Triathlon bike research wrap-up.

Barring some unknown radical change, it appears that I will be joining the Cervelo Mafia. I got my independent confirmation today from Ian Murray, a well known and respected triathlon coach, bike fitter, bike enthusiast, and generally great guy. I emailed him my summary findings and geometry questions and he unhesitatingly recommended the Cervelo. He had some suggestions on some simple changes/upgrades which I may execute depending on price. They are also things I can do at any point once I own the bike. For those doing their own research, here is a summary of my research and findings:


2008 Jamis Xenith T1:
Price: $3200 from Triathlete Zombies
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura Ace
Rear derailleur: Dura Ace
Shifters: Dura Ace
Cranks: FSA
Brakes: OEM
Wheels: Easton
Vibration: minimal with great dampening
Handling: featherweight, easy to control, instantly responsive to power
Braking: terrible
Weight: featherweight
Feels fast?: YES
Shifting: very smooth
Appearance: unique, aggressive, nice red pinstriping
Pros: great frame, build, component group
Cons: death by Ford Explorer

2006 Kuota Kalibur:
Price: n/a (borrowed from friend, ’08 is on sale for $2430 from Triathlon Lab)
Front derailleur: Ultegra
Rear derailleur: Ultegra
Shifters: Dura Ace
Cranks: unknown
Brakes: Ultegra
Wheels: swanky tri spoke on rear, deep rim front
Vibration: minimal
Handling: solid and responsive
Braking: solid
Weight: semi-light to medium, felt the bike under me
Feels fast?: it delivered what was put into it, but speed took some effort
Shifting: some slip on the rear derailleur
Appearance: recognizable and sleek
Pros: fits somewhere between a tri bike and a road bike which meant comfort over long distances would be great with generally good transfer of power
Cons: less aggressive aero position came with making a comfy ride

2008 Specialized Transition Comp
Price: $2700 from Cynergy Cycles
Front derailleur: Shimano 105
Rear derailleur: Ultegra
Shifters: Dura Ace
Cranks: FSA
Brakes: OEM
Wheels: low end Shimano, then Specialized Roval for second test
Vibration: noticeable, even some creaking that went away with better wheels
Handling: medium. Didn’t feel bad but didn’t feel great, either.
Braking: solid
Feels fast?: it delivered what was put into it but it wasn’t going to help out, either. Not showing up on a podium any time soon.
Shifting: lots of slip on the rear derailleur, components felt chintzy
Appearance: bumblebee black and yellow paint looked good, straight up seat mast and sickle shape rear wheel cutout pretty sexy but aping Cervelo
Pros: at $2700 hard to beat on the price
Cons:   that price came by being clearly an entry level bike with a mishmosh of components that felt slapped together. Requires investing in better wheels which would improve the ride considerably, but adding another $700-$2,000 on that bike is perfume on a pig.

2008 Orbea Ordu
Price: $3339 on sale at Triathlon Lab
Front derailleur: Ultegra
Rear derailleur: Ultegra
Shifters: Dura Ace
Cranks: Ultegra
Brakes: Ultegra
Wheels: Mavic Cosmic
Vibration: minimal, smooth, and lovely. Felt like the reason carbon was invented.
Handling: solid, very forward over the front forks so steering was slightly compromised
Braking: quick-stop and perfect
Feels fast?: definitely
Shifting: very smooth
Appearance: drop dead sexy. Gorgeous design, unique styling, a stealth bomber.
Pros: felt great on first test ride, beautiful bike and a stand out package.
Cons:  on second ride felt my hips were too far back to power through entire clock of pedal stroke, this is due to an elongated top tube that can’t be corrected given my personal geometry. This makes it more of a road bike trying to be a tri bike. Still, a bike that just won Kona under Craig Alexander.

2008 Cervelo P3C
Price: $3300 from Triathlon Lab
Front derailleur: Dura Ace
Rear derailleur: Dura Ace
Shifters: Dura Ace
Cranks: FSA
Brakes: OEM
Wheels: Shimano low end
Vibration: minimal
Handling: solid, confident, turns easily while still being forward and aero
Braking: firm
Feels fast?: definitely
Shifting: smooth, little to no slip
Appearance: the frame design is hot, but the paint job is a big yawn and it will be hard to tell this bike apart from the 1,000 other Cervelos in the rack
Pros: this is the bike that everyone copies for a reason. I had full access to power in the entire clock cycle pedal stroke with confident control of the bike steering. A good aero tuck and a clean ride. The price for this bike is unbeatable.
Cons: everyone and their mother rides a P3C so it’s no longer a standout bike. With some customization I’ll find it in the rack, but that will add to the cost (detailing, wheels). The wheels on the model suck and need immediate upgrading. For now I’ll use my Mavic Aksiums, but this bike deserves better. The Dura Ace group is a wonderful component set but wears down faster than Ultegra. We’ll see if that will affect me.


4 responses to “Triathlon bike research wrap-up.

  1. No Schwinns, Huffys, or Raleighs?
    Good job.

  2. Hey Max,

    “Wheels: swanky tri spoke on rear, deep rim front”

    …are: HED Stinger 60 / HED3

    I took the stickers off because I think they look better on the bike and I hate to be a billboard.

  3. Why no Felt?

  4. I just finished reading your triathlon bike test ride adventures along with your great summary. I am now a fan of yours as I really enjoy your writing style, your wit, and your thoroughness. Thank you for all the great info. I just purchased a 2009 Jamis Xenith T1 and it’s everything you said in your review of the 2008 model (along with some added improvements) and the brakes work just fine for me.

    Thanks again and I look forward to reading your blogs going forward.



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