Although some might try and convince you that you need to shell out for one of those incredibly experimental and equally as expensive “tri-bikes” - a road bike will actually serve you just fine in a triathlon.
Even if you’re participating in a sprint or Olympic-distance triathlons, it’s possible to switch out those flat bars for the aero equivalent, without committing to triple the price point.
Provided you opt for the right model, that is!
Today we’re taking a look at five of our favorite road bikes on the market, a versatile selection that is well suited to triathlon riders with a variety of needs, preferences, and budgets.
Whether a beginner or seasoned pro, there’s a cycle here for you,
OUR TOP PICK
Offering plenty of control and stopping power whatever the conditions, Vilano’s Diverse 3.0 is a great entry level road bike rocking disc brakes and a comfortable upright handlebar so you can ride for hours, uninterrupted.
A lightweight, yet rigid high quality 6061 aluminum frame is made using hydroformed alloy for a performance bike that lasts for years to come.
Any rider will navigate through rough terrains with ease thanks to its 700cc x 35c tires.
With Shimano front and rear derailleurs, shifters and brake levers, you know you’re getting good quality components that work optimally and should withstand plenty of regular use continuously.
24 speeds and a variable height seat post allow for a customizable ride that’s as smooth as it is enjoyable; don’t fall at the final hurdle, slide effortlessly along the tarmac to the finish line on this well crafted, budget friendly bike.
In order to make sure you get the right size, be sure to use the manufacturer’s clear sizing chart and measure your inseam to work out which frame size, reach and standover will be most appropriate for you.
- Predrilled holes for mount frame racks and water bottle holders
- Relatively lightweight for a bike of this price
- Offers competition riding at an amateur price tag
- Free pedals included
- Assembly requires specialized tools - the manufacturer recommends taking to a bike shop for a qualified bike mechanic to assemble
Designed to offer as much compliance as possible, this solid, stiff yet ultra-light bike from Savadeck has a TORAY T800 carbon fiber frame, fork, seat post and wheelset, so you know it’s going to serve you well in triathlon conditions.
Tested in a wind tunnel, the seat, stays and seat tube are contoured to give the best, most aerodynamic performance possible, whilst integrated cable routing allows for clean cutting through the air and a low profile frame.
All of the components are high end and from Shimano, including the newest 105 R7000 2*11 Speed shifter lever, front and back derailleurs, brakes, cranksets and freewheels - what more could you ask for, except maybe a discount code!
Arriving mostly assembled, even beginners to the triathlon world will be able to put this bad boy together, though manufacturers recommend having a professional mechanic give it a tune-up for you before competing!
At only 18.3lbs, it’s one of the lightest bikes on our list, so you can float along the tarmac at lightning speed, especially on those beautiful 700x25C Continental Ultra Sport II Wire Tires.
- Full carbon frame and Shimano components
- Integrated Hollowtech crankset and cassette sprockets for silky smooth transfer
- High quality Fizik saddle to allow the comfiest possible ride
- Rigorously tested to ensure you get the quality you pay for
- A very, very expensive investment!
As the most affordable bike on our list, you might be wary of the Merax, but it’s ideal if you’re just getting started with triathlon.
Don’t let the budget price fool you, either - all of the components are high quality Shimano!
Strong and lightweight, the 6061 aluminum frame is durable and hard-wearing, able to carry you through hundreds of triathlons successfully.
Offering a smooth and even ride, even an entry-level rider will find themselves beating personal bests.
700C tires and 21 speeds make for reliable shifting with smooth gear changes; this upgraded model offers better performance than previous Merax bikes, though still retains that newbie-friendly price tag.
Easily adjust the saddle up or down to create the best riding position; the bike arrives approximately 85% assembled, so all you need to do is add the pedals, saddle, handlebar and front wheel, then inflate the tires, and you’re ready to ride.
No need to panic! The quick release front wheels are incredibly easy to install and require zero professional tools.
There’s even an integrated aluminum kickstand that allows you to stand it up just about anywhere - great to double as a commuting bike!
- Reinforced aluminum alloy rims
- Good quality Kenda tires
- Decent weight capacity of 330lbs
- Arrives almost fully assembled - minimal fuss required, no tools necessary
- On the heavier side at just under 30lb
As a popular manufacturer, Schwinn are a solid choice for triathletes, in particular their Fastback Tournel Al.
Choose from sizes extra small to extra large, ensuring the perfect fit no matter the height of the potential rider.
Equipped with their patented road-tuned N Litened, triple-butted aluminum road frame and fork, it’s designed to offer expert level riding with a geometry that’s ideal for road racing during triathlons.
Of course, being of this quality, you can expect Shimano 14 speed shift/brake levers and front and rear derailleurs which combine to offer silky smooth, seamless gear changes so you can ride comfortably even if there’s a sudden change in steepness.
A Schwinn sports saddle paired with performance bar tape makes sure that each and every ride is comfortable, whilst the Promax aluminum caliper brakes provide precision stopping power even at high speeds.
700c wheels accommodate adult riders between five foot four and six foot two; every purchase comes with a limited lifetime warranty, so you can buy with peace of mind that even if it doesn’t work, you’ll be able to return or exchange for a bike that does.
- Reputable manufacturer you can rely on
- Lightweight at only 24.9lbs
- Multiple sizes to suit a variety of riders
- 14 speeds for effortless gear shifting
- Some assembly is required - may need a mechanic’s help if you’re not DIY-inclined
There’s no need to spend more to get the best when the Tommaso Imola Endurance bike is right here: as a direct to consumer brand, they provide 100% Shimano gears paired with an ultra-light aluminum frame at incredible value for money.
Brand new Claris STI components mimic their 105 and Tiagra counterparts for the best possible performance, whilst all cables have been routed under the bar to allow clean shifting and a perfectly polished look.
Compact yet comfortable frame geometry offers a relaxed position for multiple riding styles, as well as a minimal handlebar drop to make it as comfortable as possible for upright riders.
Wider 25mm, 700c road bike tires have been added to allow extra control and added efficiency, so the bike lasts as long as your endurance does.
You can ride the Imola on a variety of terrains and still slice through the air at considerable speeds.
Offering a lifetime frame warranty and full customer service at any time via their US based service team, Tommaso offers the best peace of mind for triathlon cyclists, for whom the bike is more than just a mode of transport but a path to victory!
- Premium frame, brakes and components at amateur prices
- Customizable with holes drilled for racks, fenders and other accessories
- Full Shimano groupset - no Frankenbikes with mix and match components here!
- Backed by a full two year warranty and 24/7 access to US customer service department
- Professional assembly required to validate full warranty
Best Road Bike For Triathletes Buying Guide
What Are The Different Types Of Road Bike?
Given “road bike” is these days an umbrella term for any bicycle designed for riding on tarmac, with narrow tires and light frames, it’s worth pointing out there are several different types of road bike out there, each with different characteristics.
Depending on whether you’re planning on reserving it strictly for triathlons or you want something a little more versatile, you should opt for a different kind of road bike.
Read through and find out which is best for your needs.
Standard Road Bike
As the name suggests, these cheap and cheerful entry-level bikes are relatively affordable; you can get a decent beginner’s road bike for a couple of hundred dollars, though riders with more experience might want to aim for a higher-end model.
Flat Bar Road bike
If you’re not comfortable riding a bike with drop bars - or you think you’re plenty aerodynamic without them! - then it’s possible to get a variant with traditional flat bars if you would rather. Everything else is the same, though!
Aero Road Bike
Prioritizing speed so you can cut like a hot knife through the air, these bad boys are designed to push you over the finish line fastest, not be ridden comfortably.
Their weird frame shapes, low positioning and integrated mechanisms make for an unpleasant experience over long distances.
Lightweight/Race Road Bike
Much like an aero bike, a road bike designed for racing will be abnormally shaped, but also on the lighter side, so they respond better to your movement and control, offering quicker handling when you need it the most.
Gravel/Adventure Road Bike
Thicker, bumpier tires, smoother disc braces, and additional mudflaps make gravel road bikes ideal for rougher terrain, so you get the option of taking them off-road whilst maintaining the traditional lightweight frame.
Sport/Endurance Road Bike
Nice and comfortable, an endurance road bike allows you to ride all day long with a more appropriately shaped frame, so you can maintain an upright position.
You might also find them with disc brakes or thicker tires to allow for biking in wet conditions.
Features To Consider
You’ll find that most road bike frames are made from aluminum, titanium, carbon, or steel - the material you opt for will have a huge impact on how well your bike performs, so this is an important decision to make!
Whilst carbon is the most expensive material to go for, it’s also feather-light and super-comfortable to ride.
As it’s moldable, you’ll find many aero road bikes are made from carbon, though it’s important to note that this flexibility makes them more susceptible to damage.
A good quality aluminum is a nice alternative, typically combined with other metals to make a strong alloy that allows the manufacturer to personalize how stiff or comfortable the frame will be.
Steel and titanium are sort of old-fashioned in the bike world now; the former is heavy but durable and long lasting, whilst the latter is lightweight but retains that all-important hard-wearing quality all cyclists are looking for.
It sounds obvious, but you want your road bike to be comfortable to ride! If you can get down to a store to get measured up that’s always helpful, but otherwise, see Youtube for a variety of ways to work out what frame size you need.
Opting for a bike that’s adjustable is also helpful, as this means you can make subtle tweaks that alter the comfort of your bike - for instance, the height of the seat - without having to swap out components altogether.
Whatever you opt for - carbon, steel, aluminum… it’s also important to think about the quality of the components, such as the groupset and the drivechain. These will usually drive up the price significantly the better they get!
Most manufacturers will go for Shimano components these days, if their bikes are pre-built anyway, as they’re the best and most widely available on the market.
You might also want to consider contemporary disc brakes as opposed to their mechanical components, which are far better in wet or dusty conditions.
Thinking about tires is also worthwhile - you’ll find traditionally, a road bike has 23mm tires, but in recent years a 25mm tire is favored as they offer greater control, especially when taking tight corners.
An endurance or gravel road bike could even have tires as thick as 28mm, suitable for off-road riding.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are triathlon bikes so expensive?
Triathlon bikes are not actually that expensive compared to other rides, especially if you look at road bikes with similar components.
Any bike with a set of Shimano brakes, shifters, derailleurs, a crank and a cassette is going to cost you already.
That’s without even thinking about the frame, tires, handlebars, seatpost and saddle!
If you want a quality bike to get you to the finish line faster, then you have to opt for high-end, lightweight, aerodynamic materials, which unfortunately cost more!
What bike is best for a triathlon beginner?
An average-to-good, entry level road bike is a good place to start! Diving in at the deep end and getting an awkwardly shaped, carbon built aero road bike is asking for trouble, as they’re uncomfortable to ride as it is, never mind for a beginner.
Focus on getting decent tires and making sure the size is right for you - whilst you’re getting the hang of the entire triathlon system, you want to be able to endure as much of it as possible, which means prioritizing comfort whilst riding.
Likewise, make sure the saddle feels good to sit in and the handlebars can be adjusted to a suitable height so you’re not hunched over. You won’t be able to power through to the end if you’re pedalling and leaning over!
What is the difference between a road bike and a triathlon bike?
Primarily, the shape of its frame, which is usually referred to as its “geometry” in the bike world. Your average road bike has a fairly standard frame, which prioritizes the comfort of its rider over how fast they’ll be able to go.
A triathlon bike, however, will have a far larger seat tube angle, a good four to six degrees steeper than a traditional road bike’s frame. This allows for you to ride in a more aerodynamic, but far less comfortable position.
If you’re primarily riding on flat surfaces, a triathlon bike will serve you well as it’s designed to push you forwards as fast as possible; road bikes on the other hand are better for steep inclines and harsher terrains, as it’s a lot easier to climb a hill on one!
Remember, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get a good quality triathlon bike - as long as the components are good quality and the frame is lightweight and comfortable to ride, you’ll be good to go and sure to succeed.