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Save Money, Prioritize Your Tri Gear Purchases

A handy guide to building out your triathlon quiver. Lay your base, then learn how to (wisely) move up the gear food chain as you grow your collection.

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As you go further down the list, the dollars spent per time saved/training efficacy ratio gets lower. Also bear in mind that gear isn’t always about raw speed, sometimes comfort, ease-of-use, and organization can be worth its weight in gold. Start at Tier 5 and work your way up!


Our beginner guide assumes you have the basics to complete a triathlon and train safely: goggles, cap, swimsuit, bike, helmet, bike shoes and clothing, running shoes and clothing, sunglasses, and necessary nutrition.

Tier 5

Profile Design Aerobars
Photo: Profile Design

Aerobars: Faster with a more powerful and comfortable position when adjusted properly; great for road bikes.
We Recommend: Profile Legacy II | $90
Why? They’re simple, inexpensive, and adjustable.

Clip-In Pedals: The best way to get increased power, a better fit, and prevent injury; requires compatible cycling shoes.

Tri Shorts: Go from start to finish without changing; a thin pad prevents butt soreness and chafing.

Body Lube: Triathlon is all about chafing (and preventing it). Trust us.

Race Belt: Easily put on your required number on the bike or run.

Tier 4

Blue Seventy Transition Bag
Photo: blueseventy

Tri Bag: Dry stuff won’t get wet; all your gear stays organized.
We Recommend: BlueSeventy Transition Bag | $100
Why? Top loading for easy packing, plus a large wet compartment.

Wetsuit: Warmer? Yes. But also faster—floaty neoprene helps sinking bodies improve buoyancy, body position, and become more hydrodynamic.

Foam Roller: Helps get out 90% of the knots you can treat at home.

Quick Laces: Elastics or otherwise, get your running shoes on in a flash.

Tier 3

2019 Kestrel Talon X Triathlon Bike
Photo: Kestrel Bicycles

Tri Bike: More aerodynamic for sure, but also more comfortable for long rides; unseen tri-geometry puts you in a more powerful position, ready to run off the bike.
We Recommend: Kestrel Talon X | $1,700
Why? Has Heritage carbon, a smooth ride, and a low price.

Heart Rate Monitor: Know how hard to go for workouts and racing, but also when to back off.

Indoor Cycling Trainer: Even if you don’t need to train indoors, mount your existing bike on one for more controlled workouts.

Tier 2


Screen of a Lezyne bike computer
Photo: Lezyne

GPS Bike Computer: Know speed, distance, and more without needing external sensors; get cadence for even more effective training and racing info.
We Recommend: Lezyne Macro Plus GPS | $100
Why? It’s compact and expandable.

Lightweight Trainers/Race Shoes: Use these on race day or on shorter training days for a speed boost in terms of weight and proprioception.

Tier 1

Black Giro Helment
Photo: Giro

Aero Helmet: Race-day time savings (when worn properly) are great compared to dollars spent.
We Recommend: Giro Aerohead MIPS | $300
Why? It’s super fast, comes with a removable visor, and is vented.


Our advanced guide assumes you have (most of) the gear in the beginner section.

Tier 5

Polar Smartwatch
Photo: Polar

GPS Smartwatch: Gives you distance, mile pace, wrist-based heart rate, and way more.
We Recommend: Polar Vantage M | $280
Why? Relatively inexpensive with tons of features.

Tri Cycling Shoes: Have water drainage, outward-opening straps, heel tabs, and more neat multisport features.

Aero Water Bottle: Make refilling easier and more aero-efficient.

Bike Fitting: Be faster, more efficient, more comfortable, and less likely to get injured. Just do it.

Tri-Specific Saddle: Built for the aero position, keeps your sensitive parts intact and allows more power with less shifting.

Tier 4

Quintana Roo Wetsuit
Photo: Quintana Roo

Mid- to High-End Wetsuit: Thinner neoprene means less restriction and more flexibility in the shoulders.
We Recommend: Quintana Roo HydroFive | $480
Why? Comes at a good price, with great flexibility and floatation.

Deep-Section Carbon Wheels: Wheels deeper than 30 mm are faster in most conditions; stay below 55 mm for heavy crosswinds. Carbon helps with lightness and speed, and comfort on rough roads.

Cycling Power Meter: Removes subjective forces like physiological effects, weather conditions, terrain, and more; also helps with race pacing.

Smart Trainer: Train better indoors with built-in power (see above). Most have virtual training environment compatibility (like Zwift), and much more.

Tier 3

HOKA Carbon X Shoe
Photo: HOKA One One

“Carbon-Plated” Race Shoes: Cutting-edge tech may make you faster and claims to make you more efficient.
We Recommend: HOKA Carbon X | $180
Why? HOKA is tri-friendly, has a big rocker, and will cost you less $$.

Running Power Meter: Essential for anyone who wants to do effective workouts on trails or mete out their effort on race day.

Tier 2

Disc Wheel
Photo: Ron Wheels

Disc Wheel: Best on flat or rolling courses with low-to-moderate wind; get tubeless ready for comfort, and prepare for a huge boost at speeds above 20 mph.
We Recommend: Ron AeronX | ~$800
Why? It’s lightweight, can be tubeless ready, and has ceramic bearings.

HUD Goggles: This new tech makes a huge difference in how you train by giving real-time data as you swim.

Tier 1

Red CeramicSpeed Bearings
Photo: CeramicSpeed

Ceramic Bearing Bits: Think: bottom bracket, wheel hubs, and derailleur pulleys. You’ll get some free watts, and they’ll last longer (assuming you take care of them).
We Recommend: CeramicSpeed Bottom Bracket | Starting at $360
Why? Industry standard design and super well-made.