Triathlon and Time Trial bikes are engineered for performance by optimising aerodynamics for maximum speed and race efficiency. Often referred to simply as Tri or TT Bikes, this specialist category has become one of the worlds’ most popular racing disciplines. It is important to understand the factors that distinguish Tri bikes from other types of bikes, so be sure to check out our guide at the bottom of this page.
It is important to emphasise that Triathlon bikes are specifically designed to meet the demands of both time trialling and triathlon, subsequently; they are not exactly suitable for general everyday use. Optimising aerodynamic efficiency is best achieved with aggressive frame geometries and maximising stiffness for better power transfer, so these factors take precedence over others like versatility, responsiveness and comfort.
Engineered with a focus on speed, TT bikes are designed for riders who specialise in races against the clock. Whereas Tri bikes are designed for either short and fast or longer endurance distances, including Ironman-type events. Here aerodynamic efficiency is a decisive factor in overall race performance, as is being able to run after having been on the bike.
There is often a major distinction within the market for triathlon and time trial bikes, as the competition governing body rules differ. For road time trialists, the governing body is the International Cycling Union (UCI), while in triathlon, it is the International Triathlon Union (ITU). It's crucial to consider what governing body you will ride under if you choose to race! Generally, a smaller proportion of time trial bikes available on the market are considered UCI legal, due to more stringent requirements, and the ease of bicycle manufacturers to simply cater to the larger majority who participate within the triathlon discipline.
Aerodynamic advantage is notably achieved on time trial bikes with aggressive frame geometries. This is to maximise a reduction in wind resistance, making the rider as fast as possible, particular at high speeds. This factor goes hand in hand with the handlebar setup, which has a dramatic effect on the frontal area of the rider. Compared to using a road bike with clip-on time trial bars, an integrated handlebar setup combined with the shorter head tube of a tri-specific bike, has a profound impact on reducing drag and increasing performance.
Additionally, the seat position is another feature that distinguishes a Tri bike from other bicycle models. A steeper seat tube, often combined with a Tri specific saddle, will bring you much further forward over the bottom bracket to more effectively get you in to your most aerodynamic frontal position. Finally, the component choice is another important time trial bike purchase decision. Choosing a mechanical groupset confines shifting to the aerobar extensions, and braking to the drops. Alternatively, some electronic groupset options allow for simultaneous shifting capabilities in the drops, which is particularly useful for more technically inclined time trial courses.
Wheels form a crucial component to a race-ready Tri bike and so should be factored into the price. Many bikes come equipped with a more general-purpose wheelset designed to handle regular training use, however, these typically lack the speed of a good race wheel. Be sure to read our comprehensive guide to road bike wheels to learn more.
Want to know more? Our blog team has created a complete buyer's guide to Triathlon bikes.
Leading global bicycle manufacturers have significantly invested in the research and design of aerodynamic innovations in order to have the quickest bicycle available on the market – a desirable factor for every road enthusiast! Embrace the purist nature of time trialling, or simply look to become the envy of those around you, by having a look at the huge selection of triathlon and time trial bikes available for sale here on BikeExchange. With models from leading brands like Giant, Cervelo, Felt, Fuji and Specialized, look no further for all your traithlon and time trial needs!