Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Super Bike Summary

Recently I posted a photo of a bike I would consider purchasing if money were no object. Since then, I received a lot of additional suggestions and decided to do a quick summary of them for future reference sake.

Specialized Shiv

Price - $12700


Former Texas training partner and now Texas race host Tim "Buckwheat" Carroll was the first to lead me to this bike. Apparently illegal in road racing (UCI) but still is USAT legal. Basically, they ignored UCI rules and designed the Shiv exclusively for triathlon: with unmatched aerodynamics, the Fuelselage integr...ated hydration system, and a huge range of fit adjustability. The S-Works FACT IS 11r carbon frame, Zipp 404 wheels, and Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain make the S-Works an ultralight, crazy fast package.



This is the bike Craig Alexander rode for Ironman Kona 2011:



Here's what Alexander said about it afterwards..."It's a total rocketship that should be illegal."

Looks great, doesn't it? But I have concerns. First, the 22-24 ounce internal bladder. Most of us will not use straight water but some sort of electrolyte/protein replenishment so what happens when the bladder needs to be cleaned? Apparently, the bladder can be removed for cleaning but who wants to do that all the time?


Besides, I am a tri-geek who races sprint distance 90% of the time with the occassional Oly. I really have no need for an internal bladder to save me 0.025 seconds over 10 miles. A single water bottle will serve me just fine.

But the most important reason I would pass on the Shiv is USAT itself. A few years ago I purchased a De Soto Water Rover wetsuit. This suit has a distinct advantage by placing panels of 2mm, 5mm, 8mm, and 10mm thickness in specific locations to maximize speed and flexibility. When I bought it, it was legal. As of September 1, 2010, the Water Rover was banned in WTC Races. USAT was next. According to USAT regulations, there is no limitation as to the thickness of wetsuit rubber, and there will be no limitation until Jan, 2013. This means if you buy a Water Rover now, you can race in this almost unfair and perfectly legal advantage for the entire 2011 and 2012 triathlon seasons. After that, it becomes a nice training suit or for us in non-USAT races.

What is to prohibit USAT making the same determination with the Shiv and determining this bike to be illegal and one is stuck with a nice $12K training bike? I'm not going to take that chance.

Argon-18 E118

Price - One bike dealer listed for $7400 but unsure of the wheel set.

Reader Miguel Vieira lead me to this previusly unknown bike. I've not seen one locally but it sure is pretty, isn't it?


Out of the box, the E-118 is equally compatible with Di2 or mechanical components. Regardless of the group you choose, all cables and wiring are internally routed for enhanced aerodynamics.

Built in a new mold and certified UCI-legal, this triathlon frameset expands and refines the concepts first embodied in the spectacular E-114 that helped establish the company’s stellar reputation in this field. This new frameset was developed in close collaboration with triathlon champion Tim O’Donnell and the Team SpiderTech riders, including Svein Tuft and Hugo Houle, Canadian Pro and U-23 time-trial champions, respectively.

In the world of time trial events, much emphasis is placed on the aerodynamic properties of bikes. While this is an important factor, in reality the cyclist generates up to 70% of the aerodynamic drag. This fact is at the core of Argon 18’s design philosophy. Our approach is that the rider and bike must form an integrated unit in order to optimize efficiency and achieve the best results. CFD analysis clearly demonstrates that once the rider is not in proper position, drag increases dramatically. Optimal positioning through AFS gives the rider the ability to remain on the armrests in the proper aero tuck position longer.

AFS geometry built into the E-118 guarantees tremendously accurate steering and extremely stable handling. This allows the rider to remain on the armrests in circumstances where it has not always been possible. For example, riders can remain in the perfect aero tuck position on the armrests during descents, on uneven roads, while hydrating and even when reaching into jersey pockets for nutrition

The AFS approach ensures the rider can maintain a proper aero position longer through an easy, accurate fit therefore ensuring aerodynamic efficiency and the ultimate in performance.



Trek Project One Custom Speed Concept 9.9 Series Podium
Price as shown (with Aeolus 9.0 Clinchers): $10,184.97. With Dura Ace Di2 -$12468.72

This is the customized paint Trek that I posted earlier. I think it is the customized paint option that initially draws me to the bike. I don't have to look like all the others in the transition area. I can be 'different', which everyone already knows I am.


The Trek seems to be a super-fast aerodynamic machine - it could be the most aero bike out there; if not, it's certainly right up there - with excellent adjustability and a top spec sheet. My research shows that riders who have this machine indicate the Trek absolutely flies on the flat and on shallow gradients, both up and down, and one gets a ton of stability which helps keep things steady even in a slight crosswind.

Downsides? Current owners indicate that adjusting the brakes could be easier… a whole lot easier, in fact, particularly the back one. But that’s the price you pay for the aerodynamic benefit, I guess. If brakes are tucked away from the wind, they’re tucked away from fingers and Allen keys too.

It’s a similar deal with the gears. You don’t get any external cable stops or in-line barrel adjusters so you can’t adjust them on the fly. If you ever found the chain struggling to go up a sprocket, you’d couldn’t do anything about it from the saddle, so you have to make sure everything is bang on before you set off.

Here is what Chris Lieto thinks of the bike.

Felt DA1 Di2
Price - DA 1 - Ultimate+Nano Carbon, Di2, Zipp 808 Firecrest Wheels - $12,999


Felt is a bike that we see a lot here in the Tundra. Mainly due to the fact that local tri-shop Gear West carries Felts and most of its top athletes from the GW team ride them.

Years of research, engineering and wind-tunnel development went into the DA1. Already ridden to major triathon wins by Felt athletes Terenzo Bozzone, and Andi Boecherer, this is the bike that left the competition in the dust. With UHC Ultimate+Nano carbon fiber material—shaped through extensive Computational Fluid Dynamics engineering and real-world testing—it’s 14% more aerodynamic and 13% stiffer than the last-generation DA. It’s also optimized for Shimano Di2 electronic shifting, with internal cable routing and an integrated battery mount.

I've not really had the chance to speak to anyone who is riding this machine so I can't add that much more to it. But it certainly has to be a great bike. All the Felt riders I know, whether using this model or one of the cheaper frames, always finish ahead of me.

Giant Trinity Advanced SL 0

Price - $13,500



Coming in highest of the bunch (component selective, mind) is this offering from Giant. Giant was a big brand when I lived on the East coast in the late 1980's. They've been around for a long time and have a good rep. I just don't know of any tri-geek riding it nor can I find any reviews on the bike. If you have it, or can provide a review please post within the comments field.

The manufacturer states: Designed by Giant's top engineers, this road rocket boasts the most advanced wind-cheating technology you could dream of. Starting with an aerodynamic Advanced SL Composite frame and fork, Giant then adds an aerodynamic carbon seatpost and integrated handlebar system for the ultimate in stiffness, light weight and efficiency that's sure to have you breaking PR's in no time. You'll love the wide range of adjustability for the perfect fit in any position, and with top-of-the-line components like Shimano's electronic Dura-Ace Di2 group, amazing Zipp 808 tubular wheels and a sleek Fizik saddle with carbon rails, you've got one stellar machine that's ready to dismantle the competition!

Well, it better for that price (2012 model)!

Cervélo P5

Price - ???

Which brings me to my last bike for this blog entry. I currently ride a 2008 P3 which is aluminum with 650cc wheel set (ZIPPs). So, certainly anything by Cervélo I'm going to look at.

BikeRadar received confirmation that Cervélo are set to debut their new—and highly anticipated—P5 tri/time trial aero flagship, as two distinct models during January's European Brainbike event. The models will be split by purpose: one UCI legal and ready for World Tour competition, and a second version built to cater to the longer distances and less restrictive governing body of triathlon.

As discussed earlier, Specialized upped the aero bike ante this year by splitting their Shiv aero bike into both UCI-legal and non-compliant versions in order to simultaneously satisfy the technical guidelines of WorldTour racing and the comparatively unrestricted arms race of triathlon. Cervélo generally aren't perceived as having those kinds of resources but according to BikeRadar's exclusive industry sources, the new P5 will counter that move with a tri-specific model that will cater more to their highly loyal multisport clientele and a second UCI-legal version for time trials.

The tri-specific version will be more aerodynamic with a taller down tube, a more aggressive seat tube profile around the rear wheel cutout, and a conventional single-crown fork – albeit, one with an additional bolt-on nosecone to increase the effective aspect ratio. The UCI-legal version, on the other hand, sticks to more P4-like tube dimensions and a standard front end without the add-on nosecone.


Also the P5 will forego a dramatically sleek proprietary cockpit for a standard setup that will be easier to fit and allow more choice in components – a move retailers and fitters will undoubtedly support. Even better, retail pricing is rumored to be lower than that of the P4 – people are guessing around $4,000 for the frameset with brakes and seatpost.

I seem to do bike window shopping each winter. Sort of passes the time. But I'm also wondering if a move to a super bike from the 2008 Cervélo P3 that I have about $4k invested in. It is an aluminum frame and has a ZIPP wheelset.


This bike has a 650cc wheel set, so I've been wondering if a move to a 700cc wheel set would be faster. Not to mention the lighter and more aero frame.

So, I went to Kevin O'Connor. Kevin is the owner of the aforementioned Gear West tri store. Kevin was the 2009 USAT Duathlete of the year. And he is someone I have trusted to go to for triathlon advice and bike service. Basically, Kevin made the following points to me about a possible move to a super bike:

  • It is a loaded question but the short answer is that the new bikes are faster.
  • There are some example of guys in the same situation as you.  Brooks Grossinger and Chad Millner.  I don't know if you know these guys but they are both fast and prior to 2010 season they were still on their 6-8 yr old 650c bikes with 9 speed drivetrains.  And they raced very fast on those.  Few things worse than having them pull up next to you in a race on their 7 yr old bike.  But they have both stated that the new bike is significantly better.  I don't know that they are riding any faster but they certainly are not slowing down.
  • Here is the real answer to biking faster.  Training with Power.  [Such as training with] a Powertap wheel or Quarq crankset.  You would be able to quantify your cycling power.
  • Do not ever accept that your pace is just the current pace. I just don't believe that.
So for the curious, a Quarq crankset looks like this:




Priced at $1795, it is a bicycle powermeter that is integrated into the crankset of the bicycle. Specifically, the CinQo is a instrumented crank "spider" that mounts on specific production cranksets. The ANT+ radio transmits the CinQo's power measurement digitally to other ANT+ compatible bicycle computers. (Think of ANT+ as "Bluetooth" for bicycles.) ANT+ computers include the Garmin Edge 705 and the iBike iAero. The ANT standard is available to all bike computer manufactures, so look for more ANT+ compatible bike computers in the future.

The CinQo powermeter measures power by measuring the torque (pedal force) and the angular velocity (cadence). When you press on the pedals, all parts of the bikes drivetrain displace (flex) slightly under the load. The CinQo spider is carefully designed using Finite Element Analysis to displace in a very controlled manner in specific locations in response to applied load. Strain gages are used to measure the displacement and thus calculate the applied torque.

For powertaps, there is the $1600 top-of-the-line Powertap SL+ Hub, Wheel, or Wheelset with Joule 2.0. Also there is a SL+ Hub built into Rear Wheel and Joule 2.0 for $1749.99.

I know some tri-geeks who train with power in mind and seem to do well. If someone were to go this route, they would need to understand the power concept and be able to set their training by it.

What about you? Would you opt for a new super bike? Or simply stay with the date you brought to the dance and incorporate a new training strategy?

Let me know. Leave a comment below, especially if you own any of the bikes covered above or use power in your training.

Happy Holidays!

2 comments:

bwheat said...

Great article! Training you expect me to work to get faster. What a rip, I thought I could buy my way to some speed. As you mention if money was no object I would definitely consider one these fine machines. But, matters being what they are I'll most likely improve my training and do some modest upgrades to my current ride.

helena said...

All of the gears are contained inside the rear hub, making shifting smooth and easyHermosa Beach.
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