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 components from the guide here and check back to Triathlete.com for more Buyer’s Guide content.
Campagnolo Chorus 11
The draw: Exclusivity
The history behind Campagnolo is deeper than Shimano and SRAM combined. Producing bike components for 81 years has created a mystique around the brand and a loyal following of cyclists is committed to this niche company. Shift action of the group feels uniquely solid and snappy. Front shifts occasionally take more coaxing with this kit, however. Membership in the Campagnolo family comes at a cost: upfront price and maintenance expense of this kit is higher than competing groups.
SRAM Force 22
The draw: Well-rounded performance
The two weaknesses of the original SRAM component groups are gone from the new Force 22 groupset. In addition to the same crisp rear shifts of prior SRAM groups, this kit brakes with strength and executes precise front shifts. Shimano’s Ultegra parts still have a small advantage in these two categories, but the difference is slim. Incredibly low weight and a surprisingly affordable price make Force 22 an attractive option for any tri or road bike.
Shimano Ultegra 6800
The draw: Impeccable shifting and braking
Electronic groupsets get the headlines, but Shimano’s mid-tier mechanical Ultegra group is the best value in bike components. The kit was totally updated this year and it achieves nearly the same functions that distinguish the top-level Dura-Ace set, including precise front shifting and highly predictable brake performance. The true value of Ultegra is most obvious on a road bike, although similar function translates to triathlon bikes. For elite performance, mechanical Ultegra is the most affordable option.
Bontrager XXX Aero
The draw: Easy adjustments
Fully integrated tri bikes are aerodynamically efficient and aesthetically appealing at the cost of being mechanically complex. Blending brakes into the frame often makes even simple adjustments time consuming and difficult. The XXX aero lever offers a solution. It has a piece that can easily adjust the width of the brake to seamlessly swap between narrow wheels and broader racing wheels or micro-adjust the brake feel. The carbon lever adds flair to any bike.
The draw: Extra leverage
During the leg extension portion of a pedal stroke, a large mass of muscles is activated, but far less muscle is engaged when feet push through the top segment of a revolution. As a result, a cyclist has much more leverage in the middle of the pedal stroke than at the top or bottom. Osymetric chainrings are designed to take advantage of this biomechanical fact. They increase resistance when the body can pedal hardest. Frederik Van Lierde rode these rings to victory at Ironman Hawaii in 2013—he selected them because he perceives this claimed benefit to be real, although don’t be swayed by overblown claims. Pedaling feels a bit pulsing after initially installing these rings, but the sensation quickly goes away.
Rotor 3D+ 150mm
The draw: Lower aero position
Cranks have become a hot topic in triathlon because they influence bike fit. In the past, longer-than-standard cranks have been spec’d on triathlon and time trial bikes in an effort to get more leverage over the bike. Fitters have discovered this idea is flawed. Shortening crank arms relieves some of the pressure caused by ducking into a tight aero position, and long arms can be discomforting. Translated, short crank arms allow for a lower aero position without impairing the rider. Rotor offers its stiff and light 3D+ crankset with exceptionally short crank arms (down to 150mm), making it a perfect upgrade for anyone seeking a little more speed or comfort in the aero position.