Cervelo, Factor, Felt, Parlee, Specialized and Trek all make nice tri bikes that we carry. If a tri bike from one of these brands fits you well, we don’t have any hesitation recommending it in terms of the bike building capability of the brand. All of these brands know how to build a high quality bike. All are building 2019 tri bikes that are more than capable of being at the sharp end of the age group (and pro…) results. This being said, each of these brands approaches the triathlon market and bike development from a different angle and there are features beyond fit that are worthy your thought. Felt and Trek are really different companies when it comes to the tri bike market. With this in mind, we wanted to highlight a few of the 2019 tri bikes and provide a quick overview of how each company is addressing tri bikes for 2019.
2019 Cervelo Triathon Bikes
There is no brand in triathlon that has a history of dominance the way that the veritable Cervelo marquee has. For many years, the Kona bike count percentages are as close to a monopoly as one brand can have in a capitalist society. Cervelo usually has as many bikes as the next two brands combined, sometimes the next three. This being said, there are some indicators that the days of the crushing dominance on the pier by Cervelo are numbered and they will be the “mere” leader, instead of the crushing presence. Brands like Canyon, QR and Scott are gaining some traction.
However, one thing that has not changed is Cervelo’s commitment to triathlon. While Cervelo’s acquisition by PON in 2011/2012 may be seen by some as taking the wind out of their sales as the founders are no longer with the company, we have seen more advantages than disadvantages to the new ownership. Cervelo has become a better and more consistent supplier overall.
When it comes to product development, what needs to be remembered is that Cervelo may be a big company in terms of triathlon, but the triathlon bike industry is a relatively small pond. This means that while Cervelo continues to develop ground breaking bikes, like the P5X (still arguably the best “uber/super” bike execution to date), Cervelo has to allocate engineering projects. They can’t completely revamp the S series road bike line and all the P series tri bikes in the same model year. It simply costs too much and takes too many resources.
In the long-term, this isn’t a bad thing as Cervelo has had fewer problems with their new bike designs than they used to. The bikes are more “dialed in” at release and more reliable because of it. In the short-term, this isn’t ideal though as it can appear that they have “missed the boat” when it takes them an extra year to introduce updated models. This is the case with disc brakes on tri bikes. While they fired one of the earliest shots with the P5X having disc brakes in ’17, they didn’t introduce any new disc brake models for 2018 or 2019. We had really hoped to see more disc options for Cervelo for 2019.
So, outside of the superbike buyer looking at the revolutionary P5X, who should be buying a Cervelo if the P2 and P3 have seen only a few small changes in the past 4-5 seasons? The person who isn’t interested in disc brakes and who is looking for the most proven, straight-forward and reliable aero bike on the market today. The P2 and P3 remain very competitive aerodynamically and they are two of the simplest bikes mechanically on the market. As mentioned in our article on 2018 tri bikes, these bikes have the potential to be superbike killers while being easier to live with in many cases and definitely less money.
For those who want disc brakes, at a price under $10K, the P3X should be along as a 2020 model that will hopefully start shipping early/mid summer 2019.
2019 Factor Tri Bikes
Factor makes one tri “chassis” – the SLiCK. The SLiCK is a fully integrated top of the line offering and was new for 2018 and returns unchanged. Most lines are making their new flagship bikes with disc brakes, but Factor took a different approach which may pay off as the SLiCK is one of the most advanced and recently updated designs in tri bikes with caliper brakes. Designed to optimally be used as a complete frame/cockpit/wheel package, Factor holds the distinction of designing the SLiCK with/around the 51 SpeedShop aerobar as well as their own Black Inc. wheels. From frame, aerobar and wheel aerodynamics to low mechanical friction Ceramic Speed bearing equipped wheels, this combination has proven quite quick and takes some of the “unknowns” out as it was all tested/designed to work together.
The Twin Vane Evo downtube on the SLiCK is eye-catching and aero and like most top of the heap integrated designs today, the Factor StoraPak holds onto your necessities. While not the simplest bike on the market, the SLiCK is a unique bike and showing a lot of growth in sales for 2019. If you are interested, contact us to find out if it fits you and to work with us on component spec.
2019 Felt Tri Bikes
Like Cervelo, Felt was bought relatively recently. In the case of Felt, by the venerable Rossignol Group. 2018 proved an adjustment year for the brand. Their IA product was proven and remained strong in 2018, but was plagued by availability issues through much of the season. So far, 2019 looks better on this front. We have been receiving 2019 IA complete bikes lately…
Felt continues to take a cohesive and straight-forward approach to their tri bike models. Build one primary platform – the IA frame – but do it with three different levels of carbon and integration across price points. Aerodynamically, this means that if you buy the entry level $3150 IA16, you still get the same World Championship winning frame shape found on the top of the line $15K IA FRD.
The caliper brake IA models return in 2019 with some small spec changes, but are fundamentally very similar to 2018. These bikes worked well in 2018 and didn’t need much change. The rear brake caliper challenges that afflicted some of the original IA models have been fully dealt with on models like the IA10 which use the best direct mount caliper design in the business – Shimano’s. The models that don’t include a Shimano direct mount work better than the original design as well once our technicians inject some of what we have learned through the years fine tuning concealed direct mount brakes. In addition to bike fit, assembly details like this are one area where the place you buy your bike matters more than what you actually buy.
So, what is new from Felt on tri bikes? The big news is disc brakes are available on price points below $6K. While there are other brands that offer disc brakes below this price, it is great to see a brand like Felt get on top of disc brakes in a serious way for 2019. The disc brake offerings are built around new disc brake specific engineered versions of the IA; you get established performance enhanced by disc brakes.
The price point Felt B14 returns for 2019, allowing people to buy into Felt performance and a carbon frame for around $2K. Sadly, the S32, which had been the lowest priced tri bike on the market for many years, is no longer.
2019 Parlee Triathlon Bikes
Parlee was the first company to introduce disc brakes to triathlon bikes when they introduced the TTiR in 2017. The TTiR frame hasn’t changed. It remains one of the most comfortable and well made tri bikes on the market. Parlee did a nice job of blending what they know people want – integrated design – with universal functionality when they designed the front of their bike to match Profile Design’s Aeria aerobars. This means no proprietary aerobar with hard to find parts, but you get the benefit of the integrated shape and design.
Parlee continues to produce stunning custom paint options on the TTiR, like the fast looking example shown. With complete bikes (ready to ride) starting at $5300 with Ultegra (before applying Fit Werx fit credits), affording a bike that rides only as a true specialty fabricator can build is more accessible than many think.
2019 Specialized Triathlon Bikes
Specialized continues to offer the Shiv line of tri bikes across a variety of price points in 2019. While the new Shiv Disc Ubër Bike has a frame geometry/fit that is more similar to many other established tri bikes (like a Cervelo), the rest of the Shiv line remains a relatively unique frame geometry that has a taller stack for a given reach than average. While lacking a size that is any bigger than a 56cm in other brands, if you are medium to short in stature and often searching for a way to safely get your bars a bit higher, the Shiv caliper brake bikes may offer salvation.
The big news for Specialized is the 2019 Shiv Disc. Integrated power meter, integrated nutrition, integrated quick pack aerobars…If you want fully integrated design that is as aggressive as it comes, and aren’t afraid of a host of proprietary parts, the Shiv Disc is undeniably well equipped and slippery to the wind. Complete with disc brakes, it is also ready for the future.
At the moment, the Shiv Disc is only offered in a top of the line S-Works format. If we know Specialized, we suspect Shiv Disc technology trickle down through a more complete offering of models very soon.
2019 Trek Triathlon Bikes
Trek is a big company and they need a certain amount of scale to justify all the engineering and effort required to make a competitive tri bike. Having retracted for about five years, the tri market wasn’t looking promising in this regard for awhile. Thankfully, things are showing that triathlon bike sales are growing again.
While Trek didn’t redesign the Speed Concept for 2019, they have a compelling offering of Speed Concept options that are supported by Project One. This means that while Trek may not have a huge offering of readymade tri bikes in boxes ready to ship at a given moment, they do have a very known and reliable entity in the Speed Concept that you can choose your group, wheels and paint on that will usually ship in a matter of weeks.
The original Speed Concept was one of the first fully integrated tri bike designs when it came out in 2010. It was undeniably fast. While Trek has never fully redesigned the Speed Concept from scratch, they have continued to develop the platform. The integration of second generation nutrition and repair boxes and the addition of improved aerobar extension shapes are good examples.
We’ll see when Trek starts offering a disc brake triathlon bike. For now, the 2019 Speed Concept remains caliper brake only.