I mean, it makes sense. You only do a triathlon maybe a few times a year, so owning an expensive triathlon bike isn’t necessary. And maybe this is your one and only triathlon and you don’t want to spend that money, I get it.
I do wonder what bike you used for training, though. Was that bike rented? Borrowed?
Or maybe just not triathlon standard? Maybe using a standard bike during training makes using a professional bike in the race much easier. Whatever the reason, yes, you can rent a triathlon bike.
What Is a Triathlon?
A triathlon is a three-part race: swimming, biking, and running. Depending on the level of race, the mileage for each leg changes. For a sprint triathlon (the shortest and the only one I’ve ever dared to do), the distances are 750 meter swim, 12 mile bike ride, and 3 mile run.
Next is the Olympic triathlon. Olympic triathlons double the distance of a sprint triathlon: meaning a 1.5 kilometer swim, 25 mile bike ride, and 6 mile run. Curiously, triathlons have only been in the Olympics since the 2000 Olympics in Australia.
Was the Olympic triathlon a thing before the 2000 Games? Who knows… but probably not because nobody wanted to exercise for that long!
Bigger than that is what is called the Half Triathlon, which definitely should be shorter based on my expectations for the name. It is a 1.9 mile swim, 56 (!!) mile bike ride, and 13 mile run!
Finally, the “Full Triathlon.” If this is what it takes to do a full triathlon, I’m out!
Participants knock out a trial of a daunting 2.4 mile swim, 112 (!!!!) mile bike ride, and a full marathon race of 26.2 miles! A whole marathon after swimming and biking!!
Obviously, for these intense races and even for the wee sprint triathlon, you’ll want good gear. Good gear means a good bike, one that’ll last you 112 miles without combusting or giving you permanent tush damage.
Good thing you can rent triathlon bikes! Let’s get on to that, shall we?
Renting Your Triathlon Bike
You can rent triathlon bikes from stores such as Spinlister, Playtri, Bike Works, and others. Check these out and more to see which ones seem the most appealing to you– but for the ones listed above, I’ll give some detail.
Spinlister is cool because it solves one of the most pressing problems for traveling triathletes: out of all their gear, which do you think is the hardest to store and ship? Their bikes!
With Spinlister, they rent bikes from athletes local to the area of their race, eliminating the need to figure out traveling with it and even making the experience more personal: it’s like you’re borrowing a friend’s bike, and they can even give you tips or help you get to know the area!
If you have your own bike you’d like to offer up for rent (maybe that’s why you’re reading this article and you were frustrated and bored up to this point?) Spinlister is a great way to do that (so read no more and sign up for Spinlister if that’s you!)
Playtri offers bike rentals and omits transportation difficulties by having a tent set up at the race location where you can get your rented bike before the race. This is great because you don’t even need to worry about driving your bike over!
The downside though is you won’t get time to practice with the bike or get comfortable before the race, and you need to make sure your race is one Playtri caters to.
Level 1 bikes go for $699 (Hyper Bikes), Level 2 $549 (Tri Bikes– most likely what you’ll want), and Level 3 $399 (Road Bikes, which I assume are standard bikes).
Bike Works rentals are based on a 24-hour period. They have to be picked up in stores, so transportation will be an obstacle and also making sure there is a Bike Works store in your competition area.
However, they are significantly cheaper than Playtri bikes. Each bike goes for approximately $95 – $130 a day!
Quality may want to be checked into for such a low price, but perhaps transportation to the actual event is costly, and eliminating that takes a chunk out of the old price tag.
When it comes to renting bikes though, if you’re new to triathlons its best to only use this option when traveling for a triathlon where bringing your bike isn’t feasible.
Keep in mind that even though it may seem cool to rent a bike that is way better than the one you train on, this isn’t recommended for a competition.
Professional quality bikes take some getting used to and, if this is your first time renting a bike, choose a rental that is as close as possible to the bike you are familiar with. This will help ensure you’re bike doesn’t get in the way of a great personal record attempt.
What Type of Bike Is a Triathlon Bike? What’s the Difference Between Triathlon Bikes and Standard Bikes?
The biggest factor in differing between a triathlon bike and a standard road bike is the structure of the bike’s frame. The angle of the seat tube (the rod of metal connecting the seat to the rest of the bike) is slanted for triathlon bikes.
Road bikes are standardly horizontal across, a 72 degree angle, making them more for flat trails and leisurely rides.
Triathlon bikes are slanted more aggressively, at a 76 or 79 degree angle, which makes the rider more aerodynamic while riding, hence riding faster with less effort. This is crucial for someone doing a 112 mile bike ride!
What Size Bike Should I Get for My Triathlon?
Bike size depends on height. Bikes are measured on frame sizes, which correlate with different heights.
For a 48 frame size bike, a person between the heights of 4’ 11” and 5’ 3” would be most comfortable. Frame size 50 bikes are best for riders 5’ 2” to 5’ 7”. 52 size bikes fit 5’ 5” to 5’ 10” riders the best, and Size 54 bikes are most comfortable for riders between 5’ 8” and 6’ 1”. (I guess if you’re above 6’ 1” you’re out of luck!)
How Do You Sign Up for a Triathlon?
Yes, committing? Sweet! You’ve got this, I believe in you!
Okay, so really the most important questions when deciding where to sign up for a triathlon are the when and where. Different events will be going on based on the season you are planning to race, but typically the most public triathlon events will be hosted over the summer.
Some will be private, more for active members of triathlon clubs and people who do it essentially full time such as USA Triathlon. Some will be hosted by clubs or organizations for these members, or for whoever wants to join out of the public!
Personally, I raced in a triathlon hosted at the Quantico Marine Corps base open to anyone who wanted to sign up and race.
So deciding on when is important, as it will determine the races available to you. Next, is where. You may be able to see advertisements for signing up for a triathlon in your area or have friends or coaches who know of races happening in the area.
Worst comes to worst– or if you’d rather avoid leaving your house and socially interacting– you can always just Google it! There are websites specifically designed to help you find triathlons in your area. Such websites include TriFind, Tri Mapper, TriReg, TriSignUp, essentially anything with the word “Tri” at the beginning.
You’ll most likely (as in almost definitely but there may be some exceptions out there so I can’t say for sure) have to pay a fee to race. The great thing about this, though, is that it will encourage you to actually show up!
You are 87% more likely to complete your triathlon if you paid to race in it, which is probably, aside from the t-shirt, the main reason they make you pay (not really, but it is a good mental hack).
For performances at my college, the theater department made student tickets that were $2 instead of free because people are more likely to come when they’ve spent money on it.
That’s why you always take care of things you bought more fervently than something your parents bought you, or someone gave you, for example. See, the system works!
Once you know when and where your triathlon is taking place, then the bike-renting plan cancommence. Planning your rental ahead of time will always get you a better price, as there’s no rush to reserve bikes. Just like buying your plane tickets months in advance to get a good deal, rent your bike in advance to save some cash.
Knowing where you’ll be racing will also allow you to look into what bike rentals are in the area, and plan which ones will be the most convenient and effective for you on race day.
You can even see if there are rental shops that offer transportation services and hold your bike in a tent until you arrive like Playtri, or which athletes on Spinlister are nearby for you to rent from! Happy cycling!