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2012 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Bikes Part Two

The Triathlete Buyer’s Guide magazine is out on newsstands, and we're showing you the complete bike section right now.

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The Triathlete Buyer’s Guide magazine is out on newsstands, and we’re showing you the complete bike section right now. Check out half of the bikes featured in the guide below and look at the other half in part oneMore from the 2012 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide.

Quintana Roo Dulce $2,300

The Dulce’s hallmark is a comfortable ride. Its geometry fits a wide range of true triathlon setups without forcing the rider into an aggressive position, and the frame creates an exceptionally smooth ride feel by quieting road vibration. Easier gearing and a long-nose saddle created for women are the differences between the women’s-specific Dulce and QR’s equally priced men’s model. Quintana Roo designed the Dulce’s geometry for a much more conservative riding style than its higher-priced frames, making it a great match for riders getting accustomed to riding a triathlon bike. Quintanarootri.com

Trek Speed Concept 7.0 $2,630

Take the Speed Concept frame shape ridden by Julie Dibens and Chris Lieto, remove the integrated fork and replace it with a standard version and you have the Speed Concept 7 Series. Everything from the head tube back—frame tube shapes, geometry, rear brake, cable routing and other features—is identical except for the carbon itself. The simple front-end design makes this version easier to travel with and repair than the pros’ bike. Built with Sram Apex components and a Bontrager cockpit, the 7.0 delivers high-end performance and ride quality at a moderate price point. It combines impressive bottom bracket stiffness with a versatile handling feel. Trekbikes.com

Jamis Xenith T $2,500

The Jamis Xenith T offers all the essentials of an outstanding triathlon bike for athletes looking to get the most out of their purchase. The bike’s tube shapes are airfoils certified by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, so you know that the Xenith T will be lethal in the wind. The front brake is tucked into a large, bulbous cavity at the back of the fork. The Profile Design T2 aerobar allows for a good amount of adjustability, so athletes will be able to easily make small changes to their position. The 78-degree seat tube angle allows for a textbook triathlon position because it helps position a rider far forward relative to the crankset. Jamisbikes.com

Valdora PHX-2 $2,900

The Valdora PHX-2 is an aerodynamic frame made specifically for athletes who ride in a fairly upright triathlon position. The unique seat post has an extremely wide range of adjustability, allowing athletes to orient themselves in their optimal position. The PHX-2 is available with a variety of build options and comes in three sizes, a further testament to the wide range of fitting options that each individual size provides. Standard brake calipers (front and rear) will be appreciated by athletes who want a reliable and easily serviceable bike. Pedaling out of tight turns, the PHX-2 feels snappy, yet the frame still does a good job of smoothing out even the roughest of roads. Valdoracycles.com

Look 576 RSP $2,899

Many tri bike makers are now finally applying bike fit concepts that Look implemented years ago. The 576 is designed to fit riders that don’t mimic pro-style positions. It positions the aerobars close to the rider without using a stack of spacers (which compromises ride quality and stability) to match the style of position preferred by the vast majority of racers. It lacks flashy aerodynamic features, but the elegant frame has an incredibly smooth ride and corners with a very deliberate and steady feel. Traditional brake calipers and stem make the 576 easy to travel with and maintain. Its geometry, ride and functionality make it one of our favorite mid-priced tri bikes. Lookcycle.com

Cannondale Slice Women’s 2 Force $3,100

Chrissie Wellington rode this frame to numerous victories, including four Ironman World Championships. The mix of Sram Force components provides solid and reliable shifting and braking, while the standard non-integrated brake calipers make the bike easily serviceable. It carves predictably through corners yet is sufficiently nimble to track through on-course U-turns. The Vision Vector aerobar is adjustable, allowing athletes to fine-tune their position without necessarily needing to purchase a new stem or different bar. The compact gearing found on this beauty will allow for easier hill climbing. Cannondale.com

Scott Plasma 10 $3,800

With top-notch shifting, a versatile fit range, an aerodynamic frame and precise steering, the Scott Plasma 10 is the complete package. It lacks the flair of integrated components, but its conservative geometry is an ideal match for a tall aerobar position. It also allows riders preferring a lower aerobar position to eliminate extraneous spacers. Some bike manufacturers are moving away from the trend of tightly integrated tri bikes for the functionality of a tried-and-true system. If you want a high-performance bike that’s part of this movement toward functionality, the Plasma is your ride.
Scott-sports.com

Kestrel Airfoil Pro SL $2,499

Kestrel has been producing a seat tube-less triathlon bike nearly as long as the sport has been around, but the classic design still has ride quality no other frame can match. It feels less laterally stiff than typical bikes when kicking over hills, but it really shines when sitting in the aero position. The frame eliminates all traces of road vibration through the saddle—it’s remarkably smooth. If you want a comfortable ride without sacrificing much lateral stiffness, the Airfoil Pro SL is the best option at any price. The component spec is good enough to get the job done and makes this one-of-a-kind frame surprisingly affordable. Kestrelbicycles.com

Orbea Ordu SDR $4,399

Incredible stiffness and precise handling are the hallmarks of the Orbea Ordu. If the bike’s demanding geometry matches your position, few tri bikes ride as nicely as this one. The Shimano Dura-Ace components complement the highly functional frame design with impeccable shifting and braking performance. It lacks narrow tube shapes and front-end integration featured on some competing bikes, but the frame’s ride experience is truly cutting-edge. Orbea.com

Quintana Roo Illicito $3,200 (frameset)

Since the Illicito is designed solely for triathlon, Quintana Roo’s chief of product design and development, Brad Devaney, decided to eliminate one of the frame tubes—the non-drive seatstay—to reduce aerodynamic drag. He bolstered the chain stays to compensate for the loss of stiffness, but some tires can barely graze the frame unless the wheel is backed out far on the horizontal dropouts. The Illicito’s geometry is perfect for triathletes riding a very forward position with a near-horizontal torso. Its saddle can be moved far forward, and the standard aerobar attachment system allows for a huge range of adjustment on top of the frame’s already aggressive layout. Quintanarootri.com

Parlee TT $6,400

The elegantly classical design of the Parlee TT—sharp airfoil tubeshapes and a traditional stem-and-steerer tube aerobar attachment system—is complemented by the frame’s cutting-edge geometry. Parlee effectively creates two different bikes by offering the TT with standard geometry and a second complete line of “tall” frames. The “tall” sizes have 2cm of additional head tube length, which allows the bike to fit a wider range of realistic positions without sacrificing stability or stiffness. Both versions handle exceptionally well, riding the border between stability and agility. Despite the name TT, this bike has a steep seat tube angle and true triathlon-specific geometry. Parleecycles.com

Trek Speed Concept 9.5 WSD $6,060

The 9.5 WSD combines Trek’s innovative fit system with the ideal components for performance and value. The Shimano Ultegra drivetrain shifts as crisply as any mechanical drivetrain yet helps keep the price of this pro-level bike below many comparable integrated tri bikes. Trek’s hidden center-pull brakes function well, but can be more difficult to service than external calipers. This women’s specific model introduces a smaller size, XS, than the men’s version, but the S and M size frames have the same fit dimensions. In addition to color, the Fizik Vitesse Tri saddle is the only other women’s-specific change. Trekbikes.com

BMC TM01 $4,999

The TM01 replaces the stem with a series of swappable, adjustable shims. This unique system creates a moderately wide range of adjustment, although not quite as wide as a traditional stem system, with an exceptionally streamlined assembly. Three of the four frame sizes share a moderately aggressive geometry style, but the fourth is designed for a much more upright riding style. In addition to the TM01’s unique positioning style, it sports all the aerodynamic bells and whistles expected of a top-flight tri bike. Concealed V-brakes and a head tube fairing complement UCI-legal frame tubes. Bmc-racing.com

Wilier TwinFoil $13,999

The TwinFoil has the style and panache that you would expect from a top-level Italian brand, topped with unique technology. It boasts fully integrated hidden brake calipers, but the truly unique aspect of this bike is the front fork. The TwinFoil fork integrates with the stem and handlebar and juts far to both sides of the head tube. This unique strutted design enhances the bike’s handling by stiffening the front end laterally. The solid road feel and stiff bottom bracket will make this a favorite of advanced triathletes. The frame’s geometry is for a true triathlon position, but the integrated aerobar system limits adjustability slightly. Wilier-usa.com

Blue Triad SL $9,800

The Triad SL blends the adjustability of a traditional front end with a smoothly integrated head tube fairing and aerobar. Traditional round spacers are replaced by teardrop spacers that stack on top of the head tube to adjust bar height, just like a standard system. The bar is the only fit difference between this system and a standard road system. Blue’s own Triad SL Tri Aerobar is the only one compatible with the frame, and the stem length can’t change without buying a new bar. Its pads and extensions can both be adjusted to suit many different fits. This system combines with Blue’s geometry to fit an incredibly wide range of triathletes on a cleanly integrated and streamlined bike. Rideblue.com

Ridley Dean $3,795 (Frameset)

This frame is arrestingly beautiful in person. The swooping tubes, integrated seat post and muscular nosecone make the Dean stand out in any transition area. The integrated seat mast must be cut to length, and it has 20mm of height adjustment. The fixed post design prevents the Dean from fitting in some travel cases and makes resale tricky, but the bike performs on the road. The stiff front end helps the bike carve quickly through tight bends, and it accelerates without a hint of flex. Geometry prevents an extremely steep saddle position, but roughly 79 degrees is attainable. Ridley-bikes.com

More from the 2012 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide.