General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one Rss Feed  
Moderators: k9car363, alicefoeller Reply
2008-06-16 11:35 AM

User image

Extreme Veteran
345
10010010025
Westfield, In
Subject: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one

Ok I have a budget to get a bike. I am looking at the following two bikes.

Motobecane 2008 Nemesis Triathlon Bike
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/nemesis06_SPECIALpre.htm

2009 Motobecane Sprint CARBON STAYS

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/sprint.htm

I know that some people have an issues with bikesdirect.com but I have read many good review here and am happy wiht that.

What I dont know is to go with the road or tri bike. I have been out of triathlons for 13 years so I am just getting back into them. My old road bike bit the dust last year (my teenager desided to part on top of it). Most of my time will be on the road but I want a bike that will be good for the race. Sorry for such a stupid question but I really just need some guidence from more experenced bike people.

 Thanks for any help

Robert Smith


 



2008-06-16 1:36 PM
in reply to: #1469059

User image

Expert
1040
100025
SF Bay Area
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one

I think you will get many opinions on this one.  If you are buying a bike for triathlons, I would buy a tri bike.  The tri bike will be more aero and leave you fresher for the run.

 Other people will fall into the roadbike camp.  As it stands now, I'm riding a 10 year old road bike but if I could get a new bike, I would get a tri bike.

2008-06-16 8:17 PM
in reply to: #1469059

User image

Champion
7821
50002000500100100100
Brooklyn, NY
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one
Here's my standard answer, since I was in your boat (need a bike, on a budget, can only afford one)

I went with the roadie with clip-ons, because I figured it'd be more versatile--easier to do centuries, group rides, maybe try a crit one day. In retrospect, while I really like my bike a lot, I think if I'd had to do it all over again, I'd have bought a tri bike. I don't regret my decision, per se, but I've done 5 or 6 tris, only one century, and not so many group rides that I wouldn't have been able to manage on a tri bike.

The Nemesis is a great bike. I bought my roadie on bikesdirect and they were fine.
2008-06-16 10:15 PM
in reply to: #1469059

Regular
52
2525
maryland
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one
I fall into the road bike camp. Do a google search on tri vs road bike & you'll find all kinds of info that, if you're like me, only confuses you more. Bottom line is you have to figure out what YOU want. I faced this decision a couple years ago, so for what it's worth this helped me:

1. Try both bikes on a test ride if you can...at least a tri bike & road bike if you can't get on the specific bike you are looking for. Which do you like best?

2. What are your goals? Are you planning on being a top age grouper or are you a slow, husky fellow that views triathlon as more of a personal journey? I'm a slow, husky fellow on a personal journey. For me, I bike a lot more than anything else & I am more comfortable on a road bike...so that sealed the deal for me. I'm never going to stand on a podium except for the one I've built in my backyard & I don't THINK a tri bike on shorter courses is going to make a big difference.

If you're planning on only sprints & olympics I don't think it matters. But I'll never break any land speed records & like I said my only competition is myself. I also do a lot of group rides & road bikes handle better in groups, or so I've read. I have clip on aero bars but don't use them. All this said, I'm saving for a tri bike, much to my wife's chagrin (after all a cyclist needs three bikes...road, tri, & mountain). I am also planning on longer course tris where I think the savings in leg exertion will pay off when I still have a marathon remaining. Another option -- buy two used bikes (one road & one tri). You can probably find two good, although used bikes, & probably stay close to your budget...

Good luck. Buying a new bike is one of the funnest things out there, in my opinion.

2008-06-16 11:59 PM
in reply to: #1469059

New user
19

Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one

I bought the Nemesis a year ago.  I am very happy with it.  It is very aero, fast and comes with good components for the money.  Don't skimp on the bike fit.  Get the best fitter in town.  It has the cow bars so you can ride it in the up position like a road bike also.  I told my fitter I will do group rides on the cow bars and would like to ride up also.  A great fitter can do anything. 

I had an old ten speed and it killed my wrists and hands to ride up all the time.  If nothing else it gives your hands a break in the aero position on 50+ milers.  Now I ride in the aero position 90% of the time.

2008-06-17 5:35 AM
in reply to: #1469059

Extreme Veteran
377
100100100252525
Western, Mass
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one
Adding to what Clydes 250 stated, frame geometry and composition is important too. the more uprightthe seat tube, generally the harsher the ride. Aluminum is very stiff, and delivers the harshest ride of the current materials used in bike construction, Steel the "softest". Carbon is stiff like Al, and gives a "softer" ride like steel but $$$. Titanium is next to useless, as a frame material, IMO.

A carbon stayed, aluminum frame will be more comfortable ride, than an all Al bike. Road geometry, generally 73 - 74 deg., is slightly more compilent and comfortable than the tri, 78 deg frame.

Tri bike traditionally used 650 mm wheels. This allows for stiffer wheels. this also allows for shorter forks and seat ans wheel stays, thus a stiffer bike and more power put to the ground.

Unless all you do is tri's i would guggest a roadie.

kevin


2008-06-17 6:35 AM
in reply to: #1470906

User image

Resident Curmudgeon
25290
50005000500050005000100100252525
The Road Back
Gold member
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one

KML - 2008-06-17 5:35 AM Titanium is next to useless, as a frame material, IMO.

Yeah, next to useless unless you want an indestructible material that offers a great ride.

Whatever do you base this assessment on?

2008-06-17 6:41 AM
in reply to: #1470478

User image

Davenport, IA
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one
jmk-brooklyn - 2008-06-16 8:17 PM

Here's my standard answer, since I was in your boat (need a bike, on a budget, can only afford one)

I went with the roadie with clip-ons, because I figured it'd be more versatile--easier to do centuries, group rides, maybe try a crit one day. In retrospect, while I really like my bike a lot, I think if I'd had to do it all over again, I'd have bought a tri bike. I don't regret my decision, per se, but I've done 5 or 6 tris, only one century, and not so many group rides that I wouldn't have been able to manage on a tri bike.

The Nemesis is a great bike. I bought my roadie on bikesdirect and they were fine.


I'm with you. I love the roadbike I bought this spring before I'd done a triathlon, but if I were going to do it again, I'd probably go right for a tri bike.
2008-06-17 7:52 AM
in reply to: #1469059

User image

Extreme Veteran
345
10010010025
Westfield, In
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one
Thank you everyone for your responces. I will be doing few group rides with kids and a busy life I will have to fit the ride in when I can. There will be alot of times that I will be on the trainer in my basement. I will only do triathlons so I am leaning to the tri bike.
2008-06-17 8:24 AM
in reply to: #1469059

User image

Master
2468
20001001001001002525
Muskego, Wisconsin
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one
I was in your boat last year.  I train alone 99% of the time even on my long rides.  I was in the bike market because of triathlons and only ride/train for triathlons only so I bought the Nemesis and love it.
2008-06-17 1:37 PM
in reply to: #1469059

User image

Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one

Do the tri bike, and I'll tell you why:  I never rode a road bike.  I decided to do triathlons so I bought a tri-specific bike.  I immediately got used to the unique dimensions of a tri bike and the aero position because (aside from 15 years ago when I was a kid) I didn't know anything different.  If you buy a road bike then decide later you want a tri bike, you'll have to make physical adjustments.

I did a Sprint two days ago and I passed a lot of road bikes.  You could tell these are guys who are "roadies" and have been riding road bikes for many many years.  I've been riding a Tri bike for only seven months and I blow past them.  Unless it's a ridiculously hilly course, 9.5/10 times if someone passes me they are on a tri-bike (and usually they have a ridiculous wheel set up, not that it matters.)

When I was walking to my car after the Sprint I heard a twenty-something yr old talking to his dad and genuinely disappointed and shaking his head.  He was pushing a really nice road bike.  He was saying to his dad that he pushed as hard as he could on the bike, and couldn't believe how some guys where just blowing past him.  He remarked how it absolutley had to be the bike. 

Whenever I am on a descent in a race, and I get super aero and tucked, three or four times now I've breezed passed road bikes without even pedalling.  The tri bike is designed for speeeed.    

If you are going to do tri's, buy the Tri bike.  I have ZERO regrets.  And I'm yet to here of a single person who does triathlons buying a tri bike, who then later regrets it and buys a road bike.  But you always hear and read about people buying the road bike, regretting it, and saving for and eventually buying the TT bike. 



Edited by Dream Chaser 2008-06-17 1:41 PM


2008-06-17 3:42 PM
in reply to: #1470906

User image

Elite
2527
200050025
Armpit of Ontario
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one

KML - 2008-06-17 6:35 AM Adding to what Clydes 250 stated, frame geometry and composition is important too. the more uprightthe seat tube, generally the harsher the ride. Aluminum is very stiff, and delivers the harshest ride of the current materials used in bike construction, Steel the "softest". Carbon is stiff like Al, and gives a "softer" ride like steel but $$$. Titanium is next to useless, as a frame material, IMO. A carbon stayed, aluminum frame will be more comfortable ride, than an all Al bike. Road geometry, generally 73 - 74 deg., is slightly more compilent and comfortable than the tri, 78 deg frame. Tri bike traditionally used 650 mm wheels. This allows for stiffer wheels. this also allows for shorter forks and seat ans wheel stays, thus a stiffer bike and more power put to the ground. Unless all you do is tri's i would guggest a roadie. kevin

I'm going to have to disagree with most of your statements. Every rider is different and every bike, from all the major manufacturers, are different, far too much to be able to make generalities like these. I've ridden an all aluminum frame tri bike that was more compliant than an all carbon road bike. Personal fit plays more into one's comfort, over and above the geometries, which can vary greatly from one bike to the next, and an experienced fitter can mean more to one's comfort than frame material or geometry. 

And word has it that titanium truly rocks.

 

2008-06-17 3:55 PM
in reply to: #1472179

User image

Elite
2527
200050025
Armpit of Ontario
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one
Dream Chaser - 2008-06-17 2:37 PM

Do the tri bike, and I'll tell you why:  I never rode a road bike.  I decided to do triathlons so I bought a tri-specific bike.  I immediately got used to the unique dimensions of a tri bike and the aero position because (aside from 15 years ago when I was a kid) I didn't know anything different.  If you buy a road bike then decide later you want a tri bike, you'll have to make physical adjustments.

I did a Sprint two days ago and I passed a lot of road bikes.  You could tell these are guys who are "roadies" and have been riding road bikes for many many years.  I've been riding a Tri bike for only seven months and I blow past them.  Unless it's a ridiculously hilly course, 9.5/10 times if someone passes me they are on a tri-bike (and usually they have a ridiculous wheel set up, not that it matters.)

When I was walking to my car after the Sprint I heard a twenty-something yr old talking to his dad and genuinely disappointed and shaking his head.  He was pushing a really nice road bike.  He was saying to his dad that he pushed as hard as he could on the bike, and couldn't believe how some guys where just blowing past him.  He remarked how it absolutley had to be the bike. 

Whenever I am on a descent in a race, and I get super aero and tucked, three or four times now I've breezed passed road bikes without even pedalling.  The tri bike is designed for speeeed.    

If you are going to do tri's, buy the Tri bike.  I have ZERO regrets.  And I'm yet to here of a single person who does triathlons buying a tri bike, who then later regrets it and buys a road bike.  But you always hear and read about people buying the road bike, regretting it, and saving for and eventually buying the TT bike. 

I'll agree that if your focus will be on tris, and your training will be predominantly solo rides, a tri bike will suit you well.

As for a tri bike being faster than a road bike, it just isn't so. I can guarantee that with a tri bike and your seven months of riding you did not blow past any "roadies who had been riding for years". It's all about the engine, and the advantage of a tri bike will only be to allow you to remain comfortably aero for an extended period. The bike isn't necessarily faster, you're just maintaining a more aerodynamic profile to the wind. For an entire bike leg there will be a small time savings to be had, no doubt, but we're definitely not talking additional large numbers of mph in speed. The true measure would be in a race with a rider of identical abilities on a road bike. A true roadie with a "ridiculous wheel set-ups" would leave you in the dust (and those ridiculous wheel set-up do matter).

 

 

2008-06-18 8:33 AM
in reply to: #1472629

User image

Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one
sty - 2008-06-17 4:55 PM
Dream Chaser - 2008-06-17 2:37 PM

Do the tri bike, and I'll tell you why:  I never rode a road bike.  I decided to do triathlons so I bought a tri-specific bike.  I immediately got used to the unique dimensions of a tri bike and the aero position because (aside from 15 years ago when I was a kid) I didn't know anything different.  If you buy a road bike then decide later you want a tri bike, you'll have to make physical adjustments.

I did a Sprint two days ago and I passed a lot of road bikes.  You could tell these are guys who are "roadies" and have been riding road bikes for many many years.  I've been riding a Tri bike for only seven months and I blow past them.  Unless it's a ridiculously hilly course, 9.5/10 times if someone passes me they are on a tri-bike (and usually they have a ridiculous wheel set up, not that it matters.)

When I was walking to my car after the Sprint I heard a twenty-something yr old talking to his dad and genuinely disappointed and shaking his head.  He was pushing a really nice road bike.  He was saying to his dad that he pushed as hard as he could on the bike, and couldn't believe how some guys where just blowing past him.  He remarked how it absolutley had to be the bike. 

Whenever I am on a descent in a race, and I get super aero and tucked, three or four times now I've breezed passed road bikes without even pedalling.  The tri bike is designed for speeeed.    

If you are going to do tri's, buy the Tri bike.  I have ZERO regrets.  And I'm yet to here of a single person who does triathlons buying a tri bike, who then later regrets it and buys a road bike.  But you always hear and read about people buying the road bike, regretting it, and saving for and eventually buying the TT bike. 

I'll agree that if your focus will be on tris, and your training will be predominantly solo rides, a tri bike will suit you well.

As for a tri bike being faster than a road bike, it just isn't so. I can guarantee that with a tri bike and your seven months of riding you did not blow past any "roadies who had been riding for years". It's all about the engine, and the advantage of a tri bike will only be to allow you to remain comfortably aero for an extended period. The bike isn't necessarily faster, you're just maintaining a more aerodynamic profile to the wind. For an entire bike leg there will be a small time savings to be had, no doubt, but we're definitely not talking additional large numbers of mph in speed. The true measure would be in a race with a rider of identical abilities on a road bike. A true roadie with a "ridiculous wheel set-ups" would leave you in the dust (and those ridiculous wheel set-up do matter).

I only speak from my experience, which admitted is very limited.  Several times I've been on long, steep descents next to road bikes and every single time, without pedalling, I gradually and easily pass a road bike.  Everytime.  Maybe it's the cervelo frame, my aero position, don't know.  Just know, for me, it's happened every time.       

Regarding my comments on the sick wheel set-up, I was referring to the race I did this past Sunday, where it was a 12 mile bike ride.  On a 12 mile ride a wheelset is going to make close to zero difference. 

From my experience, I did a Sprint in April -- the only bikes that passed me (which were two) were tri-bikes.  One guy on a road bike (no clip-ons or anything) passed me and I passed him back and he never could catch me.  At a super-hilly Olympic I did (net loss/gain 1500 feet) I constantly passed road bikes on bombing descents / and on the same descents the only bikes to pass me were Tri's.  The only time a road bike passed me was on the climbs.  And the same for an Olympic I did two weeks ago.  And the Sprint I did just this last Sunday one roadie passed me right out of the 'bike out', within a few hundred yards I caught and passed him and never saw him again. 

The big difference I notice is I am always in an agressive aero position (very forward, very aero - helmet and all -, I feel like 90% of my body and weight is on my front wheel) and my cadence is always a bit slower but smoother, and more powerfu,l and I just glide past them.  The roadies are always sitting straight up, spinning their legs off.  And again, this has been my experience so far.   

I just find it uncanny that in the first four tri's I've done I don't ever recall being passed by a road bike (and I pay close attention to all the bikes that pass me), except on the one exceptionally mountainous course, and I was only passed on long climbs; never on a flat or descent. 

Maybe it has something to do with my German heritage  



Edited by Dream Chaser 2008-06-18 8:38 AM
2008-06-18 8:41 AM
in reply to: #1469059

Extreme Veteran
1030
100025
West Windsor, NJ
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one
The endless debate continues. Just two observations that I always come back to: (1) road bike is more versatile than a tri-bike. period. Not necessarily faster or slower...just more versatile. And (2) I get tired of hearing that tri-bikes are generally faster than road bikes. If so, riddle me this: Why wouldnt all the riders on the Tour De France be on TT bikes????

As a few people said, I think a lot of it comes down to what tri's you are doing and goals. As you tend towards the longer distances (half/IM) and loftier goals (winning/winning the A-G), a tri-bike makes more sense; if you are going to be mostly doing sprints/oly's and also have other needs for the bike (charity/group rides, etc.) then get a road bike. The longer the distance, the more efficient you can be on a tri-bike while also saving your legs for the run. To me, THAT is the benefit of a tri-bike. Its not necessarily faster...just saves your legs a bit more so that you can be fast on the bike, and have more for the run. If you are only on there 10-20 miles...you can make that up in training.

And if you are that serious, do what most do...and get both!
2008-06-18 10:37 AM
in reply to: #1469059

User image

Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one

If so, riddle me this: Why wouldnt all the riders on the Tour De France be on TT bikes????

1.) A peleton of TT bikes would involve lots of crashes eventually.  2.) Road bikes climb better.  3.) Can you imagine staying aero for hours and days on end?  I could, but it'd be rough.  4.) The same reason they don't use drag cars on oval race tracks.  Drag cars are faster but for obvious reasons not practical to use on anything but a straight track. 



2008-06-18 10:49 AM
in reply to: #1473589

User image

Resident Curmudgeon
25290
50005000500050005000100100252525
The Road Back
Gold member
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one

JohnAgs3 - 2008-06-18 8:41 AM The endless debate continues. Just two observations that I always come back to: (1) road bike is more versatile than a tri-bike. period. Not necessarily faster or slower...just more versatile. And (2) I get tired of hearing that tri-bikes are generally faster than road bikes. If so, riddle me this: Why wouldnt all the riders on the Tour De France be on TT bikes????

Two answers:

  1. They are, during the time trial segments. As stated before, TT bikes have better aerodynamics but aren't as good for climbing.
  2. However, IIRC, even their time trial bikes have slacker seat tube angles than triathlon bikes because the steeper seat tube angles are illegal on the bike racing circuits.
2008-06-18 11:07 AM
in reply to: #1469059

New user
19

Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one
Regarding what STY said about roadies blowing away time trial bikes..  Why is it that the tour de France pro racers use tri/time trial bikes in the prolog TT's?  If there road bike was faster wouldn't they use them.  They are not alowed to use TT bikes in the pack rides, because of the stability issues.  I'm pretty sure the pro's and there coaches know more than anyone here...  You are correct about the engine being most important.  But, all things being equal the Tri bike has the advantage.  Watch hawaii Ironman pro division it's all Tri bikes... They probably know more than us also.... DT
2008-06-18 11:27 AM
in reply to: #1474137

User image

Champion
9407
500020002000100100100100
Montague Gold Mines, Nova Scotia
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one

I believe that Sty's point was that it would be rare for a roadie with years of experience, regardless of the bike type, to be blown away by a triathlete who is a relatively new rider.

Nobody is saying that there is no benefit to riding a TT bike in a TT or bike leg of a tri; however, just pointing out that it is not magic.  If you consider two riders of similar abilities, if you give one a TT bike and a good position, they should be faster over a similar course (assuming it isn't a crazy course like an uphill TT).

As for the TdF, as the bear indicated, they do use TT bikes for the TT's but TT bikes are ill suited to peloton riding.  The reasons for this are many; in any drafting situation, you should never be in the aerobars (unless you are leading), the handling of a TT bike is not the same as a road bike (as they are designed to go fast in a straight line so you trade off some handling), they typically don't climb as well and since you are in a pack, being aero is not much of an advantage.

As to the OP, I would go with a road bike first unless you were 100% sure that you were only going to do tris and  knew that you wanted to try to ride in a fairly "aggressive" aero position.

Shane

2008-06-18 1:22 PM
in reply to: #1469059

New user
19

Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one
Shane, I agree with everything you say except Sty said "As for a tri bike being faster than a road bike, it just isn't so."  I admit I am biased being a tri guy.  But,  This is a triathlon web site and he should not give out poor advice like that.  The best advice for a tri-newbie is to get a tri bike.  So as they progress in the sport they don't have to spend another $1,500 to $5,000  on a second bike.  Unless you are made of money.... I pack ride all the time and only a couple roadies have ever given me a hard time.  I am respectfull of there code and ride up on my cowbars unless I am leading.  DT
2008-06-18 3:47 PM
in reply to: #1474641

User image

Elite
2527
200050025
Armpit of Ontario
Subject: RE: Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one

Dbl Tap - 2008-06-18 2:22 PM Shane, I agree with everything you say except Sty said "As for a tri bike being faster than a road bike, it just isn't so."  I admit I am biased being a tri guy.  But,  This is a triathlon web site and he should not give out poor advice like that.  The best advice for a tri-newbie is to get a tri bike.  So as they progress in the sport they don't have to spend another $1,500 to $5,000  on a second bike.   DT

I don't see my advice as poor; in fact, I prefaced one of my posts with the statement that a tri bike is a good choice if your focus is on tris. My first bike was a tri bike, and it remains the only bike I put real miles on (albeit I'll admit I'm not a "tri guy" like you, since I only do duathlons   ) However, it is poor advice to recommend that a tri-newbie be told to buy a tri bike without looking at their specific situation:experience, budget, goals, etc. It's a more common story to get wrapped -up in triathlon, buy the tri bike and then lose interest; a road bike will offer more versatility for that rider, and will still get ridden.

My statement re: a tri-bike being faster, I maintain just that; it's not necessarily the bike, but your aerodynamic profile to the wind, and it's realized in a few minutes on the bike leg as opposed to a huge increase in mph. A new rider on a tri bike will squeak out some small time-saving over the same rider in a road configuration, but it will not me miraculous.

 



Edited by sty 2008-06-18 3:50 PM


New Thread
General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Road Bike vs Tri bike I can only afford one Rss Feed