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Tri Bike or Road bike? ? ? ?


I'm new to the wonderful sport of triathlon and loving it, done my first event and looking forward to improving my time in the oncoming season, however have some cycle questions for you all,

1. Which is faster a road bike or tri bike (over say a sprint distance event)?

I have recently bought a road bike and I'm now worried I've made the wrong investment.

2. Should I be standing up for riding my bike up hills or sitting down? anyone know which is faster? I'm assuming sitting down is more efficient energy wise.

3. Is there much difference in technique between a road bike racer and a triathlete??

If anyone can help would be much appreciated




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    transittransit Posts: 163
    1. Generally I'd expect a tri bike to be quicker than a road bike. Maybe not on some hilly courses due to it compromising weight for aerodynamics but if it is not really hilly then the tri bike would be quicker. Depending on what distance tri you are going to do a road bike with clip on aero bars is possibly the better option for comfort. It is really useful for all rides too, it's no fun going on a group ride on a tri bike - in fact it can be dangerous.

    2. On longer hills you're quite right, more efficient to sit down and therefore the right thing to do...unless, it's just a little roller that you know you can just carry your speed over and get back on flat/downhill. Can also be good to occasionally get out of the saddle to climb to take weight off your 'bits' and to stretch out a bit.

    3. Your position on a tri bike is alot less comfortable due to aerodynamic nature. It means you are leant further over but also you are further over the bottom bracket. In terms of actual riding, triathletes might generally ride a slightly higher cadence, but not always.

    er, sure there is loads more to add but that's my lot! Good luck[:D]
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    With a good level of fitness and clip on bars i'm sure that there wouldnt be too much time lost over a sprint distance. Unless the course is flat and straight.

    There are so many different theories as to technique to get up hills. I find if its a hill where cadence drops below the minimum for my knees, i will stand up and churn but hold onto the drops to get good leverage.

    Triathlete vs Road Racer. Really is no answer to that question.

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    ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    You may want to have a look at my post here:


    And this:


    And this was my first posting of this sort of question here:


    So the question is what sort of engine do you have? Are you a cyclist of experience and quads like tree trunks or are you a runner, or are you starting with a clean sheet of paper? If starting from scratch road bike pobably better as you can build your quads and shave more time off the bike section and sacrifice a little time on the run.

    Hills? I believe Armstrong favoured sitting and going at a higher cadence rather than stomping on the pedals but with practice you will find what is best. I have poor balance and fall over at very low speed so when it gets that steep I jump off and run up a hill (faster than I could have grunetd up on the bike)

    From a personal perspective I am much more comfortable on my tri bike than the road bike but that is due to my own particularly physiology, went for a couple of spins the other weekend, same route on both my tri and road bikes and there was a world of difference both in time and comfort - much happier on my tri bike so much so now thinking of selling the road bike as I just feel so odd on it.
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    TrisurferTrisurfer Posts: 228

    Cheers for the input guys, took it all on board and ordered a clip on aero bar for my road bike and work on cycle technique, its gonna be a fun winter, bring it on!!!

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    treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    Difficult questions to give a definative answer to. Basically Tri bike has "agressive geometry" and is aero so it is the faster, but is less comfortable. Therefore unless you train on the tri bike all the time and are used to it it will actually be slower. Road bike much more versatile and more comfortable and despite having less fast design features than the tri bike will probably be faster for a novice.

    Most triathletes have both types, or if they have one they will have a road bike with tribars and possibly a reversible seat post (see all the posts re. Cervelo Soloist).

    Bottom line a good athlete will go fast on either type of bike

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    Hi folks

    I'd just add one thing from technique/position point of view. Tri-specific bikes have a steeper seat angle than road bikes. Typically 76-78 degrees compared to 73 degrees. There are 2 main benefits of this:

    It enables a more aero position in that it assists the body to get low at the front without causing any encroachment between thigh and torso when pedalling. Some people and particularly those with long legs can get major probs on road bikes with clip ons.

    Secondly, the original reason for going steep was not to get aero but to enable the use of the right muscle groups for triathlon - which are different to road riding. The tri position at the same time as projecting your upper body "forward" does in fact result in your legs falling relatively further back (relative to the bottom bracket). In effect being in the saddle of a tri-bike has lots in common with riding out of the saddle on a road bike. Why does this matter then?

    The tri position has the effect of recruiting the lower leg muscle groups and resting the upper leg muscles when compared to the conventional road position. And thats the key. The tri position saves the muscles groups that you need for the run. Just google "garside study triathlon" for some pretty amazing numbers - in terms of the saving on run phase times on tri bikes compared to road bikes.

    For training rides i'd echo the points on training and hills that have been made above too - tri bikes are hard on hills as you are not able to use those big glutes and hamstrings so well - also in any traffic you're at a disadvantage as the steep postion makes it harder to look around.

    Getting that engine purring smoothly and efficiently over the winter is probably the number one thing any of us can do.

    Andy Aero Blob

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    treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
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    bennybenny Posts: 1,314
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    treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
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