Which Are The Best Road Bike Brands For Fun And Competition?

With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to determine the best road bike brands to fit your individual needs. To make matters worse, there are many different types of road bike within each brand. Many of the most popular brands are only available at specialty bike shops or through independent dealers rather than through chain outlets, so you have to shop around in order to find the right model for you. In some cases, you cannot even buy via the internet because brands, such as Specialized for example, prefer to sell through authorized ‘bricks and mortar’ sellers. This is a kind of quality control which means you have to go and get measured up for your bike, making it perfect for you, and also provides extra safety, as you know the bike has been built and tested by professionals!

Fun Bikes For Messing Around

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the more recreational bikes available. Mongoose is one of the most popular brands of road bikes with its many different series and models. They sell BMX bikes including dirt, street, freestyle and team bikes as well as mountain bikes. These are great for adults and kids, providing bikes with suspension for a comfortable ride for the oldies riding the roads, and for the youngsters racing on trails and trying out jumps and tricks.

Schwinn is another familiar brand name with bikes for all purposes and age levels such as BMX, comfort, commuter, cruisers, electric, kids, road and mountain bikes. And Huffy has had BMX, kids, mountain and road bikes available from its brand for nearly 30 years. Of course, these are three very well-known brands and have models available widely from stores and online, so broadly speaking, if you know your bikes, and know what size you need, all you need do is order and take delivery.

You don’t have to go simply with name recognition though to find some of the best brands. You should also consider how you intend to use the bike. So, if you need high end full suspension in a machine, Jamis might be a brand to consider. Those who need a bike for sport or cross-terrain use may want to look into what Bianchi has to offer. And there are so many more brands to investigate, which offer great bikes for men, women and youngsters; a few honorable mentions must go to Cannondale, Trek, Giant, Raleigh, Fuji, Rocky Mountain and Scott. It is also worth noting that several of the manufacturers do not sell the bikes themselves, but appoint a list of dealers in various countries. Nevertheless, it is always nice to browse the websites and see what they are working on and what the latest models look like! But then, check out their Dealers link to find a store nearby that sells them.

So a few of these bikes are great just to do the daily commute to work and back, but just as certain brands are well diversified in terms of their offering to adults and children, and offer everything from road cycles to mountain bikes to hydrids, some of them also produce very good competition models. Let’s take a look at some of the best road bikes for time trialling and triathlon racing.

Competition Bikes For Triathlon

Ivan Basso riding the Cervelo P3C (photo by Gsl,
licensed under Creative Commons licence).

First off, this is not an exhaustive list, and you will probably have your own very particular views on which are the best triathlon bikes. I have also not necessarily opted for the most up-to-date models, mainly because these older ones are tried and tested in competition cycling, but also because the older ones, on the whole, are ‘good enough’ but far cheaper than this year’s dream machine! Hey, we all like bargains, right?

Well, all other things being equal, it’s a great idea to wait for this year’s model to be released and then go looking for last year’s to pick it up with a nice discount. It’s still going to be a great bike. Do your research first though – if the brand moved manufacturing to a cheaper country this year than last, then you might be able to pick up a bargain by grabbing the latest incarnation, for example.

Cervelo – The Cervelo bikes are an incredibly strong brand in the world of time trialling, where they are used routinely by pro cyclists in world renowned competitions such as the Tour de France time trial stages. Because of their proven pedigree, they are also used widely in triathlon. The P-series bikes are very popular, the P3 (pictured) being extremely successful, and with the P4 available as Cervelo’s very own ‘superbike’. With price tags nearing $6000, these machines are real wallet-rippers, even if they do make you sigh at their beauty and power. For a great tri bike with the awesome Cervelo heritage, a good bet is the P1, which if you look hard enough, you can probably get hold of for less that $2000.

Felt – Felt offer a great range of triathlon bikes and TT models, with competition-winning machines such as the Felt DA which has won stages in the Giro d’Italia and Ironman World Championship Triathlons. Not surprising really for a $9000+ bike. If you have your heart set on buying a Felt bicycle, then a more affordable option, which has a good reputation among triathletes is the S32. At around $1500 MSRP, it offers enough features and a lightweight frame to get you speeding through your races.

Focus – For time trials and triathlon racing, Focus offers their Variado Tria, which I have reviewed here, and which normally retails at around $1500, but older models usually go on sale at discounted rates. They also make decent road bikes if you prefer drop handlebars and do a lot of long distance and hill racing, where often aerobars just don’t cut it.

Giant – Again, Giant is another brand with a wide diversity of bikes for different types of riding. Perhaps the most acclaimed for triathlon is their Trinity 1 tri bike, which has all the features you would expect, such as the Compact Aero Road Design and very lightweight aluminum frame.

Jamis – Already mentioned above for their range of suspension bikes, Jamis also do a great series of time trialling machines, from the very high spec Xenith T2, which can be picked up at a snip if you happen to have $8300 in your pocket. Or you might like to try out the entry level model, the Comet, which has excellent features for maximizing your speed for a fraction of the price (5/14/2016 on sale at $650 via the Comet link).

Quintana Roo – This brand has a good selection of tri bikes, from the more affordable options such as the favorite of many triathletes, the Kilo – available on sale in the $1500 range – to the pricier models designed and developed using wind tunnels to ensure the lowest possible drag, such as the CD0.1 range.

Specialized – The tri bikes offered by Specialized run the gamut from the highly affordable Transition A1, again available for around $1500, to the race optimized S-Works Transition, which was used by time trial specialist Fabian Cancellara in the Tour of California. The latter costs just shy of $8000.

If you can muster up $1500, you should be able to get your hands on a triathlon bike serious enough to do real damage to your opponents. It’s then up to you to try a few out, either by prowling your local bike stores, or by trying out your friends’ bikes to see how well they perform for you and how comfortable you feel on them. Or of course, you might be a brand name junky, and opt for the best one you can afford from your favorite manufacturer. But, just like some bike makers don’t like their machines being sold at a distance online, you will probably find it impossible to choose a great ride without having sat in the saddle yourself first.


Neil (nickname Ironman) is an avid runner and sports fan, who writes about all things triathlon-related, especially running and cycling. He also writes about sports injuries and regaining fitness - mainly from personal experience rather than academic knowledge - although he does study that too!

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