This frame’s genetic ancestry goes back to 1995, when Kestrel first sliced the seat tube out of a triathlon bike. The design has evolved since then, but its unique shape still creates a ride feel that no bike can match. $3,100, Kestrelbicycles.com
Fit: The Airfoil Pro’s frame geometry is well suited to a broad spectrum of dedicated tri-specific positions. Its shape is right in the middle between leisurely and pro-style. The seat post locates the saddle slightly farther rearward than many newer tri frame designs—this can be a limiter for some positions, but the saddle clamp adds some forward freedom to compensate for the slack seat tube. The adjustable Profile Design T2+ aerobars can match just about any fit other than a very tall bar position.
Kit: Sublime ride quality in a $3,100 bike doesn’t come without compromise. This build has outstanding Shimano Ultegra derailleurs, but the budget-oriented FSA Gossamer crank and Microshift Bar-end Shifters result in looser shifting performance, both front and rear. Shift cables jut out to the side of the bike more than others because they route through the downtube rather than behind the steerer tube, as many newer designs have adopted. The Oval Concepts 700 brake calipers create strong and consistent stopping performance.
Ride: The seat tube-free design transforms subtle pavement vibrations into a glassy smooth ride without compromising stiffness. The Airfoil’s unique design frees the saddle to absorb everything. Despite the saddle’s vertical leeway, it stays put beneath the rider without bobbing, and the frame is shockingly laterally stiff. Even though the Airfoil lacks a seat tube, it feels solid when riding in the aero position and even when sprinting over short hills. Its stiffness rivals traditionally constructed bikes, but its handling is steadier than most. Rather than quickly skipping through turns, the Airfoil Pro corners in big, fairly slow movements.