Triathlete’s 2020 Tri Bike Review Buyer’s Guide

Our 2020 tri bike review buyer's guide rates and compares eight new(ish) tri bikes with a big list of criteria to help you decide which one is right for your style, comfort-level, wallet, and racing distance.


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While we haven’t seen a lot of new triathlon bikes out in 2020 (thank you very much, coronavirus), bikes have still been flying off the shelves at local shops. The last few years have also shown a big shift by bike brands to the direct-to-consumer model, made even better by a pandemic that certainly discourages visits to a shop. For our big 2020 tri bike review buyer’s guide we looked at eight triathlon bikes that have either been released recently or maybe overlooked in other reviews. For the first time ever, we’ve also included a rating system that evaluates different aspects of a tri bike to help you find your perfect bike at a glance. (More on our rating criteria below.) Along with the comparison roundup below, each tri bike also has a longer review that goes into more depth. This year, all bikes were ridden and reviewed by one single tester, and while the bikes were loaned out by the brands represented, all bikes were selected independently by the tester without promotional consideration or brand input.

We base our tri bike review ratings off the following criteria:

Fit Range – This is not only the number of sizes offered, but also the range from smallest to largest. Obviously tri bikes can (and should) be adapted by a good fitter, and a fitter should ideally be consulted even before purchasing a bike, but this rating details how much adjustment (I.e., aerobar spacers, alternate saddle positions, etc) from the frame’s baseline could be required to get an optimal fit.

Value – Here we look at the value behind the complete bike, looking mostly at components, but also frame quality as well. This is not just absolute price from low to high.

Comfort – This rating specifically judges the complete bike on vertical compliance, not fit or handling. Keep in mind that more than just a frame can affect comfort, and since we evaluate the complete bike as it’s sold, other components can come into play—wheels, tires, even bars.

Acceleration Stiffness – This is another rating that looks at the sum of the parts on the complete build. Here we’re evaluating how the bike responds under high torque (standing up over a hill or out of a corner) and high wattage (powering over a roller). Again, other components aside from the frame can come into play here.

Handling Tightness – Separate from stability, this is the rating that scores how sharp the bike cuts corners. This isn’t necessarily a positive thing if you prefer a bike that sweeps more reliably through corners, as opposed to a bike that can turn on a dime. 5/5 here is very tight handling; 1 / 5 is a bike that swoops out on corners but might be more consistent.    

Stability – This rating looks at how stable a bike feels in the aerobars in crosswinds and on descents. A more stable bike will require less input from the rider to stay straight, but again, it looks at the complete bike as a whole—wheels included.

Best Distance – This is a quick look at which distance tri the bike will be good for, out of the box. Of course pretty much all the bikes we review work for almost any distance, but these distances are where each complete bike—as shipped—will shine.

Ease of Assembly – With so many bike brands using the direct-to-consumer model, we rate how easy the home build would be for the average triathlete. Here, we’re assuming a low level of mechanical skill—for instance, the person we’re rating for could change a tire, but maybe not adjust a derailleur.

2020 Tri Bike Reviews

A2 Bikes Speed Phreak

$2,800, 20lbs. 4oz., Ultegra Build, Vision Aluminum
a2bikes.com

Fit Range – 3/5
Value – 3/5
Comfort – 3/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 2/5
Handling Tightness – 3/5
Stability – 3/5
Best Distance – 70.3 and under
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) – 2/5

At first glance, the Speed Phreak looks like a screaming deal for a full Ultegra mechanical setup for under $3,000, due to their direct-to-consumer model. The ride is decidedly middle-of-the-road, a little more bumpiness over high frequency road roughness and smoother over big hits. The Speed Phreak also has a medium amount of stability—frankly surprising in a setup that’s likely for beginner to intermediate triathletes, as they might be more interest in something that tracks easier but might not cut corners as sharp. Of course for under $3,000, you can’t expect the world, but acceleration stiffness was definitely not a priority. While the value is good for this bike, it’s tough to argue that this is a bike that rides like something over $3k either.

Full Tri Bike Review Here

Cervelo P-Series

$3,200, 20 lbs. 12oz., Vision Aluminum wheels
cervelo.com

Fit Range – 4/5
Value – 4/5
Comfort – 3/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 3/5
Handling Tightness – 3/5
Stability – 4/5
Best Distance – 70.3 and under

This was one of our favorite bikes this year simply because the frameset and fit borrow from Cervelo’s excellent upper-end bikes. In particular, you find a lot of similar lines between the P-Series and the new P5 for far less than half price. Though it’s unfortunate that Cervelo’s cheapest bike is now over $3,000, this bike has great bones off which you could build a long-course slayer with the right wheels and front end. This is a bike that handles well, is moderately comfortable, and is stable enough for beginners and tight enough/goes low enough for advanced riders. All of the main ingredients are here, it’s just a matter of upgrading the build when and if you can.

Full Tri Bike Review Here

Ventum Z

$3,500, 22lbs. 5oz. (without hydration), 105 Mechanical, Enve carbon wheels
ventumracing.com

Fit Range – 3/5
Value – 4/5
Comfort – 4/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 2/5
Handling Tightness – 3/5
Stability – 4/5
Best Distance – 70.3+
Ease of Assembly – 4/5

Hitting into the same price range as the P-Series, this is a great alternative bike for those who want aero and comfort above all else, but who aren’t ready to spend lots of cash on a non-double-diamond frame. Despite the major heft behind this bike and lack of acceleration stiffness, comfort over all bumps, stability—even on bumpy roads at speed—and value scored super high. Also, like the Canyon and the QR, Ventum is a triathlete’s bike, coming equipped with an excellent 1.4L hydration box built into the bike’s top tube—a feature that will certainly come in handy as it doesn’t take up any valuable real estate on the front end (which also helps avoid any fully loaded handling issues). While it won’t slice and dice tight short courses, this is a great bike for going long at any level.

Full Tri Bike Review Here

Ceepo Katana Disc

$6,000, 19 lbs. 11oz. (size L), Ultegra Di2 components, Vision Metron 55/81 wheels
Ceepobike.com

Fit Range – 3/5
Value – 3/5
Comfort – 2/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 3/5
Handling Tightness – 2/5
Stability – 3/5
Best Distance – 70.3+

This was an interesting bike, as you don’t see too many Ceepos in the U.S., and as such it was a pretty different ride than the rest of the group. We liked the level of comfort on high-frequency chatter, particularly at low speeds, but on bigger bumps at higher speed it wasn’t as smooth. The fit was definitely on the less-aggressive side, per size, which is a good thing for many triathletes, but it would be hard to get super low without sizing down and making adjustments. At this price, we were a little surprised to see cable-pull disc brakes, but the rest of the build was quite good. Acceleration was definitely middle of the road, leaning slightly toward soft, but nothing that raised concerns.

Full Tri Bike Review Here

Canyon Speedmax CF SLX 8.0 SL

$7,500, 18 lbs. 12 oz. (size M), Ultegra Di2, DT Swiss ARC 1400 Dicut wheels (60mm/80mm)
canyon.com

Fit Range – 2/5
Value – 4/5
Comfort – 4/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 3/5
Handling Tightness – 3/5
Stability – 4/5
Best Distance – All
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) – 4/5

Topping the charts for its incredible value, the SLX 8.0 SL may not be cheap, but it’s still a bike that could easily cost $10k elsewhere. Not only is this model dripping with well-chosen parts, but the frame itself is super lightweight and well-balanced. Even when in the aerobars on big descents in crosswinds, this setup didn’t blow around—despite the deep 60mm/80mm wheelset. Though it wasn’t the snappiest accelerator out of corners, it made up for it in comfort, and it felt like a bike you’d come off in T2 feeling fresh and ready to run. Great details like a stealth top tube compartment, included hydration, and the stock Ergon grips (which probably go some way towards its comfort over high-frequency chatter) really show this bike was well thought out. If only a wider size range was available, this would be a clear winner.

Full Tri Bike Review Here

TriRig Omni

$8,000, 19lbs. 15oz. (size L), SRAM Rival with FLO 6/9 wheels (60mm/90mm)
tririg.com

Fit Range – 2/5
Value – 3/5
Comfort – 4/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 2/5
Handling Tightness – 2/5
Stability – 4/5
Best Distance – 70.3+

While QR’s PRSix2 Disc is certainly a bike for any triathlete (looking to spend the money), TriRig’s is almost the opposite. This is a bike very specifically made for athletes looking to go long, for maximum comfort, and for maximum aerodynamics—ease of use be damned. With a very narrow range of sizings and a very unique ride that feels very flexy (likely due to its missing downtube non-double-diamond design), it’s not a bike for everyone, but it’s exactly the bike for someone who wants a carbon rocket that goes fast and flowy in a straight line. The flexiness doesn’t necessarily make it a climbing noodle, but it does create some unusual oscillations over rolling bumps at high speeds—yet nothing that would negatively affect its excellent straight-line stability score.

Full Tri Bike Review Here

Argon 18 118+

$8,500, 19 lbs., 4 oz. (size M), Ultegra Di2 Build, HED Jet 6/9 wheels
argon18.com

Fit Range – 4/5
Value – 3/5
Comfort – 4/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 4/5
Handling Tightness – 4/5
Stability – 4/5
Best Distance – All Distances

After having ridden some previous models of Argons that were super slice-and-dice, but not so great over longer rides/races, this newer, lighter, and lower model was a pleasant surprise. While the non-adjustable basebars are terrifyingly low (aside from flipping them), the tightness of the frame works well for handling, horizontal stiffness, and somehow comfort. Even the most flexible and aggressive triathlete will likely need a handful of aerobar spacers just to get into an acceptable position on this bike, as long as you know that going in, it’s not a big deal. Though this is touted as their most aggressive-handling bike for tight and technical corners (it is), the setup is surprisingly stable on long downhills in the aerobars, even with the HED Jet 60mm/90mm combo this build comes with.

Full Tri Bike Review Here

QR PRsix2 Disc

$9,800, 21 lbs. (size 54), Ultegra Di2, HED Vanquish 6 GP wheels
quintanarootri.com

Fit Range – 4/5
Value – 3/5
Comfort – 4/5
Acceleration Stiffness – 3/5
Handling Tightness – 3/5
Stability – 4/5
Best Distance – 70.3+
Ease of Assembly (if direct to consumer) – 5/5

Of course it’s no surprise that at almost $10k, this bike is ready to race right out of the box, but it literally is. Quintana Roo has perfected the direct-to-consumer model by taking advantage of the opportunity to offer a wide range of hand-painted colors and making sure that each bike is 98% assembled and ready to ride upon delivery. Not only that, but the PRsix2 Disc has high ratings in fit options, comfort, and stability—all things that would make this a fantastic long-course bike from beginner to advanced (assuming you have the $$). The built-in and non-proprietary hydration system is another huge ready-to-race bonus. The saddest part about this setup is that it’s not offered in a more budget-friendly build, but other than that, this bike resides near the top of the pile for 2020.

Full Tri Bike Review Here