Ask a Coach: "Do I need a triathlon bike for 70.3 and Ironman races?"

By Lifesport Coach Mark Overton

I recently had an athlete, who I have coached for a year, ask me if he needed to get a triathlon bike to compete in an Ironman. I find this is a common question for athletes new, or fairly new to the sport of triathlon. Is a triathlon bike really needed, or your current road bike enough?

I suggested we look at (1) his current and future goals for Ironman, (2) his budget and (3) explore what improvements we could do to his original bike.

We looked at his current goal for (his first) Ironman race coming up, which was to finish and feel good.

Then we determined what his budget was for either purchasing a new bike or making improvements on his current bike (which is a two-year-old road bike with aerobars attached to the original road bars).

Finally, we assessed what we could do to improve his current bike and bike fit.

As we went through the list we felt he would benefit more by doing upgrades to his current bike; improve his riding position, upgrade his wheels (that he could also use on new bike in the future) and then possibly adding bar end shifters.

So the answer to the question is no – you don’t need a triathlon bike to compete in a 70.3 or Ironman triathlon. A dedicated triathlon bike will help your performance, but you can still do well without one. For long-course racing, you just need to make sure your aero position is comfortable, sustainable and allow you to run a marathon when the ride is complete. This is all achievable with adjusts to a road bike.

However all things being equal, a triathlon bike will always be quicker. You can certainly tweak and modify a road bike for the task but without the steep seat angle and other differentiating features of a triathlon (TT) bike, it will always be a compromise. If you are looking to compete for a spot in Kona for example – where every minute or second counts!...then you should invest in that goal whether it be hiring a knowledgeable coach to help you with a successful training program and help you select the best equipment that would make you succeed. 



Based in Nanaimo, BC, LifeSport Premier coach Mark Overton has been involved in triathlon and edurance sports for over 25 years. He has extensive experience helping athletes at the beginner to intermediate level in taking the next step to achieving their goals and dreams.

Contact Mark to help reach your full potential in the wonderful sport of triathlon.

Miss being part of a team? Beginner to experienced triathletes looking to start or improve their performances are invited to join the LifeSport team. Visit us on the web at or email LifeSport Coaching.

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