Choosing a great triathlon bike can be a difficult and daunting task. Indeed, if you intend to get into the sport, it will be more than tough to find one that doesn’t go beyond the $4,000 mark.
If you’re a beginner, however, then it might be best to go for an entry-level triathlon bike. And the right entry-level triathlon bike doesn’t have to be expensive. There are few great triathlon bikes that fall under $1,000 that, to be sure, aren’t as high-performance as the more expensive ones, but are perfectly well-suited for someone who’s just getting into the sport.
In any case, to help you in your search below is a roundup of what we think are the best entry-level triathlon bikes in the market that are under $1,000.
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Ok, so this one is not quite under $1,000, but it’s only slightly above $1,000 that we think it deserves mention. Also, it won’t be hard to find online bike shops that offer great discounts these days, so you could well get one below $1,000 if you searched hard enough.
It is the Trek Domane AL 3, and it’s a phenomenal entry-level triathlon bike. With this bike, you’ll definitely be able to test the waters, so to speak, before fully wading into the sport.
Its frame is made from a high-grade aluminum while the fork is made from carbon, so you know this bike will, for the most part, be able to handle anything you throw at it. The geometry of the frame is also something we appreciate—it offers comfort to upright riders in spades. While it’s not as an absorbent of bumps as Trek’s Domane SLR (Trek’s carbon version), it still does exceedingly well over bumps, especially for a bike at this price range. Also, the Shimano Sora running gear the bike comes fitted with performs just as well as its more expensive counterparts and can take a lot of abuse. To be sure, Shimano Sora is a budget group, but it is still a relatively great performer in our opinion.
One complaint we had about the Trek Domane was that the brakes were lackluster. We took a gander at Trek’s spec sheet, and it seems the brakes aren’t even branded. We suggest you switch out the brake pads, which will raise the cost a little bit, but will be totally worth it.
Like the Trek Domane, you might say we are cheating by including the Cannondale CAAD12 105 in this list since it costs slightly more than $1,000. Well, again, we’ll say that it’s possible to get one of these for close to $1,000 if not slightly cheaper after a discount.
In any case, this is a fantastic bike, and we can’t stress this enough since we might have said the same thing for many other bikes—but indeed, this is probably one of the best aluminum bikes, if not the best aluminum bike, on the market today. Cannondale seems to have a lot of expertise in the comfort department when it comes to bike-making because this bike is even more comfortable than a lot of bikes that are twice or three times its price.
To be sure, the aluminum frame and Shimano 105 parts keep this bike affordable, but it works—and it works well—as an entry-level triathlon bike, not least because of its awesome frame geometry, which was so comfortable in a racing position that we almost forgot we were atop a bike that costs less than two grand. The comfort and ride quality of this bike alone are compelling enough reasons for one to get it as an entry-level triathlon bike.
This bike just about hits the $1,000 mark, and it’s carbon! And because it’s carbon, the lines are clean, and the bike just looks… attractive. It definitely does not look like a bike that’s in the $1,000 range—well, to be honest, any carbon bike won’t look like it belongs at the $1,000 price range, but we digress.
About that carbon frame: it looks quite aggressive, and the handlebar’s distance to the saddle was good, if not slightly shorter than most, which made us feel not as stretched out.
The Virago was exceedingly comfortable, and surprisingly so for a bike in this price range. But when it comes to big bumps, well, let’s just say you’d feel it through the handlebars. But that’s not to say that it isn’t a comfortable bike—it is. The frame is just sufficiently stiff in some areas, making bigger bumps more felt.
You’re probably thinking, well, what’s the catch? And yeah, there is a catch. See, you can’t expect to be getting a carbon bike at this price range that hasn’t made a few sacrifices here and there to keep the price down. For one, the Shimano’s 9-speed Sora groupset it’s fitted with, while sufficient, is somewhat sluggish when shifting and the 32-spoke wheels are, how shall we say, very basic.
All-in-all, it’s a great performing carbon bike at an indecent price. And that’s all the reasons you’ll need to grab this thing.