2016 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Bikes
A look at the 17 bikes featured in the 2016 Triathlete Buyer's Guide.
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The draw: Most impressive update
The fifth generation of the Ordu is the fastest, lightest, most user-friendly Ordu yet. The blades of the fork splay outward to reduce turbulent airflow between the wheel and frame. The fork is also designed to integrate seamlessly with the center-bolt TriRig Omega X brakes, which supply abundant stopping power and are simple to adjust (a magnetic cover pops off to expose the calipers). The Ordu feels light, snappy and handles well on hilly, technical roads. Storage boxes can attach to bolts placed on the back of the frame and top tube. The cockpit isn’t integrated, but the stem tucks nicely into the frame for a clean front end. The only flaw with this bike’s specs is the absence of Di2 shifters on the basebar.
The draw: More affordable speed
The Trek Speed Concept 7.0 may not come with all of the features of its 9 series counterparts, but with the same frame shapes and integration options, the 7.0 is perfect for the athlete looking for a superbike on a budget. One of the main differences between the 7 and 9 series is the use of a traditional (rather than integrated) aerobar, which may not be as fast but can make travel much easier. The specs are rounded out with Shimano 105 components, a compact (50/34) crankset paired with an 11–28 cassette and Bontrager tubeless-ready wheels.
The draw: 1x drivetrain
While the Shiv has been around for four years now, the 2016 Pro Race X1 brings new features to a proven frame design. Few manufacturers have adopted 1x (pronounced “one by”) drivetrains into their lineups, so the implementation of SRAM’s Force 1 groupset sets this Shiv apart. A 50T chainring paired with an 11–28 cassette make the Shiv capable of climbing most hills but may not be the best choice for mountainous areas. While 1x drivetrains aren’t always ideal for hilly terrain, they do bring simplicity, reliability and make travel easier. This, combined with Roval 60mm carbon wheels, S-Works Turbo tires, the SWAT (storage, water, air, tools) Fuelselage integrated hydration system, and SWAT Fuelcell make it race-ready without any upgrades.
The draw: Lightweight superbike that handles well
The Argon 18 E-119 Tri+ has just about every feature that a superbike should possess. It’s lighter than most of its counterparts (18.9 pounds in size medium with all accessories and 17.2 pounds without), is plenty aerodynamic (a UCI-illegal frame, integrated brakes and aerobars make it reportedly 15 percent faster than the E-118 Next), has a stiff bottom bracket, top-tier ride qualities, and has well-thought-out nutrition and hydration options. The Tri+ also allows clearance for 25mm tires, is fairly easy to prepare for travel and comes stock with top-of-the-line parts. Another noteworthy feature is the E-119’s ability to tilt the aerobar extensions, a quality that many bikes lack. Triathletes with a flexible budget looking to buy the ultimate race bike will not be let down by the full-featured E-119 Tri+.
The draw: A more practical super bike
One of the only knocks against Felt’s uber fast IA frame was its lack of adjustability due to the basebar’s fixed position and its five-digit price tag. Both problems are solved with the IA 16, Felt’s newest addition, which features the same massively deep tube shapes for a wind-cheating advantage with a more practical non-integrated cockpit that gives the bike more adjustability without sacrificing much speed. The price of the bike is reasonable thanks to Shimano’s value-heavy 105 components and Felt’s use of in-house parts for the cockpit, wheels and tires. Thoughtful consideration was given to the bike’s component specs with a climber-friendly 50/34 FSA Omega crankset and 11–28 Shimano cassette.
The draw: Hydration and storage solutions create aero gains
The all-new Trinity has a sleek front end that’s as practical as it is fast. The integrated water bottle holds up to 25 ounces of liquid and, according to Giant, the bike is significantly faster with the bottle and top tube storage box attached. The front brake is tucked behind the fork, and the rear brake is hidden near the bottom bracket. The Giant-branded cockpit is comfortable and adjustable enough to accommodate a wide fit range. Only one shift button on each aero extension makes it difficult to enjoy the full functionality of the Shimano Ultegra Di2 components.
The draw: White-hot speed
The TTE is Boardman’s fastest frame design, and the 9.2 version with Shimano Ultegra 6800 components puts this bike in the range of attainable. Up front, the one-piece bar and stem blend seamlessly into the frame, minimizing the amount of cables exposed to the wind. The TRP brakes are also hidden away, integrated into the fork and underneath the chainstays. Nearly every triathlon frame on the market is now using truncated tube shapes, but the TTE stands out from the pack with a teardrop-shaped downtube. The bike comes with Boardman-branded 35mm deep aluminum wheels and 25mm Vittoria tires.
The draw: Integration with adjustability
BMC didn’t update the 2016 version of the TM01, but this UCI-legal bike has proven to be a fully capable machine in races against the clock. This bike’s slippery profile comes from integrated front and rear brakes and a cockpit that blends into the frame while providing dozens of personalized configurations thanks to optional added spacers. What’s missing from this bike are triathlon-specific features like additional storage and hydration accessories. And for $5,000, triathletes may find better value and performance in bikes outfitted with electronic components. The frame and Profile Design Ozero basebar with T2+ extensions are Di2-compatible if you want to upgrade.
2016 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide on Triathlete.com is presented by PowerBar
The draw: Wind-cheating frame design
Riders can experience Quintana Roo’s long history and cumulative knowledge of aerodynamics through clever tube shapes that trick the wind to make the PRfive a magician of sorts in the way it controls airflow. The chainstay is beefed up to push wind from the more turbulent drive side to the cleaner non-drive side. This design also shields the rear brake while increasing the power transferred at the bottom bracket. This bike feels comfortable and nimble on the road and is ready to race out of the box with a carbon Profile Design cockpit, ISM saddle and Reynolds Strike SLG wheelset.
The draw: User-friendly speed with high value
The Slice is a well-rounded machine. It may not be the fastest bike if you’re comparing wind tunnel results, but it boasts a smooth ride with predictable handling and a wide fit range. It is also one of the easiest bikes to adjust and travel with because it opts for a traditional front end rather than an integrated cockpit. Not many bikes can simultaneously earn the title of beginner-friendly while also being fast enough for world-class pros like Andy Potts. The component specs make the Slice 105 a tremendous value, although the straight FSA extensions force an aggressive position and may need to be swapped for a more ergonomic set of clip-ons.
$2,350 (frameset), Ceepo.com
The draw: Build your own specs
For those who already have a preferred groupset or are looking to save money by only upgrading their frame, the Ceepo Venom is a great choice. The Venom is third in line in the Ceepo lineup, and while it may not be as aerodynamic as its siblings, it was designed to be more compliant and user friendly. Oftentimes with compliance comes sloppy handling and poor acceleration, but the Ceepo made sure to beef up the chainstays and optimize the design in order to combat this. Coming in at 1350 grams (size medium) for the frameset, it’s also very light.
The draw: A solid tri bike debut
Although Diamondback is often thought of as an older BMX brand, its new lineup of road and triathlon bikes has come a long way from the brand’s roots. In order to bring a superbike to the market that could compete with the top brands, Diamondback teamed up with the late aero guru Steve Hed on the design. This makes for a fast frame and nice component spec, featuring HED Corsair bars and HED Jet carbon clincher wheels. Not only did it feel fast, but according to Diamondback’s wind tunnel results, it’s on par with other superbikes such as the Trek Speed Concept. The Serios is also one of the stiffer bikes tested. Its 13/8-inch tapered fork (as compared to a traditional 11/8 inch) and a PF30 bottom bracket promote predictable handling and good acceleration.
The draw: A fast, comfortable ride
The Dimond Xpress brings new technologies to the beam bikes of the past. There are two major advantages to beam bikes: comfort and speed. In the aerobars, the Xpress handles rough roads flawlessly, has great straight-line speed and feels plenty stiff during out-of-the-saddle climbing. Hard, seated climbing promotes some flex in the beam, but nothing too noteworthy. The Xpress is also the least expensive Di2-spec’d bike tested, so it offers a great value. Another cool feature about the Dimond line is that the bikes are all hand-built in the U.S.
The draw: Straight-line speed
With its non-traditional tube shapes, the Ventum One Ultegra Di2 is one of the most exotic bikes on the market. The removal of the downtube may add to the aerodynamics of the bike, but the overall stiffness is compromised, negatively affecting handling. What the Ventum lacks in handling, though, it makes up for in pure speed. The speed of the bike clearly present itself in flat, windy situations. Being the heaviest of the tested bikes at 21.9 pounds (size large), the Ventum is best suited for flatter courses where aero efficiency is the No. 1 priority. One plus that long-course athletes will appreciate is the massive 1.4-liter integrated water bottle that is integrated into the top tube. With Zipp 60 clincher wheels, Di2 and an ISM saddle, the Ventum One Ultegra Di2 is ready to race right out of the box.
The draw: Proven speed
One of the most popular triathlon bikes ever made takes a few design cues from the speedy P5 but is more accessible with a less complicated cockpit and standard Shimano Ultegra brakes. While there are cheaper bikes that come with electronic components, none can match the P3’s impressive reputation for offering an ideal blend of speed and comfort. The P3 is well spec’d with a highly adjustable 3T Vola cockpit and the popular ISM Prologue saddle, which is well padded for long-course comfort. The Mavic Cosmic Elite wheels are great for training, but athletes will likely desire a more aerodynamic wheelset for racing.
8,200 euros (U.S. prices not final at press time), Canyon.com
The draw: Long course ready
Integration and storage are the stand-out features of the new Speedmax CF SLX, the bike on which Jan Frodeno won the 2015 Ironman World Championship. The removable Profile Design water bottle between the aerobars has a slim profile, and a top tube-mounted storage box has plenty of room for race-day nutrition. Canyon partnered with Ergon to engineer the cockpit, which features super plush arm pads and grips instead of bar tape to reduce road vibrations. A gearbox integrated into the top tube holds two CO2 canisters, two tire levers and a tube. Additional bottle cages attach to the seat post with an adapter to add one or two extra bottles. The adjustable fork allows you to tailor the amount of rake to make the bike twitchier for technical courses.
The draw: The first female-focused performance bike
The Avow Advanced is the lowest-end build in the Liv line, the first tri bikes designed for women (Giant is the brother company). The three rides each have a cool, eye-catching paint scheme that is a refreshing departure from the typical women’s-specific pink accents. The lightweight Avow has a high range of adjustability, which was a design focus, and it is equipped with a mix of Shimano Ultegra and 105 components (the next level up features electronic Di2). Good news for petite women—the bike comes in XS (48cm) as well as S and M frame sizes.