CD 0.1: Designed in the Wind Tunnel, Quintana Roo’s “Most Aerodynamic”.
In the age of molded carbon fiber bicycles, bike brands make a big commitment when deciding on frame design. Once the molds are done they’re married to that design for the functional and economic life of the mold. They have to get their shape optimized out of the gate. After a lilting courtship in the wind tunnel Quintana Roo walked the aisle with the CD 0.1 frame design. For the 2011 CD 0.1 Dura-Ace, the honeymoon continues.
Aerodynamics aren’t the only metric of “goodness” on a triathlon frame, and while the CD 0.1 is at the top of the crowded aerodynamic list with a few other well designed aerobikes, CD 0.1 occupies either the top or second spot (to the Scott Plasma 3) on mechanical integrity. The combination of those two factors makes a strong case for CD 0.1. The only place the Scott Plasma 3 may surpass the practicality of the CD 0.1 is on brakes, the Plasma 3 eschewing a “hidden” aerodynamic brake for a mechanically simpler, conventional (albeit less aero) brake set.
Quintana Roo developed the CD 0.1 as their most advanced aerodynamic frame shape. The fork is also optimized for aerodynamics with an outward bow to the blades separating their aerodynamic influence from the wheel. The CD 0.1 Dura-Ace uses a carbon fiber steer tube fork.
The CD 0.1 frame design crosses four models including a “female specific” version, an Ultegra build, a Dura-Ace build and an upgraded carbon fiber version with a more sophisticated carbon lay-up. This review is for the $5499.95 version with Shimano Dura-Ace 7900, Reynolds aero wheels and Vision cockpit for 2011.
The CD 0.1 frame is designed around an aerodynamic finding claimed by Quintana Roo that directing the boundary layer away from the drivetrain will reduce drag. This accounts for the asymmetrical shape of the down tube as it angles away from the center of the bike 18 millimeters closer to the crank. The CD 0.1 frameset was designed in the wind tunnel; not developed as a concept that was retro-actively tested in the wind tunnel. A number of prototypes were tested by Quintana Roo, and they have provided videos of these tests to me at Interbike for verification of prior design concepts. The current CD 0.1 is the real world manifestation of Quintana Roo’s development process.
In reviews of other CD 0.1 versions I’ve steered away from the debate about aerodynamic claims. Every bike brand claims to have the lowest drag in some way- be it yaw angle, crosswinds, flats, low speeds or high speeds. Sorting out the claims is boggling. It’s impossible to verify aerodynamic claims without an independent wind tunnel test, and I don’t have that capability. There is an element of trust in being a reviewer or a consumer, but I’m a fan of Former President Reagan’s famous quote, “Trust, but verify…” At the consumer and retail level none of us have the capability to verify. We can examine the mechanical features of the CD 0.1 and the component selection on this version. There is a lot to be pleased with in those categories on the Dura-Ace CD 0.1.
Practical, Performance Oriented Wheel Spec.
The new version of the Dura-Ace CD 0.1 features the Reynolds Assault carbon clincher wheelset. It’s a winner. The wheel uses a Reynolds hub and DT Swiss spokes, 20 spoke front, 24 spoke rear built in a two-cross pattern. They’re robust for an aero wheel. The clincher wheelset is just below 1600 grams for the set. The composite rim is advertised as 46 millimeters deep and measures 48 mm deep on our test bike. Rim width measured 21 mm at the widest point. The spoke nipples are concealed inside the rim. You remove the tire for truing. No one I spoke with who owns the wheel has needed to true them.
The wheels roll on a pair of Maxxis Columbiere 23 mm wide clincher tires that run a trifle narrow at 22 mm actual measured width at full pressure. The Columbiere, named for the 1600 meter Col de Columbiere in the French Alps, is a 120 thread per inch, 130 max psi clincher with a 2 ply “Nylon Breaker” flat resistant layer that weighs approximately 215 grams according to Maxxis. Ride quality is responsive and racy. I like this tire- I’d race it. A practical consideration is long valve inner tubes installed at the manufacturer so no worries about valve extenders. The overall wheel package is exceptionally solid. The wheelset alone is $1450 MSRP. While this reviewer does not have adequate miles on the wheelset to render an opinion Slowtwitch.com forum users report overall acceptable impressions in a short thread soliciting opinions- that’s not the basis for a buying decision, but no red flags came up. I’m encouraged by this wheel spec.
The Cockpit: For Better and For…
… Worse. First, the bad news: I’ve never been a fan of straight-ish aero extensions. They bother my wrists, and I’ve tried many of them. I know you can grip them differently- I don’t like doing that. The new elbow rests on the Vision cockpit are light weight polymer/composite that is too flexible for my taste. The hook section of the Velcro that holds the elbow rest to the elbow pad doesn’t stick well either. When you try to remove the pads the whole shebang comes off. And in the final analysis, there are lighter weight (albeit more expensive) cockpits.
Now, the good news: The Vision one piece aero cockpit is unerringly stiff. As such it feels reassuringly solid. I like that. The bend in the grip section of the base bar is my favorite in the industry. There is a good margin of fit-ability to this cockpit with different risers and three width settings on the new elbow pads. If you run the pads narrow they will feel more solid. Extension fit is controlled by cutting to length. I like aero cockpits where you remove material, making them lighter to fit rather than carry the extra weight of excess hardware for length adjustment. This is more elegant and lighter. The Vision cockpit is blissfully free of fumbly bolts and wacky wedge length adjusters. There is really nothing to break (except the elbow rests). If I bought the CD 0.1 as a complete bike I would accept the straight extensions as not my favorite but as workable on an otherwise great cockpit. I would carefully cut them to length and I’d sort through older Vision elbow pads to find the stiffer ones. The cockpit is clamped by a nice Vision stem, two different rise angles depending on which way you install it. Great hardware, easy to travel with. I’ve never known this stem to slip when torqued to specifications.
The Furniture Store.
Quite some time ago Quintana Roo founder Dan Empfield opined that bikes should come out of the box with no saddles, leaving the saddle choice to the consumer since many customers switch saddles anyway. While Empfield isn’t a part of Quintana Roo anymore his industry influence is prominent enough that Quintana Roo briefly sold some bikes with no saddle, leaving the choice to the customer. They’ve gone back to a saddle specification on the 2011 Dura-Ace CD 0.1 and it is a crowd pleaser: The ISM Adamo road gel saddle, a truncated nose 24cm saddle that is a perpetual best seller at TriSports.com as an aftermarket upgrade. Internet forum contributors swoon about it. Many report it as a panacea for saddle discomfort. Ultimately saddles are an individual choice, and a lot of individuals choose the Adamo.
The Valid Frame Features.
The mechanical features of the Quintana Roo CD 0.1 frameset are well conceived and solidly executed. Cable routing is internal and our mechanics characterize it as being “no problem”. There are occasions when the front derailleur inner cable needs a number of attempts to route from its exit point. Braking performance is excellent on the front and “among the best of the tri bikes” in the rear according to myself and Jack Johnson, one of our mechanics at Trisports.com who has assembled many CD 0.1’s. This speaks to the differences in performance between a conventional road bike rear brake mount and an internally routed, under the bottom bracket brake on bikes like the CD 0.1, Cervelo P4, Felt DA and others. Internally routed, under the bottom bracket aero rear brakes may never feel like a conventional road bike rear brake- the best of them is Felt’s new DA for 2011. The rear brake feel on the CD 0.1 is quite good though.
There are two sets of bottle mounts, one on the down tube, one on the seat tube. I like this for long training rides and race day.
The seatpost binder assembly is an all alloy collar that clamps the airfoil shaped seatpost from the front with a single bolt. We haven’t seen any slipping or problems with adjustment. It is a marvelously simple and functional system. There is no seat post cutting necessary and the seatpost is easily and safely removed for packing in a flight case and reassembly once you get to your race. The seatpost itself is another functional triumph with a wide, analog range of adjustment for effective seat tube angle. There are six total bolts controlling seat tube angle and saddle angle so the adjustments can be fine and precise. This entire design contrasts with much more expensive aero tri bikes from Trek to Cervelo that have had problems with seatposts. It is another reason to like the CD 0.1.
Frame design surrounding the rear wheel reveals a fairing and low seat stays, a design consistent with other aerodynamic ideas in the industry. There is a lot of material around the bottom bracket adding to frame stiffness and the chainstays are massive and stiff, providing more “beef” in the rear end. Dropout adjusters are all alloy and dependable, another departure from smaller, frailer designs that do weigh less but are easily damaged by inattention or poor maintenance.
Changing Gears and Getting Power to the Rear Wheel: Perfect Spec.
There are no mistakes on the CD 0.1 Dura-Ace component spec. The CD 0.1 is ostensibly as “Dura-Ace” as a Dura-Ace bike gets with aero frames. The transmission is shifted with Dura-Ace bar end shifters using front and rear Shimano Dura-Ace derailleurs- how many Tour de France times trials have been won on this?
Quintana Roo did what a lot of top professional road cycling teams do and substituted a more durable Shimano Ultegra chain and use a slightly lower cost, heavier, Ultegra 11-23 cogset.
The gem of the power plant is the Vision Trimax Carbon BB30 crankset. This hollow-molded, carbon fiber, airfoil shaped crankset uses disk shaped chainrings (53/39 teeth) that rotate on a ceramic bearing BB30 bottom bracket. The front chainrings are very stiff, bolstering shift performance from the small chainring up to the big and providing an unyielding platform to pedal on. The crank isn’t light at over 800 grams claimed weight, but it is stiff, precise and angry. The smoother aerodynamic presentation may augment the shift frame design as well. I’ve raced this crankset around the world on several frames: Highly recommended. Overall I love this drivetrain. My only upgrade for a hilly race would be a lighter Shimano Dura-Ace cogset with a 25 tooth large cog. Flatlanders don’t need this.
Stop! What about the Brakes?
Quintana Roo had minor issues with brakes on early CD 0.1’s, but a minor issue with a brake can turn into a major problem on a descent. As a result Quintana Roo upgraded the rear brake on current 2011 CD 0.1’s to a greatly improved TRP 922/920 brake which actuates differently and feels much more responsive.
The brakes on the 2011 CD 0.1 Dura-Ace are greatly improved and I thought the previous versions prior to the upgrade were passable. These are among the very best of the aero-brake category. The good news on brake upgrades continues with the latest, greatest version of the vaunted FSA crab-claw brake lever. The lever that used to create controversy because the leading edge was too narrow for some is now wider, has a nice polymer grip and is overall kinder and gentler but still very narrow. This suggests good aerodynamics but with improved ergonomics. The brake lever/caliper upgrade on CD 0.1 for 2011 is very nice, bringing the CD 0.1 on par with the best $10,000 super bikes on braking performance.
Rubber Meets Road: How it Rides.
Quintana Roo invented triathlon frame geometry and has remained a guardian of it. It isn’t dilute or watered down. This is an open seat angle bike with a relaxed front end.
The ride is stable and solid at speed. It needs early notice for cornering and likes to linger on a wide line. Once you commit to a line it’s best to become a passenger and not micro-manage your cornering. Out of the corner the stiff bottom bracket translates effort to speed with authority. That’s what you want on a triathlon bike- stability, predictability. You don’t need hair trigger handling.
Perhaps the greatest surprise is how well the bike climbs since most other tri bikes are at their best on the flats. The CD 0.1 has always gone uphill well. The difference with this version of the CD 0.1 is, with better brakes, now you can come down the climbs faster with better control. Even with my gripes about the CD 0.1 cockpit I give something back when steering this bike. The solid cockpit adds to the overall authority and stability of the ride. This bike is ballsy, mean and determined- point it and pedal.
The components mean you won’t lose a second here or there to a bobbled shift or a too-early brake application into a turn. It’s easy to piece together a technically flawless bike leg on this bike- and that is what shaves seconds: Smooth speed into and out of corners, solid climbing, no mechanical problems and good comfort. When you climb off in T2 you are ready for a run PR. If you’ve ever missed an age category medal by 12 seconds at an Olympic distance race or qualifying for Kona by less than 5 minutes over a 12 hour day this speaks to you.
My first tri bike was the first tri bike- the 1988 Quintana Roo Superform. I’ve had long standing respect for Quintana Roo’s founder, Dan Empfield, a member of the Triathlon Hall of Fame and a great contributor to our sport. As such I have an emotional attachment to Quintana Roo in much the same way the Italian Formula 1 fans swoon over Ferrari. I’m not objective but I am demanding. I place a high bar of expectations for my treasured Quintana Roo brand and for the Dura-Ace CD 0.1. For 2011 with better braking, good graphics and paint and a slam-dunk component kit the Dura-Ace CD 0.1 clears the high bar with room to spare.