Our crystal ball told us nothing about triathlon for the coming year. So we asked the experts, checked out event info, tested gear and came up with what we think will be trendy in the sport this year.
Bikes Get More Expensive
An "arms race" of lightweight frames and components with integrated cockpits, hidden brakes and electronic shifting, rolling on aerodynamic, lightweight wheels will push the price of top-end triathlon bikes skyward.
Photo courtesy of Trek
Short Cranks the New Norm
Many tri bikes across different sizes are now equipped with 170mm cranks. Shorter crank arms allow for a more open hip angle at the top of the pedal stroke. This provides an opportunity for a more aerodynamic fit and may offer additional comfort as one heads into the run.
Disc BrakesDisc brakes provide excellent modulation and more stopping power in all riding conditions, compared to rim brakes. As bike manufacturers design more elegant and aerodynamic solutions for mounting disc brakes, expect to see these stoppers on new triathlon bikes.
Photo/Glory Cycles, Flickr
Size MattersWider wheels are more aerodynamic, and wider tires offer a lower rolling resistance than narrower ones, as well as allowing for lower tire pressures—which means a smoother ride.
Photo courtesy of Specialized
More Accessory Integration
Bike manufacturers are designing new triathlon bikes with storage integration that enhances aerodynamics.
Swim Run Events Gain PopularityPro triathlete Holly Benner foresees an increasing number of swim-run events—also known as an aquathlon—in which competitors compete across multiple stages: on land and in the water. Distances are commonly between 10K and 75K, and the format is equipment-friendly—but you'll need to bring pull buoys and paddles with you for the entire event, as you run and swim from stage to stage.
Photo/West Point MA, Flickr
Collegiate TriathlonTwenty-six schools offer varsity triathlon for women as part of the NCAA Emerging Sport program and more than 120 schools with club programs for men and women indicates a bright, growing future for multisport.
Photo/Agencia Brasil, CreativeCommons
Atlantic City 70.3 race director Stephen Del Monte is certain that an increasing number of multisport events will provide competitive options for athletes with different needs.
Swims Will Still Happen—Weather Permitting
Triathlon, like all outdoor sports, is subject to weather. Race directors have to consider wide ranges of abilities and skills of triathletes while also managing risk as determined by local and federal water safety and law enforcement.
Running Shoes With Knit UppersMore running shoe brands will offer performance-level kicks, with a one-piece upper to offer sock-like comfort and a better fit with enhanced breathability.
Photo/Ryan Kelly, Flickr
Challenging bike-handling skills and fitness, gravel rides are proving to be a great way to shake up training while still having on-the-bike fun, notes Dark Horse Tri coach Steve Johnson.