We review four of the best aero road bikes that provide the perfect building blocks for your step up to serious speed
You’ve done enough events and triathlon training to know you can cover your chosen bike-leg distance and you’re comfortable and confident on your conventional bike. What you’re not comfortable with is seeing your competitors cruise past in an efficient aero tuck on a low-drag bike, while you fight the wind to limit what you have to claw back on the run.
That’s why we’re testing the bikes that mark the stepping-stone into big-league performance. Hi-tech aero optimised frames with quality components that’ll put you in the right position to be doing the passing yourself, as well as providing the perfect platform for future upgrading without blowing your budget before the season starts.
In specific terms this means the mid-level carbon-fibre frames of some of the top triathlon brands. These often share the same wind-tunnel shapes and riding positions as the ultra-expensive flagship models, but in a slightly lower-grade carbon. This may add half a pound in weight, but can save you thousands in money terms. Staying with conventional wheels can also save you four-figure sums, as well as letting you get used to true tribike handling, without the added wind hazards of deep-section wheels.
Staying with good-quality alloy cockpit equipment and groupsets such as Shimano Ultegra also saves big bucks over carbon and Dura-Ace equivalents, with little effect on performance. We put these four ideal ‘next step’ bikes for serious non-drafting athletes to the test, to see which is best for you.
Specialized Transition Expert
Power-friendly aero frame with wide range of positional adjustability
Lighter wheels increase responsiveness and kit is reasonable
Internal cabling and frame weight dull climbing performance
Stiff frame means more fatigue on longer rides and rougher surfaces
There are some niggles, but this Transition is the most responsive we’ve ridden, keeping this easy-fit machine in competitive contention.
Cannondale Slice Ultegra
Lightweight and aerodynamic, yet powerful and practical frame
Carbon BB30 chainset amplifies the responsiveness of the chassis
Componentry is average rather than outstanding, but factor in upgrades
Proper aero wheels and better tyres are a potential-fulfilling improvement
The Slice is a fine performer with a superb balance of easy speed, aerodynamics, power delivery, comfortable cruising and practicality.
Aero-efficient and comfortable frame for long-distance joy
SRAM Red, Devox cockpit and deep-section wheel are kit highlights
Heavy wheels and flexible frame suck the sting out of sprints or climbs
Fat-nosed saddle was too broad for some, and seatpost is single position
Smooth, comfortable, efficiently aero with a great position and handling poise, the B12 is potentially a long-distance athlete’s best buddy.
Trek Speed Concept 7.5
Kammtail tube and integrated fixture aerodynamics
Very quiet and reasonably smooth ride once you get it up to speed
Definitely more of a cruising rather than charging character
Low overall spec for such an expensive bike with flexy base bar
This SC definitely has the potential to be a very fast solo bike for those with the power to hit high speeds, where its aerodynamics really kick in.