The draw: Unadulterated speed
While some bike brands forgo a little aerodynamic performance for mechanical simplicity, Felt’s newest tri bike is fully committed to straight-line speed. Massively deep tubes and a highly integrated front end give this frame a wildly deep profile that has performed exceptionally well in aerodynamic testing. Crosswinds affect this bike a bit more than most, but it still handles well, quickly carving through tight turns. Fit adjustability is the biggest limitation: The basebar’s position is fixed. The Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 component kit is the world’s best, and Felt’s house brand aero wheels complete the race-worthy kit.
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The draw: Great value
For a bike that has all the most important features of a tri bike without the glitzy and expensive upgrades that diminish affordability, the women’s Dulce is one of the best. Does it have realistic geometry that can morph to accommodate many positions? Yes. Does it ride smoothly and handle with ease from the aerobars? Yes. Are the components up to the task of months-long training periods? Yes. All the little improvements that make a small difference at a big cost are spared. For a true tri bike that will give you everything you need to race great and have fun doing it, go with the Dulce.
The draw: Great entry-level carbon bike
For triathletes not looking to drop a fortune on a new ride, the Shimano 105 version of Kestrel’s popular 4000 is a can’t–miss option. The geometry of this bike is long-course- and beginner-friendly with a taller head tube that puts the rider in a more upright position. The front brake isn’t integrated into the fork, but the direct-mount, center pull TRP T920 caliper is more aerodynamic than traditional calipers and has plenty of clearance for wide rims.
The draw: Problem-solving fit
If you’re struggling to find a comfy position on an aero frame, the Shiv could be your solution. The frame has a tall front end relative to its reach, allowing most athletes to get into a position they can live with, while still being able to get off and run. The Shiv does all of this while also being one of the more aerodynamic frames on the market. With a Fuelselage integrated hydration system and Shimano Ultegra components, the Shiv Expert is ready for Ironman training days right out of the box.
The draw: Multipurpose women’s ride
A spin-off of Giant Bicycles, Liv became its own women’s-specific brand starting in 2015, with the Envie Advanced Tri as the first TT bike in the line. Liv took its aerodynamic road bike and added clip-on aerobars, so the bike is suitable for both fast road riding and triathlon racing. Frame geometry, however, is still geared toward road positions. It’s outfitted with Ultegra components and a race-ready Giant aero wheelset.
$3,200 (frameset), Ceepo.com
The draw: Weight weenies and aero aficionados unite
While the Katana was certainly designed with aerodynamics in mind, the thing most athletes notice about it is its weight. At only 1130 grams, the Katana is almost in a league of its own when compared to other triathlon bikes. Combined with triathlon-specific front-end design and steep seat tube geometry—plus a reversible seat post—the Katana allows athletes to get their position dialed just right, to feel at home humming along on the flats or taking to the hills.
The draw: Performance-tuned ride quality
For a bike that’s ready to race out of the box at a reasonable price, Fuji builds this version of the Norcom Straight with a dependable mixed Shimano Ultegra groupset and deep-section clincher wheels from house brand Oval. Without upgrading a piece, this kit has no weak points (except maybe the saddle). Ride quality is where the Norcom Straight stands out. It finds a near ideal balance between stability and agility; the feeling of outstanding torsional stiffness helps translate every steering input to the road.
The draw: Great value at mid-range price
After a yearlong hiatus, one-time triathlon stalwart Blue Bicycles is mounting a comeback. The Triad frame remains the same for 2015, with several aerodynamic design features like an integrated nose cone and dropped downtube tucked closely behind the front wheel. Conservative frame fit allows many riders to find the ideal position without a giant stack of spacers. The dual position seat post offers a 76- or 80-degree angle, and the Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with Vision Trimax Carbon crankset is a solid and reliable component package.
The draw: Versatility
Orbea has finally done it: The company has made a bike for fits common to many age-group triathletes. The newest Ordu, a totally redesigned bike, is constructed around a geometry scheme matching position ranges for many short- and long-distance racers. Big gaps between sizes may prove challenging for some. Blending simplicity and speed is the M20’s strong suit. You don’t need an aerospace engineer to service this bike, yet it has hallmark aero tube shaping where it matters most. True to the brand’s road racing heritage, Orbea has built the M20 with a dependable drivetrain that will perform well beyond the bike’s price tag.
The draw: Integrated brakes, aggressive aesthetic
The 2015 Boardman AiR TT frame has a slightly taller head tube and a new four-position seat post that allows for a wide fit spectrum, with the seat tube angle ranging between 76 and 79 degrees. Integrated front and rear brakes combined with aerodynamically optimized tube shapes makes for one fast ride. The Air 9.2 is spec’d for triathlon-specific comfort and performance with a full Shimano Ultegra component package, Vision cockpit and ISM Adamo Road saddle.
The draw: Integrated everything, front-end adjustability
This is the Swiss superbike design that Andreas Raelert rode to an Ironman world record—it is a wind-slicing machine. Aero features include integrated front and rear brakes and a fork design (also integrated) that minimizes the frontal head tube surface area for less drag. Six different spacers in the stem provide up to 32 different positions for a dialed front-end fit. Outfitted with a Shimano Ultegra gruppo, shifting quality is reliably smooth, and the Profile Ozero TT cockpit with T2+ extensions is Di2-compatible should you choose to upgrade.
The draw: Impeccably functional
While others are competing to create a tri bike with the lowest possible drag, Cannondale is searching for the happy medium between straight-line speed and the realities of the sport. The newest Slice boasts solid—although not world-beating—aerodynamic performance, and truly top-level functionality. Easy maintenance, wide fit range, super-steady handling, smooth road feel and phenomenal shift performance make this bike both fast and practical. The Vision clip-ons offer minimal fit adjustment and force a very aggressive grip position.
The draw: Classic, elegant lines
If you lust after the smooth lines and clean, minimalist aesthetic of Guru’s premier-level CR.901 without the top-shelf price, the CR.401 offers many of the flagship’s attributes at a more manageable price. While geometry is purely stock, it is constructed around a tri-friendly fit likely to work for many riders. The non-integrated front-end lacks the flash of some, but adds to this bike’s supremely live-able design. Changes to fit and routine mechanical upkeep are about as easy as possible, compared with other tri bikes. The dependable Ultegra 6800 component kit and comfy-in-aero ISM Adamo Road complete the exceptionally functional build.
*Editor’s note: The version that appeared in the print magazine stated that the CR.401 frame can be made to custom-fit a rider. We apologize for the error, which has been corrected above.
The draw: Beautiful integration
The front end of the Speed Concept is simply stunning—the brakes are integrated into the fork, its bars seamlessly merge into the stem, and the stem blends into the frame. Integration extends to the available storage options that actually make the bike faster. It’s impossible to find an uncomfortable place for your hands on the versatile Bontrager extensions. The triathlon-specific geometry of the Speed Concept caters to a variety of positions, and the 52×36 semi-compact crankset can handle varied terrain.
The draw: Pursuit of perfect aerodynamics
Underneath a new paint scheme, the foundations of what has made the P5 one of the fastest triathlon bikes since its release remains unchanged. Shimano’s top-of-the-line Dura-Ace Di2 electronic gear system provides near-flawless shifting, while hydraulic Magura brakes give all the stopping power you could want. The whole package rolls on HED Jet Plus wheels, a great combination of aero performance and practical benefits that make this set equally suited to training and racing. The unique BBright bottom bracket standard helps to give the P5 an edge when it comes to stiffness, while helpful additions like integrated nutrition box mounts on the top tube add to the bike’s overall appeal.
The draw: Full-blown integration, realistic fit
Finely integrated front-end pieces are the most attention-grabbing element of Scott’s newest super-bike; fit may be its most important. The stem-and-aerobar system hides the front brake, blends with a proprietary hydration system and offers a range of positions likely to fit most triathletes. A moderately tall (read: realistic) front end and highly adjustable aerobar make up for the basebar, which lacks adjustment. Handling is quick and alert—this is no steady cruiser. Zipp Firecrest wheels complete the top-end package with SRAM Red components, although, at this price, an electronic component kit is a reasonable expectation.