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Triathlete’s 2020 Design Awards: Best Trickle-Down Design

The winner of the Best Trickle-Down Design award is...

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While other sports wait for trends to come to them, triathlon has a long, rich history of living at the cutting edge of technology and design. Multisport has led the pack in breaking trends, and while not every tri design is a home run, our sport is a petri dish for exciting innovation. We sat down with our editors and a team of gear experts to whittle through the most exciting and impactful people, products, and more from the last year to see who is truly deserving of Triathlete’s designs of the year. We’ll be announcing the winners one by one here on Pick up the March/April issue for a complete list of winners (and don’t forget to enter to win the bike featured on the cover). The winner of the Best Trickle-Down Design award is…

Cervelo P-Series

It’s been a long time since Cervélo updated its well-loved (and well-worn) P2 and P3 lines. While fans of the Canadian brand may be more focused on last year’s exciting high-end releases like the PX-Series and the new P5, the bikes that the majority of triathletes buy still cost well under $10k. Cue the new P-Series. 

Released last year to less fanfare than its expensive cousins, the P-Series has more in common with the new über bikes than it does with the old P2 and P3 it effectively replaces. In particular, the new P-Series shares many of the aerodynamic lines and high-level design from the new P5—one of the better tri/TT bikes, in terms of aesthetics and handling, that Cervelo has ever released. 

The big “win” in terms of trickle-down design here is that the P-Series gets to borrow a lot of those high-end features (18% stiffer at the BB and a 30% improvement in torsional stiffness, for instance). While the trickled version may weigh a bit more and not have exactly the vertical compliance and torsional stiffness that the P5 has, even the lowest build comes with some great built-in hydration and storage options that are designed into the aerodynamics of the bike—also very similar to the new P5 that we may all lust after but never be able to afford. 

While the new P-Series starts at $3,200 for a complete Shimano 105 build with mechanical disc brakes (note that this frameset is disc only!), it’s unfortunate that Cervélo no longer has a new tri bike for less than $3k—though some retailers likely have the old P2 and P3s on markdown. Of course, the upside here is that Cervélo’s lowest-end bike now more closely mirrors their highest end for the first time in a while. What does this all mean for everyday triathletes? A better handling bike at a fraction of the second-mortgage-triggering P5.

Honorable Mention: Wahoo Elemnt Roam

There’s a very good reason that Wahoo has made no true hardware changes to its very popular Elemnt computer since its release a few years ago: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While other cycling GPS computer brands may update their line pretty much every year, Wahoo has basically left their well-made high-end computer alone. Sure, there have been software updates that improve upon features (and a mini version in the Elemnt Bolt), but the Elemnt has remained roughly the same since its release. Which was fine because time and time again the Elemnt was a favorite, particularly among triathletes, for its simplicity, its rock-solid connectivity, and seamless updates. Other GPS computers may have had some fancy functions and gadgets, but the Elemnt was reliable and very very easy to use.

But of course times change, and the Elemnt needed to catch up to the Joneses in a way it couldn’t with simple software updates. Fortunately the Elemnt Roam appeared as a way to pump a little life into the slightly dated-looking (and feature-basic) Elemnt. While not a monster upgrade, Wahoo did what it does best and moved slowly and deliberately with its choices: The Roam finally got a color screen and finally got some on-board route creation and navigation that the previously tethered versions of the Elemnt so desperately needed. The ability to create and change routes on the fly certainly brought the Elemnt line back into step with its competitors and the color screen—and two LED strips—helped liven things up a bit.

In this case, it’s hard to say if the tech was trickle down or trickle up, but either way, fans of Wahoo’s computers can finally get behind a decent upgrade to both the body and guts of their favorite Elemnt line. For $380 (versus the $300 for the old Elemnt), expect to see the same great features and ease-of-use with some bells and whistles that help not hurt.