Trek Speed Concept 9 Series
$10,600 (with Bontrager Aeolus D3 wheels), Trekbikes.com
Verdict: The fastest bike, and the most mechanically challenging
Trek has created a range of integrated stems that span a wide breadth of fit preferences. Paired with the highly adjustable Bontrager aerobar, this bike is a fit chameleon capable of morphing into a conservative position or an aggressive one. Accommodating very conservative positions requires a lot of spacers, and the frame itself is best suited to aero fits ranging from moderate to race-oriented, but the machine can accommodate upright positions as well. For micro-adjustments to position, Bontrager’s aerobar can be tweaked in any direction.
Integration can come with a host of complications, but blending nearly the entire front end into a single seamless form did not turn the Speed Concept into a mechanic’s nightmare. Re-cabling the derailleurs and brakes takes more time and precision than on a standard bike, but it is achievable with practice. The aerobars can be micro-adjusted to account for position tweaks, and adjusting the brakes is the only irregularly difficult mechanical task. Changing width and pad orientation for different wheels is a struggle.
There is a fine balance between a twitchy bike and an agile one. The Speed Concept can weave quickly while riding the aero position without feeling unstable or skipping around the road. It isn’t a tranquil cruiser, but it still settles into a nicely balanced medium. Quick sprints are no problem; the bike willingly skips up to speed, although it feels barely less stiff underfoot than the others.
Campagnolo, the historic Italian component manufacturer, ignored triathlon for several years, but reentered with a phenomenal groupset. It was worth the wait. The Campagnolo Super Record 11 kit executes sharper rear shifts than any other mechanical tri components. It jumps through the cassette with a light flick of the shifter, yet each gear change feels solid and crisp. Trek’s integrated brakes perform admirably but struggle to fit wide-rim wheels and are more difficult to adjust than any other in this review.
Despite being the oldest frame design in the test, released in the summer of 2010, Trek’s combination of effective shapes and creative integration allowed it to beat the other three contenders in the wind tunnel shoot-out. While the Cervélo P5 held an advantage at very narrow yaw angles—zero and five degrees—the Speed Concept took control of the test at wider angles, which occur more frequently for amateur triathletes who typically can’t match the speeds of pure time-trialists.