Triathlon or time trial bikes is the term given to a style of bike with maximised aerodynamic features. It is a bike used in racing – either for triathlon, individual time trialling or team time trialling. Time trial bikes are also used in velodromes.
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A time trial or triathlon bike is designed to be a speed machine. For this reason TT bikes as they are often called are designed with frames that force the rider into a very aggressive, aerodynamic position on the bike.
TT bikes will feature aerobars (either integrated or affixed) that encourage more of a hunched over position, sometimes referred to as the superman position. Disc wheels add to a TT bike’s aerodynamic strength, as the disk is designed to minimise drag and cut through the wind. This notion of cutting through the wind influences many a TT bike’s frame design.
A road bike is usually lighter than a TT bike and this is largely because the focus of TT design is so weighted to aerodynamics.
Because time trial bikes require the rider to assume a very different position to road riding, quite different sets of muscles are used to different degrees. A lot of road cyclists will say it takes a while to get used to the TT position and certainly it is not made for going up any hills!
UCI Grand Tours will allocate stages of the race to either an individual and/or time trial event, but the bulk of racing remains on road bikes. This is justified mostly by the perceived handling of TT bikes, which are considered more difficult than those of road bikes.
If you want to see some of the greatest TT bikes on the planet, just head to an Ironman or Challenge triathlon event and make a bee-line to transition. There you will see some killer machines lined up. Surely in the mix you’ll find the likes of:
Cervelo, Orbea, Storck, Giant, Specialized, Scott, Cube, Fuji, Ceepo, Colnago, BMC, Boardman, Felt, Trek, SwiftCarbon, Focus, Cannondale, Argon, Bianchi, and plenty more!