By Seton Claggett
When Quintana Roo released their PRsix at the 2014 Oceanside 70.3, they received rave reviews from several sites that many of us count on for quality information. I was shocked, however, that these reviews were done without ever riding the bike or working on the bike. TriSports.com customers deserve better and they also need to have the confidence that the review they are reading has some credibility behind it.
The folks over at American Bicycle Group (the owners of QR and Litespeed) really understand what it takes to be a triathlete. Their owner, Peter Hurley, a triathlete. Chris Brown, inside sales, a Cat 1 roadie (who does the occasional triathlon). Mac McEneaney, Director of Sales, a triathlete. Their goal with the PRsix was very simple – make an aero and light super bike that is easy to work on. Did they deliver? Absolutely.
Front End and Turning Radius
The front end of the “Super Bike” category is what actually puts a bike into the category by deviating from a standard fork and stem. These bikes are awesome to look at, but the inherent problem with them is that they are very difficult and time intensive to work on. Why should this matter to you? If you are not a skilled mechanic and travel to any race without bringing your favorite mechanic along for the trip, you could find yourself in a very precarious situation. We have had $15k Super Bikes returned because the customer realized that the bike was so complicated that they would never be able to set the bike up when traveling.
QR has made a Super Bike that is extremely easy to travel with – simply remove the four top plate screws to remove your aerobars, remove the seatpost with one bolt, and remove the wheels – that’s it. In fact, they were able to make their entire fork/stem assembly by adding only 3 additional bolts (optional steering stop bolt, integrated fork bolt, and the lower cradle button head bolt to adjust your stack). Once your bike is dialed in, you won’t have to worry about these bolts.
One thing you will notice about this bike is that there is a limit on the steering radius. If you do not install the optional steering stop bolt your fork will hit your frame and cause some cosmetic damage. During my testing I did not have the stop bolt but was still concerned about tight turns. The tightest turn I know of in triathlons (or any bike racing for that matter) is the out and back U-turn. I found I had plenty of turn radius with some left to spare – it is a non-issue.
Brakes and Brake Setup
After spending a couple of years on the QR Illicito, I was extremely pleased with the brake spec on this bike. I hear you – why in the world are brakes important on a tri bike? Well, in reality they aren’t; however, you don’t appreciate great braking until you don’t have it. Some people might be turned off by the front brake not being hidden behind the fork (like the Illicito) or in the fork like several other bikes on the market. At the end of the day I will take a simple functional brake over the glitz and glamour of the others. I have never done a race and thought, “dang, if my front brake was just in a better place I would have won.”
Once I got out on the road with this bike, though, I was having all sorts of rubbing issues on the rear wheel. Off the bike everything looked fine, with plenty of clearance between the brake pads and the rim; however, what I discovered is that the combination of the Reynolds 72 Aero wheel’s lateral play and the small amount of flex in the frame gave rise to a significant brake rubbing issue. It is important to note that this is the case with all deep aero wheels that I have tried – Zipp 808’s, Profile Design TwentyFour 78’s, etc. They all have lateral flex and the issue is compounded when you have tight tolerances on aero bikes. Hats off to Shimano for coming out with a great aero brake and QR for spec’ing the brake. I was able to resolve the issue in a couple minutes by adjusting the brake delimiter screw (opening up the brake) and moving the spacers of the drive side brake shoe. It is unlikely your bike will be built up this way from us, or any dealer, but this is the fix.
Any bike that I can work on with a multi tool makes me smile, and I was grinning ear to ear with this bike. From seat post adjustments to cockpit setup, all I needed was the basic 2mm-5mm allen wrenches.
The seatpost is the same design as the previous System 6 – the most reliable and adjustable seatpost QR has ever had, but with the addition of two accessory bolt holes that work with the Xlab Delta 300 and the Xlab Carbon Sonic. In addition to this accessory add-on feature, the PRsix also has cage mount bolts on the top tube (these were not present on the bike that was sent for my review) that can accommodate different accessories like the Xlab Stealth Pocket 200, 300 and 500.
Take a look at your current bicycle – if you happen to be one of the poor souls who purchased a triathlon bike with only one spot for a frame mounted water bottle cage, you should be cursing the manufacturer of your bike. Clearly, any bike manufacturer that is more concerned about the wind tunnel and NOT making sure that an athlete can stay hydrated (namely during training rides) doesn’t deserve your business. I do not want to do my training rides with all of my rear/front mounted bottles on my bike. Thank you to QR for putting dual frame cage mounts on all of their bikes – including this one.
QR is shipping this bike with both horizontal and vertical dropouts – as far as we know this is a first in the tri bike world. Why does this matter? Horizontal dropouts are great for optimizing wheel placement within the frame (i.e. how close the rear wheel gets to the frame); however, while training, horizontal dropouts are a bit of a hassle when it comes to flat tires. Vertical dropouts, on the other hand, are very convenient when fixing flats because it is much easier to remove the wheel from the frame. Which dropouts you ultimately want on your bike is your choice, but one thing is for certain – you will really like the peace of mind knowing that you have a backup set of dropouts should you damage the ones on your bike.
I love Shimano Di2 – period. It shifts great, it’s clean to install and with its dual shifting option, it is the holy grail for triathletes. I was a little concerned about the Vision TriMax Carbon BB30 because of the compatibility with the rest of the Shimano drive train; however, it works fine. I am not a big fan of the R671 Aero Shifters on the Profile Design T2+ S-Bend extensions, so I would either rotate these where my hand can easily shift or just swap them out for the Shimano Dura Ace Di2 1-Button shifters. Thankfully, the final spec on this bike will be coming with the Profile Design T4+ extensions so the R671 shifters are more comfortable.
The cockpit comes with the new Profile Design Aeria with T4+ carbon extensions (as noted above, the bike they sent me had the T2+ extensions). From a fit and durability perspective, you just can’t get any better than the Profile Design aerobars.
The Di2 battery is neatly kept inside the seatpost (charging is done through the junction box that is mounted on top of the stem). One problem with Di2 is that you need to keep the junction box accessible, so the location of the junction box on the PRsix leaves a little to be desired. Thankfully QR did accommodate for the strap on the junction box with their integrated stem.
I like the Reynolds Aero 72 wheels but wish the bike came with a bulletproof set of training wheels (like the Reynolds Stratus Pro Alloy) since I already have an arsenal of race wheels. This would drop the price by about $1800. Knowing how QR rolls out bikes, I am sure we will see different variants come 2015.
Unlike most manufacturers who spec a throw away saddle, QR has put the immensely popular ISM Road Saddle on the PRsix. Whether this saddle works for you is not something I can answer, but I do applaud QR for putting a real saddle on their bike.
I was pleasantly surprised that this bike was more comfortable than my QR Illicito. The back of the bike was responsive yet compliant, while the front end easily handled the beatings of some of the roughest roads in Tucson. Outside of the riding comfort, the bike easily fits the bell-curve of triathletes with its FIST inspired stack and reach geometry. Pair this up with the cockpit and seatpost spec on this bike and you will be one extremely happy tri geek!
As an athlete and veteran of the sport, I can say with 100% confidence that this bike is a home run. It rides incredibly well, is easy to work on, and has all the bells and whistles I need to drop the hammer, and look good, while leaving the competition in the dust. As the CEO of TriSports.com, I can look a customer square in the eyes and tell them, with confidence, that this is a bike worth putting your money towards because you will be able to easily travel to your races without any crazy mechanical hassles. This is a simple, fast, no-worry bike and I am really looking forward to getting one of these bikes under my butt for more than a test-ride!