A look at the components featured in the 2016 Triathlete Buyer's Guide.
The draw: Top-of-the-line function at a great price
While not a new group for 2016, Shimano’s mechanical Ultegra components continue to be a value leader that provides many of the features of the top-of-the-line Dura-Ace group for about half the price with minimal weight or performance compromise. From the ultra-rigid Hollowglide chainrings to the smooth and quiet rear derailleur and cogset, Shimano’s Ultegra group continues to offer a lot of value for the price.
$300 with bottom bracket, Cobbcycling.com
The draw: Range of length options
Short cranks can provide more room between the femur and abdomen while riding in the aerobars, making it easier to get through the momentum-zapping portions of the pedal circle while staying tucked in. While the Cobb Short Crankset is not as light or as high-tech as some other short cranks, like those from Rotor, they are available in shorter lengths than most anything else in a production crank and at a comparatively low cost.
The draw: Wide range of compatibility
While heralded as lighter and stiffer than frames with traditional threaded bottom bracket designs, the modern standard press-fit frame design can be prone to creaking. Praxis Works was the first to develop a solution where the two press-fit cups are threaded together to enhance the alignment and integrity of the cup-to-frame interface. Wheels Manufacturing has followed suit with its own creak-free design that covers even more crank and frame options.
2016 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide on Triathlete.com is presented by PowerBar
$1,580 (electronic parts of triathlon configuration), $2,835 (complete groupset), Sram.com
The draw: Electronic shifting made even easier
SRAM’s eTap is arguably the most talked about new product in the bike world. It’s the first electronic shifting system that is wireless between the shift levers and the derailleurs. The group should make SRAM an almost instantly significant player in the burgeoning electronic shifter market currently dominated by Shimano Di2. While the first eTap groups will be for caliper brake-equipped road bikes, it is expected that TT and disc brake versions will soon follow. Setup is one of the biggest appeals—with no wires to deal with, it can reportedly be done in less than 10 minutes.
From $160 per set, Praxiscycles.com
The draw: Shift performance with few rivals
Shimano Dura-Ace chainrings have long been the benchmark for shift performance for good reason–everything else on the market simply doesn’t match them. Well, everything other than Praxis Works. Like Shimano, Praxis Works cold forges their rings (most everyone else machines) to maximize stiffness. The result? Black chainrings that shift as well as Dura-Ace at a lower price. They make a great upgrade for most any five-bolt crank.
From $129, Ceramicspeed.com
The draw: Maximize watt savings
“UFO” means “Ultra-Fast Optimized.” CeramicSpeed takes the best chains in the business and bathes them in a proprietary low-friction coating. The initial coating lasts about 200 miles, after which CeramicSpeed’s “Squirt Lube” should be used for maintenance. Independent lab tests showed up to 5 watts of savings, while a well-cleaned Dura-Ace chain running a low-friction lube demonstrated savings closer to 1 watt.