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What is the difference between a Tri bike and a road bike?(12 posts)

What is the difference between a Tri bike and a road bike?Josh
Sep 11, 2001 4:33 AM
Hey everyone, I am somewhat new to road bikes and racing, I usually ride mtn bikes, but last year I built myself a Trek Y-77 road bike. You know, the sweet looking carbon fiber bikes. I set it up with full Ultegra components and some nice wheels I built myself. The thing is, people keep telling me I have a "Tri" bike. I know they mean it is meant for triathalons, but what I don't understand is why? I have read it has something to do with the angle of the seatpost or something, but I don't get it. I ride it like a road bike, and have raced it in long road races and criteriums. I even see other guys racing these kinds of bikes. What is so special about this bike that makes it a "Tri" bike?
re: What is the difference between a Tri bike and a road bike?nestorl
Sep 11, 2001 4:51 AM
I don't know about your particular bike, but tri bikes are compact. They have a shorter top tube so that you are more comfortable when putting your arms on the aerobars. Thus, the wheels must be 650cc or they would not fit. Also, because of the aerobars and the compact design, some people think that they are harder to handle and should be used only for tris. Most racers would be annoyed at having to race next to someone with a tri because they believe that the tri bike would put everyone in danger...just like showing up to your local racing club with aerobars.

And... you are new to road bikes and racing and you built yourself a trek Y-77?? Are you sure you are not the same kid with the "Younger rider" posts on the 'racing' area? :-)
re: What is the difference between a Tri bike and a road bike?Josh
Sep 11, 2001 5:18 AM
no, I am not that "Younger Rider". I am 21 and have done a lot of mtn biking, but only recently got into road bikes.

I built a Y-77 because I like owning bikes that are "different" and you don't see them very often. I also built it because I prefer to ride nicer equipment, and will spend a little extra money to get it.
re: What is the difference between a Tri bike and a road bike?jaybird
Sep 11, 2001 7:35 AM
The main reason that people are calling that a tri bike is because of the unconventional shape of the frame. That bike has relatively normal angles out of the box. Adjustments can be made, by using different seatposts stems etc. to give you a more areo/tri position on the bike. The shape od your frame doesnt matter untill you start racing for UCI points, and at that time all you need is a double triangle designmore than about 16lbs.

Remember, its not about the bike...
wait a minute...mr_spin
Sep 11, 2001 7:48 AM
You must have 650 wheels because of the frame? Not exactly. There are endless variations on frame designs that don't restrict you to 650 wheels. In fact, designing a frame for 650 wheels is a little trickier because the smaller wheels "lower" the frame somewhat.

The triathletes I know prefer 650 wheels because they claim they accelerate better. Also, most racers don't care when someone shows up on a tri-bike. The smart ones recognize the opportunity of getting a good pull. They just know to avoid them on descents, because tri-bikes are notoriously bad descenders.

I suspect people say the Trek is a tri-bike because it looks a lot like a Softride, which a lot of triathletes prefer.
re: What is the difference between a Tri bike and a road bike?jd
Sep 11, 2001 8:44 AM
Hey guys, what are the differences between a tri bike & a TT bike? When I win the lottery I think I want to buy a cervelo solo( as wisely (I think} suggested by someone on this post), because its built to be a dual purpose road TT bike. I have been looking for info sources re; TT vs Road vs. Tri bikes, hard to find. Prehaps its because its common sence, experience & or common knowledge among roadies, I am an xc mtb racer as well as the original poster here.
The differencemr_spin
Sep 11, 2001 9:21 AM
Tri-bikes and TT bikes share a lot of common features, such as a more aggressive position for the rider, and a lot more aerodynamic features (tubes, wheels, bars, etc). Tri-bikes almost invariably have bottle cages behind the seat instead of inside the main triangle. That's one reason to take a wide berth around a triathlete on a descent--those bottles come out a lot!

To understand a tri-bike, you have to start with TT bikes. A lot of triathlons now allow drafting, which is pretty lame, I think. But originally, there was no drafting, so the ride in a triathlon closely resembled a long time trial.

A true time trial bike is built for speed, not comfort, because time trials are usually fairly short. You definitely wouldn't want to ride a TT bike for six hours. TT bikes are also designed primarily to go in a straight line on a flat road. In other words, they don't handle very well.

Tri-bikes tend to lie somewhere between a road bike and a TT bike. The really good ones are very close to being TT bikes, but are comfortable enough to be ridden for six hours in an Ironman. The differences between manufacturers is what tradeoffs were made in terms of comfort, aerodynamics, and handling.

There is no reason why you can't convert a road bike into a reasonably good tri-bike. In fact, if you do Ironmans, that might be the best option. All things being equal, a more comfortable bike may win the race! Most of my triathlete friends own both tri-bikes and road bikes. It's just not fun for them to ride a tri-bike on our 100 mile, 12,000 foot rides.

I'd love to have Cervelo P3 as a TT bike. I'll buy one with my lottery winnings someday.
this has been asked beforecyclopathic
Sep 11, 2001 9:10 AM
read this
Road vs Tri
Nice ridekenyee
Sep 11, 2001 10:12 AM
Road racing bikes (if you go into a professional UCI race) requires a seat tube (i.e., the double triangle design). Stupid requirement IMHO. So, the Y77 was put the pasture by Trek and adopted by triathletes who have no such regulation.

It's supposed to be a nice ride. Did you get the 1998 or 1999 model and how much did you pay for it if you don't mind me asking?
I've been looking for a gold Y77 frame w/ no luck.
I know it's "sweet looking", but...MrCelloBoy
Sep 11, 2001 11:30 AM
I have a friend who's had to return two of these frames due to failure. And he's not a big guy. Maybe 165-170 lbs. and 70+ years old.
I'd look into other reports of frame problems. It is an older design by carbon fiber standards.
Good pointkenyee
Sep 11, 2001 1:04 PM
Trek's "lifetime warrantee" is also only for the original owner, so if it's been registered before, you're hosed if there is a crack.

The typical crack point is supposed be near the bottom bracket. It starts as a paint crack.
frame/fork price: $600, total $1600Josh
Sep 12, 2001 3:56 AM
I actually bought the frame, fork, and headset off of EBay for about $600 + shipping. That was a little over a year ago now. Sometimes I still see them for less than $600, just keep an eye out. Mine was brand new, never used, so I felt it was a decent price. I also read a lot of reviews on the bike, well, actually not a lot since not many people take the time to write about it I guess. I have talked to other racers at races I have done and some of them had frames fail, but Trek replaced the frames. I also am only ~150lb, and I am not very hard on my equipment. If it does fail, well, I will just buy another frame. it's not like it's the end of the world.

Also, I spend another $1000 on parts to finish off the bike. I went with straight Ultegra components, and the wheels are Ultegra hubs with Mavic MA3 rims which I put together myself. A lot of this bike was just a learning project to teach myself more about bike maintenance. I know it isn't "top of the line", but I like it.