Review: Trek Speed Concept

 Oct 21, 2010 article & images by Nick Salazar

Our full review of the Trek Speed Concept 9.9

This review has been a long time coming. When the Speed Concept first debuted at the 2009 Giro d'Italia Prologue, ridden by Alberto Contador, the triathlon world emitted a collective gasp. Despite an obscure paint scheme and some less-than-revealing press photos, it was obvious that this bike was something special. Hidden brakes, completely hidden cables, and who knew what else. Well, Trek left us hanging for the better part of a year, but finally released the bike to the world in May of 2010, in an overt attempt to become a bigger player in the world of triathlon. But this bike isn't merely another entry into the tri market. It represents a shift in the tri market, in two ways.

First, this is really the first bike at this level of commercial success to be so thoroughly focused on the needs of triathletes rather than of UCI-bound road riders. Triathletes aboard this machine can know that it was built with their needs in mind, and has the features that they need, right out of the box.

The second and more obvious shift is about what this bike represents in terms of bike technology. The level of integration and attention to detail (both aesthetic and technical) is astounding. Trek has gone to great lengths to inform its public about how this bike was developed, why they included the features they did, and what they think those features mean for the bike's performance and aerodynamics.

Beyond the Glitz

It's a beautiful bike, but what's beneath the surface?

And as far as the whole form following function thing goes, this bike is insanely good-looking. One glance at the pointy end of this bike has most athletes reaching for their wallets. But what's beneath all the glamor? Is this machine everything we've hoped for? What are its quirks, and can you live with them? These are the questions we set out to answer with our review of this attractive machine. We're taking an in-depth look at every aspect of this bike from the handlebars to the chainstays, and every bit in between. There's a lot here, and to us, it's all relevant. Not everything we discuss will be important to every user, and that's not the point. It's that this isn't just another bike, it's a whole new paradigm. And it makes sense to see how Trek achieved its goals, and what sacrifices they may have made in the process. So that's why we're here. To tell you about this thing, from top to bottom. Enjoy.

Tags » frames,  speedconcept,  trek
  • The Trek Speed Concept 9.9
  • Without a doubt, the Speed Concept is quite alluring from the front.
  • Trek has integrated more parts on the Speed Concept than any bike before it.
  • We think there are a few too many bolts up front, but that's the price of the incredible adjustability in the extensions.
  • This is the minimum stack the pads can have over the base bar.  We wish they could go a little lower to accomodate athletes in need of very low positions.
  • Again, the key word is 'Integrated.' Trek's custom stem hides all the cables going into the bike, and provides a more aero solution than standard round stems.
  • The stem consists of an alloy underside responsible for all clamping duties, and a plastic cover that just hides everything going on beneath it.
  • These are the low-far and mid-far stem options.  It'd be nice to see an option between these two, or a way to stack the pads lower relative to the base bar.
  • The front brake is both beautiful and highly functional.
  • The rear brake originally came with some very small, easily-rusted bolts which we replaced with sturdier socket-head stainless ones.  Definitely do this if you get the bike.
  • Trek has made a very simple, functional seatpost clamp.  It looks like a very durable piece of kit.
  • Trek's four-position seatpost allows triathletes to dial in almost any preferred position.
  • The Kammtail Virtual Foil, or KVF, is Trek's new claim to aerodynamic superiority.
  • Trek is quite proud of their new shape, claiming it's more aerodynamic and stiffer to boot.
  • We don't have equipment to test the bike's aerodynamics, but we can confirm that this machine is stiff in a very good way.
  • One thing's for sure about that bottom bracket: it's beefy, and stiff.
  • BB90 has strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately works very well, as long as you don't plan on changing out your stock cranks.
  • Trek's integration philosophy extends to the bike's accessories; the black Speed Box mates beautifully with the back of the seat tube, and the Bontrager Aero Bottle fits nicely in the main triangle.
  • The Speed Box provides a more aero storage alternative than the standard saddle bag.
  • The box basically extends the airfoil of the seat tube, taking advantage of the bike's existing aerodynamics.
  • When bolted to the seat tube, Bontrager's aero bottle tucks down nicely into the bottom of the main triangle.
  • The Bontrager aero bottle just barely peeks out beyond the width of the frame tubes.
  • It looks good, and it's pretty easy to access too.

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