How to Turn Your Road Bike Into a Tri Bike

Written by

There are many reasons for triathletes to forego purchasing a triathlon-specific bike. Maybe the cost is too steep. Or perhaps this is your first race and you aren't sure you'll commit to another one. Either way, as a compromise, many triathletes choose to retrofit their existing road bikes so they can be used for regular riding and racing. With just a few simple upgrades and tweaks, you can turn your road bike into a triathlon machine, making a real difference come race day.

Clipless Pedals

If you don't already have clipless pedals and accompanying shoes for your road bike, an impending triathlon is the perfect reason to invest. Consider choosing triathlon-specific shoes as they are generally easier to put on in transition and will also have drainage holes in case you're still dripping wet following the swim. This set-up will help increase the efficiency of your stroke by allowing you to take advantage of the entire rotation of the pedal.

Bike Fit

Even if you've ever had your bike fit before, you should do it again if you're hoping to make your road bike tri-ready. A professional fitter can even split the difference between a road and tri fit to optimize the bike for dual purposes. Triathletes are usually in a more aggressive aerodynamic position, so a fitter will likely do things like drop the handlebars and slide the saddle forward. Since this is a compromise between two ideal fits, any athlete who becomes serious about triathlon will eventually want to buy a machine that is solely devoted to multisport racing and training, but this is a solid solution in the interim.

More: 4 Things to Consider Before Buying a Tri Bike

Aero Bars

Clip-on aero bars are a great investment for anyone looking to transform their road bike into a triathlon-ready ride. Purchase your aero bars prior to getting your bike fit so the fitter can watch you in the aero position as they tweak the geometry of the bike. This set up will help shift your weight forward and get you into a more powerful position that cuts down on excess drag when you're traveling at high speeds.

More: How to Maximize Your Aero Bars


This is another component bike fitters often suggest purchasing. While your existing seatpost may be adequate, some don't allow for enough forward adjustment in the seat angle. An important element to getting your body in the correct position, this is well worth the small additional investment. Consult your fit expert on whether or not this is something that's right for you.

Aero Bottle

Since you want to maintain fast speeds throughout a race, an aero bottle attached between the aero bars is a whole lot more convenient than a bottle cage attached to the bike frame. Since it allows you to sip and ride with ease, you're more likely to hydrate better than you would if you had to slow down to extract the bottle from below. For long course races, it also allows for easy refilling on the go. No matter the distance, this tends to be a safer way to hydrate when you're out on the open road.

More: The Benefits of Training on a Road Bike

Active logoSearch for your next triathlon.