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Old 02-17-03, 11:15 PM   #1
Mambwe
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Tri-Bike Question!!!

I plan on doing some triathlons this upcoming season. This will be my first time competing in tri's. I primarily mountian bike and i do not even own a road bike. My questions is Should i buy a Tri specific bike or go with a road bike and some aero bars. How much is a decent bike to start with? Any suggestions would be great. I plan on doing some sprints and olympics distance triathlons.
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Old 02-18-03, 08:59 AM   #2
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hmmm.... if you plan on enjoying road biking as a hobby, then i would get the road bike. if you plan only to bike as "training" for the tri, then i would get the tri bike. i also want to do some tri's... but i love biking too much to just train specifically for triathlons.
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Old 02-18-03, 10:44 AM   #3
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I dont think there are too many tri experts on this forum. I'm not one, but there are some good Tri readings at
http://www.bikesportmichigan.com/bikes/difference.shtml

Some questions you should ask the tri-athelete crown if you find them:
Do they train on their race bike?
If not , do they use a std road bike.
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Old 02-18-03, 11:51 AM   #4
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Mambwe, I'm certainly no expert but here's my $0.02. I have been doing sprint tri's for a few seasons now. I've always done them on a road bike with bolt on aerobars and the seat shoved as far forward as I can.

Last year I did the same race but with my (then) new Trek 5200 in a standard road set-up. Had my fastest bike leg ever. My thinking is that I was faster because I was on a lighter, faster bike and, more importantly, I was in better bike shape because I'd spent the whole spring riding the heck out of my great new machine.

I also thought about buying a tri-specific bike but decided against it because, as the name says, they're tri-specific. Can't really ride with a group or up and down hills on them.
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Old 05-22-03, 09:57 AM   #5
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What is the difference between a road bike and a Tri-specific bike?
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Old 05-22-03, 10:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by locole
What is the difference between a road bike and a Tri-specific bike?
Geometry, mostly.

Here's a tri-specific bike. Here's a road bike.

Notice the more aggressive seat tube angle on the Cervelo. That puts the saddle forward and the bottom bracket back from the traditional road bike geometry. When combined with aerobars, it puts the rider in a more aerodynamic position, but more importantly, it moves the rider's hips forward and takes pressure off the quads to save them for the run. Here's an article that describes it in more detail.

Most tri-bike also have 650mm wheels and integrated aerobars so you can brake and shift from the aero-position.

You can mimic the characteristics of a tri-bike with bolt-on aerobars and a forward seat post. That's what I've done with my Trek 5200 and it's only cost me $100, less than 1/10 of buying a new bike.
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Old 05-23-03, 07:01 AM   #7
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not only does it put the rider in a more aero position - often the bikes themsleves are much more aero than their road bike counterparts. many have special cutouts in the seat tube to wedge the rear wheel as close to the seat tube as possible. and the downtubes are also ovalized like an airfoil.
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Old 05-23-03, 09:56 AM   #8
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Yeah, not to mention the internal cable routing. There is also usually a shorter head tube that accomodates the more aero position. However, I understand that some bikes, like the Cervelo P2K in the picture above, have adjustable seat angles so that you can have it at 73-75 degrees for road riding or nearer to 78 degrees for the tr/tt setup. I'm not sure how difficult that is to change but it sounds like it could be a good compromise. I think Felt might have something similar, but I'm not positive on that. The overall geometry on the tri bike is probably not going to lend itself to "comfort" riding under any conditions compared to a regular road bike though. Road bikes are just fine for triathlon unless you are actually trying to place overall. Proper position on a tri-bike would probably increase your efficiency close to 25 or 30%, but if your times aren't getting close to the top 5 finishers that isn't really going to matter much.
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Old 05-23-03, 10:09 AM   #9
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The shop where I used to work was considered a Tri focused shop. We dealt with a lot of Tri customers. My philosophy is that if you're not going to be racing full time, then a Tri-Specific bike doesn't make sense. Again, my opinion for a recreational rider or a "couple time a year" racer is to get a road bike and slap some aero bars on it.

Here are my reasongs right or wrong:

1. The geometry of a Tri-Specific bike puts the rider in a more forward aero position. This is great for Race Day, but for long training rides, it can become very uncomfortable. The seat tube angle is steeper and road shock and vibrations are tranmitted directly to the rider. A standard road bike with a more relaxed seat tube will "feel" smoother as some of the vibrations are deflected.

2. 650 v 700 wheel debate. The logic of using a 650 wheel is lost on me. Quicker acceleration? Most tri's are usually long out and backs with only one or two turns. How often do you accerate? If this logic held water, then all criterium racers should race on 650's as they do a lot more accelerating. The only legitimate reason I see for 650 wheels is for very small frames where it's necessary to keep frame geometries consistant.

3. In order for any aerodynamic benefit from the tubes and 650 wheels, you must maintain an average speed over 18 m.p.h. (can't remember source of this, but I can find it if you need me to). That's pretty fast for a recreational rider.

4. Resale Value, there is less of a market for a Tri bike than a standard Road bike. I tend to buy and sell my bikes on a regular basis, so this is always a concern of mine.

5. Cost. Tri-specific bikes usually average 10-15% more. Aero tubing, aero bars,...etc. all cost more!

That's it for now!

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Old 05-23-03, 10:35 AM   #10
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Also note, that if you plan to do group rides with other roadies you probably won't be welcome.

My wife bought a tri only bike, I'm her only riding partner so far,

Another thought for distance riding is there are only 2 positions for riding,'in the aero" and on the "horns" with a roadie, there are at least 5 different positions you could ride in.

Lastly, how many seconds to you think you will save with a tri-bike compared to a good rodie that you slap on some aero bars.

I would say if you were a profession racer, maybe 30 seconds. Part time, heck you might even run slower!!!

With a Roadie you would be more apt to "ride more" therefore be faster.

Good luck on your choice.

Either way a new bike is always nice!!!
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Old 05-23-03, 11:47 AM   #11
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man.... i really want that p2k. i think if i ever train for half ironman i will buy myself one
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Old 05-23-03, 01:17 PM   #12
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A mechanic's $0.02--DON"T buy a Softride! Their quality control, design, and customer support are all bottom-of-the barrel. Want a good tri-bike? Buy a good road bike--Trek 5200 was mentioned in this thread, it's a great example--and use a forward-offset seatpost. A "real" tri=bike can be a very limiting machine for use in races other than short, flat triathlons according to customers of mine that have made that mistake.
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Old 05-23-03, 01:48 PM   #13
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From a tri guy I recommend you read what Tom at Bikesport in Michigan has to say on his site. The link is posted up above.

Cervelos website describes why 650c wheels are used and why 700c wheels are used. It has to do specifically with the geometry of the bike and getting the wheels to actually fit on the bike. 650c wheels are less aero than 700c wheels. There link is posted above also and describes in more detail about it.

I rode my first tri and placed in the top 10% overall (including pros) on the bike leg. Honestly I had a lot more left in me on the bike, but I had never seen the course and people said it was so awfully hard (it was not) so I held back. Tri people have strange ideas when it comes to cycling and I personally believe most of them do not help. They love new technology, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

A tri bike will put you in a comfortable position and allow your bike to handle better in the aerobars. The different tri bikes I have rode are a lot more stable when you are in the aero position.

If you have the money and plan to ride with tri people (not recommended) then buy a tri bike. If you plan to ride with roadies and do a few tris here and there, get a road bike. Heck, I do not even have a road bike, it is a cyclocross bike.

Go to a tri and talk to people about there bikes. Tri people are super nice and love to talk about there equipment. I spend most of my race at Wildflower talking to and passing guys on very expensive bikes. Most said there $3k+ bike was not noticably faster than the bike they had before (usually a standard road bike).

Ever thought about doing the tris that have the bike leg on a XC course?

HTH
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