Triathlete Tech Editor Aaron Hersh was on hand for Trek’s Speed Concept unveiling at the Tour of California TT. Even though different versions of the Speed Concept have been on the road for a year, Trek has been hiding secrets about their new tri bike. They showed everything today.
Written by: Aaron Hersh
Prototypes of Trek’s sleek and streamlined new tri bike have appeared under the likes of Lance Armstrong and Chris Lieto, but they have been riding dumbed-down iterations of the real Speed Concept. You may have seen the Kammtail tubes, the hidden brakes and the integrated stem but you haven’t seen the real Speed Concept yet. Trek finally unveiled their masterpiece today. The production Speed Concept 9 Series, available for purchase immediately, features a revolutionary replacement for the stem and steerer tube and innovative tri-specific storage solutions.
Trek’s President, John Burke, began the product release with an uplifting statement. He called the Speed Concept 9 Series “way beyond anything in the tri world.” Not the road time trial world, but the triathlon world. The biggest bike brand in American designed their flagship aero bike for the needs of triathletes, rather than Lance Armstrong’s requirements.
The International Cycling Union strictly controls the time trial bikes used by professional cyclists. These restrictions have stymied the development of aero bikes because they limit the shape of the frame and the components. Trek ignored the rules. They designed the most aerodynamic bike they could and are selling it to triathletes, road cyclists use a watered-down version. Trek’s new commitment to triathlon extends beyond aerodynamics. Not only does the Speed Concept test well in the wind tunnel but it also boasts a sensible fit that accommodates riders of every shape and size. You don’t have to be Chris Lieto to ride the Speed Concept.
Speed Concept 9 Series:
Streamlined stem: The Speed Concept’s most significant technological advancement is the system that replaces the stem. It is not only aerodynamically clean but also extremely adjustable. It clamps to a proprietary aerobar that can be adjusted for both length and height. There are other tri bikes with integrated front ends, but none can match the Speed Concept’s combination of aerodynamic efficiency and adjustability.
Tube shapes: The Speed Concept does not have airfoil tube shapes like those found on nearly every other tri bike. Instead, they took a super-deep airfoil and chopped the rear off. This allows the tube to behave like a more extreme-profiled airfoil. Trek says this shape, called the Kammtail, behaves similarly to the unadulterated deep airfoil at shallow yaw angles and outperforms at steep wind angles.
Integrated storage: Triathletes carry a lot of stuff on our race bikes. We mess up the aerodynamics of an otherwise streamlined bike by zip tying, duct taping and jury rigging accessories all over the frame. Trek has a solution. They equipped the Speed Concept with integrated storage boxes behind the steerer tube and the seat tube, which can fit both nutrition and flat repair. These containers, called the Speed Box and the Draft Box respectively, do not hamper aerodynamic performance at any wind angle and actually improve aerodynamics in extreme conditions. The Draft Box is not yet available.
Fit: Trek asserts that the Speed Concept 9 Series is the most aerodynamic bike in the world. A couple other manufacturers make the same claim but none of the other uber-aero bikes can match the Speed Concept’s range of adjustment. It can be assembled with six different stems that allow for a wide range of both stack and reach adjustment. Some other bikes boasting fully integrated front ends can lift the aerobars but they cannot move the aerobars back to the rider to accommodate a short reach. The Speed Concept’s aerobar extensions can be tilted up or down, rotated and adjusted in length with the turn of a bolt. No saw required. The Speed Concept, of course, has a steep seat tube that can accommodate positions from 75 degrees to 82 degrees.
Pricing and models: The Speed Concept 9 Series is available with three different component spec’s through Trek’s Project One customization program. It retails for $5,775 with Shimano Ultegra, $7,870 with SRAM Force and Aeolus 5.0 ACC race wheels and comes with SRAM Red and Aeolus 6.5 race wheels for $8,925. Initially it will only be sold as a complete bike.
There are very few secrets in an intimate community like the bike industry and Trek managed to keep a big one from the public. The highly anticipated Speed Concept was only a third of today’s release. In addition to the top-shelf Speed Concept 9 Series, Trek unveiled a mid-level full carbon bike called the 7 Series and an entry-level aluminum version called the 2 Series.
Speed Concept 7 Series: The 7 Series frame is nearly identical to the flagship 9 Series. It has the same geometry, rear brake, tube shapes and storage solutions but uses a conventional fork and front brake rather than the integrated version found on the 9 Series. It will be available in five sizes that all boast tri-specific geometry that scales appropriately for riders of all sizes. It will come at three different price points; $2,520 with SRAM Apex, $2,940 with SRAM Rival and $3,670 with Shimano Ultegra. It will be available for purchase in August.
Speed Concept 2 Series: Trek is applying their Kammtail tube shapes to their new entry-level aluminum bike, the Speed Concept 2 Series. This version will not be available until the early fall and will cost less than $2,000.