For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
The 2014 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide magazine is out on newsstands now (and check out the digital version), and we’re giving you a sneak peek right here. Check out the bikes from the guide here and check back to Triathlete.com for more Buyer’s Guide content.
The draw: Outstanding frame for the price
After a seven-year run, Cervélo has finally updated the class-leading entry-level tri bike. This new version of the P2 has received more than a facelift. Handling is more precise due to a noticeable bump in stiffness; frame fit dimensions are set for realistic tri positions; wind resistance will be even less of a factor with updated frame shaping designed with the help of sophisticated software and wind tunnel testing. Shift function is the only way to distinguish this bike from a more expensive model. The components spec’d on this bike aren’t on par with similarly priced tri bikes, but a couple hundred dollars’ worth of upgrades can make this bike into a pro-worthy machine.
Cannondale Slice 5 105
The draw: Functional simplicity
Triathlon-specific geometry and aerodynamic lines provide a solid foundation for this capable bike with an entry-level price. Convenient, low-hassle features paired with slick frame design allow the Slice 5 to exceed expectations as an athlete advances through the sport without additional intimidating gadgetry. Geometry is successfully tuned for stable handling that makes this ride appealing to beginners and experienced athletes alike. If you’re going to own one bike, this machine is easy to live with and performs exceptionally on race day. Shift quality is relatively imprecise and can be improved by upgrading the shifters.
Fuji Norcom Straight 2.3
The draw: Everything you need, nothing you don’t
Even the engineers behind the most seamless integrated tri bikes will admit that blending the fork and brakes with the frame provides a modest performance improvement. Aesthetics are a big part of the appeal. Fuji elected to build its newest tri bike without eking out the final fractions of wind drag in favor of ultimate practicality and function. The front brake on this bike works exceptionally well; fit can be adjusted to suit a broad range of positions; upkeep on this bike isn’t a mammoth task. And a relatively low price is another reason to stick with a traditional front end. Fuji built a ton of value into this bike by nailing ride quality and the other most important factors of a tri bike without sacrificing for a flashy design.
Kestrel 4000 Shimano Ultegra
The draw: Elite-level value
This isn’t a super-bike, it’s a sensible one. Kestrel did away with the true top-level technology—both for the frame and components—in favor of including all the most important features while keeping the price in the mid-range. The 4000 provides a strikingly nice ride. Not only is it responsive and nimble, but rough roads seem to lose their sting when traveling up through this frame. The crankset and saddle are spec’d for affordability and every other piece on the bike functions exceptionally well.
Scott Plasma 10
The draw: Precise frame and drivetrain performance
Just because the pros ride with a low position doesn’t mean every athlete benefits from slamming the aerobars toward the pavement. With a highly adjustable aerobar and a relatively tall frame stack height, the Scott Plasma 10 is an ideal match for realistic aero positions. Wind-cheating details of this carbon frame help eliminate gaps that create additional aero resistance. Proven Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra components shift crisply and provide impeccable stopping performance, but also elevate the price.
Ridley Dean RS
The draw: Muscularity
Tired of riding through a sea of Cervélo, Trek and Specialized bikes? This Belgian bike maker has a strong reason for you to assert your independence. “Muscular” is the term that best describes this bike. Not only is it aesthetically assertive, its front end feels strong. The bike resolutely holds form when sprinting and cornering hard. The attention-grabbing components are all very impressive, but low-grade shifters degrade gear-change performance. Swapping them for the superior Shimano version costs $150.
Specialized Alias Pro Tri
The draw: One bike for every ride
More often than not, riding a road bike is a more comfortable experience than getting aboard a tri bike. They handle more predictably, feel more stable on descents and are keyed for less demanding positions. But riding in aerobars is simply faster and there’s no way around that fact. Owning two bikes is a great but expensive solution. However, Specialized has another way to get the best of both. The Alias is a road bike that has been slightly altered to be better suited for triathlon. In addition to aero-shaped tubes, storage options and aerobars, its geometry is suited to getting comfy in the aero position. It also comes in versions for $3,300 and $2,600. The Alias is the first of its kind and may be the start of something big.
Quintana Roo CD0.1 Di2 Race
The draw: Tuned for demanding tri cyclists
Quintana Roo has no concerns about the limitations on creativity and technology placed upon most bike designers by cycling’s governing body. As a company fully dedicated to triathlon, the small group out of Chattanooga, Tenn., elected to design this bike exclusively for triathletes. Its frame uses deeper tubes and the downtube is offset to direct more air around the drivetrain. Be ready to hold an aggressive position if you decide to ride this bike. Its fit is demanding—best suited to low, long positions—and it handles with electric quickness.
Orbea Ordu M Team
The draw: Aggressive integration and responsive ride
An integrated front fork and compact stem system lead the way for this aerodynamically tuned machine. Orbea didn’t sacrifice stiffness and ride quality for the sake of aerodynamics. Frame rigidity is nearly unrivaled, creating the sensation that every watt is driving the bike forward. Shimano’s top-end mechanical Dura Ace 11-speed group shifts impeccably, while a compact Vision TriMax cockpit complements this bike’s integrated profile. Be ready to hold a low position if you ride this bike—frame geometry, the integrated stem and the bar aren’t suited for more conservative positions.
BMC TM01 Ultegra Di2
The draw: Striking frame and pristine shifting
Every superbike element is built into this dream frame. Complementing the integrated fork and adjustable stem is a striking frame shape that stands out from all others. Coupled with Shimano Ultegra Di2 components, this bike functions exquisitely. Ignore the fact that Shimano produces a more expensive electronic groupset—the Ultegra Di2 reduces the potential headache of wrenching on a highly integrated bike. The innovative and adjustable stem system combined with the highly adjustable Profile Design T2+ aerobar allow this bike to accommodate the fit needs of a wide variety of triathletes while maintaining a streamlined profile. On the road, the bike feels predictable from the aero position yet ready to kick up to speed with explosive responsiveness.
Louis Garneau Gennix TR1
$4,200 (frameset), Louisgarneau.com
The draw: Being the first
Known for its apparel and accessories for endurance athletes, Garneau has ventured into bike production as well. The brand’s first stab at a tri bike for the U.S. boasts semi-integrated features that contribute to the bike’s angular appearance without excessive mechanical complexity. Fit is keyed for true triathlon positions and Garneau offers the option to build the bike with practically any component spec imaginable.
The draw: Elegance
This bike is breathtaking. As engineers have subjected classical designs to more and more aero testing, many frames have taken on seemingly disjointed and herky-jerky forms. The AiRTTE’s form is smooth and swooping. And it has aero-oriented features typical of non-integrated tri bikes such as a hidden brake, deep-section tubes and a smoothly crafted pocket for the stem. Fit dimensions are realistic for many tri-specific positions and the aerobar offers some additional adjustment. Elevating the stem, however, damages the aesthetic. Its build kit is unsurpassed, with some of the best components, wheels and cockpit pieces available.
Guru CR.901 Stock
The draw: Fun ride, easy upkeep
Built with the same spirit as the fully customized (and costlier) CR.901, Guru’s top-notch stock geometry tri bike delivers an exciting and fully functional ride. Handling is quick and the bike sticks to a line with a little pressure on the base bar—it feels like riding a rail. Athletes looking for effective simplicity will love this bike. It uses a standard stem and steerer tube and external brake calipers instead of a more glamorous and complicated integrated version. Impeccable function and low-stress maintenance is the reward. Shimano Ultegra brakes paired with the motorized Ultegra Di2 components allow this bike to brake and shift as well as any tri bike out there.
Trek Speed Concept 9 Series
The draw: Striking integration made more practical
When Trek first released the Speed Concept, it opened up a new span of possibilities for tri bikes. Its integration was unprecedented. Along with its sleek and fast design came a trove of mechanical struggles and only standard options for hydration accessories. Trek tweaked the first Speed Concept, and this version is easier to live with and more practical. The Wisconsin brand created an assortment of bolt-on accessories to solve every logistical challenge and made the brakes and cable routing easier (although not quite easy) to service. The bold paint job, Campagnolo components and race-ready Bontrager Aeolus D3 wheels make a lasting impression.
$5,950 (frameset), Dimondbikes.com
The draw: Uninhibited aero performance
Specialized and Felt have gotten a lot of attention for making tri bikes with tubes that are deeper than typical aero shapes: Dimond, a startup bike company headed by pro triathlete TJ Tollakson, has taken design exclusively for triathlon to a different level. Former Zipp engineer David Morse joined Tollakson to design a frame based on a lot of wind tunnel research having shown that beam bikes have the potential to be faster than traditionally shaped frames. They handcraft each frame in their manufacturing facility in Des Moines, Iowa. Geometry is realistic and every detail has been selected for durability and practicality.
Felt IA FRD LTD
The draw: Fast, functional and striking
The number of bikes built only for triathlon is growing. Felt decided to spurn road racers to build the IA FRD with ultra-deep tubes to save wind drag and add a small, integrated storage box. Other clever features such as a novel seatpost clamp and cleanly integrated fork distinguish this bike at the very top level of technology. Combining the best technology with realistic fit is another of the IA’s strengths. Frame fit characteristics are also decidedly friendly for typical multisport positions. The bike is tall enough to support most tri fits without relying on a tower of spacers. One of the very best performing and most functional component kits possible—the electronic Dura-Ace set—bolsters this noteworthy frame. To top it off, the Mavic CXR wheels have proven to be among the very fastest.