More Than Our Story

Triathlon Tips: Choosing The Right Bike

More Than Our Story founder, Daniel Hight, riding the Muskoka IRONMAN 70.3 bike course.

Table of Contents

Biking: Part 1

As the distance increases, the monumental task of completing a triathlon requires meticulous preparation, dedication, and the right equipment. Deciding on the right bike for your next triathlon depends on numerous factors, including experience, the course characteristics and distance, but let’s not forget the most important things: budget and personal preference. The following article breaks down some of the consideration that can help you choose the right bike for you.

Your Choices

When it comes to triathlons – IRONMAN and long distance races in particular – when choosing the right bike you’ll be making a choice between a road bike or a triathlon-specific bike. 

Road bikes are the more versatile option, providing a balance of comfort, handling, versatility. Triathlon bikes on the other hand, are specifically-engineered for triathlons, with aerodynamic efficiency, maximum speed and integrated nutrition the leading factor along with aggressive bike geometry to save your legs for the run (hopefully). But the sacrifice comes at a price – namely the exact things that road bikes excels at: comfort, handling and versatility.

Understanding Your Needs

Before making your choice, it’s essential to assess your individual needs and preferences. Consider factors such as your budget, riding style, experience level, body geometry, and the specific demands of the course you’ll be racing. If the course is mostly flat: speed and aerodynamics are the most important and a triathlon bike is probably your best choice. If the course if hilly, or you value versatility, comfort, and budget considerations, a road bike is likely the best option. 

By understanding these requirements, you can begin to narrow down the choices, and find a bike that best aligns with your goals.

Whichever bike you choose, get it professionally fit to maximize performance and comfort on race day.

Road Bikes

A road bike is the most versatile choice, and should be every beginner and intermediate triathlete’s first choice. They offer more versatility than a triathlon-specific bike, and are more stable and comfortable. You can still be competitive on a road bike, especially with some clip-on aerobars, and a way to carry your fuel, tools, and spares. Let’s breakdown the advantages and disadvantages of a road bike:

  • Aerodynamics and Speed: Road bikes come in many flavors. Aero road bikes, have aggressive geometry of aerodynamic bikes that many cyclists do not have the flexibility to comfortably maintain this position for long periods. If this is you look for an endurance road bike that has less aggressive positioning, allowing you cover longer distances with more comfort. Of course, weight plays a role here, so look for the lightest weight bike you can afford.
  • Budget-Friendly: Road bikes tend to be more budget-friendly compared to triathlon-specific bikes, making them a better option for budget-conscious athletes.
  • Comfort, Efficiency and Endurance: Road bikes typically feature a more relaxed geometry compared to triathlon bikes, and provide a more comfortable riding position. If you can’t sustain an aero position, you’re better off choosing a road bike.
  • Customization and Adjustability: Every athlete has unique dimensions and preferences when it comes to bike fit. You’ll want to choose a bike that offers the greatest degree of customization and adjustability, allowing you to fine-tune the fit for optimal comfort and performance. A good fit will maximize your power output and minimize the risk of discomfort or injury – consider getting a professional bike.
  • Course Specifics: Road bike are the best choice for technically challenging courses and those with a lot of elevation gain. 
  • Handling: Road bikes offer more precise handling and maneuverability than their counterpart, which can be advantageous on technical courses or during climbs and descents. Lightweight frames constructed from carbon fiber are strong and light, allowing for quick accelerations and improved handling.
  • Integrated Nutrition and Hydration Systems: Nutrition and hydration are critical during long distance triathlon races to sustain energy levels and prevent dehydration. Most road bikes can be outfitted with clip-on hydration and nutrition solutions to help aid you in your quest, although they’re not as aerodynamic or readily available from your aero-position.
  • Training: If you do group rides a road bike superior handling and responsiveness will be to your advantage. Technical skills can be mastered on a triathlon bike, but are best learned on a road bike.
  • Versatility: Road bikes offer versatility across a variety of terrain types and road conditions, making them a great choice if you don’t have the means to get both.

Best Suited For:

  • Beginners
  • Technical courses
  • Group settings, base-building season, off-season recreational rides

“Back when I raced (and won) IRONMAN, there were no aero bars, let alone entire bikes dedicated to triathlon. We all raced on road bikes.”
- John Howard
4-time U.S. National Road Cycling champion and winner of the 1981 IRONMAN World Championship

Triathlon Bikes

Triathlon bikes are specifically developed for serious triathletes, and more likely than not are not the only bike the owner has. Let’s breakdown the advantages and disadvantages of a triathlon bike:

  • Aerodynamics and Speed: Triathlon bikes are designed with aerodynamics as a primary focus, look for wind-tunnel-tested designs, aerodynamic frame shapes featuring elongated frames, integrated cockpit systems, and deep-section wheels to minimize wind resistance and maximize speed.
  • Budget-Friendly: Triathlon bikes are purpose-built for performance and that’s reflected in the price, with the cheapest triathlon bikes starting at a few thousand dollars.
  • Comfort, Efficiency and Endurance: Some riders find the aggressive geometry of triathlon bikes uncomfortable, particularly during longer rides. Make sure you do the bulk of your training on it to zero in your fit and comfort.
  • Customization and Adjustability: Choose a bike that offers extensive customization and adjustability options, including adjustable saddle positions, stem lengths, and handlebar configurations allowing you to fine-tune the fit for optimal comfort and performance. A professional bike fitting is crucial.
  • Course Specifics: Triathlon bikes are best suited to fast, flat and rolling courses, allowing you to maintain higher speeds with less effort.
  • Handling:Triathlon bikes have compromised handling compared to road bikes, especially in tight corners or technical descents, but they are stable in straight lines. If you train mostly indoors make sure you get some serious time in outside before race day as these bikes can be difficult to handle.
  • Integrated Nutrition and Hydration Systems: Nutrition and hydration are critical during long distance triathlon races to sustain energy levels and prevent dehydration. Newer triathlon bikes include integrated storage solutions for hydration and nutrition, allowing you to conveniently access fuel without compromising aerodynamics.
  • Training: If you do the majority of your training indoors or have mastered your technical skills for riding in a group a triathlon bike may be the best choice.
  • Versatility: Triathlon bikes are purpose built machines, they excel at riding fast in straight most straight, level lines.

Best Suited For:

  • Advanced and professional athletes</li<>
  • Flat, fast courses where speed is a primary concern
  • Races and training sessions


Choosing the right bike for racing your triathlon journey involves careful consideration of various factors, including aerodynamics, comfort, weight, customization options and personal preferences. The right bike can enhance your performance and give you the best chance at achieving your goals. Most importantly, whichever bike you choose, get it professionally fit to maximize performance and comfort on race day.

Picture of Daniel


Daniel is an extremely curious person, a wealth of random knowledge and facts. Extremely passionate about a vast array of interests ranging from health to history, science to athletics, everything culinary and the list goes on. Trust us, you would want to be on his team for Trivial Pursuit. Daniel is also years into his battle with brain cancer. He experienced a seizure while on a Zoom call at work in late 2020 and quite literally, his life changed within minutes. After his operation he started to talk about his story but had always known it was more than just him. From then, More Than Our Story became a PROJECT that has evolved into the starting point it is today.

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