The best triathlon bikes for beginners are fast, comfortable and relatively affordable. If you are still new to the sport, you do not want to spend too much on your gear before falling in love with the sport.
The first decision you need to make is whether your new bike will be purely used for triathlons or do you need a bike that you can use to commute, be comfortable during long training rides or running errands.
This list of the best triathlon bikes for beginners is dominated by road bikes. If you are just starting out, you should focus on improving your fitness before spending thousands of dollars on a super light and aerodynamic triathlon bike.
Best triathlon bikes for beginners
- Trek Domane AL 2 – Best road bike for beginners
- Cube Axial WS Pro Road Bike 2021 – Best beginner triathlon bike for women
- Vitus Zenium Road Bike (Tiagra – 2021) – Best affordable all-rounder carbon bike
- Schwinn Fastback Tourney AL – Best budget triathlon bike for beginners
- CERVELO P-Series 105 Road Bike – Best for time trial and triathlon specialists
Trek Domane AL 2 (Road Bike)
Best road bike for beginners
Treks Domane AL 2 is an excellent introduction to the world of road cycling. It is comfortable, light and fun to ride.
The frame fit is “endurance,” meaning that it is designed to be more comfortable over longer distances (as you are sat more upright) than out and out triathlon bikes. Thanks to the aluminum frame and carbon forks, you get a light bike that handles well and absorbs the vibrations from the road, saving your hands and wrists from fatigue on longer rides.
You may want to upgrade the groupset that comes with the bike as the Shimano Claris groupset is heavier and a bit more clunky than Shimano’s more expensive groupsets. However, the gear changes are swift and the braking responsive straight out of the box.
For your first few triathlons, the 11-32, 8-speed cassette and 50/34 (compact) crank will be more than enough to build up high speed and tackle any modest hills with ease.
The frame comes with fittings for fenders and a rear pannier rack, so it can easily be converted into a workhorse for commuting or weekend adventures.
- A bargain for the high-quality frame and components
- Endurance bike fit makes it perfect for longer rides
- Durable aluminum frame and fittings for pannier racks and fenders
- It is not as light as the more expensive Trek road bike range
- You may want to upgrade the Claris groupset, especially if you will be doing a lot of climbing
Cube Axial WS Pro Road Bike 2021
Best beginner triathlon bike for women
The Cube Axial WS Pro is beautiful and fast. It features women’s specific geometry, basically designed to be more suited to a petite frame. It also has a more angled down tube, making it much easier to mount. The road comfort geometry makes this a very comfortable ride during longer journeys, with the option to go down onto the drops for a fast finish.
Cubes’ latest women-specific road bike is light, fast and responsive. It has a lightweight aluminum frame and carbon forks for added comfort. It comes with a 2 x 9 drivetrain, by way of the Shimano Sora groupset. Eighteen gears are plenty for a triathlon, even if you do have some hills to contend with.
This bike comes with disk brakes that are responsive even in wet conditions. The tires that come with the bike (Continental Ultra Sport) have plenty of traction even on wet roads. If you are looking for a sleek, lightweight introduction to cycling, this is a great investment to help you complete your first triathlons in record time.
- The internal cabling is a nice touch.
- Lightweight and high-quality finish
- Comes with Aero wheels
- The racing geometry is comfortable, but not suitable for leisurely weekend rides. If you have a separate bike for the weekends, perfect!
Vitus Zenium Road Bike (Tiagra – 2021)
Best affordable all-rounder carbon bike
The Vitus Zenium road bike blends performance and comfort. It is surprisingly affordable when you look at what materials and parts make up this beast. It has a lightweight and stiff carbon fiber frame. Reliable disk brakes that help you to stop no matter the weather.
Not only is the price fantastic for the materials and components that have gone into this bike, but it looks beautiful too. Thanks to the internal cabling, combination of tubular and more modern large diameter down tube and two-tone silver paint job, this bike looks a lot more expensive than it is. The Tan-wall stock tires finish it off nicely.
The latest Vitus Zenium has a stiffer frame than many at this price point. But this makes it perfect for time trial and triathlons, and it means that when you need to put the power into the pedals, you do not lose any of the energy from movement in the frame.
A bicycle frame that is too stiff can result in an uncomfortable ride on long-distance rides or during long climbs. However, thanks to the high-quality tires and elongated frame design, you do not get any side effects that sometimes come with cheaper carbon fiber frames.
Whether you are looking to upgrade your current budget road bike or feel ambitious and want to start with a carbon fiber frame, this is an excellent affordable option that leaves you scope to upgrade. The Shimano Tiagra gears are fine to begin with but are one reason that Vitus can sell this bike so cheaply, so after a few years, you should be looking to upgrade to the sleeker and lighter 105s or above.
- Lightweight and stiff carbon fiber frame
- Firmer ride than the aluminum frames on the list
- Although very affordable for the materials, this may be a little too expensive for some beginners
Schwinn Fastback Tourney AL (Road Bike)
Best budget triathlon bike for beginners
If you are on a budget, Schwinns Fastback Tourney AL is an excellent entry-level road bike. It has an aluminum frame and forks, so is lighter than most road bikes at this price. The 14-speed compact Shimano groupset is reliable enough and has enough gears to get you started. But as you build up your fitness, you will probably want to have more gears at your disposal.
The riding position is quite aggressive, compared to the likes of the Trek Domane AL 2. Making it a good option if you are looking to prioritize speed and are looking for a budget bike to use primarily for your triathlon and training.
At this price, the Fastback Tourney AL comes with reliable components and a smooth and fast ride. However, as you rack up the miles, you will need to start to replace parts or just looking to upgrade your bike altogether. Unfortunately, the Schwinn brand has become synonymous with a budget bike brand, so do not expect much of a resale value when you look to level up and try to sell it.
- Affordable entry-level road bike
- Aggressive riding position
- Internal cabling makes the bike look more expensive than it is
- Not as versatile as others on this list
- Expect to have to replace the wheels and other components sooner than you would on more expensive bikes (you should still get at least a year of regular riding before this becomes noticeable)
CERVELO P-Series 105 (Time Trial / Triathlon Bike)
Best for time trial and triathlon specialists
We could not bring you the best triathlon bikes for beginners without featuring a pure time trial/triathlon bike.
Clearly built for speed above all else, the CERVELO P-Series 105 Road Bike is aerodynamic, agile and very high quality. Designed in the wind tunnel, there is no risk of wasted effort when riding this bike. Naturally, the bike is carbon fiber at this price, making it remarkably light but surprisingly stiff and compliant for bursts of acceleration and sprint finishes.
You will notice the handlebars are unique compared to all the other bikes on this list. They are designed to keep the rider’s surface area to a minimum, further improving riding efficiency and reducing drag. The gear levers are found at the end of the armrests so that you do not have to move position if you come up to an incline or need to increase the pace.
This is a beautiful aero triathlon bike that is guaranteed to improve your performance against the clock, but it is simply overkill if you are a beginner.
- Wind tunnel aero development at its best
- Integrated bottle cage and compact 105 groupset ensuring there is no wasted effort
- Lightweight, stiff and responsive carbon frame
- It is an expensive investment for a beginner
- The very aggressive riding position and specialist TT controls make this bike only suitable for racing and little else
What is the best type of bike for your first triathlon?
As with most things in life, there is little point in having all the gear but no idea. You should be focused on your training plan more than trying to save a few grams on your next bike for your first triathlon.
Rather than attempting to dust off and prepare your old mountain bike that has been left in the garage, buying a new bike for your first triathlon is a much more reliable and exciting option. Not only can you be confident that it will work on race day, but it also gives you added motivation to train and get out on the bike if you have invested so much money into buying a new ride.
Road bikes are the most popular type of bike for regular triathletes. You have the option of a more aggressive race type fit (designed for speed) or an endurance fit that will be more upright and comfortable on longer rides. That said, you are able to amend the fit of the frame by adjusting the reach of the handler bars and seat position and height.
If you are serious about your training and the cycling leg of your triathlon, you should invest in a professional bike fit after buying your new bike. It will help ensure that you are comfortable and are utilizing all your strength while pedaling.
Generally, road bikes are the best option for your first triathlon as they are light, fast and comfortable.
Pro tip: do not wait until race day to ride your new bike. It is essential that you spend hours training and getting used to your new ride before attempting your triathlon.
How to make a bike more aero without breaking the bank?
As you become more experienced at triathlons, you will want to start looking for hacks to improve your time. Bearing in mind that up to 50% of your triathlon will be spent on your bike, any marginal gains you can achieve during the cycling section can seriously help your overall time.
Investing in a good set of clip-on aero bars (Check out this review of the best clip-on aero bars) will help you shave some time off your bike ride by making you more aerodynamic, as they reduce your frontal surface area. They are the best way to feel like a pro, without having to spend thousands of dollars on a specialist TT bike.
You do not need a super fancy feather light bike that has been built for speed alone. The best triathlon bikes for beginners are comfortable, affordable and fast. Once you have the frame, you can worry about upgrades and saving weight when you have built up your fitness and fallen in love with cycling and triathlons.
I’ve spent way more time in the bike trade than anyone should reasonably want to. In that time I’ve wanted to make cycling jargon and marketing easier to cut through to help people get the bike of their dreams.
When I’m not writing about bikes, I can be seen out bikepacking on single speed bikes or teaching kids how to ride.