A Category Killer in a Critical Category.
Aerodynamic carbon fiber frame, Shimano Ultegra, Vision aerobars, $2100.
Those are the specs that Quintana Roo brings to the table at the critical $2000+/- price range for 2011 with the new Seduza triathlon bike. It’s a compelling case on the surface. As we dig deeper it gets better.
The Competing Bikes.
The competition within a few hundred dollars of the Quintana Roo Seduza is joined by Felt’s B16, Cervelo’s P2 Ultegra, Fuji’s Aloha 1.0, Trek’s Speed Concept 2, Cannondale’s Slice 5 and perhaps a few smaller brands. This is the white-hot price point for triathlon bikes since the basics of everything that appears in a high performance bike starts at this price: True triathlon geometry; carbon fiber, aerodynamic frame; decent quality component spec and a nicer aero cockpit. Each of the above offerings (except Trek, with their aluminum-framed Speed Concept 2) shares these attributes. The trick is finding the one bike in this esteemed crowd with the nicest component spec and the best geometry for you.
The New Quintana Roo: Inventors of the Triathlon Bike.
You already know Quintana Roo invented the triathlon bike. You may know they innovated- maybe invented – the carbon fiber, aerodynamic triathlon bike (the Redstone). While Quintana Roo has had their share of innovations and growing pains one thing they have always done is evolve. This penchant for evolution is what makes the new Quintana Roo Seduza rise to the top of any comparison among its peers.
The new iteration of the Seduza strikes a series of strong compromises between nagging decisions when specing and shopping for a bike. What are more important, components or frame? What is more realistic, a position you will actually ride in or low-slung styling? This interpretation of what is important on a bike is what guides your buying decision.
A Higher Head Tube may actually be Faster.
The engineers at Quintana Roo acknowledged that most aero bike buyers have to add a stack of spacers under their stem to raise the bars to a functional height relative to the saddle. The stack of spacers is likely less aerodynamic and certainly less attractive than a slightly better head tube design that provides this higher position out of the box. The Seduza has this head tube orientation. The cockpit rides higher without a stack of spacers providing a more realistic front end position from fit studio to bike course.
A Strong Component Spec- The Cockpit.
Out of the box the Quintana Roo Seduza comes with a Vision aerobar with a generic round tubed, flat base bar. The bike we tested had Vision’s new, stiffer elbow pads. This is a ski bend aerobar which I find more comfortable than straighter “S” bend style extensions. Shifters are genuine Shimano brand Dura-Ace 10 speed bar end shifters. The bike stops from a pair of rudimentary but serviceable spring loaded brake levers that are light weight and feel nice in your hand.
Fork spec on the Seduza is the classic aerodynamic, bladed carbon fiber fork that started the aero fork evolution. The fork has good aerodynamics according to Quintana Roo and was an industry leading fork design when introduced. The “Carbonaero” as it was named when it was introduced, has a cro-moly steer tube and provides excellent steering and ride quality. This was an industry leader when it was introduced and remains a strong offering. If there is one criticsim it is that the fork is a trifle heavy. If you want lighter, you will have to spend more.
What you are Paying for: A solid Frame design and Excellent Geometry redesigned for 2011.
The main frame on the 2011 Quintana Roo Seduza has a nose-cone treatment to the new, higher head tube. The down tube and top tube have similar aero styling. The seat tube is also aero styled and includes a small wheel cut-out. Perhaps the most convenient feature of the frame is the pair of water bottle mounts making this a practical bike for longer rides without having to hang hydration accessories on the back of the saddle. Cable routing is internal and guided nicely. The cable housing runs the entire length through the frame so maintenance is very easy as is flight casing the bike. The seat stays have been re-designed from previous versions eliminating the mono-stay and using a seat stay/brake bridge configuration that feels like it provides a better, less compliant rear end- especially out of the saddle. There is a pleasant surprise at the back of the frame with well designed drop out adjustment screws that allow for easy, tool-free adjustment.
Not all carbon fiber is created equal and the Quintana Roo Seduza is a good if basic carbon lay-up. The ride quality of the frame is very good, I will suggest better than the other carbon bikes in this price category and, I suspect, a trifle heavier too. We did not have the opportunity to weigh a bare frame since our road test bike came complete prior to the release of the 2011 retail bikes. I’ll take a little additional weight (and stiffness) for a little better ride quality.
A few great details on the Seduza frameset include their excellent modular seatpost binder collar. This is something several $10,000 super bikes don’t have figured out. The clamp is alloy and the two bolts are robust. You do need to be sure the torque is equal on both bolts and the gap between the left and right side of the clamp is equal. If you don’t own a torque wrench yet make it a purchase with any new bike.
Key Feature: Industry Leading Variable Geometry Seatpost with Steep Capability.
The seatpost head and clamp on the Seduza provide a wide range of effective seat angles. Most riders will have the clamp in the forward 50% of the adjustment range rendering the fit on this bike relatively neutral: Most people will be able to get a position on this bike with a 90, 100 or 110 millimeter stem if they buy the right frame size. When you work with this seatpost head it has a habit of “binding” and may require disassembly to adjust but it clamps securely without slipping at moderate torque. I’ll take the former for the later. Again- I’ve seen some bikes doing laps around $10K that have worse seat adjustment hardware.
The Saddle: Adequate.
The saddle on the Seduza has nice, rounded sides but a little more rocker or “curve” to its profile than I prefer in a triathlon saddle. It’s a nice saddle for fit, acclimated riders when adjusted with the forward 2/3rds parallel to the ground. I’d ride it but I’d rather have a Cobb Cycling saddle or a Fizik Arione Tri. People new to triathlon bikes may want either the Cobb Cycling saddle or the plush Profile Design Tri Stryke saddle with its long, cushy nose and comfort cut-out.
Dependable Drivetrain with Reliable Shifting.
Drivetrain on the Quintana Roo Seduza uses a Shimano Ultegra RD-6700-SS short cage, 10 speed rear derailleur. This is Shimano’s newest version of the venerable Ultegra rear changer. The new version will accommodate up to a 28 tooth large cog and wrap enough chain to tolerate a 16 tooth difference between your big ring and small ring up front. The four link pins in the Ultegra rear derailleur are low-friction fluorine coated for typically smooth Shimano operation.
Front derailleur is Shimano’s new(er) FD-5700 which has a nicer inner and outer cage for noticeably faster, more authoritative front shifts than previous versions of Shimano 105, largely due to better overall stiffness in the derailleur. The derailleur can shift across a maximum 16 tooth difference from small to large (according to Shimano) enabling you to theoretically shift from a 39 tooth small chainring all the way up to a massive 55 tooth big chainring.
You pedal the Seduza through an FSA Gossamer alloy crank with machined chainrings in the 110 mm compact bolt circle. With this tight 50/34 chainring orientation front shifting is extremely precise since the chainrings are machined and pinned for smooth upshifts and are smaller n diameter than a 53/39. Some athletes dither about whether the 50 tooth chainring is large enough. Given the 11 tooth cog in the back I’ll argue 50/11 is a perfectly adequate top gear. One pedal revolution of the 50/11 top gear will move the bike 32.1 feet whereas one revolution of a 53/11 will move the bike 34.0 feet. This means on the largest gear you will have a slightly higher cadence at very, very high speeds above 32 M.P.H., a regime most of us spend very little time in. the benefit is much nicer climbing gears, lower drivetrain weight and better shift quality from small ring to large.
The Details: Well Speced.
The trim on the bike; brakes, chain and cogset compliment the rest of the kit. The brakes are Original Equipment Manufacturer (O.E.M.) and somewhat generic but include a nice aluminum (not plastic) barrel adjuster and commonly configured pads. When these pads wear out you simply replace the entire pad/shoe unit as opposed to Shimano calipers where you slide the pad out of the shoe. When you replace this pad you will need to re-adjust the toe of the pad relative to the rim. Chain and cogset are Shimano brand and provide good shift quality and wear based on my experience with these two part numbers on other bikes. They aren’t Ultegra, but they work dependably over repeated shifts under load.
Wheels on the Seduza are Shimano’s RS-20 wheelset with red anodized spoke nipples and Continental Ultra Race 700 X 23c tires. This is a strong wheel and tire spec. The RS-20 wheels use a 16 spoke radial front and 20 spoke cross-two rear. The hubs have been redesigned to include wider flanges making this workman-like wheelset even more durable. This is a very good wheel and tire spec for everyday training.
One of the things I am consistently impressed by when testing the newer generation of about-$2000 carbon tri bikes is how nice they ride. There is more in common between these bikes and a $10,000 super bike than there is different. That said there are differences between these bikes. The Seduza is the more stout of the pedigree, slightly stiffer at the bottom bracket and in the cockpit than a Felt B16. As such it feels more responsive and spritely. Thanks to the new head tube this bike absolutely has Ironman distance comfort even on rough, sun-bleached desert pavement.
There simply isn’t anything I’d change on the new 2011 Quintana Roo Seduza. As you sort through the candidates in this price category from other manufacturers your research will keep bumping the Seduza toward the top of your list. There is something satisfying about seeing Quintana Roo, an original technology innovator in our sport, continue to remain a contender against the mainstream brands like Trek and Specialized and, in the case of the Seduza, offer a genuinely “best in class” bike the big companies can’t touch.