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  1. #1
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    Road bike VS Triathlon bike

    Ok.. So I finally have to ask.. without all the technical junk..

    WHATS THE MAIN DIFFERENCE.

    I mean, I ride all the time, for exercise and sport, just bought my first ROAD BIKE, but why? why didn't I buy a triathlon bike?

    My friend was going into the details about the geometry of the differences.. But I just want to know the main difference in terms of riding experience..

    I like to ride fast, I like to ride long, I do NOT turn often and I never climb hills (Florida)

    So, why was it a better idea I got a road bike vs a triathlon bike?

    THANKS

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastfed
    Ok.. So I finally have to ask.. without all the technical junk..

    WHATS THE MAIN DIFFERENCE.

    I mean, I ride all the time, for exercise and sport, just bought my first ROAD BIKE, but why? why didn't I buy a triathlon bike?

    My friend was going into the details about the geometry of the differences.. But I just want to know the main difference in terms of riding experience..

    I like to ride fast, I like to ride long, I do NOT turn often and I never climb hills (Florida)

    So, why was it a better idea I got a road bike vs a triathlon bike?

    THANKS
    A road bike is for roads.

    A triathlon bike is for triathlons.

    Chances are, depending on what the groups there are like, you would be riding by yourself on a tri bike. Many groups won't allow them.

    Tri-bike: very steep seat tube angle - puts the rider farther forward for aero goodness and appropriate position.

    Tri bike has a bullhorn/base bar and aero bars.

    Tri bike has brake levers on the base bar and shifters on the aero bars (usually).

    Tri bike is in no way built for comfort; it is built for speed. To go from start to finish (transition area) ASAP.

    Tri bike is usually pretty skittish, steering-wise - at least until you get used to it. It will still never be a road bike.

    Tri bike is set up so that your back is flat, your arms are close together, and you present as small of an aero "target" as possible.

    In other words, tri bikes are not made for "fun" rides, although some people actually do prefer them.
    Other countries need to stop hatin' or we'll unfriend them. - Christine

    Apparently I left my reading comprehension glasses in my ass. - DrRoebuck

    Still, it felt great and I felt like I was sitting on some kind of vibrator -Touch0Gray

  3. #3
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    Platypius pretty much summed it up. A road bike is more versatile, so for most people, if they are only going to have one bike, it is the better choice. Road bikes are better for climbing, descending, riding in a group, usually lighter weight, and more comfortable. Tri bikes are better for an individual race effort on a non-technical course (pretty much the only races you may ride a tri bike in is a tri or time trial).

    Having said that, if you always ride alone or with one or two others who are comfortable riding with you on a tri bike, and you don't find it uncomfortable for daily riding, there's no real reason you couldn't go with a tri bike.

  4. #4
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    Tri bikes are a heckofa lot a fun and really go fast. They really look amazing and you can hold a really cool aero position that is more up in front on your saddle. But you are not considered safe in groups. Every time you sit on one, everybody will expect you to fly. You can never get caught going easy while on one of these demons.

    Last edited by Hooben; 02-09-2011 at 03:57 PM.
    With people like Peter P. around, I am done posting on this website. Mean people have driven me off after 9 plus years. Good luck newbies beware.

  5. #5
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    properly fit, the position is comfortable, as it is designed for very long, very fast rides(112miles for the Ironman distance).

    typically, the fit is merely a rotation of your best road bike position about the BB. to achieve this, manufacturers have to steepen the seat tube and open up the front-center.

    handling on a well designed tri-bike is no worse than a regular bike - poor handling is indicative of poor bike design and/or poor rider fit.
    Improving on self-torture for more than 3.6^2 years.

  6. #6
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    OK so... Some of you say contradicting things.. Some say its not as comfy.. yet as someone else pointed out, its just as comfy aslong as you get fitted properly.. First poster says that road bikes are designed for roads and Tri bikes are not. Every tri bike I see, videos or one the streets are.... well.... on the STREETS...

    Groups wouldn't want to ride with them? someone explain that to me.. I'm really curious as to why that would be.

    Thanks

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastfed
    OK so... Some of you say contradicting things.. Some say its not as comfy.. yet as someone else pointed out, its just as comfy aslong as you get fitted properly.. First poster says that road bikes are designed for roads and Tri bikes are not. Every tri bike I see, videos or one the streets are.... well.... on the STREETS...

    Groups wouldn't want to ride with them? someone explain that to me.. I'm really curious as to why that would be.

    Thanks
    I don't trust people on tri-bikes in group ride settings. Remember, the people at the front are responsible for choosing the best lines and calling out/pointing out upcoming road hazards. How do you do that when your arms are on the tri-bars? How many times while riding your bike have you had to make sudden steering movements? You can't do that with a tri-bike. And if you have to slow suddenly how are going to do that while on the tri-bars? I'm not saying people on tri-bikes are dangerous. Their bikes have obvious limitations that I won't allow myself be at the mercy of.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hooben
    Tri bikes are a heckofa lot a fun and really go fast. They really look amazing and you can hold a really cool aero position that is more up in front on your saddle. But you are not considered safe in groups. Every time you sit on one, everybody will expect you to fly. You can never get caught going easy while on one of these demons.

    That's a cool video clip, Hooben. Makes me hate my Massachusetts winter!
    Just ride.

  9. #9
    orlin03
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    Well, the original poster IS in Florida. Isn't that exactly the type of place a tri bike shines?

    As pointed out, a tri bike can be just as comfortable as a road bike if it is the right size and matched well to the rider. With an "ironman setup" (comfy), you won't be bent too agressively, and your elbows will be directly beneath your shoulders while being supported by pads. Your upper body should be very relaxed, and you should be able to ride for hours on end and still be able to walk just fine afterward (remember, they're designed to let you run when you get off).

    The bike won't climb or descend as well as a road bike, but are you worried about that? It's not impossibly horrible; you're just too far forward to get optimal weight transfer for descending (tip: slide your butt off the back for really technical, fast descents) and climbing (awkward out of the saddle; spin a smaller gear).

    As for group rides, it should be easy to find tri groups to ride with! If they are safe, they usually only let the leader of a large group get in the aero position for the pulls; everyone else stays in the 'horns.

    I have both, and I LOVE both. I know their strongpoints and their limitations. If you lived in a hilly area, I'd say go for the road bike, but I know if I lived in Florida and had to choose between the two, I'd go with the tri bike. Going fast, long, and solo on relatively flat or rolling terrain is what they're made for.

  10. #10
    I ride in circles..
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    Hell some groups shun clipon aero bars or at least ask the rider to not use them while in the group unless they're leading. Did a charity ride with a guy last year that had clips on bars and every time he moved towards the front he ducked down onto them. I was surprised how quickly he could inch away from me because of them.
    ~ Long Live Long Rides~

  11. #11
    wim
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    It's more about who you are.

    Quote Originally Posted by fastfed
    But I just want to know the main difference in terms of riding experience
    I've always found it more satisfying to be part of a smooth and tight group of knowledgeable riders than to ride by myself. But if I would have been unable to ride with such a group, I would have seriously considered getting a time trial bike. At the bottom of this was my (some say insane) desire to be or become good at the sport rather than just covering ground on a bicycle while chatting with others or admiring the landscape.

    If you have a similar mindset and don't enjoy the group you currently ride with as much as you think you should, a time trial bike might be for you. Why not experiment? Get a clip-on time trial bar, shun or drastically cut back group riding for a month and see how much satisfaction you can get from "battling your inner wimp."

    /w
    Last edited by wim; 02-10-2011 at 06:57 AM.

  12. #12
    Good news everyone!
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    The tri position just doesn't seem like a comfortable one to me.

  13. #13
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim311
    The tri position just doesn't seem like a comfortable one to me.
    True, comfort certainly isn't the overriding consideration. But in some ways, a time trial- or tri setup can be surprisingly easy on your body. Because your elbows rest on the bar pads, your upper body weight is supported by untiring bone ("skeletal support") rather than fatigue-prone muscles. Ultra-long distance riders know this and have adopted the tri-bar basically as a comfort component more than anything else.

    One point (literally) of discomfort has become the saddle. Many time trialists and triathletes basically ride on their perineum. Time trial- and tri saddles address that by offering a softer and larger saddle nose. But it still takes a long time to get used to sitting on your perineum for almost your entire ride. What makes it not as terrible as it sounds is the fact that you're always pushing the pedals with a lot of force. That takes a great deal of pressure off your contact points.

    /w
    Last edited by wim; 02-10-2011 at 06:33 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by wim
    True, comfort certainly isn't the overriding consideration. But in some ways, a time trial- or tri setup can be surprisingly easy on your body. Because your elbows rest on the bar pads, your upper body weight is supported by untiring bone ("skeletal support") rather than fatigue-prone muscles. Ultra-long distance riders know this and have adopted the tri-bar basically as a comfort component more than anything else.
    Comfort is mostly a function of the fit and angles. An Iron Man fit would obviously differ from most rodies who generally only need to make their TT bike only comfortable for ~40km or so. Although, if I had lots of $$, I'd LOVE to get myself a nice and super aero TT bike for ~20km efforts.

    Quote Originally Posted by wim
    One point (literally) of discomfort has become saddle position. Many time trialists and triathletes basically ride on their perineum. Time trial- and tri saddles address that by offering a softer and larger saddle nose. But it still takes a long time getting used to sitting on your perineum for basically your entire ride. What makes it not as terrible as it sounds is the fact that you're pushing the pedals with a lot of force, which takes a lot of pressure of your contact points.
    I am NOT one of the guys who can do this for very long. Sure, I'll do it from time to time to get a little more speed, but I'd like to think it's my juevos giving me ideas that help me. The Selle Italia Optima basically allows me to sit on something that's basically a normal saddle and with a slight cutout, which is important to me, not that everyone needs a cutout.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastfed
    Groups wouldn't want to ride with them? someone explain that to me.. I'm really curious as to why that would be.Thanks
    Some groups don't want tri-bikes or aero bars. I'm guessing the Florida's flat terrain lends itself more to this sort of riding whereas a hilly terrain group ride with lots of surges is not so great for tri-bikes. Handling and terrain arguments aside, most want to avoid getting speared by aero bars in the event of a crash.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by wim
    True, comfort certainly isn't the overriding consideration. But in some ways, a time trial- or tri setup can be surprisingly easy on your body. Because your elbows rest on the bar pads, your upper body weight is supported by untiring bone ("skeletal support") rather than fatigue-prone muscles. Ultra-long distance riders know this and have adopted the tri-bar basically as a comfort component more than anything else.

    /w
    Actually, it's the other way around. "Aero" bars (the clip-on style) were originally marketed and used for touring.

    Unless, of course, you're talking about an entire basebar/aerobar set-up.

    Although.... I think one of early RAAM guys had a custom set-up like that built for him before they really existed.
    Other countries need to stop hatin' or we'll unfriend them. - Christine

    Apparently I left my reading comprehension glasses in my ass. - DrRoebuck

    Still, it felt great and I felt like I was sitting on some kind of vibrator -Touch0Gray

  17. #17
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    The best way to answer your questions without the technical stuff is to go to a bike shop and test ride one.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghost6
    Some groups don't want tri-bikes or aero bars. I'm guessing the Florida's flat terrain lends itself more to this sort of riding whereas a hilly terrain group ride with lots of surges is not so great for tri-bikes. Handling and terrain arguments aside, most want to avoid getting speared by aero bars in the event of a crash.
    Exactly. No one wants to play bicycle jousting.

    There's also the issue of having the shifters and the brakes on completely different bars. For experienced riders, it isn't much of an issue. But how do you know who's experienced and who isn't?

    A lot of groups will ride in pacelines. Someone moving to the aerobars from the basebar is going to wobble a bit, no matter how good they are. Those wobbles can cause crashes.

    We have a guy who rides a tri bike (QR) in our group. But we know him, and know that he can ride a bike.
    Other countries need to stop hatin' or we'll unfriend them. - Christine

    Apparently I left my reading comprehension glasses in my ass. - DrRoebuck

    Still, it felt great and I felt like I was sitting on some kind of vibrator -Touch0Gray

  19. #19
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by PlatyPius
    Actually, it's the other way around. "Aero" bars (the clip-on style) were originally marketed and used for touring..
    I don't doubt it, but that must have been before my time. Although that's really, really difficult to imagine. When I got into the sport, Fausto Coppi was winning races....

  20. #20
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    http://triathlon.competitor.com/2010...he-first_11039

    Note the 3rd item. A picture from RAAM.
    Other countries need to stop hatin' or we'll unfriend them. - Christine

    Apparently I left my reading comprehension glasses in my ass. - DrRoebuck

    Still, it felt great and I felt like I was sitting on some kind of vibrator -Touch0Gray

  21. #21
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by PlatyPius
    http://triathlon.competitor.com/2010...he-first_11039

    Note the 3rd item. A picture from RAAM.
    Thanks. Very interesting article, I'll read it in detail later. Hope I don't find something in there that throws up the chicken-and-egg conundrum, like "the comfortable position made it possible to be more aero, while the aero position also provided more comfort."

    I should do a patent search. I'm almost sure that someone patented something like a "bicyclist's elbow support" sometime around 1900 AD. Too lazy right now.

  22. #22
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    I happen to live in Florida and see both road bicycles and tri specific bicycles as potential main rides should I only be able to have 1 ride. I currently have a road bike with aero bars mounted on the road handlebars so I have sort of a hybrid that can do both. Eventually I will have the money to buy another bicycle, and it will be a triathlon specific bicycle as I am working up to a full Ironman and hope to have a dedicated bike for that event.

    In my experience, cycling clubs usually will not let a person ride a TT/triathlon specific bike in their pace lines. A person with such a bike can ride with them, but must stay off the back of the pace line and not within a bike length of the last rider in the pace line. That alone leads me to select a road bicycle since some of my bike training is in a group like that and I would not want to give that up. I am allowed in the pace line with my road bike and aerobars, so long as I stay on the hoods and drop downs and not in the aerobars.

    As far as comfort goes, I prefer the aero position most of the time as it gives my back a rest compared to staying up on the hoods or in the drops. My arms are also more relaxed in the aero position, but that position can be twitchy and less precise in steering, particularly in crosswinds. I have never crashed while in the aero position, but I have had some scares when the winds pushed me off the road or towards traffic.

    To the OP, the answer for you is simple: Buy some aerobars that can mount on your road bike handlebars and try them out. The bolt on aero bars that I have came from Performance Bike and were pretty inexpensive (some models are less than $50). That gives me all of a road bike and 7/10th of a TT cycle in my opinion, and perhaps nearly all of what a more relaxed triathlon bike would be.
    As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities. Voltaire

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  23. #23
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    A tri bike gets you into an aero position which makes you faster and is a big advantage in tris where drafting is prohibited.

    A tri bike also position also works different muscles in your legs as compared to a road bike, which helps you run faster off the bike. Simply putting aero bars on a road bike will not give you this very important advantage. Some road bikes have reversible seatposts that move the seat forward to give you the same geometry as a tri bike.

    Here's a nice, concise explanation of the differences.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by PlatyPius View Post
    A road bike is for roads.

    A triathlon bike is for triathlons.

    Chances are, depending on what the groups there are like, you would be riding by yourself on a tri bike. Many groups won't allow them.

    Tri-bike: very steep seat tube angle - puts the rider farther forward for aero goodness and appropriate position.

    Tri bike has a bullhorn/base bar and aero bars.

    Tri bike has brake levers on the base bar and shifters on the aero bars (usually).

    Tri bike is in no way built for comfort; it is built for speed. To go from start to finish (transition area) ASAP.

    Tri bike is usually pretty skittish, steering-wise - at least until you get used to it. It will still never be a road bike.

    Tri bike is set up so that your back is flat, your arms are close together, and you present as small of an aero "target" as possible.

    In other words, tri bikes are not made for "fun" rides, although some people actually do prefer them.
    I disagree with couple of the points:
    for your established needs, read original post, a tri bike would be better fit. also:
    1. you could be very comfortable on a tri bike with the ride fitting and saddle. in fact you are resting your body on your elbows and your seat evenly without pressure in your arms. and unless you are a pro, you reallly don't have to have your bike flat, you still get an amazing aero position compare to a road bike even if your back is tilted up a lot.
    2. many road rides will allow you, but drafting can be tricky if there is constant changes on speed and you have to break.

    for where you are, flat, not much turning, and want fast and comfort, a tri bike would be perfect since one of the main things you compromise is handling.

    I can say a lot more, but I'll keep it simple.

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    Nice job disagreeing with a post over a year ago.

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