Triathlon cycling can differ from most professional bicycle racing depending on whether drafting is allowed during competition. In some competitions, like those governed by USA Triathlon and the World Triathlon Corporation, drafting is not allowed and thus the cycling portion more closely resembles individual time trial racing.

Triathlon bicycles are generally optimized for aerodynamics, having special handlebars called aero-bars or tri-bars, aerodynamic wheels, and other components. Triathlon bikes use a specialized geometry, including a steep seat-tube angle both to improve aerodynamics and to spare muscle groups needed for running. At the end of the bike segment, triathletes also often cycle with a higher cadence (revolutions per minute), which serves in part to keep the muscles loose and flexible for running.