Although personal preference comes into play with a lot of gear—saddles, apparel and nutrition to name a few—other items clearly are in a tier all to themselves. Performance, quality, durability and value all figure into our picks for some of the standout triathlon gear for 2019.
Tri Bike: Specialized S-Works Shiv Disc
Although the Specialized Shiv Tri Disc debuted at the end of 2018, they were in very limited supply. The Shiv was designed to maximize aero advantage: The massive rear hydration storage compartment also reduces turbulence coming off of a ride's back while the wide-stance fork directs air flow around the pilot up front. The S-Works Shiv disc is only available with electronic drivetrains and disc brakes.
Wheelset: DTSwiss ARC 1100 DICUT 80
When two Swiss brands get together for an aerodynamic project, the result is speed. DTSwiss, manufacturer of high-performance hubs with ceramic bearings, and SwissSide—who's IRONMAN-winning, toroidal-shaped clincher rims set it apart from the competition—have collaborated on the DTSwiss ARC 1100 DICUT 80 wheel. Available in tubeless and disc-brake options, these carbon wheels will make any triathlete faster in any conditions and on any course.
Tires: Continental Grand Prix 5000s
Available in tubeless, tubular and standard clincher variants and in 23mm, 25mm, 28mm and 32mm widths, the Continental Grand Prix 5000s tires are a top choice for training and racing. Unlike many performance tires, these Contis offer enhanced puncture-resistance without compromising the supple road feel or grippiness for which this German brand is known. Well past 2000km, Conti GP 5000 tires keep their grip and ride feel.
Inner Tubes: Tubolito S-Tubo Tubes
Tubolito S-Tubo tubes are extremely lightweight—just 23g (claimed) each—yet also very durable. Short of catastrophically destroying tire casings, our testers could not cause them to flat. Tubolito tubes are great as spares: When deflated, they take up very little volume and twice as many of these tubes could be crammed into a standard spare pack, compared with a butyl tube. Tubolito tubes are available in 42mm, 60mm and 80mm stem lengths, for use with nearly any depth rim. While the S-Tubo tubes are recommended for use only with disc brakes, standard Tubo tubes can be used with either rim or disc brakes.
Helmet: Giro Aerohead MIPS
The Giro Aerohead MIPS features a ventilated visor that wraps around the sides of the helmet for incredible peripheral vision. The ventilation in the Giro Aerohead MIPS offers superior cooling to the Aerohead Ultimate, making this an excellent choice for staying cool before the run leg.
Glasses: Rudy Project Defender sunglasses
With so many lens and frame color options available, and an amazing no-questions-asked replacement policy, the Rudy Project Defender Sunglasses are nearly unparalleled in style, function and service. Their best feature? They just won't fog up. Winter sports enthusiasts will also find additional, year-round use for this performance eyewear.
Wearable: Garmin Forerunner 945
The one piece of technology every triathlete should have is a wearable. For training, recovery, step counts and even current weather info, the Garmin Forerunner 945 can answer nearly any active lifestyle question asked. The 945 counts laps and displays pace while swimming, and can pair with external sensors to provide ride and run metrics when on land. It comes preconfigured with nearly a dozen activity apps, which are great for tracking cross-training. Sleep, recovery, menstrual cycle monitoring, calories and even altitude acclimatization are standard features, too.
Indoor Trainer: Wahoo Kickr
Training indoors year-round? The updated Wahoo Kickr provides realistic road feel, is compatible with all of the major inside-ride virtual environments, is nearly silent and folds down for storage. For the watt-monsters it can handle up to 2,200 watts and simulate a 20% incline. Nearly future-proof, the Kickr has an adapter for thru-axles, has clearance for disc brakes and can accept cassettes from 8-speed through 12-speed.
Triathlon-Specific Cycling Shoe: Sidi T-5 Air Triathlon Shoes
The massive, easy-to-grab retention straps, perforated upper for superior cooling and brushed interior of the Sidi T-5 Triathlon shoe make this the standard for comfort on the bike. The carbon composite sole provides plenty of stiffness, but spares you from fatigue due to road vibration. Like all shoes from this Italian manufacturer, the Sidi T-5 Air are durable and can handle all the sweat and pounding on transition runs.
Power Meter: Stages Gen 3 Power LR
Accurate to within 1.5%, the Stages Gen 3 Power LR power meter includes onboard technology to compensate for temperature changes and bilateral calibration. This sophisticated sensor can measure power output up to 5000w and cadence up to 220rpms while the (claimed) battery life is 175 hours. For the gram-counters: The Stages only adds about 35g to the base crankset. Four different crank lengths and three different chainring combinations will suit nearly any need.
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