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Lightweight Road Bikes For Triathlon Head To Head Review

| Bike Reviews | Gear | 09/09/2012 05:00am
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We review four of the best lightweight road bikes in the £2,500 price range

For more road bike reviews, check out our round-up of the Best Road Bikes For Triathlon.

The lighter your bike is, the faster it’ll accelerate and the easier it’ll go uphill. Bikes that are instantly responsive and climb effortlessly make you feel more confident and more powerful in the saddle than the much more intangible advantage offered by aero frames and wheels. Unlike aero advantages that need a 20mph cruising speed before any real difference is noticed, low weight is a big bonus for even the slowest novice riders.

The other good news is that really light, sub-kilo framed superbikes don’t cost the absolute fortune they used to. The mid-price components used to complete them perform better than ever before, which means our chosen £2,500 bracket contains some absolute crackers. The diverse characters of our quartet prove there’s still a wide range of riding styles available even if weight loss is your first priority.

But which of these bikes offers the best overall balance for which rider? What offers the best complete package deal or the best upgrade investment potential? Which is best suited for those wanting to finish the bike leg first and which is the prime choice for those just wanting to finish fresh enough to hit the run hard? We’ve ridden them through every test situation from technical climbs and descents, to chain-gang training sessions or big days out in the hills to find out.

 


 

Giant TCR Advanced 2
£ 2,249
giant-bicycles.com

Giant is one of the world’s most experienced composite frame builders and the TCR Advanced proves just that. If you’ve been studying bike test form recently, then you’d be daft to bet against Giant when it comes to ride quality at any price. The TCR Advanced is a proper thoroughbred that’ll delight both experienced race jockeys and those just moving from a canter to a fast gallop.

Pros
+ Super-light, powerful, ultra precise handling and future-proof frameset
+ Decent quality kit collection considering the superlative frame

Cons
- Wheels roll and corner really well, but they’re not light
- Currently limited aftermarket stem options

Verdict
Cheaper than most ‘super bike’ frames, Giant’s TCR delivers a superlative ride with confident handling that’ll take you riding to a whole new level

Performance 5/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

 


 

Scott CR1 Elite
£2,299
scott-sports.com

Scott’s ultra-light yet upright-riding CR1 has been around for a while, giving less finish-line-focused riders an efficient and effortless cruiser and climber. The ride position, level of steering precision and power delivery doesn’t naturally want to hurry. Claims of high comfort are also relative to Scott’s other performance frames rather than the big bike picture.

Pros
+ Very light for a cruiser-style upright frame
+ SRAM and Mavic component pick keeps overall weight low

Cons
- Short and upright position trends towards cruising rather than combat
- Shock absorption levels more akin to a race bike than a comfort bike

Verdict
As light, responsive and efficient as a race bike, but shaped like a cruiser, Scott’s CR1 Elite suits less flexible riders who still like a sporty ride feel

Performance 4/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

 


 

Lapierre Xelius 200
£2,349.99
hotlines-uk.com

The Xelius frameset is the top race model in the Lapierre line-up, with a naturally aggressive ride and a riding position to match. You’re paying for the frame quality in the componentry though, which makes it slightly heavy and leaden for the price.

Pros
+ Lightweight, well-balanced frame
+ Particularly smooth ride for a race bike

Cons
- Spec is below par and the ride and performance suffers as a result
- Limited sizing options

Verdict
Well balanced in terms of power delivery, handling and long-ride comfort, but high component weights dull its responsiveness

Performance 4/5
Value 2/5
Overall 3/5

 


 

Boardman SLR 9.2
£2,599
boardmanbikes.com

Chris Boardman’s race experience and legendary attention to detail has created a pure performance bargain. Boardman’s SLR is a racer’s bike: seriously light, but stiff enough to put every watt where you want it and superbly stable to make sure you can concentrate all your effort on going forward.

Pros
+ Superbly stiff, power-proof, stable and surefooted frameset
+ Top componentry keeps weight low and responsiveness high

Cons
-      Stiff frame feels sharp rather than forgiving at low speeds
-      Man-size performance means man- size gears so pootlers need not apply

Verdict
The SLR 9.2 is an unashamedly powerful, race focused machine that’ll go toe-to-toe with bikes three times its price

Performance 4/5
Value 5/5
Overall 4/5

 


 

Overall verdict

The Lapierre Xelius is a superb, top-performing frameset that could grow into a truly great all-rounder with a bit of upgrading. Scott have done a very good job at saving weight without making the CR1 frame cost a fortune. The result is a very efficient feeling bike, although the upright ride position is definitely best suited to a more relaxed than rabid racer mindset.

The Boardman SLR is a proper muscle bike that’ll eat Strava King of the Mountain segments for breakfast and blow the pack apart as soon as you flex your fast twitch fibres. It handles with a sure-footed security that’ll give you endless bounds of confidence. It’s definitely combative rather than comfortable though.

So, it’s Giant’s TCR Advanced 2 that takes our overall win this time round. The blend of sharp responsiveness when you press the pedals, almost demonic descending performance, yet surprisingly contented cruising glide makes it a marvellous bike for whatever ride you’re doing. With an easily upgradable frame, it’s a very cost effective super bike.

For more road bike reviews, check out our round-up of the Best Road Bikes For Triathlon.

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Posted on Sunday, September 9th, 2012 at 5:00 am under Bike Reviews, Gear. You can subscribe to comments. Comments are closed.

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