In the last decade, gravel bikes have quickly gained popularity thanks to the versatility it gives to cyclists. A gravel bike can be many things if you get the right wheelset for it. But could you use it for a triathlon?
Can you do a triathlon on a gravel bike? Although many triathletes would only consider gravel bikes good enough for training and not racing, there’s no reason why you can’t do a triathlon with a gravel bike. You can easily switch to a road-oriented wheelset for race days and add some aero bars to get the best performance of your bike.
There are many other reasons to get a gravel bike, too. For example, if you’re a triathlete, a few bonuses enhance your tri-life capabilities by investing in a gravel bike. But we’ll explore a bit more about this below.
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How To Do A Triathlon On A Gravel Bike?
Gravel bikes equal versatility. You’ll see that on any forum you search because that’s how true it is. Doing a triathlon on any other than a race or triathlon bike might not always be optimal. Some cyclists report that given you have a good gear set and the right set of wheels, you would get about 95% on performance.
But, if tri-life is a new thing for you, and you’re a beginner who doesn’t want to invest in a road-only bike, gravel might be just the thing for you.
Getting a pair of 700c tires on your gravel bike would be one of the first things to do if you consider doing a triathlon on one. They’re the same size as most triathlon bike tires, and you can switch to them for races and roadie days only, keeping your gravel tires for your off-road adventures.
Next up, you would get aero bars, and it makes sense. The frame of a gravel bike is somewhat heavier than most race bikes, so giving yourself some aero advantages would make up for it.
Thirdly, ensure that you buy a bike that can handle the pressure of a triathlon, buy a gravel bike that has enough speed gears for excellent performance in a race and help you on dirt roads.
Why Should A Triathlete Get A Gravel Bike?
As mentioned, if you’re new to tri-life but want to keep riding off-road, then a gravel bike is an excellent place to start.
As a triathlete, though, training is everything, and you might want to mix things up a bit. For example, going out and exploring and training on different terrains, then a gravel bike is one to add to your mix.
Here are a few more reasons why gravel bikes are great for triathletes.
- Gravel bikes are fantastic to go out on a day of exploring. Since gravel bikes are not bound to tarred and even surfaces, it is great to switch things up and go out with your mates on a day of exploring the great outdoors; you could ride dirt roads and forest trails and back home on the tarmac all on one bike.
- Gravel bikes are great for training. As mentioned, since you have the opportunity to ride off-road, you will learn to ride a bit on different terrains helping you train your muscles, body, and mind differently than solely relying on tarmac cycling for all your fitness.
- Gravel bikes are fun. As mentioned, you can ride forest trails with a gravel bike. One of the best things about this is that you can experience what many mountain bikers experience. Nature. In a peaceful manner. You might even see some wildlife depending on where you’re riding.
- Gravel bikes are great for winter training. Thanks to their sturdy built gravel bikes give more stability to road bikes. This is especially helpful with winter training as the cold weather can influence the conditions of the roads you ride on. Riding gravel will help with stability on these roads, meaning you can still ride outdoors, even if it’s winter.
What Are The Differences Between Road And Gravel Bikes?
If you’re new to cycling or tri-life, you might be wondering how exactly a road bike is different from a gravel bike. If you can have interchangeable wheelsets fit some aero bars to ensure a good gearset on your gravel bike, why on earth would you get a road bike too?
What Makes A Gravel Bike Different From A Road Bike
Interchangeable components make a gravel bike stand out by a long shot. There’s one thing you won’t be able to change; that is your frame. The frame of a bike is at the heart of your bike and changing that would mean getting a new bike.
The geometry of a gravel bike’s frame is different. It is more relaxed and a tad longer than a road bike. This creates better movement since the bike needs to move comfortably over different terrain sets without damaging the bike or the rider.
One-by-drive trains also allow for better tire clearance when it comes to mud, which will mean fewer components will need fixing.
What Makes A Road Bike Different To A Gravel Bike
Geometry is When it comes to road bikes, of which triathlon and race bikes are subcategories, you will be able to notice a clear difference in their geometry with regards to gravel bikes.
This is because triathlon and race bike frames are designed so that the handlebars are lower than gravel or mountain bikes, and the frame would be stiffer and more responsive than your gravel bikes.
Road bikes like this aren’t built for comfort. They’re made to race. So, they climb easy, respond quickly to sharp bends, turn in the road, and climb those steep hills like a beast.
Triathlon bikes are as much the same as road bikes when it comes to performance, although they are more built like time trial bikes with arm-in-front handlebars, giving you a pretty significant aero advantage.
Buying The Right Gravel Bike For Triathlon.
So, you’ve decided, you’re buying a gravel bike to start as a triathlete, or you are a triathlete wanting to mix things up a bit and ride the road less traveled. Is there a right and wrong gravel bike to buy?
There are a few ‘right’ options to buy and a few not-so ‘right’ ones, but let’s focus on the right ones.
Before looking at the list below of gravel bikes BikeRadar tested and tried for 2021.
It is always important to know what you want to achieve on your bike and if the bike’s performance will genuinely help you reach your goals. As with all things bike, prices for gravel bikes vary from affordable to mid-range to what dreams are made of.
The Boardman ADV 9.0
Thanks to its carbon-fiber frame, this gem of a bike is light enough to give its road bike counterparts ago. Coming out with Shimano GRX components, a 46/30 crankset, plus 11-32t, which is quite the combo to help you get up hard climbs and pace down fast descent.
Canyon Grail 6
The Canyon Grail 6 is one versatile gravel bike. It’s got an aluminum frame, Shimano GRX 2×10 transmission, and hydraulic brakes. They also make a women-specific version, and you can easily swap out the tires for a pair of roadies, and you’ll have quite the speed machine under your hands.
Although on the pricier side of the road, BikeRadar called the Arcadex the “road bike feel with gravel capabilities.” The Arcade is the first gravel bike from Bianchi and boasts a carbon frame with a Shimano GRX crankset. The geometry of Bianchi’s Arcade is somewhat similar to road bikes but with some slack on it, just like the Boardman and Grail.
Can You Do A Triathlon On A Gravel Bike Summary
Doing a triathlon on a gravel bike is doable. It will even be fun to get one, plus who doesn’t like getting a new bike? Also, if it ends up that you’re not that into triathlons, you still have the best of both roads type of bike.