Triathlete senior editor Aaron Hersh reviews the Blue Triad SP triathlon bike, which retails for under $3,000.
Written by: Aaron Hersh
The Blue Triad SP is a specialized triathlon bike, designed for a specific type of rider. There are many great triathlon bikes priced under $3,000 and most of them are built with geometry that accommodates a low and aggressive position. But not everyone who wants a fast bike prefers that riding style, and the Triad SP is the bike for riders looking for a technologically advanced machine with a tall front end to raise the handlebars without compromising stability or stiffness. If you want to slam your bars as low as possible, the Triad SP is not the right bike for you, but if an aerodynamically advanced, value-oriented tri bike built for a comfortable position meets your needs, the Blue Triad SP is an ideal match.
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Spec- Budget sensitive, moderate performance
The Triad SP is built with a hodgepodge of budget-sensitive components. Blue combined a SRAM rear derailleur and shifters with a Shimano cassette, Shimano chain, FSA crankset and FSA front derailleur. Component companies such as SRAM and Shimano work hard to ensure compatibility between their drivetrain components, and this mixed kit doesn’t shift as crisply as a complete group from a single manufacturer. Although these parts aren’t the ideal combination, they are still functional and more than sufficient for a tri bike. The Profile Design T2+ aerobar that comes with the Triad SP has a tall stack height to the top of the elbow pads, which further accentuates the frame’s conservative geometry.
Fit- Perfect for a conservative, not aggressive, position
Many tri bikes were originally designed for professional road cycling teams, not the triathletes who actually buy the bikes. Those high-level road cyclists never run after a bike race, so they can contort themselves into positions that would cripple many triathletes. Some triathletes can certainly fit on those same bikes but the rest of us are often forced to jerry-rig a sustainable position with spacers and tall aerobars. Unlike bikes designed for road time trialists that often ride in incredibly low positions, the Blue Triad SP is designed specifically for triathletes looking to ride in a more comfortable, upright position. It has a typical steep seat tube angle but a taller front end than many other tri bikes. This combination can take stress off the lower back, neck and hip flexors. Combine the tall frame with the tall Profile T2+ aerobars that come on the SP, and this bike is an ideal match for the athlete looking for a more relaxed position—not the right choice for the rider looking to get low.
Aero details- Aero design trickled down from the $5,000 model at a reasonable price
The Triad SP has the exact same shape as the more expensive Triad, and its aerodynamic features can match nearly any bike in the sub $3,000 price range. The shape of the headtube and downtube has a huge influence on the wind drag created by the frame and those tubes are built with textbook airfoil profiles. The rear brake is hidden beneath the bottom bracket. The aerodynamic benefit of this location is up for debate, however, and it limits the calipers that can be used on the Triad. The cables cleanly route into the frame behind the stem and are guided all the way to the derailleurs. They are well hidden but difficult to route through the frame. Both the seatstays and the chainstays are tightly tucked against the rear wheel, which Blue says reduces the Triad’s front surface area in some wind conditions. The Triad SP has all the aero features to compete with any bike at this terrestrial price point.
Ride- Not the stiffest, but smooth and steady
The Triad SP is a smooth-riding bike. It isn’t as snappy as some carbon frames, but its buttery ride mutes all but the roughest pavement vibrations. Even though the Triad SP isn’t the stiffest tri frame on the market, I didn’t notice the flex unless sprinting all out, and that probably isn’t a good idea in a tri anyway. The Triad SP handles quickly, but doesn’t make wild or jerky turns. Its tall geometry takes some of the weight off the front wheel and prevents the bike from veering off course during a break in concentration.