Training for a triathlon requires a lot of specific gear. Fortunately, there is no need to buy all of them right away. I listed below all the cycling gears you will need at specific points in your triathlon journey.
Some of the recommendations below are affiliate links. It simply means that if you buy one of those gears through the specific link, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Disclaimer: The Triathlon Tips of My Tri World are reader-supported. When you buy through links, I may earn an affiliate commission.
OUTDOOR CYCLING GEARS
As Anna wrote in her article, you don’t need to worry about your bike in your first triathlons. Most bikes will be just fine. Once you are ready to invest some money in a new bike, you will need to decide whether you buy a road bike or a triathlon bike.
Best time to buy: once you are sure you like triathlon
Recommendation: Think about which kind of terrain you will train and race and pick a bike made for that. If you don’t know the difference between a triathlon bike and a road bike, check my article: “How Are Triathlon Bikes Different From Road Bikes.“
A helmet is simply mandatory in all triathlon races. And you should definitely wear it on all your outdoor rides as well. Expect to pay anywhere between $50 to $100 for a standard road helmet. If you are after time, an aero helmet will make you gain roughly 40 seconds over a 40km distance (wind tunnel analysis from Specialized), but it will cost you anywhere between $200-$400.
Best time to buy: right away
Recommendation: make sure it is a certified helmet from an authoritative authority. Apart from that, buy the one you like the most and which fits your budget.
BIKE REPAIR KIT
It is worth investing in a basic repair puncture kit. After buying it, you should also practice using it 😉
Best time to buy: right away
Recommendation: The items below are what I recommend you to take on each ride:
- Multi-tool: Topeak Mini 20 Pro Mini (Amazon affiliate link). If you take another model, make sure it includes a chain tool. It already saved us when the chain broke on one of our rides.
- Puncture Kit: Park Tool Tire & Tube Repair Kit (Amazon affiliate link)
- A spare tube: make sure the valve is long enough to fit your rim (I was literally carrying a non-fitting tube for months before realizing it…)
- Mini pump and/or CO2: I bought some relatively cheap ones from Decathlon
- some cash ($5-$10) in case you need to buy emergency food, drink, or a bus ride
After investing in a road bike or tri bike, you will want to buy some specific pedals and cycling shoes. Those shoes are stiff and help you to transfer better the energy you are putting into the pedals. Road shoes are generally more for comfort, and triathlon shoes are for saving time during races. You can check my article for more details: What Makes Triathlon Cycling Shoes Special.
Best time to buy: after buying a bike
Recommendation: It doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to recommend a particular brand. You should really try on a couple of pairs and pick the one which fits your feet best.
BIB SHORT AND JERSEY
For years, I have underestimated the value of good bib shorts. I used to buy the cheapest ones I could find and change them once they got destroyed. Now, I really recommend buying a pair of good quality bib shorts. They make such a difference in terms of comfort (outdoor and even more for indoor training). I find the jersey not as important as the bib short. Simply buy a matching one (doesn’t need to be from the same brand)
Best time to buy: once you start cycling training
Recommendation: By far, the best one I tried is Assos Equipe RS Bib Shorts S9 (Wiggle affiliate link). I have not seen anything close to that yet.
Aerobars are relatively cheap and easy to put on. Just looking at my bike computer, I could see immediately that I was riding faster. If you want to have more details about them, check my article, the 8 Things You Need To Know Before Buying Aero Bars.
Best time to buy: once you have a road bike
Recommendation: Buy one which has a lot of adjustment possibilities. I have the profile design t4+ where the armrest is separated from the main fixation.
Power meters are extremely useful for triathletes once you learn how to use them. They provide information on your actual performance, which is unaffected by external conditions and hence can improve your training quality. I wrote a full article about them: Are Power Meters Useful For Triathletes?
Best time to buy: once you want to bring your bike training to a new level
Recommendation: I have the Power2max NG Eco (website link, no affiliate). After reaching out to their support team to know exactly which version I would need, I set it up once on my road bike and never touched it again. I am overall really happy with it and even bought their equivalent model for my MTB.
ADJUST TO THE WEATHER
Depending on where you live in the world, the items below will help you:
- Arm/leg warmer
- Wind jacket
- Rain jacket: make sure it is small enough that you can carry it on your jersey
- Gloves: long or short
INDOOR CYCLING GEARS
CONTROLLABLE SMART TRAINER
The days where all you could see when training indoor was the wall are long gone. The rise of smart trainers with 3rd party software is really a game-changer in indoor biking. There are several types of trainers. You should look for controllable trainers where 3rd party apps can control your trainer. It is by far the most immersive experience you can get. For more details, check my article: Not All Smart Trainers Are Worth It.
Best time to buy: just before your first winter season
Recommendation: Every two years, I upgraded to a new trainer, and now I have the Tacx Neo 2T (Amazon affiliate link). It is the most silent one, which makes the least vibration and the most expensive one I tried.
There are plenty of options for indoor training. Some are focused more on social interaction and others on training. To help you decide which one you should try first, I wrote three articles that will give you a first glance at the main indoor apps:
- The Best Indoor Cycling Apps For Becoming Faster
- The Best Indoor Cycling Apps For Racing
- The Best Indoor Cycling Apps For Riding Real World Roads
Best time to buy: once you have an interactive trainer
Recommendation: try a couple of them (they all have either a free trial period or a money-back period). I personally use Trainerroad for structured training and Rouvy for longer rides and races. My wife prefers the Sufferfest.
FLOOR MAT AND FANS
When you train outdoor, most of your sweat is evaporating. You won’t have this chance indoors as there is no wind, and the temperature of your room will be relatively high. You should invest in good fan(s) to reduce the sweat you are creating and in a floor mat to protect your floor.
Best time to buy: once you start training indoor
Recommendation: I bought the Tacx foldable Mat (Wiggle affiliate link), which doesn’t let any sweat go through it and helps to reduce the noise. As for fans, I’m still testing some. I didn’t find really good ones yet.
I will write an article about a more specific indoor biking set up. Stay tuned!
ADDITIONAL RACE SPECIFIC GEARS
A triathlon suit is the only clothing you will wear from the start of a triathlon until the finish line. It is designed for swim, bike, and run, and therefore its main advantage is that it will save time in transitions. I wrote a full article about it. Check it out here.
Best time to buy: a couple of weeks before your first race
Recommendation: hard to give one recommendation as it really depends on your preferences. Check first the article I mentioned above.
Specific triathlon watches are not a must-have for beginner triathletes. It is quite hard to justify the high price tag for what you will actually do with it. Their main advantages are open water swimming and triathlon mode. My wife, Anna, wrote a full article about them: The Right Time To Buy A Triathlon Watch And What To Look For
Best time to buy: right away for data geeks (like me) or after a couple of triathlons
A transition bag is a backpack designed specifically for the needs of triathletes. It is large enough to fit all triathlon gears in one place and well organized so that triathletes don’t lose any time looking for specific gear. If you want to learn more, check out this article: “Are Transitions Bags Really So Useful.”
Best time to buy: after a couple of triathlons
Recommendation: I am really happy with the Tyr Apex bag (Amazon affiliate link) I bought.
RACE NUMBER BELT
Used to attach your race number during the bike and/or during the run portion, it will cost you between $10 to $15.
Best time to buy: before your first race
Recommendation: I personally bought the Compressport model (Amazon affiliate link) with three attaches for holding the number plus a couple of gel holders. I used it for all triathlon and running events.
I hope this list gives you a better idea of the gears in triathlon and at what point you should invest in them.
If you are looking for information about swimming or biking gears, check out those two articles: