Review: Scott Plasma 5 Superbike

It's fair to say, and I often have, that we're in a bit of a golden age for triathlon bikes. Recent efforts like the Dimond bike, the Felt IA, and other tri-specific efforts have shown that the triathlon market is significant enough to warrant bike designs specific to our sport (and independent from UCI design restrictions). A lot of companies are still making UCI-legal frames that get some tri-specific add-ons, like the Trek Speed Concept, the Cervelo P5, and now the bike at hand, the Scott Plasma 5. And although these two design roads - all-triathlon parts vs UCI + tri parts - at first seem to be quite different, they can still lead to very similar results, at least as far as the wind is concerned. That's because despite their UCI limitations, bikes like the Speed Concept and the P5 have been virtually unbeatable in the wind tunnel. Some companies are showing results that rival or surpass these bikes at some yaw angles, but in general their supremacy as top-tier bikes still seems fairly safe.

The Plasma 5, in my opinion, is very likely every bit as good in the wind tunnel as any other top-tier bike, and has some very nice tri-specific features to boot. It's a gorgeous machine, from tip to tail, and rides beautifully. I've been spending the last four months or so getting to know this machine inside and out, learning all its features, pitfalls, and pleasant surprises, and I'm finally ready to write. Like any machine with highly-integrated components, there are ups and downs to the proprietary nature of its parts. But before we get started, I should mention that I'm reviewing the "Team Issue" build of this bike. It has SRAM RED 22 mechanical shifting with the new wider-blade R2C shifters, as well as a Zipp 404-front 808-rear wheelset, which proved my favorite combination of Zipp wheels. Save for a power meter and a tri-specific saddle, this is a complete racing setup that wants for nothing. A lot of high-end builds these days still leave me a little cold, and I'd prefer to just build up a bike from the frameset. Not so here - with the exception of possibly wanting to swap SRAM for Di2, I have zero complaints about how this bike is set up.

We'll start our review with the front end, which is becoming the most intricate area on the modern tri bike, and the place where bikes are really distinguished from one another. In the case of the Plasma 5, that involves the integrated aerobar and stem, fork, and brake. We'll save the integrated hydration and storage for the following page, as there's a lot to discuss there as well. Hit the jump and let's get started.