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Buyer’s Guide 2018: Tri bikes

Triathlon specific bikes started to become part of our sport about 20 years ago. Designed around the use of aero- (or tri-) bars, triathlon-specific bikes use a steeper seat tube angle to allow you to ride in the aero position more comfortably. For draft-legal racing, though, you need to ride a regular road bike, so we included one aerodynamic road frame in this year’s guide, too. When it comes to tri bikes, carbon fibre is pretty much the norm – every single bike in our buyer’s guide is made of that material and most are built in Asia. While most of the bikes in our guide sit at a fairly high price range, many companies will offer the same frame with less-expensive components and wheels that will bring the price down.

The buzz in the tri-bike world over the last few years has been around aerodynamic storage. Since so many triathletes are focused on half- and full-distance races where carrying nutrition along is a requirement, bike manufacturers have been adding compartments to the frame that will allow you to store gels, bars and other items without compromising the bike’s aerodynamics.

You’ll only perform well on a bike if it fits you properly, so a good fit is a must when it comes to choosing a new bike. Sometimes getting a bike fit ahead of time can be a huge help and save you lots of money as you’ll make sure to be getting an appropriately sized bike for your body dimensions.


Cervélo P5X

$15,000, Ultegra Di2;

$19,000, ETAP or Dura ace Di2

We lauded Cervélo’s latest superbike as a game changer for the industry when it was announced in 2016 and this unique bike has signalled a new approach to bike design. Cervélo’s engineers designed the P5X to be as aerodynamic as the original P5 (it’s a rocket on downhills and flats), all while carrying three round water bottles and all the gels and bars you’ll need for a full-distance race or the longest of transition workouts. The P5X also addresses one of most competitors’ biggest concerns –  getting their bike to the race in one piece. The cockpit breaks down easily and the entire bike packs into a custom Biknd case.


Felt IA2

$9,899 The IA2 utilizes the same frame found in the highest-level IA Series bikes (the IA FRD will set you back a cool $18,499). The super-aero frame hides everything from the wind and features Felt’s own cockpit so you can dial in an extremely aero position. SRAM’s top of the line Red eTap derailleurs provide precise shifting, while you can gauge your power output thanks to the Quarq Prime Carbon crankset. The Zipp/Felt 30 Course clincher wheelset is tubeless ready, but is probably not going to be the first choice for racing for most who spend this much on their bike. Apart from the wheels, though, there is nothing on this bike you’ll need to change to have the potential to beat the entire field at whatever race you’re at. Slap on a fast wheelset, and you’ll have no excuses on this speedy machine.


Gennix TR1 Elite Di2

$6,300 If it’s fast enough for Lionel Sanders, it has be fast enough for you, right? Sanders has been ripping up courses on the Gennix TR1 Elite for a few years now. Garneau has done a great job of tuning the carbon fibre in this bike so you get excellent lateral stiffness, but don’t feel every single bump in the road because of the frame’s vertical compliance. The TR1 Elite comes equipped with Shimano Ultegra Di2 components, a 3T Vola carbon cockpit and Novatec wheels, which you’ll probably want to replace for racing, but are a great for training. Storage is available on the top tube thanks to an aero bento box that sits right behind the headset.


Specialized Venge Elite

$3,479 Featuring the same frame design used for the top of the line Venge (which will set you back over $14,000), the Venge Elite is an aero road bike equipped with Shimano’s 105 11-speed gruppo and DT R460 wheels that offers lots of great performance in a comfortable and light frame. If you’re looking for a bike you can use for rides with a cycling group, tours that include some major-league climbs and descents and the occasional draft-legal race, this is an excellent choice.


Scott Plasma RC

$9,900 Using the same frame as the the top of the line Plasma Premium that Sebastian Kienle has used for a pair of 70.3 world titles and the Ironman World Championship win in 2014, the Plasma RC comes equipped with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting and Syncros Race 22 rims. Your aerodynamic position can be dialed in thanks to the Profile Design Plasma 5 Aeria handlebar with Profile T5+Carbon Aero extensions and you can stay in that position thanks to the aero waterbottle system that comes with the bike.


Trek Speed Concept

$5,500 You get a lot of bike fo

r the money with Trek’s Speed Concept, beginning with the lightweight 500 Series OCLV Carbon frame that utilizes Trek’s Kammtail Virtual Foil (KVF) tube shapes. Shimano Ultegra components provide precise and solid shifting, while the Bontrager Speed Concept KVF carbon fibre aero bar, Bontrager Speed Limit integrate brakes and the Aeolus 5 Comp TLR tubeless-ready wheels complete the aerodynamic package.


LIV Avow Advanced Pro 1

$5,999 For years bike fitters struggled to fit many women on bikes designed for men – women typically have shorter torsos and longer legs than guys do. Hence the concept of women’s specific bike designs, like that of the Liv Avow Advanced Pro 1, which utilizes the company’s 3F design philosophy to create bikes for women. The lightweight, aerodynamic Advanced Composite frame is coupled with an AeroDrive Tri Composite base bar and composite extensions so you can dial in the perfect position. The high-performance Giant wheelset finishes off the aero package, while Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 components provide speedy, precise shifting that makes this a bike that’s ready to race.


Squad Aero TT

$8,049 You can pick out your ultimate tri bike online by visiting the Squad Cycles website. We had fun putting together this package that includes the Aero-TT frameset with aero bar and extensions, SRAM’s Red eTap components with Profile Design brake levers and Profile Design’s TwentyFour 58/78 wheelset. Picking out the components is only part of the process – the Squad website helps you figure out the size you’ll need. And in case you’re worried about ordering a bike online, Squad will refund you if you can’t dial in the perfect fit.­—TMC