Colin Chapman, who founded Lotus Cars, is famous for describing his philosophy for designing race cars thusly, “Simplify, then add lightness.” He gave us the Lotus Seven, arguably the most minimalist thing on four wheels, from both a design and maintenance perspective. And he also spawned an entire school of thought when it came to making things that are meant to go fast. With Quintana Roo’s new PR6, we’re starting to wonder if the engineers over there are devotees of Mr. Chapman’s ideology, because the PR6 seems very much like the Lotus Seven in superbike form.
The largest complaint about the current generation of high-end bikes is that—no matter which one you pick—cabling them is an absolute nightmare and fitting them can become an exercise in how many times one wants to do a complete rewire. That ends with the PR6. There’s nothing complicated about how it deals with cable management. And it certainly won’t require re-cabling to change your fit, as complex cable management is not a phrase that comes to mind with QR’s latest. There’s an entry port aft of the headset, and the integrated stem uses a clamp if you need one. That’s it. There’s no internal-this or optimized-that; just simple, effective, sensible routing. Done.
Speaking of sensible, QR’s new integrated stem system embarrasses a whole lot of the industry with a grand sum total of six individual parts—the stem, a two-piece vertical clamp system, and three spacers for adjusting stack and reach on the stem. This new stem (and the accompanying fork) allows for adjustment of stack and reach with a single allen wrench from a zero-rise 80mm stem all the way to a 150mm rise, 120mm reach stem, and every point in between (Note: stack is adjustable in 5mm increments, and reach in 10mm increments). One assembly fits everyone, so there’s no more guessing. What makes this system even more noteworthy is that it is completely independent of the bar you choose to run—it can actually be taken off the bike and a standard stem can be fitted in an emergency, according to QR’s on-hand engineer. Like we said, “Simplify.”
The other half is, of course, “then add lightness.” Yes, we know the old saying, “aero trumps weight,” and we agree… that is, when we can’t have both. From an aero perspective, the PR6 is between a Shiv and a Speed Concept. But from a weight perspective, it blows the doors off the Shiv (claimed 200g difference on the frameset) and edges out the Speed Concept by 50g. Quintana Roo was able to save weight with respect to the industry standards by optimizing their aerodynamics through CFD analysis, notably in the rear seat stays, and removing the carbon that wasn’t contributing to being slipperier in the tunnel. The most material was removed from the join between the seat tube and the seat stays, and was actually aerodynamically motivated. Absent on the Illicito, the non-drive-side seat stay makes an appearance once more, but from that same bike is the fat, parallel to the ground chainstay. According to their engineer, the stay’s top edge being parallel to the ground allows it to have no drag penalty, but shields more of the rear wheel to clean up airflow behind the rider. Aero meets weight savings.
Speaking of aero, the bottle bosses on the downtube of the PR6 are suspiciously high, so we asked about them. QR says that, depending on your position, having a bottle on the downtube will only cost you “5-6 grams of drag versus a BTA bottle.” But unlike some other frames, the positioning is high enough to be easily accessible while still in the aero bars. If you’re riding long course, you’ll be glad that the seat tube has been designed for adding a rear wing and the top tube has bottle bosses for a bento box, as well, for all your nutrition and storage needs.
The only downside to this bike that we can see is the price. At $4,500, you get the frameset, which includes the stem system and fork. For $8,500, a carbon crank (Vision TriMax for the first run, then FSA K-Force Carbon afterward), Ultegra Di2, a Profile Design Aeria with T4 extensions (T2 pictured), Adamo Road, and Reynolds Strikes (72 Aero for the first run, at a $500 premium). Yes, the bike comes with Ultegra direct-mount brakes, which means that there’s some small cable run in the wind on the front of the bike versus straight-pull or hydraulic. We brought this up to QR. Their response was to laugh; they’d had this conversation, too. “The way we see it,” QR’s marketing director said, “is that nobody’s ever complained about Ultegra brakes. If they want a different brake, it’s a standard mount. Let them pick the one they want.”
Yes, it’s expensive. Nobody is going to deny that. Only, it isn’t really that expensive in comparison to other superbikes with electronic drivetrains. A Di2 SHIV is eleven grand. A comparably equipped Slice RS Black is a similar $10,830. Trek’s Speed Concept 9.9 is $11,549, and the P5 Di2 is the cheapest in the space… at ten grand. So for $1500 cheaper than the value leader, you go home with a bike that comes with a race wheelset. The P5 doesn’t. Advantage, PR6.
Is the PR6 perfect? Of course not. What it is, however, is smart. It is obvious that QR has spent a lot of time figuring out what makes a bike useable, and how to build the best bike they can around that central concept. Everything appears to be well thought-out; from the new stem system to the seat stays to the bottle mounts, and designed with the triathlete (not the timetrialist) in mind. Considering we’ll be racking it in transition instead of the start chute, we approve. We can’t wait to get one to test so we can see exactly how adjustable it really is. We were issued a challenge by Quintana Roo’s head engineer, by the way. He wants to see Devon, with his 83cm saddle height and 50cm of reach, fitted on a 56. He thinks that we can do it, and that it’ll even be comfortable. Very well, we accept. Stay tuned to see how this works out, and in the meantime, check out the gallery for the 2015 Quintana Roo PR6. If you’re a fan of functional design, this is bikeporn at its finest.
Quintana Roo Media
PR6 Tech Sheet – PR6 Tech Sheet
PR6 Brochure – Brochure