2012 Superbike Shootout
Dec 24, 2011
article & images by Nick Salazar
(For my in-depth review of the Triad SL, click here.)
In late 2010, Blue unveiled the new Triad SL to the surprise of the tri world. It was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise. The newest bike to carry Blue's Triad label is a significant departure from the previous version, and has basically thrust the manufacturer right to the cutting edge of the industry. The bike features a bayonet fork, integrated aerobar and rear brake, a dual-position seatpost, BB30, and very clean cable routing throughout. Gone is the integrated seatmast and mast-topper of the previous version, which thankfully means no more seatpost cutting.
What separates the Triad SL from the rest of the pack of highly-integrated machines is the slant Blue takes on its aerobar setup. More and more, other manufacturers are choosing to fix the base bar in place, and provide stack adjustment beneath the pads/extensions. Blue goes the other way. The entire aerobar assembly raises up and down, above spacers much like those for a traditional road bar stem. But because the Triad SL has an aero-shaped bayonet fork, the spacers themselves are also aero-shaped, and perfectly match the airfoil created by the front end. The result is a spacer system that never uses a round cross-section anywhere, keeping the airflow as smooth as possible.
Of course, an integrated aerobar is only an asset if it fits your position. So how does the Blue measure up? To begin with, the bar and stem are one piece, but comes in effective lengths from 80mm to 120mm. This yields a single piece that's lighter and more aerodynamic than a two-piece solution, but requires that you know your fit numbers reasonably well beforehand. The pads can adjust forward or backwards 25mm from neutral, to fine-tune the fit. The bar accepts standard aerobar extensions, and has both reach and roll adjustment managed by one bolt per extension. However, because the extensions don't go through the back of the bar, you may have to cut them to get them short enough. This is a limitation that bars like the Felt Devox don't have. Finally, the bar features a dedicated spot to mount a computer, eliminating the need for an uglier hobbled-together-with-foam-tape-and-zip-ties type solution.
Because the only riser system on the bike is the aero spacers beneath the bar, athletes considering the Triad SL will want to take a hard look at their fit numbers. It simply wouldn't be feasible to add 8cm of rise using the spacers, and the integrated stems are flat, so they don't provide any rise there. As with most integrated setups, a bit more care is required of the rider to ensure the fit will be right.
Surprisingly, Blue chose to leave the front brake alone. The fork is equipped with a standard brake boss, and the bike is spec'ed with a standard front brake. Increasingly, this is becoming an area that manufacturers are looking at for an aero advantage. But because the front brake is so important from a safety perspective, Blue chose to leave it alone. It makes the bike a great candidate for an Omega brake.