Tri Bike vs Road Bike – [Differences Explained!]

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For any newbie athlete choosing between triathlon bikes and road bikes can be pretty confusing. I mean at first glance there isn’t much difference to them besides triathlon bikes looking a bit cooler.

So, what is the difference between triathlon and road bikes? In this article, we are going to dive deep into tri bike vs road bike and talk about the pros and cons of both types.

So, let’s begin.

Difference Between Tri Bike vs Road Bike:

The most important difference between triathlon bikes and road bikes is in frame geometry. Triathlon bikes are built to provide the highest level of aerodynamics possible. Statistics show that the body is responsible for 80% of the drag or wind resistance you face while bike riding.

To solve these problems triathlon bikes are designed to put your body into the most aerodynamic position. The seat tube is set to be at 76 to 78 degrees where for road bikes it is 72 degrees. This steep angle of the seat tube allows your torso to be parallel and, in some cases, angled towards the ground. This helps to decrease wind resistance and improve maximum speed.

Secondly, the seat is placed a bit forward compared to road bikes. This seat positioning allows your body to lean forward into an aero position. Another difference between tri bikes and road bikes is that the crossbar of the tri bike is parallel to the ground where is for the road bike it is sloped upwards.

Triathlon bikes are designed to put your back to work. Like, literally. The unique position of the seating allows the glute muscles of your back to be used much more efficiently. These muscles are much stronger than quads and hamstring muscles which are usually overworked in the case of road bikes. This ensures you pedal faster, easier, and do not fatigue as easily.

The advantages and disadvantages of both bikes.

Tri Bike


Pros
  • Better aerodynamics
  • Faster
  • Great for long rides
  • Requires experience
Cons
  • Less comfortable to ride
  • More expensive
  • Unsafe for group riding

Road Bike


Pros
  • Easy to ride
  • Less expensive
  • Safer
  • Easier breaking
  • Great for group riding
  • Does not require much experience
Cons
  • Slower speed
  • Inferior aerodynamics

Which Bike is Best for You?

Well, this boils down to your personal preference and the sort of bike riding you are planning to do. If you are planning to ride on races or triathlons or any other bike-related sport where speed and efficiency should be your first priority then tri bikes should be your got to bike. They are fast and bliss to pedal over long distances making them the most sensible choice.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a bike to train or go on group rides or just for normal day to day bike riding then you should definitely buy a road bike. Especially, in group rides, road bikes are a must. This is due to their brake position. They do not require much hand movement and are easy to pull. This makes them safer for group riding than tri bikes.

Even though we did say that triathlon bikes are for athletes we do not recommend new athletes, to begin with, a triathlon bike. They are not as easy to handle as road bikes. We advise that you buy a pair of aero bars, attach them to a road bike, and start from there. After you have gotten the handle of bike riding in such a position then you can upgrade to a triathlon bike.

FAQs

How much does a tri bike cost?

There are tri bikes of various prices. The price can go up to as high as 5000$ and some even higher than that. But as a beginner, you don’t have to spend as much. You can spend as much as 1000$ to 2000$ and still find a great tri bike to start off.

Is a tri bike worth it?

If racing and triathlons are your things then most definitely. Tri bikes are much faster than other types of bikes. Their unique aerodynamic design makes riding on long distances easy and fast. So, for athletic purposes, triathlon bikes are very much worth it.

Can you turn a tri bike into a road bike?

Unless you have some serious welding skills and a deep understanding of the inner mechanics of bicycles then no, you can’t. You can, however, grab a pair of aero bars and attach them to the front of a road bike to improve the aerodynamics of your bike. But it still won’t match the power efficiency of specially designed triathlon bikes.

What is the best bike for a triathlon?

In a triathlon, you have to ride for a very long distance. We’ve discussed before that tri bikes allow better aerodynamics and positioning that improve speed and make pedaling easier by relieving stress from quads and better utilizing the glute muscle of your back. So, tri bikes are definitely the first choice when biking in a triathlon.

Are tri bikes safe?

Yes, tri bikes are perfectly safe if you know how to ride them. First of all, make sure you have plenty of experience riding tri bikes before entering a race or a triathlon. Secondly, do not use tri bikes for group riding as they are a bit difficult to brakes and can cause accidents.

Ride on roads with less traffic. Being a bit hard to control it would not be wise to ride tri bikes on roads where there are a lot of cars or pedestrians walking around.

Conclusion

Reading our article, I think you now understand that when it comes to “Tri bike vs Road bike” one isn’t necessarily better than the other.

They both have their advantages and disadvantages. It is up to the rider to determine how they can get the most out of their bikes by choosing the proper bike for the proper occasion.

I hope this article helped you to find what you were looking for. Thanks for stopping by.