The world of bike porn is a seductive one with so many shiny two wheeled mistresses eager to release you of your hard earned pennies. Of these the TT bike is regularly one of the most coveted in the world of triathlon as athletes fret about improving their times and look for upgrades and tips to shave those precious minutes from their PB’s.  For our blog this week we look at the need to have one of these machines to do triathlon or in the extreme for those looking to go long and do Ironman.  So do you NEED a TT bike to do a triathlon?

Is it worth getting a TT bike?

So.  Do you need one?  I think we all fundamentally know the answer here without really asking.  Do you want one?  For sure we all want a beautiful carbon TT machine to make us feel faster and carve through the pack to wow our loved ones who patiently wait at the finish line for us to crawl in.  TT bikes are often not lighter and as a consequence not quicker than a road bike.  If you are Dave Scott reborn then this is not the case and there are huge gains to be made from using a TT bike but for the rest of us the reality may not be so cut and dry.

Trek-Speed-Concept-Triathlon-Bike

Trek-Speed-Concept-Triathlon-Bike

6 key decisions to help decide if you need a TT bike to do a triathlon

To help guide you through this minefield of n+1 bike purchasing we have devised the following set of principles.  Answer yes to all of these and head straight to buy that TT bike you have been pondering over the past two seasons.

  1. Are you planning on tucking into the aero position for at least half of the bike leg?
  2. Can you climb hills comfortably without the luxury of a triple on the front?
  3. Are you confident riding in a crowd?
  4. Does the prospect of not being able to put on the anchors when you need not trouble you?
  5. Do you have another road bike already that you can use as a regular road machine preserving your TT for “best”?
  6. Do you weigh less than 100KG as some of those target bikes have a weight limit?

Finding the right bike for you

If you can answer yes to the above questions then well worth looking at triathlon bikes for your next race.  We do love a TT bike at Trivelo but we do see lots of folk selling on their pride and joy having covered next to no miles so make sure that you find a bike that is right for you.  Get test rides lined up.

Canyon-CF-SLX-9.0-Ltd-triathlon-bike

Canyon-CF-SLX-9.0-Ltd-triathlon-bike

If you are looking for triathlon bike inspiration check our article with of 9 of the best triathlon bikes.  A genuine guide to ultimate TT bikes.

Also check out our round up of the best triathlon saddles for anyone looking at triathlon bikes.

You can compete and perform well on a road bike.  Undoubtedly.  If you want to race in a road bike check our article on the 15 best road bikes for under £1500.

boardman-SLR-road-bike

boardman-SLR-road-bike

Triathlon Bike FAQ

What is a triathlon bike?

Triathlon bikes are bicycles used by triathletes racing in triathlons over a variety of distances.  You do not need to use a triathlon bike to compete in a triathlon and you are able to use road bikes as an alternative.  Forget trying to do it on a BMX but alternatives are possible.  The reasoning for a triathlon bike is to enable a triathlete to complete the bike leg and move into run with enough energy in your legs to finish.  The ability to transition from cycling to running with minimal impact is the key to triathlon success.   

Why are TT bicycles so expensive?

Compared to equivalent road bicycles, TT bikes are comparable in terms of price.  You can spend thousands on a road bike in the same way as you can invest in a triathlon bicycle.  TT bicycles don’t tend to produce entry level budget models.  This means starting prices can look more than entry level road bikes which is why they appear more expensive.

What is the Cheapest triathlon bike?

Read our review of the Cannondale Slice Hi-Mod triathlon bike that has been modified by one the Trivelo team.  Cannondale are a manufacturer famous for producing high end aluminium frames. The company launched its first full carbon fibre frame (the Synapse) in 2005. The Cannondale Slice HiMod was one of their earliest full fibre time trial bikes.  Buying a second hand frame and building up the components can deliver a cheap and fast triathlon bike.   

What is the difference between a TT bike and a triathlon bike?

Many bike manufacturers will offer the same bike for both triathlon and TT’s.  The approach taken is to adjust the bike to suit the riders’ preferred event.  Dedicated triathlon bikes tend to have a steeper seat tube angle in the geometry.  This pushes the hips forward and saves the hamstrings for the run with more energy reserved for the final phase of triathlon.  TT bikes have to adhere to International Cycling Union (UCI) rules.  This requires that the saddle nose must be 5cm from the centre of the bottom bracket.  

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Billy Ferguson

Founder of Trivelo

2 Comments

Les Dale · 20/09/2019 at 11:05 am

Thanks for sharing. I keep battling with this and justification for getting myself yet another bike. Really useful. Answer for me in reality is a No but isn’t going to stop me dreaming.

Biancha Head · 13/01/2020 at 5:30 pm

Want one…can’t afford one.

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