Is It Possible to Race a Triathlon with A Hybrid Bike ?!

You have decided to start training for a triathlon and you want to compete in one as soon as possible. But do you need a special triathlon bike or will a hybrid bike do as well?

So is it possible to participate in a triathlon using a hybrid bike?

In general, any bike with working breaks and gears can be used in triathlons including a hybrid bike. One does not need a specialized triathlon bike, as they are considered costly. A general recommendation is to start training and competing with any bike available to the individual, and then work their way towards investing in a road or triathlon-specific bike.

Some go as far as using a folding bike. For more on this, check out our post Are Bikes Provided In Triathlon Races? What Are Your Options !

Should you Race A Triathlon with a Hybrid Bike?

Before we talk about racing a triathlon with a hybrid bike, letโ€™s explain what a hybrid bike is. The hybrid bike has the characteristics of both a road and a mountain bike. It is great for commuters as well as triathletes, although it does have some disadvantages when compared to a specialized triathlon bike.(Source)

So, if you are wondering if you should use a hybrid bike for a triathlon, we would say go for it! This type of bike can get you to the finish line within a reasonable time, but chances are you will not be the first to finish the race.

Why is this so? Well, the hybrid bike does not have the same aerodynamics as a triathlon bike, so it is not as fast. It usually comes with thicker wheels and the frame can be a bit heavy. It is quite comfortable, but it is certainly not on the same level as a triathlon bike.

How suitable a hybrid bike will be for a triathlon can sometimes depend on the bike itself as well as the model. Some models will allow you to make changes and upgrades like changing the wheels to skinnier ones or adding a bar designed specifically for triathletes. These changes will make the overall experience much better and will help you cross the finish line faster.

Is a Hybrid Bike Good For Long-Distance Rides?

While the hybrid bike is good enough for some triathlons, it is not the best option for the longer ones. This is because the bike itself does not offer the best sitting position. If you want to be comfortable enough to endure the longest triathlons, one will need a road bike or atriathlon-specific bike. 

The design of the hybrid and triathlon bikes is different. The former is meant for shorter trips, so the space between the seat and the pedals is different. It keeps the body in a comfortable position, but it forces the muscles on the legs to work twice as hard.

With the latter, things are somewhat different. The sitting position relieves all pressure from the hamstrings, allowing them to stay rested until the final part of the race. After all, most triathlons end with the running part that comes after the cycling. So, athletes can benefit from their hamstrings staying as rested as possible.

For these reasons, triathlon bikes give their riders an advantage. When it comes to riding long distances or going to longer, full ironman triathlons, a hybrid bike is not going to be as comfortable or as fast as you would want it to be. Our recommendation is for you to consider investing in a better bike as well as gear as you get more and more into training and competing in triathlons.

Is a Road Bike Much Faster Than a Hybrid?

A road bike is somewhat similar to the triathlon bike, not the hybrid bike. This type of bike is very fast, so it can come in handy for those longer triathlons when your hybrid bike will not cut it. It is an amazing option because it is fast, comfortable, and efficient, while you can also find road bikes that are not even that expensive! (Source)

If we were to compare the approximate speed of a road and a hybrid bike, the results will inevitably be in favor of the road bike. As a general comparison, the speed of a road bike is expected to be anywhere from 15 to 22 mph, depending on the specific bike model. As for the hybrid bike, its speed can climb only to 18 mph.

So, you can see how a hybrid bike might not be the best option if you are looking to seriously compete in a triathlon or perhaps even a bike race. A person with a road or triathlon bike will be able to easily overcome you with their speed on smooth terrain. You might be able to stay close to them on offroad tracks, but the road bike can stand its ground there as well.

How Fast Can You Go On a Hybrid Bike?

The speed of any bike will depend on the model and make of the bike itself. The same goes for hybrid bikes โ€“ some can be faster than others. But a general assumption is that the hybrid bike can go anywhere from 12 to 18 mph. This can be good enough for some triathlons, but not for the longer, more competitive ones. (Source)

If you have a hybrid bike and you are determined to use it for a triathlon, there are several things that you can do to increase its speed. 

These are all small adjustments to the hybrid bike that should not cost you much money or take up a lot of your time which will upgrade your triathlon experience. So, we recommend trying them out before your next triathlon:

Remove all unnecessary weight from the bike

If you have any bags, bottle holders, bells, mirrors, or even flags, remove all of them from your bike. The extra weight of those things will slow you down and make it difficult for you to keep up. So, it is better to remove all accessories from the bike before you compete.

Get proper biking gear

What you are wearing will also affect the speed of the bike. The best option is a cycling jersey paired with special biking gloves and shoes. But you can always go for some lightweight attire that will keep you comfortable during the trip.

Make adjustments to the bike

You can also upgrade your hybrid bike by changing the wheels to skinnier ones, adding specialized bars or a seat, and adjusting the bars and seat to perfection. These things will cost you money, but if you are certain you want to use that particular hybrid bike for triathlons, the investment will surely be worth it.

How Many Gears Do I Need On a Hybrid Bike For a Triathlon?

Hybrid bikes can have anywhere from 10 to 18 gears and even more. But remember that the number of gears is not always connected to the quality of the ride. As long as you have a quality bike and quality equipment, even a single-speed bike will do wonders for you.

If you are yet to get a hybrid bike that you will use for triathlons, our recommendation is to get one that has at least 10 gears. 

Go to a store that specializes in bikes and ask a professional to help you find the perfect bike for yourself โ€“ one that is the right size and has enough gears to help you get through a triathlon within a reasonable time.

You can also try a tri bike before committing to one. Here is a post we wrote about “Can You Rent a Triathlon Bike? How To And Should You Do It!


An extreme triathlete who have competed in dozens of triathlons including IronMans and Extreme triathlons.

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