Entry level triathlon bike advice please


New Member
Apr 23, 2012

I have just completed my 2nd Olympic distance triathlon and want to upgrade from my hybrid to a triathlon bike to start training for the next one. I want to spend around $2,000 for the bike if possible. There is a lot of information out there and I have read some reviews but there aren't that many online reviews that are recent, most are around 2 years old.

Can anyone give me some advice on what brand/models I should look at? I don't think I need all carbon, happy with aluminium frame as will upgrade in a couple of years if still keen, also presume Shimano 105 would be a good level for me - as my focus is more for fitness than anything.

Here is some advice from a wanna-go-fast on the cheap age grouper Clydesdale.

Moving from a hybrid bike to a TRI/TT bike is a big change. The biggest benefit comes from enabling / forcing the rider into a much more aerodynamic and position. The is also an additional aerodynamic benefit from the bike itself, but that is secondary to the rider.

Because of this, the number one thing you need to consider is a proper fit. Since you are riding a hybrid, you may not even know what a good areo fit feels like. There may be a "breaking-in" period to accommodate yourself to a new position. If you are going to spend a good chunk of change on the hardware, I suggest that you also invest in a professional fit. It may not be perfect for you, but you will at least be at a good starting point that can be tweaked versus something completely wrong outside the realm of adjust ability.

If the fit is good, I think you would have a hard time finding a bad bike at that price range. My opinion is that, besides the fork, carbon-fiber is unnecessary. Carbon fiber can make more elaborate frame shapes than aluminum and therefore be a bit more aerodynamic. It may also result in a more comfortable ride - I don't really know since I have never ridden such a bike. In this sport, people pay as much or more for the wheels as the rest of the bike. You will probably benefit more by saving on the frame and eventually getting some bling wheels after you got yourself a good areo helmet of course. Right now I am riding on Aksiums and they do the trick - I can put the hurt on plenty of well kitted riders sporting trispoke and disc wheels (though I am envious).

Shimano 105 or better mechanicals will do just fine. I have seen some people comment that the SRAM barcons are better, more modern than the shimano offerings. Any derailleur should do its job well enough, more important is the gears that are available. Some bike have a compact crank (50/34) while others have larger, more traditional chainrings (53/39). Choose the gearing based on your preferred gearing and speed. I ride road bikes with 52/42/30 chainrings so the 53 is pretty close and I have enough gear to get up hills.

Hybrids are more likely to have a 50 large ring or less, so you may prefer the feel of a compact crankset.
The more I think about it - a full on tri bike may not be the best for your fitness goal. Perhaps a less event specific machine, a road bike, would better suit your needs. Transitioning from a hybrid to a road bike would be much easier.

Even though it is fast and fun, I would not want to ride my tri bike more than once or twice a week. The aero position is not good for more pleasurable riding and become tiresome for long durations. A road bike is much more suited for daily riding and group rides. Experienced riders get a little nervous when somebody brings their tri bike to a ride.

You can still get really good times using a road bike in the bike leg. If you want a bit more speed, clip on aerobars work well. You may find that you are just as fast on a road bike with clip ons as you would be on a TRI specific machine.

Do some legwork and find a decent bike shop - they should be able to set up a road bike and a TT bike for you to compare.

Thanks for that, great advice - I agree about looking at a road bike instead of Tri bike, considering how I train it makes sense. Thanks for taking the time to respond.