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From the pages of Velo: Time Travelers

  • By Nick Legan and Caley Fretz
  • Published Nov. 23, 2012
  • Updated Jul. 22, 2013 at 10:21 AM EDT
Velo August 2012. Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

Trek Speed Concept 9.5

by Caley Fretz

Quantitative testing: 30/30 points
The Speed Concept and Shiv are nearly identical at low yaw, with the Shiv only slightly ahead. When wind blows from the rider’s right, the drag figures remain tightly packed. As the wind swings to the left, though, the Speed Concept steps ahead, by 46 grams at 10° and 113 grams at 15° — about 10 watts at 50kph. That difference is enough to give the Trek the edge.

Subjective Ride Quality
Comfort: 7/10 points
Comfort on a time trial bike is all about proper positioning and good contact points. Trek’s aero extensions and arm pads offer quite a bit of adjustability. Higher and lower, forward and backward, and side-to-side pad adjustments are all possible. The pads themselves are large, squishy and cup the forearms well.

Acceleration: 8/10 points
The wider, blockier Kamm tail tube shapes do wonders for overall frame stiffness, and the Speed Concept was one of the best out of the blocks that we’ve ever tested.

Handling: 6/10 points
Trek’s stiff chassis aids high-speed cornering, but handling is still considerably worse than any road frame. While TT frame geometry is designed for straight-line stability rather than cornering prowess, poor cornering is poor cornering whether it’s designed to be that way or not, so we can’t give the Speed Concept many points here.

User Friendliness: 8/15 points
Time trial frames are notoriously unfriendly to their users. When brakes are integrated, as they are on the 9-Series Speed Concept frames, unfriendly turns to downright nasty.

Brake adjustments require a third hand. What should be a quick adjustment for rim width can take forever. In fact, we had to switch to ultra narrow pads just to get the Zipp Sub9 disc into the frame at all, even with the brakes opened up all the way.

Cable routing is a similar story. If you’re not a highly competent mechanic, best to leave it to the professionals for your own health.

Front-end adjustability is decent, with plenty of arm rest adjustment but few extension adjustment options. Certainly, as with the Shiv, get a good fit before purchasing.

Value: 18/20 points
The complete Speed Concept 9.5, which uses Trek’s top-of-the-line 9-series frame, can be picked up with a Shimano Ultegra kit and Bontrager low-profile aluminum wheels for $50 less than the Shiv frame module. Though you may want to upgrade some things, like the wheels, that’s still an excellent value relative to other top-end frames on the market.

Weight: 5/5 points
The Trek module is lighter than the Shiv, and despite the fact that the particular package we tested uses Shimano’s rather chunky Ultegra group, it’s still a relatively light ride overall.

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