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Buyer’s Guide 2010: Bikes: Go Fast or Go Home

There's never been a more exciting time to look for a new triathlon bike.

Speedy Triathlon Bikes

There’s never been a more exciting time to be looking for a new triathlon bike. With many of the top cycle companies desperately trying to equip their professional tour riders with the ultimate in aerodynamic race machines, the trickle-down effect to the triathlon market has been incredible. Aerodynamic carbon fibre frames remain the standard for triathlon bikes these days, with aero features like hidden brakes and integrated head-set/ fork/ aerobar combinations that both cheat the wind and, well, look kind of cool, too.

Crono Pro

Thanks to the on-going success of Aquila’s top-of-the-line Chrono Pro, the Canadian-based company has chosen not to try and bring a new frame into the incredibly competitive high-end triathlon market this year, opting instead to invest in some slick new road designs for 2010 and continue to offer the Chrono Pro. Which is hardly an issue if you’re looking for a comfortable, fast and aerodynamic frame that will work for virtually any distance. What separates the Aquila design from others on the market is the choice of a slightly more subdued 75-degree seat-tube angle, which makes the Chrono Pro a leader in all-around bike use. If you’re looking for a bike that will handle well through major mountain climbs and descents, but will also ride like a rocket on the flats, the Chrono Pro with its stiff, responsive and light 12K carbon weave frame and Shimano Dura Ace 10-speed components and Zipp wheels is a great choice at $6,999. (It’s also available with virtually any other gruppo, too. ) If you’re looking for a more budget-oriented bike, Aquila’s TC/ Tri Elite ($4,299) features 6/4 Titanium with carbon seat stays and offers one of the most comfortable rides available. The Cronometro ($1,699) provides an aluminum version of the Chrono Pro’s geometry – it’s stiff, but If you’re looking for a fast bike for shorter races is worth a look, too. Aquila’s even offers a kid’s tri bike which retails for $899.

Argon 18

Used by powerhouse Ain Alar Juhanson to turn in some of the fastest Ironman bike splits in Kona and Samantha McGlone, whose record speaks for itself, the award winning E-114’s innovative aerodynamic design offers “Oneness,” a structural fairing that “masks the headtube and brake from airflow and supports the handlebar, eliminating the stem.” Somehow the designers at Argon 18 managed to do all that while also providing a wide range of adjustment and maintaining stiffness, critical elements to a successful triathlon bike. The big changes to this year’s E-114 come in the front end “stem,” which is lighter and the unique geometry of the frame is also designed to allow you to stay on the aero bars whether you’re working hard or steering through corners. The super-stiff carbon fibre E-112, which shares many of the same features of the E-114 but has a traditional stem, remains in the line-up, too, along with the redesigned aluminum E-80 which offers a new carbon fork and internal cable routing.


It’s not just Lance and Alberto who were tearing up bike courses on the Trek Equinox TTX in 2009, Julie Dibens got hers just a couple of weeks before taking the world title at the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3, and Chris Lieto came oh-so-close to winning in Kona thanks to an incredible bike ride on his TTX 9.9 SSL, too. The flagship TTX 9.9 SSL ($8,700) includes Trek’s patented OCLV Red Carbon frame that’s been wind-tunnel tested to ensure its rocket-like tendencies, SRAM’s top-of-the-line Red gruppo and speedy OCLV Carbon Aeolus 6.5 wheels. Just for kicks we used Trek’s Project One customization page to build ourselves a tricked out version, managing to spend an extra $1,588 on the Warm Fire paint scheme (and personalized signature, no less), Dura Ace components and a slightly more expensive 2009 Aeolus 6.5 clincher that Steve Hed helped design, all for $10,887. On the stock front, a TTX 9.8 with the SRAM Force gruppo will set you back $5,700 and is available in a Women’s Specific Design (WSD). The TTX 9.5 ($3,900) and 9.0 and 9.0 WSD ($3,300) feature the SRAM Rival group and a Black Carbon OCLV frame. The Red Aluminum Equinox  (also available in WSD) shares the same design features of the TTX – the lowered down tube, the internal cable routing and the tri-specific geometry – and uses a combination of Rival and Bontrager components to keep the price at $2,200.


Even if you wanted to have an argument about whether or not the P4 is the most aerodynamic bike available (which we don’t), the bottom line is that cervelo’s frames have become the standard of reference for the rest of the industry. When it comes to the transition area in Kona, everyone else is playing catch up, too – cervelo remains well ahead of the rest of the competition in terms of the number of Ironman competitors riding their bikes. We raved about the P4 and the host of aerodynamic features (integrated aero bottle, hidden cables, etc.) last year and are anxiously awaiting the re-designed 2010 version of the bike. The frameset alone goes for $5,400. Set up with predominantly SRAM Red components and Easton Circuit wheels a P4 will cost $7,000, while the top-end P4 with SRAM Red Team components and a Zipp 1080/ 900 combination wheelset goes for $14,500.  The P3 remains the sport’s most popular triathlon bike thanks to the super-aero design. The P3 frameset goes for $3,300, a full bike with Ultegra components $4,150 and the Dura Ace outfitted P3 with Easton Circuit wheels costs $5,200. The P2 might not be quite as aerodynamic, but it’s pretty close, and the retail pricing of $2,300 (frameset) and $3,250 (Ultegra components) make this an attractive mid-level option. The aluminum version of the P2, the P1, also features Ultegra components and retails for $1,950.

S-Works Transition

While we’ve been able to drool over a few of Specialized’s road racing time trial oriented Shiv at a few triathlon events (Chris McCormack and Terenzo Bozzone rode the Shiv in Kona last year), it was interesting to see that Jordan Rapp, the winner of both Subaru Ironman Canada and Ford Ironman Arizona last year, rode the Transition to a course record bike split in Tempe. If you’re looking for a Specialized triathlon bike in 2010 you can’t go wrong to follow Rapp’s lead and jump on the triple monocoque carbon Transition with its oversized bottom bracket to ensure you’ll generate lots of power and innovative aerodynamic features like the centre-pull front brake and hidden rear brake to reduce drag. The Transition also features a carbon seat-post with three set back options to provide lots of fitting adjustment. The top-end S-Works is available as a “module” (frame, seat post, fork, and front brake) or a built-up bike ($9,029) that features Zipp 404 wheels, SRAM Red components and an aerodynamic FACT carbon monocoque fork along with Profile’s CX3 full carbon handlebar. The Transition Pro ($5,859) offers a combination of SRAM Force and Red components along with Mavic Cosmic Carbone wheels, while the Transition Expert ($4,379) comes equipped with Ultegra components and Mavic Cosmic Elite wheels. The intro level Transition Comp still offers a FACT 7r cabon triple monocoque frame along with all the aero features of the top-level Transition models (seat-post and aero front brake) with Shimano 105 components and retails for $3,549.

Plasma LTD

Scott’s incredible aero and carbon technology have seen the company develop some of the lightest and most aerodynamic bikes on the tri circuit these days. The Plasma 2 is nothing short of amazing, offering a silky-smooth ride on a frame that’s also stiff enough to provide lots of performance. The design of the bike utilizes an integrated fork to help the bike cut through the wind. The innovative frame design hides the wheels from the wind, reducing drag, while the specially designed aero carbon chainstays and integrated cable routing also help make this one of the most aerodynamic bikes available. The entire Plasma line utilizes the same Plasma 2 frame. The Plasma Ltd. ($10,299) comes with SRAM’s Red components, Profile’s CX3 full carbon aero bar and Zipp 420/ 620 wheels and weighs just 16.5 pounds. The Plasma 10 ($5,649) and 20 ($4,299) feature Dura Ace or Ultegra components and Shimano wheels.


Chrissie Wellington and Mirinda Carfrae finished first and second in Kona last year on their Cannondale Slice bicycles – a tribute both to their incredible talent, but also to the fact that Cannondale remains a major player in the triathlon bike world. The full-carbon slice frames come are available in two versions – the mid-range Intermediate-Mod and the top of the line Hi-Mod which is lighter. The Slice Hi-Mod ultimate ($14,500) has Zipp 808 and 1080 wheels, SRAM Red components and Cannondale’s Hollowgram cranks, which are available with an SRM power meter. The Hi-Mod 2 ($5,000) has a combination of SRAM Red and Force components and Mavic Aksium wheels, while the Slice 4 ($3,099) features SRAM Rival components and the Slice 5 ($2,400) is specced with Shimano 105.

Leo T2

The Leo 2 uses three different types of carbon fibre in the frame and comes with a carbon Super Legera fork to ensure a stiff and responsive ride. SRAM Red components and Mavic CXP 22 wheels round out the speedy package.

Louis Garneau

We’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Sonar TT later this year. It  features a monocoque design with exo-nerve technology that is designed to provide added stiffness in the rear triangle to ensure that all of the energy you put into the pedals goes towards moving you forward. The Sonar TT has integrated cable routing and a Uni-T aero carbon fork.


Long known as one of triathlon’s innovation leaders, Felt continues to develop some of the most incredible triathlon and time trial bikes around. The DA ($9,999) sits at the top of the Felt line up, offering Dura Ace components and Zipp 808/ 1080 wheels on a Felt Tri Specific UHC-Nano Ultra Hybrid Composite Modulus Modular Carbon Fibre Frame that cuts through the wind thanks to Felt’s innovative Bayonet II fork and headset combination that utilizes an external steerer and Felt1 bearing Compression Device. If your head is spinning, suffice it to say that it has an incredible front end that cheats the wind while remaining extremely aerodynamic! The B2 Pro ($7,499) has the same frame and front end, but features SRAM Red components and Zipp 404/ 808 wheels.  The B2 offers Dura Ace components and a Felt wheelset. The B12 ($3,599) has a high modulus carbon fibre frame, a Felt designed fully carbon fibre fork and Dura Ace components. The B16 ($2,389) utilizes the same frame as the B12 with a carbon fork (aluminum steerer) and 105 components.

Zenith T2

Now that they’ve signed athletes like US Olympian Laura Bennett and Stephen Hackett, Jamis suddenly has a very real presence in the pro transition racks this season. The Xenith T-series frame offers full NACA aero profiles, integrated cabling, a hidden rear brake and a full-carbon Windshield fork that also hides the front brake from the wind. The Xenith T2 ($11,303) has a Zipp 808 wheelset, Profile Design Volna aerobar and SRAM Red components to complete the high-performance and super-aero package.  The T1 ($5,149) offers American Classic wheels along with SRAM Rival and Force components on the same frame, while the Xenith T ($3,192) has Alex rims along with Ultegra and 105 components. The aluminum Comete ($2,070) becomes an up-specced entry to mid-level bike worth a second look in 2010 now that it has the same Windshield fork and hidden front brake seen on the T-series bikes along with Alex wheels and Ultegra and 105 components.


Offering fully customizable carbon fibre bikes, the Guru line up comes in three different spec formats: T1 includes 105 components and Aclass wheels, T2 has Ultegra components and Xero Lite wheels while the T3 set up has Dura Ace components and Zipp 404 wheels. The Crono 2.0 frameset ($4,750) versions is completely revamped this year with an optimized air foil configuration and hefty bottom bracket to deliver excellent power transfer. It’s specced as either T2 ($6,425) or T3 ($9,705). The Crono frameset ($3,700) maxes out at $8,655 for the T3 setup. The Magis features an interesting carbon-resin combination and retails for $2,650 for the frameset and between $3,940 and $7,605 for full bikes. The Merus ($4,750 frameset, $6,040 to $9,705 for full bikes) is made of titanium, while the Ventus is an aluminum frameset ($1,770) that sells for $2,990 to $6,655 as a full bike.


Fuji is bringing in two mid-level triathlon bikes to Canada. The Aloha 1.0 ($2,715 with Ultegra) and 2.0 ($2,025 with 105) feature a newly designed aluminum frame with internal cable routing.

Trinity Advanced SL 0

Featuring stop-you-in-your-tracks looks, the Trinity Advanced SL O ($13,499) is jam-packed with aerodynamic tricks, which is why it turned a few heads when it debuted at the Tour last year and is sure to do the same if you bring one into transition this season, too.  The AeroDrive stem/handlebar combination start the whole process off – the entire cockpit is designed as one system in order to cut through the wind with impressive easy.  The specially designed Advanced SL-Grade Aero Composite frame is custom-designed for Shimano’s DI2 components. Add the Zipp 808/ 1080 wheelset and you have a rocket of a bike. The Trinity Advance SL 2 ($5,899) shares the same frameset and the AeroDrive stem / handlebar as the Advance SL O. It comes with Ultegra 10-speed components and Giant Carbon Matrix SL Aero wheels.


Another mainstay on the Ironman scene, Kuota’s triathlon line-up includes frames made of the best carbon fibre and utilizing aero design. The optimized aerodynamic design of the Kueen-K features a new brake placement, which is completely invisible to the wind. The frameset of the Kueen-K adds optimized fiber orientation that maximizes efficiency, comfort and performance. The Kueen-K offers Reynolds Fulcrum wheels and Dura Ace ($7,540), SRAM Red ($7,620) or Ultegra ($5,440) components. Weighing just 1.1 kg, the Kalibur has an expanded 1-1/8 to 1-1/4 head tube to provide important front end stability and strength. We really like the ability to set the seat-tube angle to either 76- or 78-degree offsets so that you can dial in the best position for your body and riding style. The Kalibur can be specced with Dura Ace components and Reynolds Fulcrum wheels ($5,000) or with Ultegra ($4,245) or SRAM Rival ($3,840) gruppos along with Shimano wheelsets. Finally, the K-Factor features a monocoque carbon fibre frame along with Shimano wheels in three component levels: Dura Ace ($3,535), Ultegra ($3,155) or SRAM’s Rival ($2,830).


Long known as one of Canada’s premier frame builders, Marinoni’s TTC frameset graced our cover last year when Magali Tisseyre surged onto the world 70.3 scene with her impressive win in Rhode Island. The monocoque carbon fibre Rewind is available with a number of component options from Campagnolo (Veloce, $3,485 and Chorus, $7,495), Shimano (Dura Ace, $6,895 and Ultegra, $3,525) and SRAM (Red, $6,795). The Rewind comes with either a Vision alloy or carbon fibre aero bar. The TTA is made with 7005 aero aluminum tubes and offers the same component options as the TTC. (Veloce, $2,365, Chorus, $4,695, Ultegra $2,395 and Dura Ace, $5,775 and Red, $5,675).

2010 Ordu Dura Ace

With two Ironman World Championships in a row, the Orbea Ordu has an impressive track record over the last two years – although Craig Alexander’s abilities probably had as much to do with that as his bike. The Ordu is a lightweight aerodynamic rocket with a super-narrow head tube shape that is available in Canada through Orbea’s made to order program that allows you to choose your components and sizing. The Ordu will set you back anywhere from $5,500 to almost $12,000 if you throw on Shimano’s Di2 and some speedy Zipp wheels. The other carbon fibre Orbea frame available in Canada is the Ora, which shares some of the design of the Ordu (aero bladed carbon fork and that distinctive curved seat post that hides the rear wheel) but for a more manageable $3,100 (with Ultegra and 105 components and Mavic Axiom wheels) or a full, race ready, Ultegra version with Reynolds Strike wheels for $4,700.


The FT3 is Cameron Brown’s ride of choice and the Kiwi has flown on this Italian work of art over the last few years. The lightweight carbon moncoque frame (1,250 grams) uses the same carbon fibre (HM 50) as the Pinarello’s popular road bike, the Montello, and comes with a sleek Shark Carbon fork. The FT3 provides the ultimate in power transfer thanks to the beefed up bottom bracket, but doesn’t sacrifice the smooth, comfortable ride that you’d expect from a Pinarello. The FT3 is available as a frame only for ($6,100). The FT1 has many of the same great looks and features as the FT3, but uses HM 30 carbon fibre to keep the frame-only price down to $3,750.

TT Custom

Each of the Parlee Full Custom TT bikes takes more than 60 hours to build thanks to the intricate care taken to every detail of the bike. Bob Parlee designs his bikes so that every aspect of these completely customized frames are optimized to provide outstanding performance while providing a smooth ride. At $8,500 for the frameset alone, this is not an impulse purchase!  The Stock TT has a full NACA aero frame available in stock sizes. Frame kits start at $4,000.