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Buyer’s Guide 2023: Entry level tri bikes

Bike options for those looking to get serious about multiisport racing

We published our Bike Buyer’s Guide in our March issue of Triathlon Magazine, and while we looked to provide a mix of bikes at various price ranges, many of the bikes in the guide were, well, let’s just say, expensive.

It’s important to note that you absolutely don’t need to spend over $10,000 to get a bike for a triathlon. Head to a sprint event and you’ll see mountain bikes, road bikes and lots of other options – the bike just needs to get you through 10 or 20 km.

As you get more serious about the sport, though, you’ll want to look at a bike that’s designed for triathlon racing. Basically that means it’s designed to ride using aero bars. To ride in the aero position, designers build the bikes with steeper seat tube angles to make it easier to stay in an aero tuck and then run off the bike. Yes, we get that these bikes are still very expensive – none come close to breaking the $3,000 mark, which was about where things were a few years ago when it came to entry-level tri bikes.

Road bike or tri bike?

Fit is everything

It doesn’t matter how fast your bike is if it doesn’t fit you correctly. Roughly 80 per cent of your energy goes into breaking the wind when you’re riding fast, so your position on the bike is critical. So, while a second-hand bike is certainly a great option when it comes to saving money, you need to make sure that bike will fit you properly.

With fit being such a critical part of things, bike manufacturers have really pushed over the last few years to make sure their bikes offer lots of adjustability to ensure riders can dial in a comfortable position. Make sure the bike you’re looking at offers lots of options on that front.

After your position on the bike, wheels make the most difference in terms of speed and performance. Some of the models you’ll find in the “entry-level” category come with more race-oriented wheelsets, but you’ll probably find that down the road a set of race wheels will be your next big investment.

So, if you can’t find a proper-fitting second hand tri bike, here are a few entry-level tri bikes that will serve as an excellent entry point for an athlete getting more serious about triathlon. We like all of these options because you can easily add to the package as you get even more serious, and still be in great shape as you become more competitive. For the most part, investing in a faster set of wheels will do the trick to make you competitive.

Felt B Triathlon Bike


Felt has a long history in the sport – Jim Felt was the man behind many of Paula Newby-Fraser’s bikes in the 80s and 90s when she dominated the world of Ironman racing, and the company has continued that legacy with numerous champions, including Daniela Ryf and Mirinda Carfrae. That legacy shines through in the B-series – you get an impressively well-equipped, tri-specific, carbon-fibre bike that features excellent aerodynamics and lots of fit customization. Like the company’s flagship IA series, the frame features an aerodynamically optimized oversize downtube and seat tube with cut outs that provide aero benefits and improve handling. The B features Ultegra components and Devox wheels with Shimano hubs. A wheel upgrade will make this bike extremely competitive.

Cervelo P-Series 105


When Cervelo burst on to the triathlon scene in the late 90s, the Canadian-born brand revolutionized the market. The company remains the bike-count leader in Kona, a sgn of both the brand’s popularity and performance. The P-Series offers some more affordable options to the company’s flagship P5 including a 500 ml aero bottle, 400 ml of top-tube storage and an integrated rear seat mount. It’s a speedy combination of speed, storage and comfort. All you’ll need to add are some aero race wheels and you’ll be ready to compete at the highest level.

Argon 18 E-117


With a combination of outstanding aerodynamics and handling, the E-117 offers many of the features you’ll see on the Canadian company’s flagship bikes at a more affordable price. If you’re OK to skip electronic shifting (the more expensive E-117 with Force eTap AXS is pictured above), the Force 22 gruppo offers excellent value. Down the road you’ll want to invest in some speedy wheels to enhance your race-day splits, but the Vision Team TC 30 wheelset included will get you started and serve as a great training option.

Canyon Speedmax CF 7 Disc


Just like the Speedmax CFR you’ll see Lionel Sanders and Jan Frodeno ripping through courses on, the Speedmax CF 7 disc offers many of the aero features that help the pros go so fast. An extremely adjustable cockpit, Shimano 105 components and disc brakes, along with a 4iiii precision power meter make this a lot of bike for the price. Just upgrade the DT Swiss P 1800 wheelset and you’ll have absolutely no excuses when it comes to your bike split.

Ceepo Katana 105



Named after the Japanese short sword, the Katana is Ceepo’s most versatile triathlon frame – light (just 1,195 g), practical and aerodynamic. That means it will serve you well on the hilliest courses, or when you have to push the pace in an aero tuck on a super-flat course thanks t the NACA 0021 truncated airfoil tube shapes. The geometry of the frame is also designed so you can dial in an aggressive forward position for the ultimate in aero performance. For one cent under $4,000 you can get the the 105 version of the Katana (the bike pictured has Ultegra components).