We review four of the best road bikes for long-distance triathlon training and racing
The latest of our head-to-head reviews focuses on the best long-distance bikes. For more road bike reviews, check out our Best Road Bikes For Triathlon round-up.
On a race-day bike, a long, low position can help you beat the wind and the clock. But really long rides – and less flexible bodies – often call for a more comfortable position and a frame that’ll smooth out rougher road surfaces. For a bike that’ll offer a more comfortable position, look to go slightly shorter in the top tube and slightly taller in the head tube. The more upright riding position will stave off fatigue for longer, reducing the chance of aches and pains. The wheelbase is usually longer too; the extra length will have the effect of making the handling more stable and less twitchy – ideal for keeping you on the road at the end of an epic ride when concentration is reduced. We’ve chosen four bikes that fit the bill, but that all have individual design touches to offer a wide range of options.
Trek Madone 3.1 (2013)
The Madone legend may have been tarnished by recent revelations about Lance Armstrong but it’s still one of the true greats. While Trek’s range-topping 7 Series frame has had a successful aero makeover for 2013, the 3 Series has kept the previous round-tube design but with a few upgrades in the spec. It offers precisely what most of us want from a big distance bike, and that’s comfort and confidence on the road.
Read the full Trek Madone 3.1 review
+ Superior comfort balanced with fine handling
+ Massive gear range is a boon to tired legs
– Wheels don’t do justice to the frame
– We’d also like a carbon seatpost
Felt Z5 (2013)
For 2013, the Z Series chassis has been revamped from the ground up to create one of the finest bikes of its type around. The Z5 is light, smooth and very well equipped.
Read the full Felt Z5 review
+ Wide gear range optimised for climbing
+ Future-proof frameset
– Sportive focused design won’t appeal to racers
– Cone-shaped headset top cap limits adjustability
Giant Defy Advanced 2 (2013)
It’s the poise and stable character on fast descents that makes us love the Defy. It’s simply a better all-rounder than the competition and puts plenty of out-and-out race bikes to shame when you’re pointing downwards.
Read the full Giant Defy Advanced 2 review
+ One of the best all-round framesets ever created
+ Lightweight chassis ideal for upgrading
– Kit can’t match the truly impressive frame
– You’ll want to start upgrading it immediately
Bianchi Sempre Pro Veloce (2013)
The latest Sempre Pro improves on what was already a great bike. It retains the great ride and has a fully featured up-to-date frame that’s also shaved a fair few grams.
Read the full Bianchi Sempre Pro Veloce review
+ Smooth over coarse surfaces
+ Sharp race-bike like handling
– Not the best value for money spec
– Frame deserves better than average wheels
The Trek’s bargain price and smooth ride is truly impressive, but the lack of provision for electronic drivetrains and average wheels hold it back from top honours.
Felt’s Z5 matches the competition, and in some aspects, surpasses the rest in its spec and value. The very focused endurance bias makes it a great choice and the newly debuted frame is impressive.
Bianchi’s Sempre Pro is a great all-rounder. Where the Felt is focused on endurance, the Bianchi is focused on competition. Even the average spec can’t hold it back from being much greater than the sum of its parts.
Top honours must go to Giant’s Defy Advanced 2, though. The frame is quite simply the best endurance-focused design we’ve ever tried. It may lack headline-grabbing bits of kit but what has been used is trusted, long-lasting, top-performing gear. We could talk about its lightness, handling, and gliding comfort over rough roads, but it’s the best because it’s an exciting and involving bike to ride.