Best triathlon bike 2024: unleash your speed with these aero machines

Gear up for success with our top picks of triathlon bikes

best triathlon bike: pictured here, a person riding a tri bike wearing a full cycling gear
(Image credit: BMC)
Best triathlon bike 2024: Quick links
(Image credit: BMC)

00. Top 3↴
01. Best overall: Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0
02. Best for storage: DJI Mini 2 SE
03. Best affordable: Cervelo 105 Disc
04. Best for comfort: Felt IA
05. Best for enthusiasts: Potensic Atom

Welcome to the world of triathlons, where the only thing scarier than the swim leg is trying to navigate the sea of triathlon bikes. While it's true that riding the best triathlon bike won't magically turn you into the next Ironman champion, it can certainly help you slice through the air with more finesse than a butter knife through, well, butter. These bikes are sleek, aerodynamic machines designed to make you feel like you're flying, even when your legs are screaming for mercy.

But before you dive headfirst into the world of tri bikes, let's pump the brakes for a moment. Choosing the right triathlon bike can feel like trying to solve a Rubik's Cube blindfolded – confusing, frustrating, and likely to leave you in a tangled mess. With so many technical terms and options to consider, it's easy to feel like you've stumbled into a Tour de France team meeting by mistake.

Fear not, fellow triathletes! We're here to help you navigate the labyrinth of triathlon bikes and emerge victorious on the other side. From groupsets to wheelsets, we'll break down the jargon and simplify the process so you can focus on what really matters: crossing that finish line with style.

And hey, while you're at it, why not treat yourself to a fancy fitness wearable to track all your triathlon adventures? Check out our guide to the best triathlon watches – because nothing says "I'm a serious athlete" like a watch that can keep up with your multisport lifestyle. 

Conversely, if you need something less intimidating to ride on, you might want to check out T3's best road bike guide.

Best triathlon bikes to buy right now

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Best overall

Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 on white backgroundT3 Best Buy badge


(Image credit: Canyon)
Best triathlon bike overall

Specifications

Groupset: Shimano Ultegra R8000
Wheelset: Mavic Carbon
Frame: Canyon Speedmax CF Carbon
Fork: Canyon F39 CF Carbon
Weight: 8.6 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic looks
+
Extremely light
+
Great groupset combination

Reasons to avoid

-
Looks might be intimidating for beginners

Canyon is famous for providing excellent quality bikes for a very reasonable price, which is true for the Speedmax CF 8.0. The full carbon construction is as light as a feather, with the medium-sized frame weighing only 8.6 kilos. The setup comes complete with a Shimano Ultegra groupset and Mavic Carbon wheels.

Every detail has been taken into account, including the type of saddle used for the Speedmax CF 8.0, to maximise comfort as well as performance. The Fizik Mistica is a triathlon-optimised saddle with a shorter and wider nose and non-slip material on the top so you can ride comfortably for longer. Relatively speaking, of course.

Read our full Canyon Speedmax CF 8.0 review.

Best for storage

Ribble Ultra Tri Shimano 105 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge


(Image credit: Ribble)

2. Ribble Ultra Tri Shimano 105

Pro-grade frame in its full carbon glory

Specifications

Groupset: Shimano 105 R7000 TT 11 Speed
Wheelset: Mavic Aksium Clincher
Frame: Toray T800 / T1000 Full Carbon Monocoque
Fork: Ultra Tri Full Carbon Fibre Monocoque

Reasons to buy

+
Way cheaper than the Canyon Speedmax
+
0% APR finance available

Reasons to avoid

-
Watch out for side wind 

Ribble has perfected the full carbon Ultra frameset to provide the least aerodynamic friction possible. This feature will be useful when riding the 56-mile cycling part of the Ironman 70.3 in a headwind. You don't need anything to hold you back more than necessary.

The Ultra Tri groupset consists mainly of Shimano 105 R7000 pieces, apart from the brakes, which are a TRP T860 alloy set. The cockpit is Ribble's own, with bars and the stem designed for the Ribble Ultra Tri. The wheelset consists of Mavic Aksium Clincher wheels and Continental Ultra Sport 2 tyres with an extra deep profile.

Given the thick profile and all the additional storage units on the frame, the Ribble Ultra Tri is slightly susceptible to side wind, but since the bike is very light, it won't affect your riding experience all that much, especially in aggressive riding positions.

Best affordable

Cervelo P2 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Cervelo)

3. Cervelo 105 Disc

Affordable tt bike from an Ironman favourite brand

Specifications

Groupset: Shimano 105 R7000
Wheelset: Vision Team 30
Frame: Cervélo All-Carbon
Fork: Tempered P Fork

Reasons to buy

+
Airier design
+
All carbon frame
+
Storage compartments

Reasons to avoid

-
Availability issues

Cervelo is the most popular bike brand among Ironman Kona competitors (external link), and the P-series is one of its more affordable tt bike ranges. That said, even the cheapest Cervelo P bike, the 105 Disc, will set you back over $3,000, so it's definitely not for people who need a tri bike to use once a year.

The Cervelo P series is designed from the ground up to cater for the needs of all long-distance triathletes: the bike is race-ready pretty much straight out of the box, equipped with a bento box, downtube bottle and a rear seat hydration mount, so you can keep your cycling water bottles on you without compromising on the aero properties of your setup.

Get ready for a bumpy ride, as the P series has increased stiffness at the bottom bracket and overall torsional stiffness compared to its predecessor. Said stiffness will enable you to transform energy to forward momentum more easily: less power wasted on vibration.

Best for comfort

Felt IA Advanced 105 2020 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: felt)

4. Felt IA | Advanced, Rim Brake | 105 | 2020

A multiple Ironman Kona winner

Specifications

Groupset: Shimano 105 R7000
Wheelset: Devox 30A
Frame: Felt Integrated Aero Tri UHC Advanced + TeXtreme carbon
Fork: Felt IA UHC Advanced carbon monocoque
Weight: 9.49 kg (medium frame)

Reasons to buy

+
BTS storage pack included
+
Textreme frameset for a reasonable price

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly heavier than the top bikes on this list

The Felt IA Series won the Ironman World Championship five times out of the last six years, which says a lot about the performance of this series. The IA | Advanced, Rim Brake is your entry to this very prestigious family.

The Felt IA | Advanced, Rim Brake | 105 | 2020 uses a Shimano 105 R7000 groupset and an all-carbon aero frame. For the 2020 year, Felt introduced the lighter and stronger Textreme frameset to the entry-level model of the series, to everyone's delight.

The bike is slightly heavier than the Canyon and Boardman entries on this list but still comes under 10kg, which is impressive considering all the tech involved here. All the better, Felt also included a BTS storage pack, so you can also store your wheel-fixing accessories or food/drinks in an aerodynamic compartment.

Best for enthusiasts

BMC Timemachine 02 Two 2020 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: BMC)

5. BMC Timemachine 02 Two 2020

Gotta go fast on this Swiss-designed TT machine

Specifications

Groupset: Shimano 105
Wheelset: Shimano WH-RS 010
Frame: Timemachine 02, PF86 bottom bracket
Fork: Aero Premium Carbon
Weight: 9.18 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Integrated fuelling box
+
Shimano 105 groupset works great
+
Hidden brake booster at rear
+
Dual-mount seatpost

Reasons to avoid

-
Full-aero cockpit needs some getting used to for beginners
-
No shifters on drop bar

The BMC Timemachine 02 Two is a very competent tri bike. The always reliable Shimano 105 groupset does the work just fine when it comes to commandeering the derailleur in between the 22 available speed options. Better still, the Shimano Dura-Ace Barend shifters compliment the groupset beautifully and make shifting gears in the aero position way easier.

The Timemachine 02 frame is hyper-aero and slices through the air: everything is fat and flat to reduce drag on the road. The dual-mount seatpost is a nice touch and lets riders customize their riding position in a variety of ways.

Feel free to go fast on the BMC Timemachine 02 Two: the hidden brake booster tech "increases the brake-lever-pull to calliper-free-stroke ratio", as BMC puts it. The same system allows for the complete disconnection of the cockpit (when paired with electronic shifting options) for travel purposes too.

I wouldn't put the BMC Timemachine 02 Two in the beginner tri bike category as it not only has a rigid carbon setup and therefore provides a firmer ride, but it also mostly caters for more experienced tri riders with barend shifters and stuff like the highly customisable seat post.

How to choose the best triathlon bike for you

Assuming you won't want to break the bank when investing in a new triathlon bike, there will be some compromises you will have to make when picking a tt bike.

Most bike descriptions highlight the type of groupset they use. A groupset is all the parts on the bike that make it move and stop, so all the equipment that transforms the kinetic energy generated by your legs and body to forward momentum (plus the brakes). This includes the crankset, the bracket, brakes, shifters and derailleurs, but even the chain and rear cassette too.

Groupsets you will see most often on time trial bikes are the Shimano 105, the Shimano Ultegra and the Shimano Dura-Ace. Of the three, the 105 is the most 'basic' set, and the Dura-Ace is the most advanced. The 'basic' is in brackets because the 105 is by no means a cheap set, and as with all technology, advancements from higher-end models cascade down to later-year entry-level models, meaning a new Shimano 105 is probably more advanced than a Shimano Ultegra from a few years ago.

Another key factor to take into account is the frame. Many triathlon bikes have aero frames, where 'aero' stands for aerodynamic. This frame type comes from the world of time trials, where they came up with a light but rigid frame composition. Every gram matters in time trial races, and as technology advanced and production costs dropped, aero frames made their way from track courses into the world of triathlon, too, becoming an everyday sight as opposed to being a toy of the top 1% of triathletes.

The wheelset is also crucial when deciding on a setup. These are made out of many different materials, but you would like something light, like carbon, to make the bike even lighter altogether. 

FAQ

Are triathlon bikes worth it?

We would argue that a dedicated triathlon bike is mainly worth it for people who take triathlon racing seriously. That said, for longer races, riding on a well-calibrated tt bike can mean the difference and enable you to ride in relative comfort, not to mention other features found only on triathlon bikes such as compartments for food/gels/drinks etc.

What is the difference between TT and triathlon bike?

The primary distinction between a time trial (TT) bike and a triathlon bike lies in their design and intended use. Time trial bikes are engineered for solo races against the clock, prioritising aerodynamics and speed over comfort. They feature aggressive geometry with a steeper seat tube angle, shorter wheelbase, and aerodynamic frame shapes.

In contrast, triathlon bikes are specifically crafted for triathlons, which encompass swimming, cycling, and running. While they also emphasise aerodynamics, triathlon bikes place additional emphasis on rider comfort during longer rides and efficient positioning for smooth transitions between disciplines.

Furthermore, while both types of bikes incorporate aerodynamic frames and components, they may differ in certain features. For instance, triathlon bikes may include additional storage options for nutrition and hydration to support extended rides without the need for dismounting.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.