Triathlon Magazine Canada
While the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the triathlon race season around the world in 2020, that didn’t stop many of the top bike manufacturers from launching new bikes for 2021 in hopes that we’ll get a chance to return to racing and get back to looking for our ultimate aero ride. That leaves our 2021 Bike Gear Guide with an interesting mix of bikes – some that were supposed to be new last year but we didn’t really have a chance to see in action, and some very new bikes that we can’t wait to check out at some point this year.
Canyon Speedmax coming to a transition near you
Sometime this spring we’ll learn exactly when Canyon bikes will be available for order here in Canada, which means Canadian triathletes will have their chance to ride the bikes that have been ripping up the international race scene for the last few years.
The last five men’s Ironman World Championship titles have been won on the Canyon Speedmax (the bike ridden by three-time Kona champ Jan Frodeno and two-time winner Patrick Lange), and even Canada’s Lionel Sanders started riding the bike late in 2019.
Canyon is a German company that began in founder Roman Arnold’s garage. He renamed the company in 2002, and ever since they’ve sold their bikes online. The original Speedmax hit the market in 2015, just in time for Frodeno to use it to take his first Kona title. Last November Canyon announced the latest version of the Speedmax lindeup that, like so many triathlon bikes these days, now comes with disc brakes. What’s possibly more impressive about the new Speedmax lineup, though, is exactly what’s made the bike so popular over in Europe – you get a lot of bike for the money. Even the “lower end” models offer aerodynamic numbers similar to the original Speedmax models – yes, the ones that Frodeno and Lange used for those Kona wins.
To give us a good feel for what Canadian triathletes can expect later this year, Canyon sent us a couple of bikes to review. After all the years of shipping online bikes, it wasn’t a surprise that putting together the bikes was a breeze, with our biggest complication coming from the fact that our test rider was determined that the handlebars be “slammed” as low as possible, necessitating a bit of adjustment on the front end.
Canyon Speedmax CF 7 Disc ½
US$3,799 We were hooked as soon as we saw the “flash yellow” and black paint job on the “lowest” level of the Speedmax lineup, and only got more impressed the more time we spent on the it. When it comes to triathlon bikes, aerodynamics is everything. Not just for the bike, but more importantly, for your position on the bike and your ability to carry the fuel, hydration and tools you need both in training and racing. The new Speedmax CF 7 Disc clicks all of those boxes.
The aero carbon frame tests, according to Canyon, within a few watts of the old CF SLX that won all those Kona titles, and features huge eight mm chainstays that enhance aerodynamics as well. Cables are routed internally for a clean look, and you get an aero-optimized, deep-profile fork, too. The bike is also designed with a frame integrated toolkit on the top tube that’s easy to access. At 9.35 kg the CF 7 Disc is only 210 g heavier than the flagship CFR Disc Di2 (see below).
In terms of position, there’s lots of adjustability to ensure you can dial in both a comfortable and aero fit – the aluminum Canyon stem and flat, carbon-fibre basebar are matched with Profile Design J-Bend extensions.
In terms of specs, the CF 7 Disc comes equipped with Shimano 105 components and SRAM S-900 Aero HRD brakes. There’s a great combination of Reynolds AR58 DB (front) and AR80 DB (rear) wheels with Continental Grand Prix 5000 tires.
All that combines for an impressively performing bike that would serve any level of triathlete well in any race. The bike is surprisingly responsive, with a little bit of a “road” feel in terms of cornering and
acceleration. That doesn’t seem to affect the comfort level when it’s time to put the hammer down on the aero bars, though – in fact, the bike is most comfortable ridden in that position. The Canyon engineers have done a great job with the geometry of the frame to ensure that you’ll be happy to spend most of your time exactly where you should on the Speedmax – on your aero bars.
Riding a tri bike in Canada in December and January doesn’t exactly lend itself to race-like tests, but the rides we were able to get on the CF 7 Disc were more than enough to convince us that this will likely be a popular choice for Canadian triathletes once the bike becomes available. It offers a solid mix of components, frame and wheels, making it a raceready machine for those looking for an aero tri bike.
Speedmax CFR Disc Di2 ¾
¤9,999 We did this series of reviews the right way. After spending some time on the CF 7 Disc, we were finally able to pry the CFR Disc Di2 from our photo editor, who shot the bike for this issue’s cover, and spend some time on the flagship edition of the Speedmax lineup. Had we tried to do the reviews in reverse, it’s hard to say if the CF 7 would ever have got a ride.
Don’t get us wrong – the CF 7 is a fantastic bike. It’s just that the CFR Disc Di2 maximises every aspect of the Speedmax series.
It starts with the carbon used in the frame, which features Toray M40X carbon fibres. While the bike doesn’t come in a whole lot lighter (9.14 kg), it feels like a much lighter bike when you start to climb or power in and out of corners. The added lateral stiffness makes the bike truly responsive and even nicer for climbs, but doesn’t affect the comfort of the ride. Even during our winter efforts on the bike we were impressed by just how smooth the ride is, especially on the aero bars. Aerodynamics are enhanced thanks to the deep-profile fork that even covers the brake caliper. Needless to say, cable routing is all internal.
When it comes to adjustability for the cockpit, the CFR Disc features a monospacer system that offers a whopping 110 mm of height adjustability. (That mono-extension is attached to a really sharp-looking basebar that includes ergonomically optimised grips.) Moving the bars in and out to find the right extension is a breeze and you get an impressive 132 mm of length adjustment. It’s also easy to adjust the width of the pads. The set up does lend itself to the narrow-elbow position that you see riders like Jan Frodeno use to set world-bests and Kona records. If you favour a slightly wider elbow position you’ll have to work a bit to dial that in.
Components feature Shimano’s top of the line Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, which includes a dual-side power meter. The wheelset is DT Swiss’s tubeless-ready ARC 1100 Dicut, which have proven themselves to be among the fastest used in Kona over the years.
It’s not hard to see how the world’s top athletes can use a bike like this to power through the bike leg of any non-drafting event. All the energy you put into pushing down on the pedals seems to drive your forward. None of which helps, though, if you can’t maintain an aero position. In addition to the extremely adjustable front end, the CFR Disc features an internal hydration system with a straw that integrates into the wireless cockpit and clips with a magnet to the aero extension. (Possibly our only beef with the CFR is that the magnet could definitely be stronger.) There’s also an internal bento box on the top tube that’s easy to access that provides excellent storage for bars and gels, and an aero tool kit just about the bottom bracket.
The end result is a bike that pulls out all the stops in the search for the ultimate bike split.
Cube Aerium C:68 SLT Â
$14,799 We don’t see a lot of Cube tri bikes in North America, but that could change with the company’s latest high-profile signing – in January Lucy Charles-Barclay announced she’d be riding the Aerium this year. An extremely aero frame designed in collaboration with SwissSide is coupled with DT Swiss ARC 1100 80 mm carbon wheels and SRAM’s Red AXS wireless 12-speed gruppo. While much of the industry now features disc wheels on its flagship bikes, the Aerium features Magura RT Aero rim brakes.
Squad Aero TT ¾
$4,699 The custom-made Aero TT pairs a lightweight carbon frame with Ultegra components and Shimano wheels for a bike that weighs in at 7.037 kg – a touch over 15 lbs. While you’ll no-doubt add a bit of weight with some deeper-dish race wheels, that’s still a lightweight package. The bike comes with Squad’s own Aero TT bar and extension which adds even more adjustability so you can dial in the fit even more.
Liv Avow Advanced Pro 1 ½
$6,299 This woman’s-specific high-performance bike pairs a lightweight composite frame that’s tuned for female riders with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 components. The result is a bike that delivers lots of aero features and adjustability tbat provides both a comfortable and fast ride. The AeroVault System integrates hydration and nutrition storage into the bike, allowing easy access without leaving your aero tuck. There’s also an aero Giant P-A2 wheelset and adjustable Aerodrive Composite Bar system that’ll allow you to dial in your optimal position.
Argon 18 E-119 Tri+ Disc »
$14,500The Quebec-based company has added discs to its speedy E-119 Tri+ frame, but have done so in an interesting way – the brake calipers are integrated into the frame to provide the maximum aero advantage. The integration continues with a hidden toolkit in the bottom bracket, an integrated bento box on the top tube and a redesigned cockpit that comes from the company’s collaboration with aero guru Mat Steinmetz from 51 Speedshop. All of which is said to give the E-119 Tri+ Disc a 10-watt speed advantage over the previous version. Coming this spring, the new E-119 will be available as a frameset ($6,800), or specced with SRAM’s Force ($9,900) or Red (pictured) eTap groupsets.
Ceepo Katana Disc ¼
STARTING AT $3,600 At just 1,195 g in a medium, the Katana is one of the lightest tri-specific frames on the market – the latest iteration now includes disc brakes. Ceepo has always been a tri-focused brand which has embraced aggressive, forward positioning and aero tubes. The 40T high-modulus carbon frame comes equipped with an accessible Di2 battery location in the lower section of the downtube for those looking to set the bike up with electronic shifting. With the Katana you get a stiff, performance-oriented frame designed for a variety of distances and ride types.
Trek Madone SLR 6 ¼
$9,000 While Trek still offers the Speed Concept, we figured it would be fun to check out the company’s highend aero road option that many triathletes might want to use for either draft-legal racing or clip on some aero bars for an all-around aero speedster. The 2021 version of the Madone features an all-new 800 Series OCLV Carbon aero frame that offers an aero cockpit, a hidden seatmast, integrated brakes and invisible cable routing. Add the speedy Bontrager Aeolus Pro 5 tubeless ready wheels and Shimano Ultegra components, and you have all that you’ll need for an all-around speedy ride.
Felt IA Advanced Ultegra Di2 »
$8,299 Jim Felt was one of the pioneers on the aero bike front, and the Felt IA line continues that impressive legacy in style, maintaining a solid record of Kona excellence. The IA frame is the company’s most popular triathlon frameset – this disc-wheeled version comes with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 electronic groupset and Reynolds Carbon wheels for a race-ready, speedy package. In addition to the speedy aero frame, you get an integrated CALpac 2.0 storage unit on the top tube for nutrition and a BTSpac storage kit on the seat tube for a flat tire repair kit.
Scott Plasma Premium ¼
$21,500 The bike Sebastian Kienle was so hoping to rip apart the Ironman World Championship bike course on this year will have to wait for its Kona debut, but we did get to see Kienle and Alistair Brownlee on the new bike in Daytona last December. The bike looks very different to the original Plasma, with a big gap between the front wheel and downtube, which is said to dramatically reduce drag, especially in windy conditions. A new integrated hydration system that has a straw that winds up through the cockpit, along with a gel storage bottle and an aerodynamic storage box for a spare tube and CO2 cartridge help with the aero features, too. Add to that considerably more front-end adjustment options and you have all the ingredients necessary to make an already fast bike even faster.
Cervélo PX-Series Â
$15,500 Following in the footsteps of Cervélo’s P5X, which set the stage for many of the triathlon bikes we’ve seen come to the market over the last four or five years, the PX-Series pairs the innovations to that original bike we saw in the P3X with some high-end components. The heart of the PX design has always been the ability to carry three, round water bottles and the rest of your nutrition needs without any aerodynamic disadvantage. A stiffer, more responsive frame coupled with a drop in weight of 254 g makes the PX-Series feel and ride much lighter than the original P5X. Add that to SRAM’s Red eTap electronic shifting and Zipp’s 404/ 808 Firecrest wheelset and you have one very speedy bike.
Specialized S-Works Shiv Disc ¾
$18,549 The recent addition of Paula Findlay to Specialized’s impressive group of sponsored athletes means we might see some even faster times from the woman who graced our January cover. That monstrous Hydration Fuelcell remains a mainstay on the Shiv Disc bikes, not only providing lots of hydration, but also helping with aerodynamics. The FACT carbon frame also includes an integrated nutrition system and the cockpit is adjustable in every direction to ensure you can dial in the perfect fit. As is appropriate for the most expensive bike in our guide, you get Shimano Dura Ace Di2 components and hydraulic brakes along with Roval Rapide CLX 51/60-mm deep wheels.
$4,865 Last year Ventum came out with the Z, a chance for triathletes to enjoy the company’s unique design at a more affordable price than the flagship One model. The frame is the same for both, but the Z uses a simpler front end to keep the cost down. This iteration of the Z comes with Shimano’s mechanical 105 components, a Profile Design cockpit that offers lots of adjustability, along with Ventum’s exclusive Enve Carbon race wheels for a race-ready bike that will garner lots of attention in transition.—KM