Floor and Mini Pumps

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - TRAVEL DESTINATION RACE -

Frame

One of the things that I loved about the orig­i­nal Crono was the seat tube an­gle. Most triathlon bikes are de­signed with a seat tube an­gle of 78 de­grees (road bikes fea­ture seat tube an­gles of 72 to 74 de­grees). The steeper seat tube an­gles put you quite far for­ward on your aero bars, en­sur­ing a com­fort­able and pow­er­ful po­si­tion for rid­ing in an aero tuck. That po­si­tion, though, isn’t great for other types of rid­ing – for ex­am­ple, climb­ing. I’ve al­ways liked to ride just one bike rather than switch back and forth be­tween dif­fer­ent bikes for dif­fer­ent con­di­tions, so the Crono al­lowed me more lee­way. The more re­laxed seat tube an­gle made the bike a bit more climb­ing-friendly, per­fect for climb-fest trips to France, Aus­tria or Lan­zarote. The seat tube an­gle, though, was still steep enough to al­low me to get into a com­fort­able aero po­si­tion for flat, fast rides re­quir­ing lots of time down on the tri bars. The new Crono main­tains that 76-de­gree seat tube an­gle and fea­tures a new aero tube set that is op­ti­mized for per­for­mance and speed. The beefy down­tube and bot­tom bracket pro­vide ex­cel­lent power trans­fer, but the over­all feel on the bike re­mains very com­fort­able.

There are a lot of aero­dy­namic fea­tures built into the frame, too, which make it a huge step for­ward from the orig­i­nal Chrono de­sign. The rear cutout in­te­grates nicely with the wheel, so in cross­winds the frame will max­i­mize the aero fea­tures of your wheels. The spe­cially de­signed bento box hides nicely in the wake of the stem, which means there's no drag penalty for fu­el­ing dur­ing your ride. And, ac­cord­ing to the aero en­gi­neers who tested the frame, it’s de­signed to have a “grad­ual drag dropoff at high yaw” What that means is that it is sta­ble in cross­winds.

Cock­pit

Po­si­tion is ev­ery­thing when it comes to fast times on a triathlon bike and the Crono frames of­fer a full-car­bon cock­pit with lots of ad­just­ment op­tions, so you should be able to dial in the per­fect fit. While I loved the base bar that is ex­tremely stiff and per­fect for climb­ing, I found the Aquila stem to be a bit “fid­dly” and a chal­lenge to ad­just. The en­tire sys­tem all fits to­gether nicely, though, and it’s easy to break down to get into a bike case, which is a huge sell­ing point for me.

Com­po­nents

As a long­time SRAM user, I was keen to try the Ul­te­gra Di2 com­po­nents and I was more than a lit­tle im­pressed with the per­for­mance. The Ul­te­gra shifters were rock solid, and I found the crankset of­fered ex­cel­lent per­for­mance, too. You re­ally feel like all your en­ergy goes into mov­ing you for­ward. There’s a rea­son Zipp’s 404/ 808 com­bi­na­tion is so pop­u­lar on the triathlon cir­cuit – the wheels are aero, com­fort­able and, thanks to the shal­lower front wheel, aren’t as sus­cep­ti­ble to cross­winds, too.

While the Crono doesn’t of­fer any slick com­part­ments, there is a cus­tom bento box on the top tube that pro­vides stor­age for gels, bars or other food you might want to take along for the ride. It’s pretty ba­sic, but it does the trick, al­low­ing you ac­cess to nutri­tion with­out com­pro­mis­ing aero­dy­nam­ics. All ver­sions of the bike use ISM’s PN3.0 sad­dle, which is an ex­cel­lent choice and will likely pro­vide both com­fort and the abil­ity to hold an aero po­si­tion for even the long­est rides.

Ride

As I men­tioned ear­lier, one of the things I loved about the orig­i­nal Crono was the more re­laxed seat tube an­gle, which I find lends to a more al­laround ride. One of my first rides on the Crono was in Switzer­land, where I got to test the bike on some of the long, steep climbs around St. Gallen. My guess is most of you would never dream of tak­ing a tri bike through that type of ter­rain, it was a use­ful ex­er­cise in that it al­lowed me to re­ally test the bike’s stiff­ness and per­for­mance. There were ab­so­lutely no is­sues when it came to climb­ing and I felt com­pletely com­fort­able even on high-speed de­scents – the cock­pit and fork com­bi­na­tion pro­vides ex­cel­lent han­dling.

I know – who cares about how well the bike per­forms on a ski hill in the Swiss Alps. You want to know how it does ham­mer­ing down a road in an aero tuck. A se­ries of rides on the rolling ter­rain around Roth and the dead-flat roads near Ham­burg as­sured me that this bike is no slouch when it comes to pure time tri­als. For the most part, that all comes from the po­si­tion, which, thanks to the ex­tremely ad­justable cock­pit, I was able to dial in on the Crono. The frame and the com­po­nents all helped en­sure I could keep up a fast speed.

Bang for the buck

For what you’re pay­ing, the Aquila Crono of­fers a lot. You’ll be challenged to find a full-car­bon aero bike with sim­i­lar com­po­nents for any­where near the same amount of money. Even if you were to start with the most ba­sic ver­sion of the Crono, you’ll be able to eas­ily up­grade key parts of the bike to gain some free speed down the road.

Back when I first started work­ing with the folks from Racer Sportif and Aquila over 30 years ago, I al­ways used to tell them that I just couldn’t fin­ish a race and feel like I lost be­cause of my equip­ment. I’d hap­pily en­ter a race now and ride the Crono, fully con­fi­dent that the bike would not be my lim­it­ing fac­tor.

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