Road bikes, unlike triathlon bikes, are built for comfort and riding long distances. They are known for their strength and are best for beginners. They are easy to maneuver and have handlebars that can be used in different hand positions which makes them easier to ride.
Triathlon bikes are built differently but can be changed to road bikes with the right tools and methods.
We’ll be discussing the differences between triathlon bikes and road bikes and how the former can be changed to the latter without going through a lot of stress.
Can You Change a Triathlon Bike to a Road Bike?
Yes, a triathlon bike can be changed to a road bike. This can be sometimes expensive and consume a lot of time but it is very doable.
The main parts of these two different bikes can be swapped to change one into the other. You just have to pay attention to the fit as you do so.
Triathlon bikes have different types and models which have slightly different features, but with patience and adequate knowledge, they all can be changed to road bikes.
Each one may take a slightly different time and some may cost more.
The Differences Between a Triathlon Bike and a Road Bike
There are not too many differences between triathlon bikes and road bikes which makes it easy to convert one to another. Let’s consider a few of these differences.
Triathlon bikes have steeper seat angles compared to road bikes. The frame of a triathlon bike is built in a way that the rider is forced to bend lower and sit more forward.
The road bike on the other hand has higher front ends that give you an upright position.
The handlebars on the two different bikes also differ. Triathlon bikes have aero bars that enable them to go fast. These handlebar extensions also make it possible for the rider to rest their forearms.
Road bikes however have regular handlebars that are built for comfort and reliability and effectiveness. They are easy to maneuver and control while riding which makes them perfect for racing.
Triathlon bikes are heavier than road bikes. They are about 1 or 2kg heavier than road bikes. This is because triathlon bikes sometimes have bigger and wider parts. For example, the frames are bigger than that of road bikes.
Reasons for Converting a Triathlon Bike Into a Road Bike
Triathlon bikes are mostly converted into road bikes by their owners because of the many advantages of the road bike. We’ll be discussing a few of these advantages so you can see reasons why riders convert their triathlon bikes, and if it’s a decision you’ll like to make.
1- Easier to Control
Road bikes have handlebars that are far easier to control and maneuver than triathlon bikes. So bending, curving, and stopping is easier to achieve on road bikes than triathlon bikes.
2- Road Bikes are Better Suited for Riding Long Distances
The seat angle, position, handlebars, and frame of road bikes give comfortability that helps riders to maintain longer rides compared to triathlon bikes.
Tri bikes are built for relatively flatter riding which is mostly straight.
3- To Participate in Competitions & Racing Events
Because triathlon bikes aren’t easy to maneuver and control, triathlon bikes are often not allowed to be used for competitive cycling. Riders who have triathlon bikes convert their bikes to road bikes in order to be allowed to race or compete.
4- Easier to Climb With Road Bikes
Triathlon bikes are effective and fast on straight and flat terrains but climbing with them isn’t an easy feat. If you aren’t an experienced rider, you shouldn’t even try at all.
Road bikes on the other hand can be used to climb without stress. One of the reasons for this is the weight. Road bikes are lighter than tri bikes which make climbing easier and faster.
How to Convert a Triathlon Bike Into a Road Bike
Converting a triathlon bike to a road bike only requires few key changes of the main parts. Let’s look at these parts and why they need to be changed.
One of the major differences between triathlon bikes and road bikes is their handlebar, which is why it has to be the first to be changed. So if you’ll be converting your triathlon bike into a road bike, the first thing to buy is the handlebar.
Triathlon bikes use aero bars while road bikes use regular drop handlebars. Changing this puts your tri bike well on its way to becoming a road bike.
The wheels of your tri bike also need to be changed to something more fitting for road bikes.
Road bikes usually come with thin wheels and tires, which is one of the reasons they are lighter than triathlon bikes.
To convert your triathlon bike to a road bike, you should ensure you get the proper road wheels and tires that suit the kind of road you’ll be riding.
For example, if you will be plying wet roads often, then you should get alloy wheels with rim brake clinchers. They are light and have better handling. You could also go for alloy wheels with disc brakes if you prefer disc brakes for your bikes.
Carbon wheels should however be avoided for wet roads or during wet weather because grit can easily find a way between the rims and on the wheels which can make it wear fast.
Wheels with tubeless tires are better for rough roads, on the other hand. They are heavier and do not get easily punctured. We tend to ride at lower pressures when on rough roads, which can often cause flats, but wheels with tubeless tires are strong enough to withstand these conditions without getting damaged.
If you are a rider, then you know the importance of proper gearing. Without good shifters, it would be difficult to control gears and ride effectively.
Changing your shifters while converting your tri bike into a road bike is necessary because you can’t use triathlon shifters for road bike handlebars. Since it is necessary to change the handlebar, you can’t avoid changing the shifters also.
If one of the reasons you’re converting your triathlon bike to a road bike is to aid your climbing, then you need to change your cassettes.
This also helps proper gearing as your cassette impacts the number of gears available to use on your bike.
To climb better you should consider an 11-32T cassette. You could also consider changing your chainrings.
5- CABLES & WIRES
Since you’ll be changing your shifters and cassette, to enable seamless gearing, you should also change the cables and wires.
The cables used for road bikes are different and they are the ones that ensure your bike stops, runs, and shifts effectively.
Brake cables have different sizes and mouth heads. Most of the bike brakes you will see have barrel heads but road bikes with drop handlebars make use of brakes with cylindrical mushroom heads.
Another reason why you need to invest in quality cables is that cables go through a lot of wear and stress.
The saddle on a triathlon bike is more forward so you can achieve a more stretched-out position that gives you better handling of the aero bars and make you more aerodynamic. This isn’t a good fit for a road bike because the handlebars and seat angles are different.
To modify your bike to the drop handlebars and other changes you have made, you should shift your saddle backward a bit. This will give a better fit.
Road bikes and triathlon bikes of the same size usually have different lengths of head tubes. The head tube of the road bike is usually longer.
While converting your tri bike to a road bike, consider getting a longer tube to fit the new saddle position. This will give you a more upright position which road bikes are known for.
Using a Triathlon Bike for Road Riding
For a lot of reasons, using a triathlon bike for road riding isn’t a great choice.
1- Triathlon bikes are built to be fast and more aero and not for comfort or easy control. The aero bars aren’t easy to maneuver or turn which can cause accidents while road riding.
2- Some roads have cracks and bumps which can be difficult for triathlon bikes since they are built to flat and smooth terrains.
3- Shifting gears and braking can also be quite hard on triathlon bikes which makes them unsuitable for commuting, as this can lead to serious accidents.
4- The aero bars aren’t suitable for traffic since you can’t go aero in traffic which renders it useless. And riding tri bikes without using this special feature can be very tiring.
5- The steep angle also makes handling difficult, which is why it can’t be used for group riding or at road trails or curves.
So, Triathlon bikes just shouldn’t be considered for road riding at all.
There’s nothing wrong with converting your triathlon bike into a road bike if you like road riding or you’ll like to switch to it without spending a fortune on a totally new bike. Yes, converting the bike may also cost a lot of money and time but the outcome is worth it.
Triathlon bikes are good if you like speed and tri races but for everyday riding, road bikes are better. They are also more comfortable. Road bikes also have other benefits like better handling and climbing which makes them a better choice for racing and commuting.
With a few changes we’ve explained, you can convert your triathlon bikes to road bikes.