Where day one of Interbike brought clouds and rain, day two greeted us with a sunrise we will not soon forget. We arrived bright and early with the goal of testing some of the frames manufactures had just released over the past few months. Interbike’s Outdoor Demo is mostly a mountain bike affair, and unfortunately that meant most of our rides were spent going down hills and climbing back up. Not the best way to test a TT bike, but then again, that’s what long-term reviews are for. Check out our gallery below as well as our initial thoughts (based on just a single ride) of some of the frames we had a chance to experience.
$399 – that’s the new price of admission for single crank power meters. 4iii is introducing their Precision crank-based power meter here at Interbike, and we got our first look at the preproduction unit. Stay tuned for more details soon.
Easily one of the most communicative bikes we’ve ever ridden, the 795 (we did not get a chance to ride the Aero version, with the integrated fork) simply talks to us in a way the others did not. Feedback through the pedals was stunningly good, and the front tire had a direct line to our palms. In addition, the concern about stiffness due to the sloping head tube has been done away with. Look’s latest is a rigidly stiff race bike that tells you exactly what is going on at each tire. If you’re looking for compliant rides, look elsewhere; the 795 is built to win races.
We rode the AR last year and loved it, this year was no different. The frame is as stiff as you can ask for without Textreme layups (available on the AR FRD), and the bike simply delights in laying over in corners, then snapping back to attention in an instant. Very few bikes have this level of responsiveness in the twisties, and we rode it on quite a few switchbacks far faster than we really ought to have done. There is a competent eagerness to the character of the AR; it simply makes you believe you are faster. The AR3 makes use of Shimano’s Ultegra mechanical drivetrain and brakes, including the new direct mount rear brake. The front brake is going to do the majority of your braking, which is great, because it’s wholly up to the task. The rear, however, leaves a lot to be desired, but the trade-off is superior aerodynamics. We’ll take that deal.
Scott Plasma 5
Scott originally told us that no 5s (First Look) would be available for testing until Kona, so imagine our surprise when we walked by Scott’s Outdoor demo booth and saw that not one, but three bikes were available for test rides. We grabbed two and took them for a 15 miler that proved the old adage…what goes down takes a lot more effort to pedal back up.
The first thing we noticed was how quick this bike was. Built with Red 22 and a 404/808 wheelset, we were a bit shocked how quickly it got off the line. We wouldn’t call it light weight when compared to a true road bike, but it was one of the lightest feeling TT bikes we had ever ridden—a feature we certainly appreciated when we had a long 7-mile climb to contend with to finish our ride. We didn’t get a great deal of time riding in the aero bars, but when we did, the bike made for a comfortable cruiser. Our one nitpick was that we did have to fight the bike a bit in some pretty strong crosswinds; but then again, so did one of our editors who was riding a road bike at the time. So we’ll need to get some more rides in before we can say if this was just a factor of the weather or something to take into buying consideration.
The bikes we road had both the integrated Profile Design hydration system and bento box. Neither so much as rattled once on the entire ride – something we definitely wanted to validate ever since we saw the first pictures of the Plasma 5. Most importantly, we walked away from the Plasma 5 wanting more – more time in the saddle, more time in the aerobars, and many more miles under our wheels. Luckily Scott has already promise one to us post-Kona. Stay tuned!
Fuji released the Transonic in July and just a few months later have a complete demo fleet in Vegas. The Transonic clearly rides more like a road bike than TT machine (a concern of many an aero road bike). It was comfortable going down the hills. We never felt like it was getting away from us. On a couple tight switchbacks the bike showed us its agile nature. We simply had to point it where we wanted it to go and it handled the rest. The Transonic is an incredibly stiff bike that transmitted every watt our legs put down to the rear wheel. Like the Plasma above, we cannot wait to get a Transonic in for a long-term test.
Pinarello Dogma F8
It is not every day you get to ride the same bike as Chris Froome in the Vuelta. We were lucky enough to find that Pinarello had a few Dogma F8s available for test rides, so obviously we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Pinarello worked with Team Sky and Jaguar when designing the F8, and the bike clearly benefited from the partnership. The F8’s headtube and fork have both been optimized in the wind tunnel. While the seat tube and seat stay junction look more TT bike than road bike, the changes resulted in a 47% improvement when compared to the Dogma 65.1. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the climbing abilities of the F8 were compromised in the name of aerodynamic improvements. The F8 is 12% more rigid and 120g lighter than the 65.1. And wow, can it climb! It felt like we were strapped to a rocket ship. Sprinting up the climbs was effortless. After just a single ride, we already are wondering how we might get one into our personal garage (or at least get one for a long-term review).