Time trial and triathlon bikes are at the forefront of bike innovation and design, created to be as fast and slippery as possible. Extensive research and development goes into aerodynamics, yaw angles, fluid dynamics, tube profile optimization, and integration to make the perfect speed machine.
More recently, we've seen the emergence of triathlon-specific bikes. Not bound by UCI regulations, triathlon-specific bikes have no restrictions on tube shapes, storage options, or rider position. They generally have enormous down tubes and seat tubes, integrated hydration and fuel storage, hidden brakes, and a large amount of adjustability making them perfect for triathlon.
Here are four of the best time trial and triathlon bikes currently available for under $3,000.
The Giant Trinity got a facelift in 2016 with a new frameset design and geometry to help triathletes achieve their ideal fit. The top-of-the-line Trinity Advanced Pro has been 'engineered to be the world's fastest triathlon bike' and much of the innovative technology has filtered down to the Trinity Advanced model. The Advanced and Advanced Pro versions share the same frame shape and aero features, the only difference being the 5:1 'Aero Drive Tri' fork and the 'AeroVault' hydration and storage system on the Advanced Pro.
The Trinity Advanced is one of the few triathlon bikes to come in under $3,000, despite featuring Advanced-grade composite frame and fork, integrated cabling, hidden 'SpeedControl' brakes, and a large degree of cockpit adjustability.
The Trinity Advanced is ready to race straight out of the box, whether you are doing a local Individual TT or an Ironman Distance Triathlon.
Frame & Fork: Advanced-grade composite, Hybrid steerer
Drivetrain: Shimano 105, Shimano BSR1 Bar End Shifters, FSA Gossamer, 36-52T crankset
Wheels: Giant S-R2 wheelset, Giant P-SL 2 front & rear specific tires, 700x25c
In an era where we see triathlon and time trial bikes adopt enormously thick downtubes and profiles to create the aero advantage, Cannondale has gone the other way, relying on 'Truncated Aero Profile' shapes of the Slice tubing to create a fast yet comfortable bike. The difference is apparent when looking at the Slice from the side: much less material which saves on weight, and ultrathin seat and chain stays that aid comfort.
Cannondale claim the Slice is the 'the world's' lightest Tri frame, with the best stiffness-to-weight'.
A well as the mechanically designed compliance of the seat and chain stays, the Slice comes with 'AERO SAVE' micro-suspension technology that absorbs road vibration, further improving the ride comfort.
Frame & Fork: Slice, BallisTec Carbon, AERO SAVE, Di2 ready, PF30A.
Drivetrain: Shimano 105, MicroShift bar-end Carbon Shifters, FSA Gossamer Pro, BB30a, 52/36 crankset
Wheels: Shimano RS11 wheelset, Schwalbe Lugano tires, 700x25c
The Specialized Shiv was created to provide three key elements every triathlete needs: aerodynamics, fuel, and fit.
Triathlon bikes are all about integration, and very few bikes represent total integration better than the Shiv. The Shiv Elite from Specialized ignores UCI regulations to create a triathlon specific bike complete with the unique 'Fuelselage Hydration System' that is built into the frame improving aerodynamics and reducing the need for retrofitting additional equipment. The internal hydration system provides the same amount of fluid as a traditional water bottle but can be topped up on the go without creating any additional drag.
The frame is made from Specialized FACT 10r carbon and, as you can see from the side profile, has an enormous down tube and seat tube, typical of the modern day aero triathlon bike.
The Shiv Elite is finished off with Shimano 105 drivetrain and AXIS 2.0 wheelset.
Frame & Fork: Specialized FACT 10r carbon, FACT IS construction, crosswind-optimized airfoils, 1-1/8" lower bearing, OSBB, Control Tower Fit System, Fuelselage Integrated Hydration System, Specialized FACT Aero carbon fork.
Drivetrain: Shimano 105, TURN Zayante by Praxis Works, BB30, 52/36T crankset.
Wheels: AXIS 2.0 wheelset, Specialized Turbo Pro tires, 700x24c
The Trek Speed Concept 7.0 is the blueprint for modern day Triathlon bikes, boasting aerodynamic tube shapes that reduce drag, hidden brakes, integrated cables, integrated storage that astonishingly makes the bike faster, and a level of adjustability that caters for all shapes and sizes.
The foundation of the Speed Concept is the Kammtail Virtual Foil (KVF) tube shape. The KVF shape was created by starting with a 5:1 airfoil, then cutting 'off the tail at just the right length to trick the wind into thinking the full foil is still there, creating a super-aero virtual tail.' This genius design uses less material, saving on weight and creating a stronger overall shape, more resistant to flex.
The Speed Concept 7.0 only comes in black, but through Trek's Project One program you can customize every finite detail of your bike.
Frame & Fork: 500 Series OCLV Carbon, KVF (Kammtail Virtual Foil) tube shape, BB90 w/Speed Fin, DuoTrap compatible, SC Draft Box 2 & SC Speed Box compatible, SC full foil carbon fork with integrated brake
Drivetrain: Shimano 105, Shimano Dura-Ace, bar end control, Shimano RS500, 50/34 (compact) crankset.
Wheels: Bontrager alloy Wheelset, Bontrager R1 Hard-Case Lite tires, 700x23c