That is the question.
You may or may not have read that leading up to this year’s Ironman Bolton race, I was basically having a nervous break down over which bike I was going to use – because lets face it, I have to have something to stress about.
Having NEVER ridden a tri bike before (or used tri-bars), naturally when ordering my bike from Liv I opted for the all singing, all dancing, state of the art, too-beautiful-to-ride, professional looking, Avow Advanced Pro tri bike with Di2.
It wasn’t until it actually arrived and it dawned on me that I couldn’t just look at this beautiful machine, I actually had to be able to ride it… for 112 miles… with a marathon to follow.
A triathlon bike is streamlined into an aerodynamic shape (basically, it’s faster) and the composition brings you further forward over the bottom bracket which allows you to reduce some of the cycling impact on what would normally be stretched quads, making your legs feel (slightly) better for the run part of the race. A tri bike includes a fixed set of aero bars (bars sticking out the fro not your bike for you to almost lie on, again making you more aero).
As novice as I may sound, I really was intimidated about riding this thing… all the gear no idea springs to mind whenever I look at it. What was I thinking ordering this bike that is clearly fit for a professional athlete!?
After a few rides I came to realise that the aggressive position of a tri-bike is actually way comfier then I expected, and although I was still concerned that my speed may not do the bike justice, I certainly shouldn’t go slower. Then of course, I took it on some hills.
Due to all these components, it makes the bike more difficult to ride as a relaxed/recovery type ride, or hilly rides with constant position changes – it also means the bike is heavier then a road bike, making it even more challenging on hills.
About 6 weeks before my race (when I was seriously fatigued and also accidentally riding the bike with nearly flat tyres) it started to dawn on me how hilly my upcoming race was – and how hard hills currently felt. So naturally, the bike was to blame.
After weeks of stressing, many conversations with fellow triathletes (most said Bolton was actually a road-bike course) and even more conversations with my coach (who insisted it was a tri-bike course), I made the decision to ride the tri-bike – mostly because I was a VERY proud/excited Liv ambassador and I had this new shiny bike, which I was of course expected to be riding.
I can honestly say that I made the right decision. Any ride that has a large amount of flats/descents – which most would if they also include a significant amount of climbing is worth using a tri bike – you gain more time those parts for the same amount of effort!
I don’t have much experience on the subject as this was my first race on a tri-bike, but unless I was racing on mountains or a route with seriously significant climbs without much else, I would opt for the tri-bike!