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For triathletes who only want to own one bike—something that works for training, centuries, group rides, and tri races of all distances—a road bike is sometimes a better option. For those who don’t want to—or can’t—maintain a deep aerodynamic position, finding something comfortable with a standard drop bar (and maybe a set of clip-on aerobars) could be the right choice. And while the position won’t be exactly the same, you can pretty easily make some modifications yourself to get you close, or—better yet—you can hire a professional fitter to get you there. Without making any changes at all, you might find a road bike’s position too high up front and too slack over the pedals—presenting a bigger “windprint” and using muscles that might fatigue you for the run more, respectively. 

Here, Triathlete’s editors have hand-picked, rated, tested, and reviewed six tri-worthy road bikes at a range of prices and features. For the first time ever, we’ve also included a rating system that evaluates different characteristics of the bikes to help you find your perfect ride at a glance. (More on our rating criteria below.) Along with the comparison roundup below, each bike also has a longer review that goes into more depth. 

We base our ratings off the following criteria:

Value – Here we look at the value behind the complete bike, looking mostly at components, but also frame quality as well. This is not just absolute price from low to high.

Comfort – This rating specifically judges the complete bike on vertical compliance, not fit or handling. Keep in mind that more than just a frame can affect comfort, and since we evaluate the complete bike as it’s sold, other components can come into play—wheels, tires, even bars.

Acceleration Stiffness – This is another rating that looks at the sum of the parts on the complete build. Here we’re evaluating how the bike responds under high torque (standing up over a hill or out of a corner) and high wattage (powering over a roller). Again, other components aside from the frame can come into play here.

Handling Tightness – Separate from stability, this is the rating that scores how sharp the bike cuts corners. This isn’t necessarily a positive thing if you prefer a bike that sweeps more reliably through corners, as opposed to a bike that can turn on a dime. 5/5 here is very tight handling; 1/5 is a bike that swoops out on corners but might be more consistent.    

Stability – This rating looks at how stable a bike feels in the aerobars in crosswinds and on descents. A more stable bike will require less input from the rider to stay straight, but again, it looks at the complete bike as a whole—wheels included.

Ease of Assembly – With so many bike brands using the direct-to-consumer model, we rate how easy the home build would be for the average triathlete. Here, we’re assuming a low level of mechanical skill—for instance, the person we’re rating for could change a tire, but maybe not adjust a derailleur.  

Note: While the bikes were loaned out by the brands represented, all bikes were selected independently by the tester without any promotional consideration or brand input.

Ventum NS1

$4,000, 18lbs. 12oz. (size M/L), 105 Mechanical Build, Enve Foundation 45 Carbon Wheels, ventum.com

Value – 4/5
Comfort – 3/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 3/5
Handling Tightness – 4/5
Stability – 2/5
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) – 5/5

This is a brand that knows something about tri—for their first few years of existence, all Ventum did was make tri-specific, non-UCI bikes. Recently, Ventum has wandered into more traditional waters with their UCI-legal road bike, the NS-1. Starting at $3,200 for a mechanical Shimano 105 groupset with hydraulic disc brakes and basic Vision 30 wheels, this is fantastic value for a full-carbon frame that’s well-tuned—not too stiff, not too noodly. While this rides on the twitchier scale of the frames we tested, the versatility of this frame (clip-on ready and tire clearance up to 30mm for all-road minded folks) makes it an easy sell. Ease of assembly for this bike is off-the-charts—expect to be riding in less than an hour post-delivery.

Full Road Bike Review Here

Specialized Roubaix Comp

$4,400, 18lbs. 12oz. (size 56cm), Ultegra Di2, DT Swiss Aluminum Wheels, specialized.com

Value – 3/5
Comfort – 5/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 3/5
Handling Tightness – 2/5
Stability – 4/5

This option from road bike experts, Specialized, features a light suspension system in the fork steerer tube that provides a few inches of travel for comfort. This version comes with Shimano Ultegra Di2 at a decent price point for those who really want electronic shifting and hydraulic disk brakes—though the aluminum wheelset is not quite race ready. Definitely a more relaxed, straight-line bike when compared to the others in this list, the Roubaix is a great choice for those with back, wrist, or shoulder issues who still want to race long course. Add a pair of clip-on aerobars, make a few changes to the stem/saddle angle, and you’ll have something that still handles well thanks to the accompanying laid-back geometry and smooth ride—just know it won’t be quite as responsive or “slice-and-dice” as the others on this list.

Full Road Bike Review Here

Quintana Roo SRfive

$6,260, 18lbs. 1oz. (size medium), Ultegra Di2, HED Vanquish RC4 Performance Carbon Wheels, quintanarootri.com

Value – 3/5
Comfort – 4/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 4/5
Handling Tightness – 3/5
Stability – 3/5
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) – 4/5

Much like Ventum, Quintana Roo has been a nearly exclusive tri brand until recently, but their new super-slick road bike, the SRfive, packs a lot of features in a bike that starts at $3,000 for a Shimano 105 mechanical build with hydraulic disc brakes. The Ultegra Di2 version we tested with HED Vanquish Carbon RC4 wheels is a race-ready setup that needs nothing more than a pair of clip-on tri bars and some front-end/seat angle adjustments to make it the most balanced handling bike of the three tested above. With excellent details like a sleek handpainted-in-the-U.S.A. frame that almost completely hides all cables, lots of color options, and a direct-to-consumer model that includes a 98% ready-to-ride boxed build, this bike is exciting and affordable. The bump absorption on this setup was second only to the Roubaix, while the acceleration was still very good. This is the all-rounder.

Full Road Bike Review Here

Canyon Endurace WMN CF SL Disc 7.0

$2,400, 18lbs. 12oz. (size 2XS), 105 Mechanical, DT Swiss Aluminum Wheels, canyon.com

Value – 4/5
Comfort – 3/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 3/5
Handling Tightness – 3/5
Stability – 4/5
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) – 5/5

Canyon pioneered the direct-to-consumer, bike-out-of-a-box model. No bike shops; you only order directly from them. On the model we tested, only the handlebars and seat required even the most basic torque wrench, which were also included in the box. Originated in Europe, the bike has a very clean, Euro look and feel. This mid-range model comes stocked with mechanical Shimano 105 components and a DT Swiss E1850 aluminum wheelset, which holds wide 28mm Continental tires, ready for gravel or road. Throw on some aero-bars and you’re a triathlete. There’s nothing mind-blowing about the ride. It feels very utilitarian. But for a disc brake, carbon bike at that price, it’s the most bang for your buck over a wide range of riding.

Full Road Bike Review Here

EnviLiv Adv Pro 0 Disc

$7,000 18 lbs. 1oz. (size XS), SRAM Force eTap AXS, Giant SLR 1 42/65 Carbon Wheels, liv-cycling.com

Value – 3/5
Comfort – 5/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 4/5
Handling Tightness – 4/5
Stability – 3/5

A subsidiary of Giant, Liv is one of the few major brands still making women’s-specific bikes, with proportions and stiffness they say are crafted ideally for women’s bodies. This means an XS comes stocked with far narrower handlebars and shorter cranks than most bikes. This high-end aero road bike also comes race-ready, with their proprietary SLR carbon wheels, SRAM Force eTap, a Quarq powermeter, and even a RideSense bluetooth emergency alert system. If you’re looking for a beginner bike, some of the bells and whistles might not be for you, and the proprietary handlebars and stem make it challenging to quickly slap on some clip-on aerobars, but a standard steerer tube means you can change both. If you’re looking for a smooth and high-end ride (and you can afford it), this is one of the most versatile bikes for long rides or sprinting. It offers both a snap when standing and a smooth dampening feel over Ironman distance.

Full Road Bike Review Here

Trek Madone SLR 6 Disc Speed

$6,500, 19 lbs. 2 oz. (size 56), Ultegra Mechanical, Bontrager Aeolus Pro 50mm Carbon Wheels, trekbikes.com

Value – 2/5
Comfort – 4/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 5/5
Handling Tightness – 4/5
Stability – 4/5

This latest tri-specific iteration of the hugely popular Trek Madone road line is an absolute joy to pedal: a super-stiff yet responsive frame yields easy acceleration and the aero-geometry makes it incredibly comfortable to ride in the drops—in fact, it’s so much fun to ride from that position that you’ll want to stay there. The way this bike comes preloaded with an aerobar setup feels like the perfect compromise between a tri bike and a road bike: You’ve got the easy speed that comes from an aero-led design, but all the comfort that comes from being on a road set-up. The Bontrager Aeolus Pro 5 wheels help round out a slick, speed-oriented package, as do the brake and gearing cables, all of which are neatly hidden and routed through the frame. The Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes deliver sharp, crisp braking, and the 50/34 compact gearing certainly helps make climbing easier. If and when it comes time to race, you can easily attach and remove the Speed Concept mono bar extensions to maximize your aero-position, making this a triathlete’s dream road bike.

Full Road Bike Review Here