Triathlon and Time Trial bikes are engineered for performance, optimizing aerodynamic design technologies for maximum speed and race efficiency. Often referred to simply as ‘TT Bikes’, this specialist category has become one of the worlds’ most popular riding disciplines. It is important to understand the factors that distinguish TT bikes from other types of bikes, so make sure you check out our guide at the bottom of this page for more information!
It is important to emphasize that TT bikes are specifically designed to meet the demands of both time trialling and triathlon, subsequently; they are not exactly suitable for general everyday use. Optimizing aerodynamic efficiency is best achieved with aggressive frame geometries and maximizing stiffness for better power transfer, so these factors take precedence over others like versatility, responsiveness and comfort. Engineered with a focus on speed, TT bikes are designed for riders who specialize in races against the clock, and for the relatively short, high-speed demands of triathlon where aerodynamic efficiency is a decisive factor in overall race performance.
There is also a major distinction within the market for triathlon and time trial itself that may ultimately influence your purchase decision. The rules and regulations of the governing body for your intended race discipline specify different requirements for TT bikes to make them ‘legally’ acceptable in competition. For road cyclists, the governing body is the International Cycling Union (UCI), while in triathlon, it is the International Triathlon Union (ITU) – it is therefore crucial to consider what governing body you will ride under if you choose to race! Generally, a smaller proportion of time trial bikes available on the market are considered UCI legal, due to more stringent requirements, and the ease of bicycle manufacturers to simply cater for the majority who fall within the triathlon discipline.
As mentioned above, aerodynamic advantage is most notably achieved on time trial bikes with aggressive frame geometries. This is to maximize a reduction in wind resistance, making the rider as fast as possible, particular at high speeds. This factor goes hand in hand with the handlebar setup, which has a dramatic effect on the frontal area of the rider. Compared to using a road bike with clip-on time trial bars, an integrated handlebar setup combined with the shorter head tube of a time trial specific bike, has a profound impact on reducing drag and increasing performance.
Additionally, the seat position is another feature that distinguishes a TT bike from other bicycle models. A steeper seat tube, often combined with a time-trial specific saddle, will bring you much further forward over the bottom bracket to more effectively get you in to your most aerodynamic frontal position. Finally, the component choice is another important time trial bike purchase decision. Choosing a mechanical groupset confines shifting to the aerobar extensions, and braking to the drops. Alternatively, some electronic groupset options allow for simultaneous shifting capabilities in the drops, which is particularly useful for more technically inclined time trial courses.
Wheels form a crucial component to a race-ready TT bike and so should be factored into the price. Many TT bikes come equipped with a more general-purpose wheelset designed to handle regular training use, however, these typically lack the speed of a good race wheel. Be sure to read our comprehensive guide to road bike wheels to learn more.
Leading global bicycle manufacturers have significantly invested in the research and design of aerodynamic innovations in order to have the quickest bicycle available on the market – a desirable factor for every road enthusiast! Embrace the purist nature of time trialling, or simply look to become the envy of those around you, by having a look at the huge selection of triathlon and time trial bikes available for sale here on BikeExchange. With models from leading brands like Giant, Cervelo, Felt, Fuji and Specialized, look no further for all your time trial needs!