My first outdoor triathlon was a tough one. I rode a mountain bike over a 12-mile course. It just about killed me once I hopped off the bike. I stumbled before I caught myself and struggled through cramping muscles for the run, but why? I had been in fairly good shape and a 5k should have been a simple finish to my first triathlon.
Mountain bikes are set up differently than a road-bike or even a triathlon-style bike. A mountain bike can weight in around 30-lbs where a road bike can be down around 15-18-lbs. That’s a huge difference even over just a 12-mile course versus a 56-mile course (Half-Ironman distance bike ride).
So now you’re looking into a road bike, but wait, there’s triathlon bikes too? How do you choose which is best for you? Obviously comfort is most important, so don’t go out and buy a bike that you can’t feel comfortable on. With comfort aside, you need to consider what you’re using the bike for… is it for triathlons? duathlons? or a century-ride (or something of the like)? Road bikes are setup to allow the muscles to use every ounce of energy. Triathlon bikes on the other hand are setup to conserve energy (biking is only 1/3 of the race). How? It’s all in the way the frame is setup and the different geometry used to put the frame together. Having the right bike makes all the difference.
You wouldn’t go out and buy a family vehicle that was a sports car… it just doesn’t make sense. So don’t go out and buy a mountain bike for a road race. Do some research and find a quality bike that doesn’t break your bank.