When it comes to components, Shimano remains the big player on the triathlon market, with SRAM the next in line. While Campagnolo remains a popular option for road riders, you’ll have to work hard to find a tri-bike that comes with a Campy groupset, so we’ll focus on the two main players in the market. Over the last couple of years we’ve been seeing disc brakes becoming a more popular option for both road and some triathlon bikes and both Shimano and SRAM have added some new disc brake options to their line ups.
Most triathlon-specific bikes on the market that are specced with Shimano parts are likely to come with one of three of the company’s groupsets: 105, Ultegra or Dura Ace. Shimano does offer other gruppos that fall below 105 in the hierarchy (Claris, Sora and Tiagra), but it is rare that you’ll see those groups on a triathlon bike, especially since they aren’t available in 11-speed, which is rapidly becoming the norm.
The 105 groupset was revamped in 2015 and offers much of the same performance and technology that you’ll find in the more expensive Ultegra set, but weighs a bit more. You’re hardly going to go wrong with a bike equipped with 105 components.
The Ultegra line up is lighter than the 105 components, but not as light as the top of the line Dura Ace group set. Both Ultegra and Dura Ace are available in electronic versions, known as Di2. The Ultegra level components offer excellent shifting and durability. Last year Shimano added a disc brake option to the Ultegra line up.
The flagship groupset in the Shimano line up is Dura Ace. Renowned for the light components, super-sharp shifts and outstanding braking, these are the components you’ll see on the highest-end bikes and, most often these days, that means the electronic version, Dura Ace Di2. The Dura Ace brakes are available as either caliper or hydraulic disc brakes.