Blue Triad SL Review
article & images by Nick Salazar
Nov 20, 2011
Like the rest of the bike, the Triad SL's frame is all about ease of maintenance. Starting up front, internal liners make it very easy to build up a bike. Just put cable housing in one end, and it pops out the other end like magic. Both brakes are exposed, so there's nothing in your way when making an adjustment. And the BB30 bottom bracket means you can use just about any crank out there without issue. If you want to use non-BB30 cranks, you just get a simple adapter. I prefer the ones from Wheels Manufacturing, and they make them for Shimano and GXP cranks. Of course, there are a lot of great BB30 cranks out there too, like the Lightning SL.
The bike uses horizontal dropouts. I prefer the easier-to-use vertical variety, but once you get the hang of using the horizontal ones, you'll be able to change wheels just fine. The seatpost clamp is a two-bolt system as used on bikes like the Cervelo P3, the Specialized Shiv, and others. It's an easy and sure method of clamping the post down, though I'm starting to prefer the simplicity of single-bolt top-tube wedge systems as found on the TM01 and Speed Concept.
The ride is wonderful. The Blue offers a slightly more compliant ride than the ultra-stiff Speed Concept I'm used to, and this was a welcome change. The front end and BB areas still feel like they offer a lot of torsional stiffness, so perhaps the compliance comes from the difference in tube shapes or layup. In any case, it's a nice ride.
If there's a drawback here, it's that the tube shapes are perhaps not as advanced as on some other bikes. Offerings from brands like Specialized and Cervelo seem to have had more design maturity. That is, their tube shapes have had a bit more time to be refined and developed. What we see on those bikes are typically shapes closer to 50/50 airfoils - tubes with blunt front and rear sections, that handle a little better in crosswinds. That's not to say that the Blue shapes aren't fast, and I certainly haven't done any quantitative analysis, but I would guess that there are good reasons that the engineer-heavy manufacturers have generally shifted away from pointy teardrop cross sections. Regardless, the Blue still rides very well, and handles just fine in the wind.
The other gripe I have about the frameset is that, while the cables are quite easy to route, you have to choose your drivetrain before buying the frameset. As with many manufacturers, there are separate frames for Di2 versus cabled setups. That's annoying, and means you can't upgrade a cabled bike to Di2, you'd need a brand new frame for that. Blue says they're working on a revision to integrate both systems into one frameset, but as of now, you have to be careful and know what you're buying.
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