Best Triathlon Bikes Tested & Compared

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A triathlon is a race comprised of three separate circuits. You’ll be expected to exhibit the same level of endurance on each one. They usually include periods of running, swimming and cycling. The first two sports primarily require you and some light gear, but the cycling part requires something much more specialized. A triathlon bike is specifically designed for speed. It’s created to engage your most powerful muscles—your quadriceps. It does this by lowering your center of gravity and placing your hips over the crankset. This is one product that you absolutely can’t skimp on if you’re doing any type of competitive triathlon.

A regular bicycle allows you to push downward and propel yourself forward with the pedals. A triathlon bike actually forces you to push slightly back using your quadriceps, and opens up your airway. This propels you forward at a faster rate and can get you far ahead of your competition. The bike needs to be light, sturdy, and capable of withstanding speed and stress.

These bikes are also designed to engage your muscles in such a way as to allow you to transition to other parts of the triathlon faster. You’ll be able to hop off of the triathlon bike and go straight into a full sprint if need be. There’s none of the messy untangling that comes with a regular bicycle. These machines are scientifically designed and customized for the sport. By creating an aerodynamic flow, they decrease resistance and maximize your speeds.

We’ve reviewed some of the best triathlon bikes on the market and looked at them from an athletic perspective.

Last Updated: August 10, 2018
By Patricia Howard:

We took a more in-depth look at the way that these bikes facilitate the best possible athletic performance. Whether you're an experienced racer or a beginner, there's something here that will appeal to you!

Diamondback Serios F
  • Diamondback Serios F
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Works for most
  • Price: See Here
Stradelli TTR-8
  • Stradelli TTR-8
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Advanced frame
  • Price: See Here
Cannondale Synapse 5
  • Cannondale Synapse 5
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • SAVE technology
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Triathlon Bikes

1. Diamondback Serios F

This one is one of the best triathlon bikes you can buy online. It has proven to be among the best of the best and, while it is pricey, it will help you push your performance over the edge during your competitions.
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Comfort / Stability

This one works for almost any body shape and makes your rides as comfortable as possible. It has a unidirectional carbon frame that makes it possible and is one of the few bikes that works for most users.

Durability/ Quality

This one is highly durable and top of the line. It is built to last and will help you during all over your races for a long time to come.

Cost or Value:

This one is super pricey, but well-worth the investment if you are looking for something that will be there for you long term.
Pros

• Comfortable

• Produce half the drag when compared to other

triathlon bikes

• Highly durable

• Works for almost all body types

Cons

• Expensive


2. Stradalli TTR-8

2. Stradalli TTR-8
This is another pricey option but it's advanced frame make it well worth the investment. Although it is not as popular as many other options, this one is definitely worth every penny and will help push your performance over the edge.
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Comfort/stability
This bike is designed to provide both comfort and stability. It has durable and flexible aero bars as well as an adjustable carbon seat so you can customize your comfort for each ride.

Durability.
This one is highly durable and made of high-quality material.

Cost.
This bike is pricey as well, but given its durability, easy to use gear shifting, and advanced frame design make it worth every penny.
Pros

• Adjustable cockpit

• Advanced frame design

• Highly durable and anti-corrosive

• Flexible Aero bars and handrests

• Mechanical shifting gears

Cons

• Not as well known as other brands

• Loud


3. Cannondale Synapse 5

3. Cannondale Synapse 5
Out of our top 3, this is our most affordable option. However, that doesn't mean it isn't packed with a ton of extra features that will help push your performance to another level.
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Comfort/Stability.
This bike delivers a highly comfortable ride, thanks to the SAVE technology it employs. The SAVE technology dampens the road's vibration and delivers a smooth ride.

Durability.
This one is also highly durable and made of high-quality material. It's carbon frame and Power Pyramid bracket bottom makes it both durable and lightweight.

Cost/Value.
This one is affordable when compared to other top dollar bikes on our list.
Pros

• Comfortable

• SAVE technology

• Precise levers and derailleurs

• Highly efficient

• Budget-friendly for a triathlon bike

Cons

• Some users don’t prefer the wheels on this one


4. Specialized Shiv Elite

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 way this model differs from many other triathlon focused bikes is in the fact that it doesn’t really ride like one. The ride is actually closer to that of a road bike. You won't get any of that teetering around, or that unbalanced feeling you might get when becoming familiar with a tri bike for the very first time. The overall control seems to come fairly easy, and has the kind of maneuverability that allows you whip around those surprise potholes and take sharp corners with confidence. The design of the tubes was done in a way to to pull the centered pressure that you might get from crosswinds more downward, reducing the effect that tends to push you offline, in turn actually increasing your ability for forward momentum.

It might be difficult to believe, but when that wind really picks up, it almost seems like the bike corrects itself before you start reacting to right it. The brakes are also really smooth, which is kind of nice given how well the bike picks up in 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:

you are really getting performance quality for a fairly competitive price tag.
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.

5. Cannondale Slice 105

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

6. Giant Trinity Advanced Pro

6. Giant Trinity Advanced Pro
The Giant Trinity got a facelift in 2016 with a new frameset design and geometry to help triathletes achieve their ideal fit. This top-of-the-line model 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 carrier 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 of aerodynamically designed race ready 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 extra accessories.

Durability/ Quality

The Aero drive Tri Fork offers a 5.1 airfoil design that is triathlon ready, and a new Aero drive Tri Base Bar that also features a reversible design that is able to offer up to 40 mm height adjustment. Both the front and the rear Speed control brakes are integrated and hidden from the wind's reach, with the front braking system is designed to exactly match the profile of the fork and also the rear which has an innovative design to the fairing, which claims to actually save up to 3 watts of drag at around 50 kph.

The aero vault has a storage box that is integrated right into the top tube, placed just behind the stem. Its shape is intended to improve the bike's overall aero performance. The soft covering allows you to have easy access from either side, while also stopping water from getting in.

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.

7. Cervelo P3

7. Cervelo P3
The Cervélo P3 quickly became a regular sight at the Ironman World Championships, with so many P3s being seen on the Kona pier that there was a clear sign that was the bike of choice for a lot. You can see its lineage in this frame: They have succesfully incorporated the performance found in the P5. You’ll also see our attention to your benchmarks.

The P3 even offers a decent range of options, including easy travel packing, easy to get to storage, and and many other features to help you go faster. This new version takes a lot of the advances made when building the P5, although the P3 seems to be a bit faster and stiffer than the previous version.
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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. The seat stays work well to rear brake hidden, 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 always have to mean an endless routine of maintenance procedures: The P3’s not so proprietary parts allow intuitive and almost universal use, as well as a basically customized set-up. If you’re training or working toward a new PR, the P3 is designed to motivate. With the new Cosmic Elite wheels and new shifting shifting with the updated Di2 version, the result you get is a solid bike that is 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

8. Canyon Speed max CF SLX 9.0

8. Canyon Speed max CF SLX 9.0
Sometimes we have ideas of how we want our triathlon bikes to look like or what we would like to own, how about when all your dreams are made a reality? That is exactly how you will feel when you own one of these, dream of comfort, stability, looks, fair price, speed, durability and storage without leaving out its tremendous grip ability. This bike has all in one it was specifically designed to make you a winner, with its Ergo arm pads for comfort for long racing and its ample storage to facilitate all your needs , as if that is not all, it comes in the list as one of the lightest bikes to be reviewed which enhances its speed, The top tube has an internal storage area near the top of the seat that fits a tube, 2 carbon dioxide inflators and a lever in a custom-designed neoprene slaves, it also comes in as one of the most powerful bikes to be made out there, all you need to do with this is put less effort and win the championships. This is all you need this summer, it is known as the most multi-faceted and speedy race bikes among its category Smile all the way to your glory.
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Comfort /Stability
This bike is not only created for your endurance but also for the health of your back and spine by allowing an adjustable inserts on the fork dropouts that ensure a great deal of stability is achieved. Speak of comfort, this bike gives you a smiling face every time you mount on it, having its arm pads made from Ergon to ensure a soft and insanely comfy ride. On putting the hammer down, the Reynolds strike wheels will amazingly roll smooth.
The flexibility of the bike depends on the position you want it to be-whether stable or agile-, just change the position of the inserts in the fork dropouts (forward or back at 2.5mm).

Durability /Quality
Its adjustability is complimented by the front end that ensures it remains and maintains simple and clean.With its SLX Frame made of carbon to increase durability
Cost/ Value
Let’s not get started on the price, this is so affordable with all the features it possess who wouldn’t want to own one of this?
Pros
  • The Ergon arm provides great comfort especially if you are a marathon racer.
  • It has an immense deal of storage that makes your hydration easy during a racing competition.
  • Very affordable price for a bike of its category.
  • Very flexible as it has options of making it either stable or agile depending on how best you want it by just changing the position of the fork inserts in the dropouts.
  • It is made to go very fast as it covers 10 miles in just about 17 minutes.
Cons
  • The greatest challenge will be the frame that makes the seat tube appear somehow in a steeper angle compared to the original.

9. Kestrel Talon Tri Shimano 105 Bicycle

9. Kestrel Talon Tri Shimano 105 Bicycle
The Kestrel Talon triathlon bike is an excellent choice for beginner triathletes. It is one of the most popular options available and also on the affordable end of the price spectrum when it comes to triathlon bikes.
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Comfort/Stability.
This triathlon bike is a beginner bike and still has many of the qualities of a professional bike. It is a good, and comfortable introduction to the more professional bikes available. This bike will help you improve your speed without sacrificing comfort.

Durability.
Kestrel's carbon fire bikes are highly durable and the pride themselves on providing the highest quality out there.


Cost /Value.
This bike is a highly affordable beginner bike and will help you push your limits without breaking the bank.

Trek Speed Concept 7.5

Trek Speed Concept 7.5
When you think of budget and speed this is the go to bike, they go as the fastest speed bikes in the world., it provides you with speed at the same time taking care of your pockets. With its tubeless wheels that provide a great sense of comfort ability while training.it is among the first triathlons to think of racers need of storage, with a storage box at the rear to allow plenty of space for storing essentials, the focus on storage as they increase the speed of the bikes every time they come up with a new idea.
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Comfort/Stability.
It has tubeless wheels that are bontrager compatible enhance comfort during racing and also during practice. Also has the breaks that are integrated and it is sleek in the front edge.

Durability.
These bikes are considered to be durable enough to serve a racer for some time.

Cost/Value.
The cost is very affordable since it comes with great speed.
Pros
  • Very affordable for any racer to purchase as it is lower priced than other triathlons.
  • Comes with a tubeless wheel that enhances comfort throughout your races and increases speed.
  • Has plenty of storage spaces for hydration and some of the racers essentials.
  • Its known and tested to be the fastest bike in the world.
Cons

Its crankset appears as standard thus meaning it cannot come as larger or ancient cranksets  which are seen in most triathlon bikes.

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.

The criteria we looked at when creating our list are specifically geared towards increased performance and comfort. A product is no good if it causes injuries or makes it more difficult for you to complete your circuit. These triathlon bikes have been tried and tested under some of the most strenuous conditions in the world.

Stability 

Triathlon bikes are engineered based on a geometric formula that increases their speed and aerodynamic capabilities. While speed is usually the top consideration, it’s important to make sure that the rider is able to keep control of the bike. The last thing anyone wants is a high-speed crash in the middle of their race. The harder a rider has to work to keep the bike on the road, the more energy they’re exerting that could be better used elsewhere. A good triathlon bike will allow the athlete to be seated in a forward leaning position. This lowers their center of gravity and increases their balance. Stability is definitely something we took into consideration when reviewing these products.

Comfort 

One of the most important components of any triathlon bike is the seat. It’s set at a steeper angle that allows the rider to sit in a more aerodynamic position. This allows the person to bend at the hips and to push out using their quadriceps. Part of the design is based on creating a heightened level of comfort for the rider. This allows them to focus on their performance, and less on stressed muscles. During some races, a triathlon bike may be used more than anything else. This is when comfort becomes key in your ability to compete and perform well during the race.

Durability 

Few things are as embarrassing as having a piece of equipment fall apart mid-race. Think of your triathlon bike as an investment in your athletic prowess. You want it to stand up to punishing conditions while continuing to maintain its structural integrity. It’s important to look at the materials that a bike is made out of. You want a lightweight build that’s as simple as possible. The fewer features, the less likely it is to break or get weighed down.

A lot of serious athletes and professionals use bikes with a carbon modular build. This is extremely lightweight and portable, but it comes with a price. These bikes have a tendency to be fragile, and extremely expensive. If triathlons aren’t something you’re considering as a lifelong athletic accomplishment, then you may want to invest in something that’s not as pricey.

Some More To Think About

There are other details that you should consider when selecting a solid 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 model.

Maintenance

Triathlon bikes are extremely unique and may not be able to be serviced by a regular bicycle shop. Maintenance is definitely something you need to consider before making your purchase. This is an item that you’re going to be using under stressful circumstances, and this means that it’s more likely to sustain damage. If your triathlon bike is from a foreign company, this could mean ordering very expensive parts from overseas.

It definitely helps if you choose a model that you’re capable of maintaining yourself. Always look at the parts and the way that they’re used on the bike. This can make you aware of areas that experience a higher level of wear and tear. This is also another factor we looked at when reviewing these products and creating our list.

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

These can be found at a varying 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?

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 triathlon bike?

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 racing, you should consider upgrading to a bike that is fit for this type of competition. There are four main types 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 known as 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?

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?

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

If you will be riding on a road course, this type of model will likely serve you best. They are lightweight, 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?

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 models are made for flat, road or track conditions.

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 in which you’re competing. A racing model won’t serve you well on a mountain trail, and a mountain bike will surely slow you down in 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,
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