Triathlon Bike vs Road Bike


– Now the biggest key
difference, obviously, between a road bike and a
tri bike is the front end. (whoosh) On a tri bike, it’s about 90 degrees. (whoosh) (energetic music) (whoosh) Good afternoon, traniacs. We are currently off to Alter Ego Sports, your favorite bike shop,
my favorite bike shop, everyone in Winnipeg’s favorite bike shop. Our buddy James there
at Alter Ego has some hot new bikes that he’s built up. He’s got some tri bikes,
he’s got a road bike. What we’re gonna do is, I think I’m gonna line them up together, side-by-side, front and back, forwards and
backwards, upside down side, right side up, top
face, and we’ll show you all the differences between
a road bike and a tri bike. (energetic music) Over here we have the current year’s Cervelo S5 with disc breaks. Then back here, yeah I wanna say it’s the current year’s Cervelo P3,
the newer model of my bike. Now spec wise, frame wise,
as far as price point wise, these two bikes are pretty
close to the exact same model, except for triathlon, road. When a lot of people get into
triathlon they’re coming from mountain bike background,
or road bike background. Not a lot of people have a tri bike. So the thought is how
do they get that bike that they’ve already got into a triathlon? Can you do it? Absolutely. Slap on a pair of aero
bars, you get yourself into a nice tucked in position,
and you can go through your first several years in triathlon, with just a road bike,
whatever bike you’ve got. However, once you get into
triathlon, you’re committed to it and you’re ready to put
down a solid investment, it’s a good idea to get
a triathlon-specific bike because it’s so much better set up for you to be able to run
better after the bike. Let’s get into that. Now the biggest key difference,
obviously, between a road bike and a tri bike is the front end. On a road bike you’re
gonna have the breaks, the shifters, all on the hoods here, where you can operate them
without moving your hands at all. You might wanna move down to the drops but even from the drops you
can still break and shift. It’s much, much safer for riding in a pack where you’ve got people
just inches in front of you and to the side. You’ve gotta be able to move, and handle the bike (snaps) on a dime. On a tri bike you only
have the shifting controls when you’re down in the aero position. You’ve actually gotta move your hands over to the break to go back and forth. The reason that’s okay
on a tri bike is because the people in front of you
are entire bus lengths away. That also means a tri bike is not very safe for group riding. So if you’re going out with,
say, a bunch of road riders there’s a really good
likelihood that they won’t even let you into that pack with a tri bike, because it’s not going to be as nimble and as agile as that road bike. What those aero bars are
going to allow you to do, it’s going to allow you to tuck the front of your body in nice and tight. The front end of a triathlon
bike is typically much more adjustable than the
front end of a road bike. You can go out and in. You can go up and down. You can adjust the
angle of the handlebars. On a road bike, when you
strap on a set of aero bars you’re not gonna have
all of that adjustability that allows you to dial
in the exact position where you can stay for hours on end. This is really important because about 80% of the drag that’s caused
by your mass moving forward through the wind, is caused by your body. So, the more you can stay
in the aero position, the faster you’re gonna be. Tri bikes will often
have a split-nose saddle because you’re leaning forward and your hip angle is a lot different. Road bike saddles are almost
always just dead flat. You don’t really wanna put a split-nose saddle on a road bike. The components, the
cranks, the chain ring, the chain itself, the breaks,
they’re basically the same from a tri bike to a road bike. No difference there. As are the wheels, and
the frame material itself. Where things start to be quite
different between a tri bike and a road bike is in the geometry. A tri bike is set up
for you to be a lot more further forward and have your legs a little bit further back, so
it opens up your hip angle. Whereas, a road bike you’re set
up to be a lot more upright. So you can see that the
seat post and the seat from the tri bike is a
lot more further forward, over top of the bottom bracket. Whereas, the road bike it’s further back because you’re a lot more upright. You can also see that the tri bike comes, basically level with the ground. Whereas the road bike
comes up a little bit, bringing you further up. My good buddy James here
at Alter Ego uses this to show the hip angle
differences between the bikes. On a tri bike it’s about 90 degrees. On the road bike it’s
closer to 80 degrees. Why on a tri bike you
want those hips to be a fair bit more open, is
because that’s gonna put less pressure on your
glutes, and your hamstrings, so you can still be a
lot fresher off the bike. When you start getting really
aggressive on an aero bike, and you start going way
low, because you think you’re gonna try to get
aero in the tri position. It’s gonna actually burn out
your glutes and your hamstrings a lot more unless you
are a pro triathlete, in which case you’re a freak of nature, you’re more flexible, you’re stronger, you can get away with it. For us mere mortals, we
want a nice, wide hip. Some things that’ll also be different are things like the seat stays. You can see that on the road bike, basically a circle about
the size of a pinky finger. You’re going for hours and hours on end, and you want a little bit more
forgiveness in the back end so that you don’t get
tired sitting on the seat. In the case of a tri bike,
it’s more like a knife. It’s wide, it’s narrow. All you’re doing is
going straight distances, for a long time, in a straight line, and you don’t need nearly
as much forgiveness. Because you’re typically
on a little bit more of a controlled scenario. Set posts on a tri bike are often long and thin to keep them aerodynamic, whereas seat posts on a road bike, wow, in this case they’re long and thin, but they’re often more round-shaped. Other things that are often
on a tri bike more these days, that don’t happen to be
on this particular model, are integrated nutrition
areas, down in the space here. Or they’ll have a nutrition box coming in behind the headset,
tucked up out of the wind. So those are some of the differences between a road bike and a tri bike. Can you use a tri bike for road? Yeah. Not if you’re racing. Not if you’re riding in
a group that is riding really aggressively and
you need to be very nimble. Can you do triathlons on a road bike by slapping on a set of aero bars? Yeah. But also, not if you’re going really long. Not if you’re prepared to invest in it. Not if you wanna be the absolute fastest that you can possibly be. That’s the reason that they each exist, because they are very specialized
for the type of riding, road or triathlon, that they’re made for. What I would recommend is
if you’ve got a road bike, start by slapping on a set of aero bars, and use that until you are completely sure that you’re prepared to
invest a few thousand dollars into triathlon, and then
step up to a road bike. You can always need more bikes. Bikes are the best thing. Now I’m gonna go donate
my paycheck to Alter Ego. (energetic music) That was fun, I got of kinda cheap. Just two tubes. It’s nice to be walkin’
around, talkin’ about bikes, ridin’ bikes, being on
bikes, bein’ around bikes, buying bike products, and not having the world spit in your face. Since yesterday, leaving the office, it’s been like cycling next to Noah’s ark. This is gonna be a fun ride home. Check this out. That’s gonna be nice. You going? I’m going. First week biking.
– Mom come pick me up. First week biking, nice. Yeah, total slop in my face. This morning’s ride with the group, I was eating Headingley’s
Road, picking little bits of dirt out of my teeth after I got home. To neighbor. (laughing) For all you OGs that have
been around for ages. Do you remember A Race Nutrition? That was how triathlon Taren started. If you’re buying every last
bike triathlon part online, I would highly recommend
supporting your local LBS, at least a little bit. I don’t buy everything from
Alter Ego, but I buy a lot of bike parts, any
servicing gets done there. A few weeks ago, I bought
Mel from the office a commuter bike because I like health, I like bikes, I like Alter Ego. I wanted to support all of
that, and bikes are awesome. Bikes are kinda like a
car, that when you start getting into the higher-end
bikes, there’s a lot of work that goes into maintaining
and adjusting the bikes, that you can’t do yourself because you don’t have the
specialized tools to do it. If you’ve completely
dogged your local bike shop for years on end, and you
haven’t given them any business, I guarantee you there’s gonna come a time that you need help with your bike, and you’re not gonna be
able to call in some favors. Find a local bike shop that
you get along well with, and support them in whatever you can. Buy parts from them. Buy nutrition stuff from them. Get your servicing done from them. Start a vlog with followers
all around the world and promote said local
bike shop in the vlog. Easy stuff. I’m gonna open up some old, expired mail, for A Race Nutrition. (laughing) Later, traniacs.