The draw: Mid-range ride at a low-end price

Kestrel again surprises and hits the mark with its budget bike, the Talon X. Equipped with components one would expect on a bike that’s well under $2k—105 derailleurs and cost-cutting Microshift shifters and SunRace cassette—the Talon truly shines with its ride. As one of the original carbon manufacturers in the game, it’s no surprise that Kestrel’s high-mod full-carbon frameset actually rides shockingly smooth on bumps and mitigates high-frequency road chatter, making this a fine choice for even long-course racing. The responsiveness on the Talon is similarly surprising—particularly for this price range. Though the components may not turn heads, this is a bike priced for the first-timer, but it’ll serve even intermediate triathletes with a well-balanced package ripe for later upgrades. The only caveat? The Talon’s wide tubes and cable runs don’t exactly score high on the eyeball wind tunnel, but for this price it’s a worthwhile sacrifice.

18.98 lbs. (size medium)

Price: $1700

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