In the past few years, the triathlon world has seen a deluge of new frames, both from industry stalwarts like Trek, Cervelo, Scott, and Felt, as well as a couple of very interesting new players including Dimond, Falco, and Ventum. The tri consumer has a wider range of cutting-edge choices than ever before, and sifting through them can be confusing. This article is a roundup of some of the best frames on the market, and our detailed opinion of each.
But there's no universally "best" frame. Deciding which frame might be ideal for a given consumer comes down to a certain hierarchy of choices for the individual consumer. First among these should always be fit, of course. You want to start with solid fit numbers, generated by a competent fitter you trust, then pick a bike that can hit those numbers. But it's not as simple as that. Many bikes these days can get you to hit your fit numbers, but may do so in a way that's geometrically awkward. That is, if you're not careful you may wind up with a tiny bike with a very long and very tall cockpit, or a very large bike with a very short cockpit that leaves you no room to go lower in the future. It behooves the potential buyer to learn a bit about bike geometry, particularly the relationship between frame coordinates and pad coordinates, and what is meant by "effective stem length."
Beyond the mere fit is whether you're able to set up the bike in a way that's optimal both for the aerodynamics of the bike itself, as well as your own nutrition and hydration needs for the types of events you ride. Doing Iron-distance events? You want to be sure you can store enough nutrition and hydration in a clean and accessible way.
Then there's wrenchability, or the ability to do maintenance on the bike by yourself. Going for that hyper-integrated bike? Make sure you have some good technical ability, or otherwise easy access to someone who does. The last thing you want is to have a small mechanical hiccup in your integrated whatever, and have to wait a week for your local shop to figure it out.
This says nothing of price, availability, weight, or aesthetics. Those are factors we won't really cover here, and are left to the reader. We've included seven bikes in this test. With that in mind, let's get started.