Triathlon bike mistakes


Your first triathlon or Ironman? There are some common Triathlon bike mistakes that are made over and over. Paying attention to detail will make for a more successful Ironman.

There are some common triathlon bike-mistakes that are made over and over again by triathletes new to the Ironman.

Hopefully I can point them out and help you realize your Ironman dream. I’ve made pretty much all of these mistakes myself over the years and I’ve had to learn the hard way.

I’m more than happy to share with you what I have learned from those mistakes.


If possible, try and avoid having your bike tuned up a few days before the big race. I would suggest 2 or 3 weeks before would be the best time, so you can put some mileage on it to make “sure” that everything is working the way it should.

You don’t want to be out on the bike course race day and find out the mechanic doesn’t have the gears set properly and your chain comes flying off as soon as you stand up on the first hill.

It happens.


All you should really do the last few days is give your bike the best cleaning possible and make sure its lubricated properly. If its shifting smoothly(with no irritating “chain rub”) and the brakes work fine, don’t mess with it.

Triathletes who are not really qualified bike mechanics often end up making unnecessary adjustments to their bikes on their own just days leading up to their big race.

triathlon bike mistakes

Clean that gear cluster until it sparkles.

Often it’s done just out of nervousness and worrying and it’s actually a very common mistake when it comes to an Ironman’s triathlon bike.

This goes for your fit on the bike as well. Race week is not the time to be adjusting your seat height or moving your handlebars. Go with the way it was set all through your training.


On average, the chances of getting a flat tire sometime race day are pretty slim. However, every race you will see people who “do” have flats.

As much as it bugs you, take the time to learn how to the change a flat properly and avoid a common triathlon bike mistake that many novice Ironmen make.

Do it over and over again in your living room. Practice on the back tire. Don’t worry so about the front wheel, because if you can master changing the back(where most flats seems to occur)then the front will not be a problem for you.

If it’s your first Ironman, and you’re just trying to make the 17 hour cut-off, you don’t want to be spending 45 minutes on that tire change.

It could ultimately cost you reaching the finish line in time to be recorded as an official finisher. Every year there’s people who miss the cut-off by minutes.


If you’ve trained for months and months and have come to rely on your bike computer for cadence, distance and speed etc., be SURE that your battery isn’t going to quit on you 10 miles into the bike. I would spend the money and put in a new battery for the race.

Also, new battery or not, make sure the computer is working properly on your last bike ride when you get to the race venue. Sometimes traveling can knock the sensor out of alignment with the wheel and it won’t work properly or not at all.

This used to happen to me all the time when I traveled by car to the race and had my bike on a rack.

It’s common for these little things to happen to Ironman triathon bikes because they are always being shipped on airliners or attached to the top or back of a vehicle.


If your race is in a very humid, hot destination, I would suggest not pumping your tires up over 100 psi when you leave it in transition the day before the race.

Just put in 70 or 80, go to the start area early on race day, and then pump the tires on your triathlon bike up to your race setting.

If its really humid it can be a major triathlon bike mistake to put too much air pressure in your tires the night before the race. Tires can expand overnight and burst if they’re pumped up to the max.

Don’t worry about dragging a bike pump to transition. Without fail, every Ironman race I’ve ever done, the race organizers have plenty of pumps around and someone to help you. (usually from the local bike shop).

Another common Triathlon bike mistake is to have too few resources when it comes to spare tires or tubes. I would really suggest you have “two” spare tubes with you(or tires if you use sew-ups)for the race.

If for no other reason, should you get a flat you don’t want to spend the rest of the race in a panic that you have no spare left should you get a second flat. In other words, for your peace of mind, take two.


Most bike accidents happen within about the first 50 meters of the bike course.

For some reason, many triathletes will leave their bike in the big chain-ring when they park their bike in the rack before the race.

When you come out of the water after your 2.4-mile swim you will most likely be a bit disorientated as your body adjusts from being in the horizontal to vertical position.

When you combine this with a few other dozen cyclists new to the Ironman all trying to get on their bikes at the same time it is the recipe for disaster.

triathlon bike mistakes

This bike is in the big chain-ring. It is much safer to put it in the smaller ring when you park your bike for the race.

If you are in the big gear when you first get clipped into the pedals at the bike start, chances are you will weave all over the road trying to gain momentum because the gear is simply too big.

Often there are many people getting on their bikes at the same time and there is a chance you can collide with other bikes and that’s not the way you want to start off a 112-mile bike ride.

Put your bike in the easiest gear(in the small chain-ring)and you will have far more control of your bike as you make your way onto the course. As you gain speed and forward momentum you will have much more control, and then you can begin to shift into bigger gears more safely.

I like to call that small gear the leaving transition gear.

I hope these suggestions help you have your best possible race and avoid some of the most common triathlon bike mistakes.

If you really want a lot pertinent insight into what to expect on Ironman day, visit my ironstruck book store and find the perfect book for the new or experienced triathlete doing their very first try a tri triathlon or the Ironman.


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