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How to Make a Road Bike Triathlon Ready: A Complete Guide

You can participate in a triathlon even if you don’t want to spend lots of money purchasing a separate bike. All you have to do is make some changes to your road bike, which should perform just as great.

To make your road bike triathlon ready, add clipless pedals, adjust the bike fit according to the triathlon (this includes changing the saddle and bike height), and add aero bars and an aero bottle to keep you hydrated throughout the triathlon.

triathlete carrying a triathlon bike

This article will discuss how to make a road bike triathlon ready to improve performance on the big day significantly.

How to Make a Road Bike Triathlon Ready

If you ride a triathlon-specific bike instead of a road bike, you’ll be able to ride faster on triathlon courses. The issue is that a triathlon bike is more expensive and less adaptable than a road bike.

On a triathlon bike, for example, you can’t go on a road ride with your neighborhood bike club; you require something nimbler for cycling with other people, whereas a road bike is much more suited for riding in a crowd. A road bike might be a better option if you purchase a bike that can be used for more than one purpose.

Below, we’ll discuss some adjustments you can make to your road bike to be used in a triathlon.

Clipless Pedals

An upcoming triathlon is the best excuse to splurge on clipless pedals and footwear for your road bike. Footwear specially designed for competing in triathlon has the added benefit of faster changeovers. 

By letting you utilize the whole pedal movement, these pedals can help you improve the strength of your blow.

Clipless pedals from LOOK can provide you with the comfort and stability you’ll need during the race.

Bike Fit

If you want to turn your road bike triathlon-appropriate, you need to get it fitted again, even though you may have had it done previously. A qualified fitter can differentiate between a road fit and a tri-fit so your road bike can be made multipurpose. 

A fitter will adjust the handlebars and move the saddle forward for triathletes because they need to adopt a more aggressive aerodynamic posture. 

Every racer taking triathlon seriously will ultimately want to purchase a bike only used for competition and practice, but this is a fantastic option because it balances two important fits.


A triathlon bike’s seat position is steeper than a road bike’s. To put it another way, a triathlon bike saddle is raised from the back. This makes it simpler to stay in a riding position that puts your chest at level or nearly level with the road. 

You won’t have that edge if you ride a road bike. Therefore, you’ll have to move the saddle forward. You could pull it forward until the rails on your current seat post allow it, but switching to a seat post with a little less layback is preferable.

Bar Height

When altering the position of the front end, you must strike a balance between ease and aero efficiency, exactly as it is on a triathlon bike. Remember that until you raise the saddle to curve down the seat angle, it’s tougher to get your chest flat, or almost flat, on a road bike than it is when riding a tri bike. You’ll have to lean over more quickly to get into any specific upper-body position.

It is easy to raise the headset spacers just above the stem in order to drop the bars if you’ve got them underneath the stem. Alternatively, you could switch to a stem with much less height.

Keep in mind that you’ll never be able to put the front end as low on a road bike because the head tube is typically longer than it is on a tri bike of a comparable size.

Test out your custom layout and position before doing anything else. It will initially feel unusual, but that’s all it must feel like: unusual. If you find the position uncomfortable, make more changes. It pays to do it well because you can save money that way.

Check out this video for more information on how to properly fit your road bike for a triathlon:

Aero Bars

By installing clip-on aero bars like this Tranz X Tri Bar to your current drop handlebars, you can level your torso and reduce drag while maintaining a comfortable riding stance where your weight is supported by your arms.

Aerobars are very easy to install. You attach them to the middle of your handlebars. Remember that some handlebars, particularly carbon ones, aren’t made to have anything attached. Therefore, there is a chance that they may break if you install tri-bars on them. If you have any questions about attaching tri-bars on your regular drop handlebars, contact the manufacturer or take a look at the user manual.

Make sure that the fastening diameter of the tri-bars you plan to purchase matches the diameter of your handlebars. Try to err on the side of caution, even though manufacturers often make clamping regions with uniform sizes and offer shims for usage with various kinds of handlebars.

Tri-bars vary greatly in their degree of adjustment. If you want to play about with your riding position, invest in some tri-bars that will let you change the armrests’ placement concerning the extension’s length. Remember that comfort is key when making these adjustments.

Aero Bottle

An aero bottle allows you to sip while riding with convenience. An aero bottle mounted in the middle of the aero bars is far more practical than a bottle rack mounted to the bicycle frame. This is because you want to keep moving quickly throughout the race. You can keep yourself hydrated better this way than you would if you had to stop to remove the bottle from underneath.

This Elite Srl aero bottle can be easily mounted on your bars.

This is typically a safer method of staying hydrated when you’re out on the open road, regardless of the distance.

Difference Between a Road Bike and a Triathlon Bike

Road Bike Triathlon Ready

There are many differences between a road bike and triathlon bike. Just try sitting on a triathlon bike for the first time, the feel is completely different and even a bit awkward at first. Here are the main differences:


The triathlon bike’s positioning differs significantly from a typical road bike because it lacks the bent “drop” bars that road cyclists have used for decades in competition.

A triathlon bike, however, features parallel ‘TT’ bars that protrude outward. Depending on the rider’s preference, these are often curved, S-shaped, or angled. The rider’s body mass is supported by forearm supports or cups while they bend forward and grab the handlebars.

The shape was designed to allow cyclists to adopt an aerodynamic stance that will let them cut through the wind more efficiently. The tri-bars usually have gear changes at the end.

The base bar with bull horns to the side, in which the brakes are located, is another component of the bars. These support the rider when they steer or, when required, sit up to brake.

Saddle and Frame

Triathlon bikes frequently have steeper seat posts than conventional road bikes, allowing the rider to easily bend over the front and hold the tri bars by moving their hips forward.

Some quirky-looking beam bikes that aren’t designed for triathlons lack seat posts, but they still seem to have the saddle set steeper than road bikes.

There are many things to consider when selecting the right triathlon bike size. The rider’s height, torso size, and flexibility are some of them. Try before you buy the best approach in this case.


Although both road bikes and tri bikes can use a variety of tires, triathlon bikes are more likely to have disc tires, tri-spoke tires, or deep-dish tires.

This is done to improve sharp performance through aerodynamics, which, for timed trial racing, frequently outweighs the added flexibility a road bike with conventional spokes may give you for riding in a crowd or turning rapidly.


Unlike road bikes, triathlon bikes typically come in a variety of styles. This occurs partly because anything can work on a triathlon. Unlike cycling competitions, triathletes and tri bikes are not subject to UCI regulations that specify details like body geometry.

As a result, triathlon bikes undergo much testing as manufacturers create new designs to get an edge in the sport. The frame could be used as water storage so you could fill it with liquid and sip straight through a straw without leaving your aero tuck, or pieces of the frame could be removed to reduce its weight.

Using a Road Bike for Ironman

Triathlon bikes are made to speed up athletes. A triathlon bike has a saddle tube angle that is steeper. When compared to a road bike, the saddle tube is more vertical. The rider’s hips are over the crankset due to the steeper angle, which more fully activates their quadriceps for greater force.

Road bikes are slower than tri bikes because they are not as aerodynamic. Additionally, a triathlon bike’s layout makes it simpler to switch to a run.

The drawback of tri bikes is that they might be inconvenient; after cycling in the aero position for five hours or over, several Ironman triathletes have backache.

On the other hand, when fitted properly, road bikes are comfier to ride. They move better and instill more confidence in the rider because of the comfortable stance. Additionally, they provide the cyclist with various handlebar settings, which is crucial when cycling 112 kilometers at an Ironman. 

You could sit up higher, try to be more balanced, and manage food intake more easily on a road cycle. You can also mount tri bars on your road bike. This will enable you to lean forward, adopt a more aerodynamic position, and exit that position more frequently.

The adaptability of the road bike is one of its main advantages. Once the Ironman is finished, you can travel and participate in group rides on your road bike. A triathlon bike does not give you that option since it is not supposed to be ridden in a crowd or with groups.

A road bike should be better for you if your only objective is to finish the race and you have no interest in contending for age group or overall honors. Whereas purchasing a tri bike is better if your objective is to become more athletic and competitive.

Furthermore, the kind of terrain you ride on influences the performance of the bike used in the Ironman. Is the course for your event hilly and wavy? A road bike might be something to think about. However, if the race is level and clear, a tri bike can give you a greater benefit.

Finally, consider your cycling goals for the future. What type of bike do you anticipate using more once practice is over?

Can You Put Triathlon Bars on a Road Bike?

In a triathlon, you could always just ride a regular road bike. However, if you’d like to enjoy the aerodynamic advantages of a triathlon bike but lack the money to buy it, a set of clip-on tri bars can be a viable alternative.

If you wish to lean forward into the tri position, just add these triathlon bars to the regular drop bars of your road bike.

For non-drafting races, you’ll see many triathletes choose clip-on bars, which can give them an edge over others.

If you decide to do this, ensure that your riding stance is convenient and comfortable. A decent bike fit might allow you to modify your seat height, saddle position, and perhaps even cleat position to place you in the best possible stance to supply force through the pedals as you use the clip-on tri bars for long periods of time. 

There are better solutions than simply attaching a pair of tri bars and leaning forward.


After you’ve mastered the art of making your road triathlon ready, you’ll be stepping into a new world where extreme aerodynamic components and designs may be used to gain an advantage over others in a triathlon.