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Only got room in your heart (and wallet…and garage) for one bike? We pitted two super-sleek aero road bikes against each other to find the best-valued option for racing, training, and (gasp!) even roadie rides and races.
Trek Madone 9.0 W/Vision TriMax Carbon Aerobars
What: The Madone 9.0 boasts the same design as Trek’s higher-end range, which has been hailed by independent publications as one of the fastest aero road setups available. Bontrager Aeolus Comp carbon-faired (aluminum rim) tubeless wheels sit beneath an Ultegra 11-speed setup with Trek’s unique aero integrated brake calipers. Comfy curved bends and armrests on the TriMax bars round off a well-balanced package.
Pros: The very comfy carbon layup and Trek’s interesting IsoSpeed decoupler—which acts almost like very slight suspension—made this ride crazy-smooth even on rough roads. The relaxed geometry and tall headtube created confidence-inspiring stability in the aerobars, even on descents. Cables and un-aero edges were invisible.
Cons: The same features that made the 9.0 so comfortable also made this bike slightly less aggressive through corners and 180-degree turns or when jumping out of the saddle to power up short climbs. The high head tube also makes an aggressive TT position dif cult to reproduce without some serious modifications.
This Is For: Triathletes looking for a smooth ride and straight-line stability in a super- aero package.
Canyon Aeroad CF SLX Disc 8.0 W/Hed Cliplite Aerobars
What: Boasting Canyon’s remarkably spec’d build and an aggressive geometry, this setup—with the addition of Hed’s superlight clip-on bars—is light and nimble. This version of the Aeroad comes stock with Shimano Ultegra hydraulic brakes, full Ultegra 11-speed components, and a set of race-ready Reynolds Strike SLG full-carbon tubeless wheels all for less than $4k. Add in the flip-up armrest ClipLites and there’s no reason for upgrades.
Pros: An unbeatable price-to-spec ratio. For a bike with this build, you’d usually end up spending another $1k. Because of the parts draped on this already svelte frame, this setup floated up hills and the stiff carbon accelerated super quick. A shorter, more aggressive head tube means that you can get quite low in your TT position compared to other road frames, and the disc brake setup gave incredible confidence in corners.
Cons: To cut cost, Canyon sells directly to consumers, but small issues with the seatpost clamp highlighted the fact that sometimes it’s nice to have the shop who sold it to you at the ready. Also, the admittedly aggressive position made it slightly more dif cult to hold a straight line in the aerobars.
This Is For: Speedy short-course racers and those who want to actually do cycling races (think: crits).
Trek: If you’re looking for a bike that can truly do it all—from sprints to Ironman events, group-rides to centuries—the Madone 9.0 is the best bet for the vast majority of triathletes.