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Bike Review: Trek Speed Concept SLR7

Trek's revamp to its Speed Concept tri bike was worth the long wait

Photo by: Chris Bayley

There were seven years between updates on Trek’s triathlon/ TT bike, but when the company launched the redesign of the Speed Concept last fall, it announced some impressive numbers. According to Trek, the new version is six-minutes faster over a full-distance, 180-km bike course. And that speed isn’t just for pros and Uber-biking age-groupers – Trek says there’s even more gains for athletes who are averaging slower speeds for their long-distance efforts.

 

We didn’t take the bike into a wind tunnel to check their numbers, but we can tell you that this is a bike that wants to go fast. Trek’s excellent fit calculator helps you dial in the correct size frame and all the components to nail your set up, and the new integrated front end is both extremely aero and comfortable, so you’ll have no problems staying down in an aero tuck for even the longest efforts.

Photo: Chris Bayley

Adding to the comfort factor is Trek’s IsoSpeed design – basically the seat tube is decoupled from the top tube and flexes as you go over uneven roads. This results in one of the most comfortable rides we’ve ever had on a tri bike.

That comfort doesn’t sacrifice performance at all. While this isn’t a bike that is designed for big climbs, hitting the steepest climbs in our area has always been our “go to” test for lateral stiffness. Its impressive how stiff this bike is where you want it. While you could easily see the Speed Concept excel on a tough climbing course like Lanzarote or Nice, what this means for most users is that all the power they put into the pedals will move them forward. Pounding away on a long, flat stretch of road in the aero position is a riot – did we mention this is a bike that wants to go fast?

 Like pretty much every new bike we’re seeing these days the new Speed Concept comes with disc brakes for excellent stopping power and modulation. The Trek engineers have managed to incorporate the new brakes without adding any weight to the overall package and improving aerodynamics, too.

The SLR 7 model we reviewed comes with Ultegra Di2 components, the impressive Speed Concept integrated cockpit and Bontrager Aeolus Pro 51 tubeless ready wheels. (Click on the images above for more detail.) We did feel a bit of a push at the front end in strong side winds, so if you’re lighter and heading to a race like Kona or Lanzarote, you might want to consider a shallower front wheel, but for most people the Aeolus Pro 51s are an excellent choice.

In terms of storage, the Speed Concept allows you to carry your hydration and nutrition supplies without any aerodynamic penalty. The included downtube bottle holds 750 ml of liquid, and Trek also sells a BTA (between the arms) water bottle – both improve aerodynamics. There’s an integrated Bento box, too, with movable dividers that can hold up to eight gels. There’s a hidden storage area for a flat kit under the downtube bottle.

Photo: Chris Bayley

This is a race-ready package, but since the new Speed Concept is available through Trek’s Project One program, you can customize everything from paint to components for the bike. There are three base bar options and three stack tower possibilities, so you can really dial in the perfect fit.

It might have been a long wait, but Trek has done a great job with its latest triathlon-specific bike. Based on the pricing, Trek is definitely focussed on the high-end consumer with the Speed Concept, but you get a lot of speed and performance for all that money you’ll spend.