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  1. #1
    Upgrade your Turbo Ritalin's Avatar
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    road bike v/s triathalon bike

    How do the bikes differ? I know they look totally different... aero bars on the tri bike... looks like smaller wheels too but what else?

    why would someone choose a tri bike over a road bike? and why wouldn't they just ride one all the time?


    AND why do they use wheel covers on time trial stages but not in group rides? is it that the weight in a time trail doesn't overcome the benifit of the aero benifit but when in a group with less drag it doesn't make as much sense?

    i hope that made sense

  2. #2
    The clock's run out kewlrunningz's Avatar
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    Tri bikes are a cross between a road bike and a TT bike. Look at the tubing, some of it is typical of a road bike, and some is like that of a TT bike. Tri bikes are used in...well Triathalons. The bike portion is usually a little over 100miles which is too long for a full blow TT bike. There is no drafting allowed in Tri's either as in Time Trials, this is why some of the bike focuses on aerodynamics while others are on lightness. Hope this helps.
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  3. #3
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    Tri bikes are for athletes who can't ride, sort of.
    The riding position is different to a road or TT position, and is indeed illegal in UCI events. The rider adops a fairly relaxed touring style, then rotates forward to achieve a flat back. The bike is made with a steep seat-tube, a short top tube and stable steering geometry.
    This position is useful for people who havent spent their teenage years growing into a hunchback time trialist, and favours the muscle groups that are well developed in runners. The tri bars help the athlete rest his/her arms and shoulders after the swimming section.

  4. #4
    Upgrade your Turbo Ritalin's Avatar
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    wow, thanks guys... that really makes a lot of sense now

  5. #5
    Mad For Marinoni !!! Captain Crunch's Avatar
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    Tri bikes have a steeper seat tube so that the quad muscles take more of the impact than in conventional road bikes. The reason is to save the hamstrings for the run portion of the triathlon.

    Many tri bikes actually have a longer top tube than conventional bikes so that you are more aerodynamic.

    The small wheels again are partially for aero and partly due to quicker acceleration.

    You cannot draft in triathlons so aerodynamics is very important.

    Most triathlon are actually only 40km in length unless they are in the IronMan series but Olympic distance in the triathlon is a 40km bike ride. This is one quick ride so being aero is very important and it is very much a time trial like race.
    One does not cease to play because one grows old.
    One grows old because one ceases to play.

  6. #6
    Junior Member Guillermo's Avatar
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  7. #7
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    I ride both...most of the things stated so far are true.

    My tri bike is used strictly for training and racing (Duathlons). Forward angle bikes combinded with aero bars are usually meant for pure out speed. It also aids for the run transition. Tri bikes are NOT meant for extended hills and long leisure rides (at least, in my experience). The geometry doesn't lend itself to a comfortable ride if you just want to casually ride...also you look like a dweeb going slow on a tri-bike
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    Go to bikesportmichigan .com for a good article on this topic. In summary, if you even have to ask the question, get a road bike.

  9. #9
    Upgrade your Turbo Ritalin's Avatar
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    I already have a road bike, I just see the tri bikes and wonder what their purpose is. Thanks for the info guys, really cleared the confusion up!

  10. #10
    Mr. Cellophane RainmanP's Avatar
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    When you say wheel covers I assume you mean disc wheels. They are not used in mass start events like a regular road race or crit because they tend to get blown around in cross winds, making handling difficult and therefore dangerous. Aero bars are definitely illegal in mass start events because of handling limitations.
    If it ain't broke, mess with it anyway!

  11. #11
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    I have always heard that a tri bike is squirrely when compared to a road bike. Comfort vs Aerodynamics per LBS's.

  12. #12
    It tastes like burning! deliriou5's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Castanza
    I have always heard that a tri bike is squirrely when compared to a road bike. Comfort vs Aerodynamics per LBS's.
    tri bikes tend to have quicker steering because they also tend to have steeper head tubes, in addition to steeper seat tubes.
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  13. #13
    Bambo Natophelia's Avatar
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    Let me preface this: I don't know squat about Tri

    I was at dinner with a friend the other day. I was talking about cycling, she was talking about running and helping a friend (who is a better runner than she)with her swimming. It struck me..Hey! We have a relay team! I got the little light bulb over my head and thought it might be fun to go for it sometime. Since I don't know any kind of rules or anything, my question is can you use a regular road bike? I only want to do this for kicks so no way am I buying a tri bike for it!
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  14. #14
    Superman With Silver Guns bbarend's Avatar
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    I understood a tri back to also be set up so that the pedal cadence and motion mimic that of running. This is to aid the transitions.
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  15. #15
    Spinmeister
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    natophelia, you can ride whatever type bike you want. Could probably even be a tricycle if you really wanted! Relays are a great way to enjoy triathlons without doing the other two parts.
    "Training is what Iím doing while my opponents are sleeping in."- Bill Robertson

  16. #16
    It tastes like burning! deliriou5's Avatar
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    i've seen people with mountain bikes doing the tri's!

    just use your road bike and borrow a pair of aerobars
    The only true knowledge is knowing that you know nothing - Socrates

    Back on the bike!!

  17. #17
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    I would only recommend a Tri-specific bicycle to a person who competes on a regular basis, say 10 races per year, and can afford two bikes. A regular road bike for training, and a tri-specific for "race day".

    A Tri-specific bike isn't as comfortable as a regular road bike, so unless you have two bikes, it makes more sense (to me anyways) to get a regular road bike and make some modifications to it on raceday.

    A regular road bike is much more comfortable for long sustained rides used for training. The slacker geometries on a standard road bike help absorb (minimize) some of the road vibrations. They also allow for a more stable handling bike.

    A Tri-specific bike has one purpose. To be as aerodynamic and fast as possible during a race. The forward position helps save the legs for the run and creates better aerodynamics. Aero tubing, Disc wheels, Deep Dish rims, 650cm wheels. All lend themselves to one thing, going faster. The compromise is comfort.

    You can modify a regular road bike as follows and is what I would recommend for those who compete, but only have one bike.

    Aero bars (of course), a forward seatpost, and a double water bottle carrier for the seat.

    I've never understood the 650 vs 700 wheel size debate. Quicker acceration? If so, then all criterium racers would want 650 wheels. Plus, how often do you accelerate on most tri road sections. Usually at the beginning, and then at the turnaround point. I would think a bigger wheel is preferred for sustaining speed once rolling. A smaller wheel makes sense for smaller riders, but that's about it IMO.
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  18. #18
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    650c is swings and rounderbouts when it comes to performance, but it does allow the designer more freedom. With a tri bike, it permits the top tube to be shorter, without having toe-clip overlap or unusually slack headtube angle.
    These days, it is only used on the smaller sizes.
    Take a look at the classic Tri bike manufacturer Quintana Roo and compare the geometry to a std Trek road bike
    http://www.rooworld.com/english/html/bikes/tiphoon.html
    http://www.trekbikes.com/bikes/2003/...0.jsp#geometry

    Do tri bike have squirrelly steering? They are not for mixing it in a peleton, or cutting around a criterion. With tired arms after a swim, and a primary position in the aerobars, you would expect a very stable front end to be the norm, and the Roo geometry looks quite reasonable.

  19. #19
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    The geometry may not lend it to be a squirrely bike, but being in the aero drops definately does create an unstable position.

    L8R
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  20. #20
    Bambo Natophelia's Avatar
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    Cool..I'll just stick with my spiffy road bike and leave it at that. I would only be cycling anyway for the time being. I'll let my friends take care of the other legs.
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  21. #21
    New Triathlon Junkie
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    ritalin- Thanks for posing the question. Lots of good info from all those that responded. I basically had the same question. I know the differences between tri vs road but I am still debating on buying a tri bike or getting a new road bike and converting it for tri. I currently ride and race on an older cannondale road bike with aero bars. But now that I am starting to get more serious about racing triathlons I want a bike that I can train and race on that can be used to do possibly an Ironman distance race. I can't really afford to buy two bikes and I was looking at spending about 1000 - 1500 on a bike. I went into the local trek store and the guy working gave me this long run down on how tri bikes suck and that we weren't meant to ride the way that a tri bike sets you up. Yet if you read any tri magazine or go to any tri races the majority of the bikes are tri specific. I still want to be able to train with local riding clubs and most don't like tri bikes. So, I guess the question is what type of bike is best for training and racing with the ability to race an Ironman? From everything that I can see a road bike converted for triathlons is my best bet. All- Any suggestions?

  22. #22
    Senior Member neuronbliss's Avatar
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    tmclendon, if your primary focus is triathlon, get a triathlon bike. If you want to use a triathlon bike occasionally for road racing (or train with a road cycling club), get drop bars with aero bars. If you decide to train with a club, stay out of your aero bars. Aero bars are inherently more difficult to steer accurately and make quick decisions. That is what the clubs don't like. If you mainly want to be road racing, buy a road bike.

    I don't agree with having a road bike for training and a tri bike for racing. Why would you want to train your body to be strong in the road position and then race in a completely different one? This seems counter productive to me. The steep angle of triathlon bikes lend themselves for easier transitions and endurance. Aero bars for after the swim, steeper angle on the cranks use the hamstrings more, reserving energy for the run.

    I even have my commuter bike set to the same angles as my triathlon bike. I want my body to memorize those motor skills and develop strength and efficiency accordingly. To be most productive in training, I think it is important to be consistent with geometry and proper form. Vary your distance, power and spin to train for specific goals.

  23. #23
    Body by Guinness cjbruin's Avatar
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    I would definitely say, go with a road bike (with the disclaimer that your desire to do an IM distance throughs a wrinkle in there). A good friend of mine did Kona this year (10:44) and he rode a road bike with clip-ons right up to the point that he decided to do an IM (always did Olympics and Halfs before that).

    Still, if you want to ride with local clubs...it will be safer and more comfortable to be on a road bike.

    Forget the Trek store and find a tri-specific shop if you can. They will most likely recommend that you get a set of clip-ons and a forward facing seat post.

    Good Luck!

  24. #24
    Senior Member neuronbliss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjbruin
    Still, if you want to ride with local clubs...it will be safer and more comfortable to be on a road bike.
    I disagree with this statement (IMHO )... How can comfort be an issue when triathletes are riding these bikes 112 miles? They must be somewhat comfortable. Perhaps you could provide rationale.

    My tri bike is very comfortable. The only difference is the body position. Once your muscles/body gets used to riding this way, the comfort issue is negligible. If you have drop bars with aero bars, there is no safety issue. Stay out of the aero when riding in a pace line.

  25. #25
    Body by Guinness cjbruin's Avatar
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    My experience is that tri bikes aren't as comfortable if you're not in the aero position. The more aggressive angle places more weight on your hands when you're riding on the drops. Plus, shifting is a bit less convenient when the levers are at the end of the bar rather than on your brake levers. Sounds like you may disagree so maybe we'll just confuse this guy

    On the other hand, I think group riders don't like seeing aero bars in their packs (whether that is rational or not). With clip-ons, you can always remove them for a group ride.

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