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  1. #1
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    age old question - road vs. tri?

    Well, I finished my first sprint triathlon in Fort Collins, CO this past Sunday, and I'm hooked. Awful transition 1 of 3:46 - I might as well have showered and read the Sunday paper! Mostly because I forgot to untie my bike shoe laces and had to undo a knot. I can't wait for the next one (hopefully in august).

    I biked using my converted 10 yr old Trek 8000 mtn bike with slicks. Of course, I need to work on my bike time (40:31)- and I now have the inevitable question - should I purchase a road or a tri bike? I've read a lot of articles on the differences in geometry. The advantages I see to tri bikes (from what I've read) is the comfortable position (back) and the use of the same muscles as the run (less pain on the transition to the run). Is this really true? I don't plan on riding in a pack or drafting off anyone - what are some of the other adavntages to road over tri? Price sure seems to be the main one.

    Thanks much, and I'm excited to join the community.

  2. #2
    kfb
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    I'm a newbie as well, but I do have a couple friends that ride tri bikes. The biggest advantage from what I understand is the geometry, and aerodynamics, as tri bikes place you in a more aggressive position, which makes it easier to maintain high speeds. The negative is they are less comfortable as compared to most road bikes for longer rides.

    I'm sure the an experienced rider will post a more technical (and probably more accurate answer soon).

  3. #3
    106 kg of Pure Power zakk's Avatar
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    first, what is your cycling background? are you a mtn. biker of years? or just getting back into the fitness world?

  4. #4
    Prefers Aluminum Sprocket Man's Avatar
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    Here's a link to a really good article: http://www.bikesportmichigan.com/bikes/difference.shtml

  5. #5
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    My two cents:

    For the same money you can get a road bike with better components. It's also much more versatile since you can ride a road bike in a tri, in a crit, to the coffee shop, and to work. Tri bike are really only useful for triathlons and time trials.

    What I did was buy the best road bike I could afford and then put aerobars and a forward seatpost on it for competing in and training for triathlons. I think that's your best bet.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  6. #6
    kfb
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    Interesting link on tri bikes ... it certainly clears up some misconceptions I had!

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    Yes, I actually read that article (which is very pro tri-bike) before posting here. Thanks for the link.

  8. #8
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    and ....
    newbie biker altogether - done some mtn in past but more of swimmer and runner.

  9. #9
    Senior Member trirmk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kfb
    I'm a newbie as well, but I do have a couple friends that ride tri bikes. The biggest advantage from what I understand is the geometry, and aerodynamics, as tri bikes place you in a more aggressive position, which makes it easier to maintain high speeds. The negative is they are less comfortable as compared to most road bikes for longer rides.

    I'm sure the an experienced rider will post a more technical (and probably more accurate answer soon).
    People seem to get too caught up in tri vs. road bikes. If you're a newbie, I would focus on comfort first. Also, consider the training that you will need to be more successful at triathlons. Comfort on long rides will be key, as these longer rides will develop your aerobic system, thereby improving performance in the long run. So for comfort pick an agile and responsive road bike. I would stay away from a super aero tri bike though. Hope this helps!

  10. #10
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trirmk
    . I would stay away from a super aero tri bike though. Hope this helps!
    Unless of course you actually want to podium in triathlons and TT's!
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

  11. #11
    Senior Member trirmk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydive69
    Unless of course you actually want to podium in triathlons and TT's!
    Of course, but he's a newbie, so I don't think he has to worry about podium finishes just yet.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydive69
    Unless of course you actually want to podium in triathlons and TT's!
    Let us not forget Barb Lindquist standing on an awfull lot of podiums after kicking the sh*t out of the field on her road geometry steel bike with no aerobars.

    Test ride a number of each type and figure out what will work for you. Renting is often a possibility, and that would give you more saddle time on which to base your decision.
    Don't let somebody else (myself included) tell you what you should ride, a bike can be a very personalized thing.

    Good luck choosing what is right for you.

  13. #13
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EarlT
    Let us not forget Barb Lindquist standing on an awfull lot of podiums after kicking the sh*t out of the field on her road geometry steel bike with no aerobars.

    Test ride a number of each type and figure out what will work for you. Renting is often a possibility, and that would give you more saddle time on which to base your decision.
    Don't let somebody else (myself included) tell you what you should ride, a bike can be a very personalized thing.

    Good luck choosing what is right for you.
    Women's competition is a different animal. Tell me about a man kicking the $hit out of anyone on a road geometry bike. Although, I must admit a guy riding a road bike with aerobars came within a minute of my 5K TT time a few weeks ago! I also wish they were passing out dollar bills for every bike you pass that started before you - all riding road bikes.

    Anyway, if you can only afford one bike, the only choice is a road bike with aerobars. If you are a serious competitor, the old saying about "its the engine," works only to a certain extent. Without the equipment, you just flat a$$ will not be competitive unless you have the genetics of LA or you are competing against mediocre competition. It's like night and day time trialing with a road bike versus a TT/tri bike. I know - I have raced both, over the same distance, with rather drastic difference in results. I went from being a silver medalist (which means I lost) to breaking the state record when I raced my TT bike with proper equipment.
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

  14. #14
    Senior Member trirmk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skydive69
    Women's competition is a different animal. Tell me about a man kicking the $hit out of anyone on a road geometry bike. Although, I must admit a guy riding a road bike with aerobars came within a minute of my 5K TT time a few weeks ago! I also wish they were passing out dollar bills for every bike you pass that started before you - all riding road bikes.

    Anyway, if you can only afford one bike, the only choice is a road bike with aerobars. If you are a serious competitor, the old saying about "its the engine," works only to a certain extent. Without the equipment, you just flat a$$ will not be competitive unless you have the genetics of LA or you are competing against mediocre competition. It's like night and day time trialing with a road bike versus a TT/tri bike. I know - I have raced both, over the same distance, with rather drastic difference in results. I went from being a silver medalist (which means I lost) to breaking the state record when I raced my TT bike with proper equipment.
    I know plenty of guys who would kick the $hit out of anyone else on a road geometry bike. I saw it happen at a world championship event - I was in the race and saw it first hand (of course it wasn't me doing it, but I certainly saw it happen ) Also, this isn't just about TT's. The poster is a newbie triathlete. If he were competing in ONLY TT's, I'd say sure, go with a full aero, tricked-out TT bike. But for what he's doing, he should consider both types of bikes. I would just suggest a road geometry for a newbie. I know the differences in TT times for racing with TT vs. road setups, but for all intents and purposes, and to help out the poster, he really needs to consider comfort and what's going to help him in the long haul...he can always upgrade to a tricked-out TT bike, but for starting out, I would bet my last dollar that he wouldn't be comfortable or see any different results starting out if he were on a full aero TT bike.

  15. #15
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trirmk
    I know plenty of guys who would kick the $hit out of anyone else on a road geometry bike. I saw it happen at a world championship event - I was in the race and saw it first hand (of course it wasn't me doing it, but I certainly saw it happen ) Also, this isn't just about TT's. The poster is a newbie triathlete. If he were competing in ONLY TT's, I'd say sure, go with a full aero, tricked-out TT bike. But for what he's doing, he should consider both types of bikes. I would just suggest a road geometry for a newbie. I know the differences in TT times for racing with TT vs. road setups, but for all intents and purposes, and to help out the poster, he really needs to consider comfort and what's going to help him in the long haul...he can always upgrade to a tricked-out TT bike, but for starting out, I would bet my last dollar that he wouldn't be comfortable or see any different results starting out if he were on a full aero TT bike.
    I am in total agreement. For a newbie, the only choice is a road bike. It makes a better trainer, and can easily be adapted to tris with the addition of aerobars (and other things).
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

  16. #16
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    one thing that makes me curious on this subject is that if you go to www.triathlon.org and look at the pics of the best guys in the world on the "world championships" none of them are using the super aero tri-bikes... they are all using road type bikes and some of them dont even have aero bars.... are they all that good? are the courses too involved for tri bikes? maybe they all the have the tri geometry but i can tell from the pics...

  17. #17
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgm13
    one thing that makes me curious on this subject is that if you go to www.triathlon.org and look at the pics of the best guys in the world on the "world championships" none of them are using the super aero tri-bikes... they are all using road type bikes and some of them dont even have aero bars.... are they all that good? are the courses too involved for tri bikes? maybe they all the have the tri geometry but i can tell from the pics...
    I ride with members of the biggest triathlete club in the word - the Maddogs, and I have yet to see a member/competitor sans aero bars. Anyone that runs a tri without aero bars is giving up lots of time. Having said that, in the ITU events where drafting is allowed, many run road bikes, but that is a bit different than being into the wind by yourself.
    www.brokennecktobrokenrecords.com

  18. #18
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Yeah. Those pix on the ITU website look like draft-legal races. All the races I've been in have been under standard USTF rules and I think it's 2-meters unless preparing to pass.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  19. #19
    Senior Member skydive69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso
    Yeah. Those pix on the ITU website look like draft-legal races. All the races I've been in have been under standard USTF rules and I think it's 2-meters unless preparing to pass.
    Yes, ITU is draft legal, USTF is not. Even the TT's I compete in allow no more than 85 feet to the rear of another competitor unless it is an obvious pass, which must either be completed in a timely manner, or you better get your butt back 85 feet to the rear or get penalized. BTW, non draft races separate the men form the boys. I can be very difficult to drop a racer considerably less talented who is wheel sucking. Nothing like "The Race Of Truth" - a time trial!
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  20. #20
    Junior Member RoadBikeRage's Avatar
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    Here's a good link to an article sponsored by a bike shop that sells both.

    http://www.bikesportmichigan.com/bikes/difference.shtml

  21. #21
    flux capacitor Orikal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadBikeRage
    Here's a good link to an article sponsored by a bike shop that sells both.

    http://www.bikesportmichigan.com/bikes/difference.shtml
    Nice article, thanks.

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    FWIW, I went from a mountain bike to a tri specific frame bike. It was probably harder for me to get used to than a road bike would have been, but I didn't know the difference anyway. I really just ride for tri training purposes.

    I love to ride aero, all scrunched down as low as I can get. It seems to be the only advantange on the bike portion that I have, since I'm not particularly fast or powerful. If I ride in the regular bars, I lose about 2 mph on the average as to riding aero.

    I would not suggest a tri frame bike if you're not into riding in the aero bars. If you're a power house tri-rider, a tri frame bike might help you even more than a roadie would for speed. My husband has a road bike that's equiped like a tri bike, but now he wants a tri specific frame. I'd have to say that tri frames are probably best for the very strong on the bike or the very weak (myself) where you have to take every advantage that you can. If you want to do long weekend rides with your pals, get a roadie. Good luck on your decision!

  23. #23
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    Its simple. If you get a road bike, just dont get it so goddamn big that you are miserable in the aerobars. Simply fit aerobars to the bike when you buy it instead of later. It seems that every triathlete I know who buys a bike from a bike shop comes out with a frame that is simply too big. Bring someone who genuinely knows what they are talking about with you (and I mean for triathlons, or time trialing, not for regular road cycling because the geometry is different). For me I can only afford one bike, so if I ever want to do cycling races I can take off the aerobars and have a UCI legal bike.

    Its simply not true that top level pros never race on road geometry. And I've seen a lot of high level racers who use road bikes with aerobars. It IS a matter of position and if you are positioned properly for time trial you will ride faster. For me, it knocked a good 3 minutes off my 40K bike leg in a tri and has lead to a remarkable improvement in my run splits. I assure you that a road bike will not trash your chances of a podium finish.

    As for the comment about the women's races, if we're talking about Barb Linquist I think its safe to say she beats the pants off nearly every man in the field. I'll agree that the women's field drops off much faster than the men's but did anyone watch Ralphs 1/2IM? The lead woman was in the top 20 (including pro men) if not the top 10 overall.

    Best of luck and have a blast with it.

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    I was all set to buy a tri-bike after researching online info, talking to area triathletes and bike shops, but now after reading tri vs road comments here, I am not so certain. I did read the article on bikesportmichigan as well. I am training for my 1st sprint tri. The tri-bike I'm looking at is no more expensive than road bikes I have priced, and I know I want to do tri's, so why would I want a road bike I had to adapt with aero bars, etc?

  25. #25
    kfb
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1stri
    I was all set to buy a tri-bike after researching online info, talking to area triathletes and bike shops, but now after reading tri vs road comments here, I am not so certain. I did read the article on bikesportmichigan as well. I am training for my 1st sprint tri. The tri-bike I'm looking at is no more expensive than road bikes I have priced, and I know I want to do tri's, so why would I want a road bike I had to adapt with aero bars, etc?
    Do you intend to do any group rides? Are you sure you'll be able to ride in the full-aero position full-time? I agree with the idea of a road bike set up with aero bars first. Much more versatile, and if you really get serious with triathlons, you can either upgrade to a tri bike, or better yet, buy one as your second bike!!!

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