2012 Superbike Shootout

 Dec 24, 2011 article & images by Nick Salazar

The pace of innovation has been increasing dramatically in the world of triathlon bike design. A flurry of brand new bikes have sprung up, especially at the higher end of the pricing spectrum. One of the questions I get most often is "which superbike is currently the best?" But that's just not a simple question, because the answer, of course, is that it depends on you. What kind of rider you are, how mechanically inclined you are, and what sort of quirks you are willing to put up with are all factors that will determine which of the current cream-of-the-crop rides is best for you. And that calculus can change over time. It certainly has for me.

This shootout is meant to be an overview of each bike, distilled to its major features and drawbacks. All of these bikes have been covered elsewhere on TriRig, but not in one place as they are here. The idea is that seeing these summaries in one spot may be a benefit for the reader to figure out what route they want to go.

Each of the six machines shown here represent the unique expression of what their manufacturers think is the "best" way to make a tri bike. Each one is an attempt to make the fastest tool to get you from T1 to T2. But though they are united in their goal, they each took a very different road to get there. It's interesting just as a design study to see how much these bikes diverge despite their similar goals and design paths.

Finding Fit

One note before we begin this little trip: I can't overstate the importance of a good bike fit. Not only will that make you more comfortable and more powerful on the bike, but it will also determine with specificity which of these bikes fits you the best. In many cases, several of the bikes will fit very well, and you'll get to choose based on the feature set you like the best. I got fit at Retul, and I really like the process as well as the reports they generate for you.

Your fit itself really isn't a complicated matter - it consists of the three coordinates to your pads, shifters, and saddle. But finding out which bikes will best get you there can be challenging if you aren't familiar with poring over stack and reach charts. I really wish more manufacturers would get on board with publishing X-Y to the pads, especially when integrated aerobars are involved, limiting your ability to swap out components to alter that fit. I find that coordinate to be the most important, as everything else is usually quite easy to adjust. Where relevant, I'll talk about which size I picked to jive with my fit, and why.

With that out of the way, let's get to the bikes. Hit the jump below, or use the menu at the top of this article to navigate between bikes.

Tags » blue,  felt,  frames,  shiv,  shootout,  specialized,  speedconcept,  tm01,  trek,  triadsl
  • Andreas Raelert riding his aggressive position on the BMC TM01.
  • The BMC TM01 I test rode in Las Vegas at the 70.3 World Championships.
  • Craig Alexander signed to Specialized just before the Kona World Championships, and rode it to his third Kona title, and a Kona course record.
  • The Specialized Shiv from the launch in Kona, Hawaii.
  • Dirk Bockel rode a custom-painted Blue Triad SL in Kona.
  • The Blue Triad SL is among my favorite of this batch. It's sleek, easy to wrench, and rides great.
  • With an aero brake, the Blue Triad SL has a frontal profile to rival anything in this test.
  • My position aboard the Blue Triad SL.
  • The bike with the sleekest stock profile has got to be the Trek Speed Concept.
  • Chris Lieto aboard his Kona edition Trek Speed Concept.
  • Here's my Speed Concept stripped down to the nude carbon.
  • Mirinda Carfrae aboard her Felt DA, which comes in a 650C version.
  • Rinny riding her Felt DA.
  • Andi Boecherer on the Felt DA.
  • The 2012 TriRig Superbike Shootout

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