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Bike questions - please help the mechanically challenged ....

I may have the chance to get a new bike (whoopee!) but know so little about them - I ride, can change an inner tube, put the chain back on and straighten handlebars and that's about it. I currently ride a Bottechia road bike with clip on aerobars. I spend a lot of time on the tribars, but I'm not the worlds most confident cyclist, specially on corners and technical bits. This year I'm hoping to do HIMUK again and Vitruvian.

My local tri shop has recommended a Litespeed Tachyon, Cannondale SIX13 or 105. Does anyone know anything about these? Have looked on the internet but can't find reviews I'd trust.

I understand the theories, but what's the real, practical difference between a tri bike and a road bike? Would you use a tri bike on a hilly course, or is a road bike better?

Help, please...


  • Both the Litespeed and the Six13 are serious, serious bikes which perform superbly. Neither are either good or bad value; they are what you'd expect to pay for the specification. I don't know what you mean by "105". Shimano 105 is the brand name of a mid-range groupset (set of gear and brake components) but is not a complete bike.

    The main differences between the two bikes are: The Litespeed is a tri-geometry bike. That is, it has a shorter top tube and a steeper seat tube to enable you to obtain a position that is both aerodynamic and powerful, This is done by "rotating" you forward over the bottom bracket, enabling you to achieve an optimum hip/torso angle to deliver power to the pedals while you are on the tri bars. The Cannondale has a standard road geometry. This means that it is not really designed to be ridden with tri bars, because when you try and get low and forward, it closes the angle between torso and hip, disengaging your glute muscles with a corresponding loss in pedal power. If you want to achieve an aero position on a road-geometry bike, you'll need to buy a frame that's a size too small for you, add a zero-setback seatpost and fiddle with the stem length until you get an acceptable position. This presents other problems, such as the possibility of banging your knees on the bars when climbing out of the saddle. It's all a compromise. I know very, very good triathletes and time-triallers who are able to get aero on a road geometry bike with no problem, so it's a very personal thing.

    Can tri bikes be used on hilly courses? Yes, if you stay on the bullhorns and not the tribars for any steep climbing. I once tested a Planet X Stealth up Cragg Vale, the longest continuous ascent in England. It felt very powerful. Descents are more hairy on a more "forward" bike, though.

    Another thing to consider: You would not be able to ride a tri bike in a pack, say if you joined a club or wanted to train with friends. It's dangerous.

    All in all, I would hesitate to spend thousands on a bike until I knew what I was really looking for. If you have a dealer who will let you give both bikes a serious test ride then that's something; you can see how they perform in the hills yourself. Also if you're loaded and can afford to risk an expensive mistake, then go for it!

  • pacrfishpacrfish Posts: 266
    Hi John

    Thanks for the detailed response - it helps and I appreciate it. I'm going to borrow the Cannondale & Litespeed from my local shop and try them. I'm not much of a runner or a swimmer, so I have to take as much advantage as I can from the bike. I can get a reasonably aero position on my road bike with aerobars, but I am hoping the geaometry of a tri-specific bike may also help.

    Have looked at your blog - good luck for this years Ironman efforts ...

  • madnursemadnurse Posts: 782
    doing the vit are we ... wonderful !!!! you can kick my ars3 round on ya new bike ...fancy doing helvellyn as well to finish off things ???
  • pacrfishpacrfish Posts: 266
    Would love to do Helvellyn, of course, but I'm sure it clashes with something else in my diary ......

    And anyway, what about those carbon wheels??? And new shoes was it???
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