Yes, we hear you. An entry level bike that will set you back over $3 grand? Welcome to the world of triathlon bikes, where high-end bikes can set easily set you back $12,000 to over $20,000.
Let’s be clear here – you absolutely don’t need to spend that much money on a bike to get yourself through a triathlon. You’ll routinely see mountain and road bikes on the racks at triathlon races across the country – they do the job just fine for those who aren’t looking to spend a fortune and are most interested in just completing the race.
Once you start to get a bit more serious about the sport, possibly looking to compete in longer distance races, you’ll likely start wanting to look at a bike that’s designed specifically for triathlon. That means a bike that incorporates aero bars into the design. Typically tri bikes are designed with a steeper seat tube angle to make it easier to ride in an aero position and then run off the bike.
So what should you look for in a triathlon bike? First and foremost is fit. That’s the most important factor when it comes to comfort and performance. That’s why you need to be careful when it comes to buying used – while you might be able to get a great deal, if the bike doesn’t fit you, you’ll struggle on it, no matter how good a bike it might be. Find a coach and/ or a reputable bike fitter to help you find the right bike.
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.
With all that in mind, here are four entry-level tri bikes you might want to check out in 2021:
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 impressive 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
We featured the brand new E-119 Tri+ Disc in our buyer’s guide this year, but those looking for a more affordable tri-specific bike from the Canadian company can look at the E-117 Tri. An all-around tri-bike featuring aero-bar friendly geometry, you also get a highly adjustable cockpit that features Profile’s Wing base bar and Sonic Ergo extensions. That means the E-117 will serve you well as you look to get more serious about the sport. You also get SRAM’s rock-solid Force 22 components and Vision Team 30 Comp wheels. The E-117 Tri is a frame that can grow with you, too – a simple wheel upgrade will easily take you to the next level.
Starting at $3,600
At just 1,195 g in a medium, the Katana is one of the lightest tri-specific frames on the market – the latest iteration now includes disc brakes. Ceepo has always been a tri-focused brand which has embraced aggressive, forward positioning and aero tubes. The 40T high-modulus carbon frame comes equipped with an accessible Di2 battery location in the lower section of the downtube for those looking to set the bike up with electronic shifting. With the Katana you get a stiff, performance-oriented frame designed for a variety of distances and ride types.
$4,300 (105 disc)
When the flagship P5 Disc was launched in 2019, there was a collective groan around the world from all the triathletes who were desperate to be on the super-speedy bike, but couldn’t afford the whopping 15 grand price tag. Then, later that year, Cervelo announced the P-Series, which replaced the company’s popular P2 and P3 models – it’s stiffer, lighter and more aero than the P3, while incorporating disc brakes and a lot of the handling characteristics that make the P5 so popular with roadies looking for a speedy TT bike. It’s not the P5, but it’s not far off. The P-Series starts at $4,300 for the Shimano 105 version.