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Comment choisir le bon vélo pour démarrer le triathlon : conseils et astuces

In this Article

How to Choose the Right Bike to Run your First Triathlon: Tips and Tricks

In this Article

Published May 4, 2023

The triathlon is a very complete sport with a sequence of 3 disciplines: swimming, cycling and running. Who says 3 sports, says 3 times more equipment: swimming suit, bike, helmet, bike shoes, running shoes, trifunction, swimming and cycling goggles ... It becomes quickly a very expensive sport. The bike is the most important investment in the practice of this sport. This is what holds back many aspiring triathletes who want to start but don't dare. They think that their bike is not "good enough" to compete. But there are no rules! If you want to start triathlon, just start with the equipment you have. You don't need to have the latest high-end CLM bike to have fun and start your first triathlon.

If you don't have a bike yet, or if you want to equip yourself for the competition, then you're in the right place. In this article, we'll give you tips and tricks to help you find the perfect triathlon bike to get started.

Which bike to choose for triathlon?


What is a triathlon bike and what are its features?

Definition of a triathlon bike

When we talk about a triathlon bike, we are referring to so-called "time trial" bikes (CLM) which are aerodynamic bikes with a geometry designed so that the person is as "stretched out" as possible on the bike for a better penetration in the air.

These bikes are mostly used by professional cyclists who compete in long distance triathlons (Ironman or 70.3). In these races, the bike part is consequent (90km for the 70.3 format) and it is not allowed to take the suction in the wheel of a competitor. Each athlete must therefore make sure to have the most aerodynamic equipment and posture possible.

The CLM bikes allow the cyclist to stand in an aerodynamic posture, and the components are also optimized for speed: aerodynamic wheels, extensions...

Most amateur athletes do not use such technical bikes. For the pros, the CLM bike is often a secondary competition bike in addition to their more traditional road bike.

The differences between a triathlon bike and a traditional road bike

Road bike

Triathlon bike

Orbea Orca Orbea Ordu

classic geometry

more aerodynamic

classic upright position

extended position with extensions


Do I need a triathlon bike to do a triathlon?

The answer is of course: no!

To do triathlon, a road bike is more than enough.
The Boardman brand released a study in 2019 to evaluate the impact of bike type and position on triathlon performance. They concluded that there is no significant difference between an aerodynamically optimized road bike and a CLM bike.

Bike and position

Watts required

Watts saved

Road bike, cocottes

298

Reference

Road bike, extenders

232

-66

Road bike, extender, optimized

215

-83

Triathlon bike

212

-86

Excerpt from Cycling Weekly and Boardman's analysis

Depending on the course and your goals, you can optimize your road bike for triathlon competition.

Which road bike geometry to choose for triathlon?

When buying your road bike you can choose an aero bike. These are road bikes whose geometry is similar to time trial bikes. Generally, the components fitted by default are also adapted to aero cycling.

Orca aero


However, as we repeat in each article, the choice of bike depends above all on your riding style. If you ride regularly in the mountains, this is not necessarily the type of bike that will suit you best.

To get an idea here is a ranking of the best aero bikes of 2022.

Which wheels to choose for triathlon ?

For those who really want to improve their bike, it is possible to put higher wheels for aerodynamics.

Wheels high

You can ride with your "normal" wheels a little less well during training and put on "better" higher wheels during competitions. By using them occasionally, for competitions or on a few rides for fun, you will wear them less and they will last longer. Moreover, if you ride for example with aluminum wheels for training and put carbon wheels for competitions, you will have the impression to fly and to be a real machine on the day. 😉


Which extenders should I choose for triathlon with a road bike?

By adding extenders to the Handlebar of your road bike, you will be able to ride with a more aerodynamic position and you will approach the feeling of a triathlon bike.

There are several sizes of extenders: small and large. The small ones don't go beyond the shifters while the large ones go further as shown in the picture. For a more comfortable position, choose the large extensions.

Bike extensions
(large extensions)

Mini bike extenders

(mini extensions)


Adapting the posture on the road bike for triathlon competition

Once you have added extenders to your road bike, you will find that the position is not as stable as before. It is advisable to move the saddle up and forward to improve posture. Ideally, you can call on a professional to perform a postural study dedicated to improving your performance or comfort for your racing goals.

 

Which bike to choose for triathlon?

To answer this question, there are several things to consider.

How much do you ride on a daily basis? How often do you ride? Where do you live, what are your training grounds?

Which triathlon bike to choose?


These questions will help determine if you need a bike specifically designed for triathlon or not.

If you ride regularly, are a seasoned triathlete, participate in several triathlons per year and already own a road bike, purchasing another bike for competition may be worthwhile.

However, if you live in the high mountains or are just starting out in triathlon, buying a triathlon bike will not be the first thing we recommend. A road bike will do just fine.

To help you choose which type of bike to buy, you can read our article on this subject. 

What is your level?

If you've been doing triathlons for a long time, and you plan to do several competitions, especially on rolling terrain, it could be a plus to have an aerodynamic triathlon bike.

On the other hand, if you do triathlon for fun or even in competition without the ambition to make podiums on international races, a road bike can again be largely sufficient.

What is your budget?

This question is very important because it can erase all the arguments seen previously. Indeed, if you have the means to enjoy yourself, having a triathlon bike will necessarily be a plus on certain competitions. We only advise against it if you are not used to it and/or if it is your first triathlon.

Here isour selection of bikes under 2 500€. 

What kind of triathlon would you like to do?

This question also depends on your level. We generally recommend taking triathlon bikes on rolling races without big positive changes in altitude because a road bike is lighter and therefore easier to handle and to take on the climbs.

However, in some races with a lot of altitude difference, such as the famous Alpe d'Huez triathlon - 118km with 3200 D+ for the bike part - the winners are often equipped with CLM bikes, so-called triathlon bikes. These are experienced triathletes who are used to riding this type of bike. In this type of race, the majority of the participants ride a classic road bike, more or less aerodynamic.

If you want to read our article on how to tackle the Alpe d'Huez climb when you are a beginner it's here

If we have convinced you and you want to buy a bike, here are the mistakes not to make.  

Why buy a road bike from The Cyclist House ?

At The Cyclist Housewe're building a platform to help cyclists spend as much time riding as possible. Whether you're preparing for your first Olympic triathlon, or planning to join the exclusive Ironman Finisher's Club, our mission is to find you the best bike at the best price with warranties that allow you to ride without worry. You ride, we take care of the rest.

What does that mean in concrete terms?

🤑 The best prices on the market for all bikes, whether they have been ridden for 5 years or 5 days

🧑‍🔧 Revised bikes, Certified Pre-Owned and prepared by professional mechanics in our warehouse in Alsace

🏅 One year warranty on frame and components.

📨 Delivery in 3 to 5 days throughout Europe

👌 30 days trial period, satisfied or refunded

Conclusion

Buying a triathlon bike is not essential to start triathlon and even to make a very good level. It should not be a hindrance to get started and discover this sport in chains. Having a triathlon bike when you are a beginner or using one if you are not used to it could even be counterproductive for you. If you have a good road bike, it is possible to optimize it so that it corresponds to your expectations: to be comfortable or to be as aerodynamic as possible, it is up to you!

It is certain that a time trial bike will be more aerodynamic. But it is important to remember that aerodynamics is divided in 2 parts: the bike and the rider. And the bike is only 20% of the total! Depending on your needs, a good postural study dedicated to triathlon will allow you to gain as much as a time trial bike - and will cost you much less!

Have you made your choice? CLM or classic road? Either way, our advice to buy a used bike without making a mistake will allow you to find the rare pearl without breaking the piggy bank.

All our bikes : The Cyclist House
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