Tri bikes are great for the performance-obsessed, but road bikes are simply more versatile and fun. Whether you’re thinking about adding a road bike to complement a dedicated tri bike, or plan to use one for every ride and race, a road bike is a valuable part of every triathlete’s gear collection. Here is how these bikes, spanning nearly every style, stack up for road cycling and as converted tri bikes with aerobars.
This article was originally published in the Sep./Oct. 2013 issue of Inside Triathlon magazine.
Parlee Z5 SLi
Forget techie frame details like aero shaping and flashy tube shapes—this frame is all about the classic elements of a road bike. Imagine a frame welded by a craftsman, but with the benefits of carbon. It rides beautifully and boasts the simplistic elegance that most modern bikes lack. The frame is stiff, smooth and beautiful. It carves steadily through corners and resolutely tracks a straight line. Shimano’s new Dura-Ace Di2 kit is spectacular, the best road component group we’ve tested, and the Enve SES 3.4 wheels are equally impressive. The Z5 SLi may not be as fast as the S5 or light as some others, but it’s a joy to ride and a perfect complement to an aero tri bike in any bike collection.
Round tubes don’t generally test well in the wind tunnel, and this frame is composed of nothing but. The geometry, however, works well with a pair of aerobars. Parlee offers this frame in two different fits—one with a taller stack height and another with a traditional road race-oriented fit. The reach length, however, doesn’t shorten. The steady handling characteristics of this road frame help translate to a neutral steering feel while controlling the bike from a set of aerobars.