bike type.

  • Road Bike: 73 to 75 degrees
  • Mountain Bike: 71 to 75 degrees
  • Hybrid Bike: 71 to 75 degrees
  • Triathlon Bike: 75 to 80 degrees

Most bikes have adjustable saddles, so you can move it to meet your level of comfort and to enhance your performance.

 

Q: What are the most important features I should look for in a triathlon bike?

A: The features you choose are really dependent on the bike course portion of your triathlon.

If you will be riding on a road course, a racing or triathlon bike will serve you best. They are light weight, aerodynamic, and are designed to move you fast and efficiently along roads and paved surfaces.

If you will be competing on a trail or mountain course, you will want a mountain bike. Wider and heavier than racing bikes, they are engineered to withstand impacts and rugged terrain. A mountain bike will get you through a course safely and efficiently.

So, the bottom line is to know your race, and select a bike that can meet the demands of the bike course.

 

Q: Which is more important in a triathlon bike: speed or durability?

A: This is really a personal choice, however, the terrain on which your triathlon is taking place should be a factor that is given serious consideration when choosing speed or durability.

Fast bikes are usually racing bikes. They have light and aerodynamic frames that are usually pretty stiff. The tires are narrow and the handlebars are of a non-traditional, aerodynamic style and are usually set lower on the bike. The seat of a racing bike is also steep, forcing you forward into a crouching position. Racing/Tri bikes use caliper brakes to slow the bike down without affecting the weight. Racing/Tri bikes are made for flat, road or track conditions.

A mountain bike, on the other hand, have wider frames and wider tires with deep treads. Together, these allow the bike to absorb heavy impact and handle the uneven, rugged terrain that is usually encountered on trails and mountain paths. They also have shock absorbers to help handle impacts, and their frames are built to withstand crashes (it happens!). Mountain bikes have disc brakes which are more effective in stopping the bike in muddy or wet conditions. They also have a less steep saddle angle, forcing you back on the bike. Mountain bikes are nearly twice as heavy as racing bikes, which makes sense considering they are engineered to be ridden on trails and unpredictable terrain.

When selecting a bike for speed or durability, it is really important to consider the type of race you are completing. A racing bike won’t serve you well on a mountain trail, and a mountain bike will surely slow you down on a road race. Choose wisely!


Here are some sources we used while conducting our research: 

We utilize many different resources while trying to provide the best information to our readers. Some are scholarly or clinical sources, some are information provided by medical and dietary professional, and some sources are even other sites which may specialize in information that is relevant to our topic.

Sources

  1. Gale Bernhardt, Do You Need a Triathlon Bike ?, Informational Fitness Website,
  2. Cyclescheme, How to Understand Bike Geometry, Informational Fitness Website, Mar 10, 2013
  3. Max Roman Dilthey, Racing Bikes vs. Mountain Bikes, Informational Fitness Website, Aug 30, 2015
  4. Hazen Kent, Road Bike vs. Tri Bike... What Should I Buy? , Informational Fitness Website,