How To Choose The Best Triathlon Bike In Five Easy Steps

October 01, 2019

How To Choose The Best Triathlon Bike In Five Easy Steps

Selecting a bicycle is one of the most vital decisions any triathlete can make. After all, when it comes to triathlon racing, should your race day go according to plan, you’ll be spending more time with your bike than you will with your swimsuit or running shoes. Luckily, there’s never been a better time to get yourself a new bike. There are countless options available from many companies in various frame materials and with a wide variety of component packages, to say nothing of all the other cycling gear and accessories you’ll undoubtedly want to get to accompany your new ride. But first thing’s first—you need a new bike. So whether you’re looking to jump into the sport for the first time and purchase your very first triathlon bike, or you’re a veteran triathlete who simply wants to add another bike to your collection, here is how to choose the best triathlon bike. These are the steps you should take to make sure that you get the right bike for your needs.

ASSESS YOUR GOALS

As you begin your search for your new bike, it’s best to start off by considering your riding, training, and racing goals. Are you looking to compete in triathlon racing? If so, what distance(s) are you interested in? In how many races do you plan on participating each year? How will your training support your racing ambitions? What sort of social rides will you be doing, and how often? The answers to all of these questions should help you form a baseline of what you’ll need in terms of features and benefits from your new bike. They’ll also help you start determining things like what handlebar configuration will be best for you, as well as how you should start aligning your budget for a new bike purchase—both of which are addressed in the next few sections.

felt aero road bikeAero road bikes, like the AR, are ideal for triathlon races that do not allow aerobar extensions.

AEROBARS OR DROP BARS?

Once you’ve armed yourself with information regarding your honest goals and realistic expectations for racing, you’ll be able to start filtering out what bikes you will (and won’t) need to consider. First and foremost, bikes intended for triathlon racing can be most easily broken down into two categories: bikes with aerobars, and bikes with drop handlebars. Aerobar-equipped bikes are what most folks associate with triathlon racing: they involve two arm-length extensions that stick out from the front of the bike where you’ll be resting your arms and hands for much of your race, along with a set of brake levers positioned at the end of two wider extensions jutting out from the sides of the bike’s front-end. This type of bike is the most common in triathlon, as it offers the most aerodynamically efficient and versatile riding position (all other factors being equal, such as frame design, wheel shape, actual body position, etc.). However, aerobar-equipped bikes are sometimes not authorized to be used in competition in certain jurisdictions or racing leagues. Case in point, ITU discipline triathlon or Olympic-style racing requires the use of drop-style handlebar-equipped bikes—these are the very same as standard “road bikes.” Their front ends feature a drop-style handlebar with hand positions on the hoods and drops, where the rider can easily access shifters and brake levers. Check with your local racing league, as well as the organizing body for any event in which you plan to participate, to find out if they have any restrictions on the types of handlebars that they allow. If any of your chosen events require drop-style handlebars, then that’s the type of bike on which you should be focusing your search. For any other type of racing, consider aerobar-equipped models. As a side note, remember that many drop bar-style bikes (but not all) have the ability to utilize “clip-on” aerobars, which can be easily affixed to the top portion of a drop handlebar to gain an aero advantage—this type of setup gives you two bikes in one!

felt bBikes like the B model offer tremendous value in the form of a carbon fiber frame and fork combination, along with lower-cost components.

BALANCE YOUR BUDGET

Once you’ve determined what type of handlebar configuration your new bike should have, it’s time to think about the practical side of a new bike purchase. While we believe in the motto that life is short, so you should treat yourself to your dream bike, it’s important to recognize that this isn’t always the most practical case for every athlete. Again, consider your riding and racing habits, and how often you’ll be spending time in the saddle. This is another good opportunity along your new bike journey to again consider what aspects of a new bike are important to you. Do you want the lightest possible frame for uphill accelerations? Do you want the smoothest ride quality possible for providing comfort over rough racecourses? Do you crave the newest and fanciest shifting and braking components? All of these things can have a dramatic impact on the final price of a new bike, and should definitely be considered. Also, remember that picking out a new bike shouldn’t just be about the straightforward cost. Be sure that you’re also considering the value of what you’re getting. For example, if two bikes cost the same amount, but one features a higher quality carbon frame, or lighter wheels, or a better performing drivetrain, then be sure to factor that into your purchasing decision. There’s a lot of great bikes out there, so do your due diligence to ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

felt ia konaAll Felt pro triathletes who compete in events that allow aerobars ride our best-performing model, the IA.

MAKE A SHORT LIST

You’ve determined your needs and double-checked your budget, so now it’s time to start narrowing down the marketplace into a short list of viable new bike candidates. As we’ve said before, there are a lot of great triathlon bikes out there, and oftentimes it can be daunting to make a final decision. Look for bikes that will support your aforementioned racing goals but not put you into a financial crisis, and start fine-tuning your selection process. Include bikes from reputable brands who have plenty of experience crafting great bikes and disregard those with spotty track records of performance. Selecting a new bike should also be a decision rooted in passion, and that means you should look for bikes that speak to you aesthetically, either through their industrial design or colors and graphics. Let yourself fall in love with your chosen bike and you’ll find yourself wishing to spend as much time with it as possible. If you’re not completely thrilled with the available complete bikes within your search parameters, consider getting yourself a frame kit and working with your local bike shop to build a custom setup unique to you, with your choice of drivetrain parts, wheels, and accessories—this is the best way to get a bike that is unlike anything else out there. If you’ve narrowed your search to one special bike, then go for it! Next, you’ll need a bike fit, so keep reading the next section. But if you’ve narrowed down your options to a select few and aren’t quite sure how to make the final call, one option is to bring in an expert and consult with an experienced bike fitter.

GET A BIKE FIT

Getting a proper bike fit is the single most important factor in maximizing your cycling performance and comfort. So if you’ve procured your new bike, congratulations! Now go find an experienced and reputable bike fitter in your area, and work with them to make sure you’re dialed in with your new ride. If you haven’t quite made up your mind on which specific bike you should get, but you have a few options in mind, then seek out that experienced bike fitter and ask for a recommendation or consultation. Just like when it comes to performance and comfort, not all bikes are created equal when it comes to their ability to properly accommodate the fit needs of their riders. For example, we design our bikes to be able to allow as many riders as possible to achieve their most powerful riding position, but this isn’t the case with all brands or models. So in certain instances, especially if you have a unique riding position or a physiological need that needs attention, an experienced bike fitter may be able to recommend one bike over another that will better serve your particular riding position needs.

STILL NEED HELP?

Don't worry, we've got your back. Check out the handy chart below to help you figure out what type of triathlon bike you should get.

triathlon bike decision

felt aero road bikefelt triathlon framefelt tri bikefelt ia




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Bike Sizing

Bike Sizing

Start by clicking on your height below to the find the recommended size per model. Please note that this is a general guide and that a proper bike fit at an experienced dealer will ensure the best for you and your riding. Visit our dealer locator to find a shop near you.

  • Road Sizing
  • Mountain Sizing
  • Lifestyle & Electric Sizing

6'5"  195+CM

FR61 IA58 Breed61
VR61 DA/B61 Broam61
FRW61 FX60

6'4"  192–194CM

AR61 FRW61 FX60,63
FR61 IA56,58 Breed61
VR61 DA/B58,61 Broam61

6'3"190-191cm

AR61 IA56,58 FX60
FR61 DA/B58,61 Breed61
VR61 TK61 Broam61
FRW61

6'2"187-189cm

AR61 IA54,56,58 FX60
FR58,61 DA/B56,58 Breed58,61
VR58,61 TK61 Broam58,61
FRW58,61

6'1"185-186cm

AR58,61 IA54,56,58 FX57,60
FR58 DA/B56,58 Breed58
VR58 TK58,61 Broam58
FRW58

6'0"182-184cm

AR58 IA51,54,56,58 FX57
FR56,58 DA/B56,58 Breed56,58
VR56,58 TK58,61 Broam56,58
FRW56,58

5'11"180-181cm

AR56,58 VRW56 FX55,57
FR56,58 IA51,54,56,58 Breed56,58
VR56,58 DA/B56,58 Broam56,58
FRW56,58 TK56,58

5'10"177-179cm

AR56 VRW56 FX55
FR56,58 IA51,54,56,58 Breed56,58
VR56,58 DA/B56 Broam56,58
FRW56,58 TK56,58

5'9"174-176cm

AR56 VRW56 FX53,55
FR56 IA48,51,54,56 Breed56
VR56 DA/B54,56 Broam56
FRW56 TK54,56

5'8"172-173cm

AR54 VRW54,56 FX53
FR54,56 IA48,51,54,56 Breed54,56
VR54,56 DA/B54,56 Broam54,56
FRW54,56 TK54,56

5'7"169-171cm

AR51,54 VRW54 FX50,53
FR54 IA48,51,54 Breed54
VR54 DA/B54,56 Broam54
FRW54 TK51,54

5'6"167-168cm

AR51 VRW51,54 FX50
FR51,54 IA48,51,54 Breed51,54
VR51,54 DA/B54 Broam51,54
FRW51,54 TK51,54

5'5"164-166cm

AR51 VRW51 FX47,50
FR51,54 IA48,51,54 Breed51
VR51 DA/B51 Broam51
FRW51,54 TK51

5'4"162-163cm

AR51 VRW51 FX47
FR48,51 IA48,51,54 Breed51
VR51 DA/B51 Broam51
FRW48,51 TK51

5'3"159-161cm

FR48,51 IA48,51 FX47
VR51 DA/B47,51 Breed51
FRW48,51 Broam51
VRW47,51

5'2"157-158cm

FR48 IA48,51 Breed47
FRW48 DA/B47,51 Broam47
VRW47

5'1"154-156cm

FR48 IA48,51 Breed47
FRW48 DA/B47,51 Broam47
VRW43,47

5'0"152-153cm

VRW43 DA/B/S47,51
IA48 TK43

4'11"149-151cm

VRW43 DA/B47
IA48 TK43

4'10"147-148cm

IA48
DA/B47
TK43

4'9"144-146cm

IA48
DA/B47

4'8"141-143cm

IA48

4'7"139-140cm

IA48

4'6"136-138cm

IA48

4'5"134-135cm

IA48

6'5"  195+CM

CompulsionXL (22") DoctrineXL (22") SurplusXL (22")
DecreeXL (22") Dispatch 9XL (22") DDLG (21")
VirtueXL (22") Dispatch 7XL (22") 7XL (22")
EdictXL (22") NineXL (22")

6'4"  192–194CM

CompulsionXL (22") DoctrineXL (22") SurplusXL (22")
DecreeXL (22") Dispatch 9XL (22") DDLG (21")
VirtueXL (22") Dispatch 7XL (22") 7XL (22")
EdictXL (22") NineXL (22")

6'3"190-191cm

CompulsionXL (22") DoctrineXL (22") SurplusXL (22")
DecreeLG (20"), XL (22") Dispatch 9XL (22") DDLG (21")
VirtueXL (22") Dispatch 7XL (22") 7XL (22")
EdictXL (22") NineXL (22")

6'2"187-189cm

CompulsionXL (22") DoctrineLG (20"), XL (22") SurplusLG (20"), XL (22")
DecreeLG (20"), XL (22") Dispatch 9LG (20"), XL (22") DDLG (21")
VirtueXL (22") Dispatch 7LG (20"), XL (22") 7LG (20"), XL (22")
EdictXL (22") NineLG (20"), XL (22")

6'1"185-186cm

CompulsionLG (20"), XL (22") DoctrineLG (20") SurplusLG (20")
DecreeLG (20"), XL (22") Dispatch 9LG (20"), XL (22") DDMD (18.5"), LG (21")
VirtueLG (20"), XL (22") Dispatch 7LG (20") 7LG (20")
EdictLG (20"), XL (22") NineLG (20")

6'0"182-184cm

CompulsionLG (20") DoctrineMD (18"), LG (20") SurplusMD (18"), LG (20")
DecreeLG (20") Dispatch 9MD (18"), LG (20") DDMD (18.5")
VirtueLG (20") Dispatch 7MD (18"), LG (20") 7MD (18"), LG (20")
EdictLG (20"), XL (22") NineMD (18"), LG (20")

5'11"180-181cm

CompulsionMD (18"), LG (20") DoctrineMD (18") SurplusMD (18")
DecreeLG (20") Dispatch 9MD (18") DDMD (18.5")
VirtueMD (18"), LG (20") Dispatch 7MD (18") 7MD (18")
EdictLG (20") NineMD (18")

5'10"177-179cm

CompulsionMD (18"), LG (20") DoctrineMD (18") SurplusMD (18")
DecreeMD (18"), LG (20") Dispatch 9MD (18") DDMD (18.5")
VirtueMD (18"), LG (20") Dispatch 7MD (18") 7MD (18")
EdictMD (18"), LG (20") NineMD (18")

5'9"174-176cm

CompulsionSM (16"), MD (18") DoctrineSM (16"), MD (18") SurplusSM (16"), MD (18")
DecreeMD (18"), LG (20") Dispatch 9SM (16"), MD (18") DDSM (16"), MD (18.5")
VirtueSM (16"), MD (18") Dispatch 7SM (16"), MD (18") 7SM (16"), MD (18")
EdictMD (18"), LG (20") NineSM (16"), MD (18")

5'8"172-173cm

CompulsionSM (16"), MD (18") DoctrineSM (16") SurplusSM (16")
DecreeMD (18"), LG (20") Dispatch 9SM (16") DDSM (16")
VirtueSM (16"), MD (18") Dispatch 7SM (16") 7SM (16")
EdictMD (18") NineSM (16")

5'7"169-171cm

CompulsionSM (16") DoctrineSM (16") SurplusSM (16")
DecreeMD (18") Dispatch 9SM (16") DDSM (16")
VirtueSM (16") Dispatch 7SM (16") 7SM (16")
EdictMD (18") NineSM (16")

5'6"167-168cm

CompulsionSM (16") DoctrineXS (14"), SM (16") SurplusXS (14"), SM (16")
DecreeMD (18") Dispatch 9XS (14"), SM (16") DDSM (16")
VirtueSM (16") Dispatch 7XXS (14"), SM (16") 7XS (14"), SM (16")
EdictSM (16"), MD (18") NineXS (14"), SM (16")

5'5"164-166cm

DecreeSM (16"), MD (18") DoctrineXS (14") SurplusXS (14")
EdictSM (16") Dispatch 9XS (14") 7XS (14")
Dispatch 7XS (14")
NineXS (14")

5'4"162-163cm

DecreeSM (16"), MD (18") DoctrineXS (14") SurplusXS (14")
EdictSM (16") Dispatch 9XS (14") 7XS (14")
Dispatch 7XS (14")
NineXS (14")

5'3"159-161cm

DecreeSM (16"), MD (18") DoctrineXS (14") SurplusXS (14")
Dispatch 9XS (14") 7XS (14")
Dispatch 7XXS (12"), XS (14")
NineXS (14")

5'2"157-158cm

DecreeSM (16"), MD (18") DoctrineXS (14") SurplusXS (14")
Dispatch 9XS (14")
Dispatch 7XXS (12"), XS (14")

5'1"154-156cm

DecreeSM (16") Dispatch 7XXS (12")

5'0"152-153cm

DecreeSM (16") Dispatch 7XXS (12")

6'5"  195+CM

Verza Speed AluminumXXL (61) Verza Speed CarbonXXL (61) VERZAeLG (20")
Verza PathXL (22") LEBOWSKeLG (20") NINEeXL (22")
OutfitterLG (20")

6'4"  192–194CM

Verza CafÉXL (21") Verza Speed CarbonXXL (61) VERZAeLG (20")
Verza Speed AluminumXXL (61) LEBOWSKeLG (20") NINEeXL (22")
Verza PathXL (22") OutfitterLG (20")

6'3"190-191cm

Verza CafÉXL (21") Verza Speed CarbonXL (58), XXL (61) VERZAeLG (20")
Verza Speed AluminumXL (58), XXL (61) LEBOWSKeLG (20") NINEeXL (22")
Verza PathXL (22") OutfitterLG (20") DUALeXL (22")
TOTE'mLG (20")

6'2"187-189cm

Verza CafÉXL (21") Verza Speed CarbonXL (58) SPORTe58
Verza Speed AluminumXL (58) LEBOWSKeLG (20") VERZAeMD (18"), LG (20")
Verza PathLG (20"), XL (22") OutfitterLG (20") NINEeLG (20"), XL (22")
TOTE'mLG (20") DUALeXL (22")

6'1"185-186cm

Verza CafÉLG (19"), XL (21") Verza Speed CarbonXL (58) SPORTe58
Verza Speed AluminumXL (58) LEBOWSKeMD (18"), LG (20") VERZAeMD (18")
Verza PathLG (20"), XL (22") OutfitterMD (18"), LG (20") NINEeLG (20")
TOTE'mLG (20") DUALeLG (20"), XL (22")

6'0"182-184cm

Verza CafÉLG (19"), XL (21") Verza Speed CarbonLG (56), XL (58) SPORTe58
Verza CafÉ WMD (18") LEBOWSKeMD (18") VERZAeSM (16"), MD (18")
Verza Speed AluminumLG (56), XL (58) OutfitterMD (18") NINEeMD (18"), LG (20")
Verza PathLG (20") TOTE'mLG (20") DUALeLG (20")

5'11"180-181cm

Verza CafÉLG (19") Verza Speed CarbonLG (56) SPORTe55, 58
Verza CafÉ WMD (18") LEBOWSKeMD (18") VERZAeSM (16"), MD (18")
Verza Speed AluminumLG (56) OutfitterMD (18") NINEeMD (18")
Verza PathLG (20") TOTE'mLG (20") DUALeMD (18"), LG (20")

5'10"177-179cm

Verza CafÉLG (19") Verza Speed CarbonLG (56) SPORTe55
Verza CafÉ WMD (18") LEBOWSKeMD (18") VERZAeSM (16"), MD (18")
Verza Speed AluminumLG (56) OutfitterMD (18") NINEeMD (18")
Verza PathMD (18"), LG (20") TOTE'mMD (18"), LG (20") DUALeMD (18"), LG (20")

5'9"174-176cm

Verza CafÉMD (17"), LG (19") Verza Speed CarbonMD (54), LG (56) SPORTe52, 55
Verza CafÉ WMD (18") LEBOWSKeSM (16"), MD (18") VERZAeSM (16")
Verza Speed AluminumMD (54), LG (56) OutfitterSM (16"), MD (18") NINEeSM (16"), MD (18")
Verza PathMD (18") TOTE'mMD (18") DUALeSM (16"), MD (18")

5'8"172-173cm

Verza CafÉMD (17") Verza Speed CarbonMD (54) SPORTe52
Verza CafÉ WMD (18") LEBOWSKeSM (16") VERZAeXS (14"), SM (16")
Verza Speed AluminumMD (54) OutfitterSM (16") NINEeSM (16")
Verza PathMD (18") TOTE'mMD (18") DUALeSM (16"), MD (18")

5'7"169-171cm

Verza CafÉMD (17") Verza Speed CarbonMD (54) SPORTe49w, 52
Verza CafÉ WSM (16"), MD (18") LEBOWSKeSM (16") VERZAeXS (14")
Verza Speed AluminumMD (54) OutfitterSM (16") NINEeSM (16")
Verza PathSM (16"), MD (18") TOTE'mMD (18") DUALeSM (16")

5'6"167-168cm

Verza CafÉMD (17") Verza Speed CarbonSM (51), MD (54) SPORTe49w
Verza CafÉ WSM (16"), MD (18") LEBOWSKeSM (16") VERZAeXS (14")
Verza Speed AluminumSM (51), MD (54) OutfitterSM (16") NINEeXS (14"), SM (16")
Verza PathSM (16") TOTE'mSM (16"), MD (18") DUALeSM (16")

5'5"164-166cm

Verza CafÉMD (17") Verza Speed CarbonSM (51) SPORTe48, 49w
Verza CafÉ WSM (16") TOTE'mSM (16") VERZAeXS (14")
Verza Speed AluminumSM (51") NINEeXS (14")
Verza PathSM (16")

5'4"162-163cm

Verza CafÉMD (17") Verza Speed CarbonSM (51) SPORTe48
Verza CafÉ WSM (16") TOTE'mSM (16") VERZAeXS (14")
Verza Speed AluminumSM (51") NINEeXS (14")
Verza PathSM (16")

5'3"159-161cm

Verza CafÉMD (17") Verza Speed CarbonXS (47), SM (51) SPORTe48
Verza CafÉ WSM (16") TOTE'mSM (16")
Verza Speed AluminumXS (47), SM (51) NINEeXS (14")
Verza PathSM (16")

5'2"157-158cm

5'1"154-156cm

5'0"152-153cm

SPORTe44w, 44