Trek Speed Concept 7.0 review

Designed to be an integrated, aero system – but is it all systems go, or is there a spanner in the works?

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
£2,500
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Trek Speed Concept 7.0 triathlon bike review

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The Speed Concept 7.0 may look like a bike but it’s really more of a system – a system to transport air smoothly over its surfaces, while transporting you, your fuel and your spares smoothly to T2.

>>> Best triathlon bikes of 2014

You could say that of any bike, though, as they all fit the definition of system: a selection of parts assembled to form a mechanism that performs a particular task. But very few of them use parts that are as integrated as those on the Trek Speed Concept.

Sure, some bikes have a frame and fork that are built to work together and others might even amalgamate the brakes into the design. But Trek has gone further and incorporated the storage options, brakes, brake booster and even quick releases to help the Speed Concept perform its task.

The headset provides a rock-solid platform for cornering and has a number of storage options on the heads tube

First of all, there’s the frame. It’s constructed from Trek’s 500-Series OCLV carbon fibre made into Kamm-tailed tubes for the main triangle. The flat-backed, ‘truncated-teardrop’ profile not only makes for stiffer tubes than those using the full aerofoil shape, it also means the tubes are just as aerodynamic but less susceptible to the will of crosswinds.

Airflow around the head tube is smoothed out by its Kamm-tailed trailing edge but also by the fork’s prow that sits in front of it to provide even more of a fairing. Built into the top of the fork is a centre-pull brake, while the bottom is shaped so the quick-release lever can sit flush with it.

The rear brake is positioned behind the bottom bracket shell and is covered by Trek’s Speedfin for aero gains

Similar consideration has been paid to the frame and attachments at the rear end. The seat and chainstays meet at a dropout that’s shaped to blend with the quick-release lever on the non-driveside and provide an exit port for the internally-routed rear-mech cable on the other. The rear brake is not only hidden behind the bottom bracket shell, it’s also shrouded by Trek’s Speedfin – a fairing that acts as a brake booster as well as smoothing out the airflow.

Storage options and computer sensors are also integrated into the Speed Concept (although sold separately). A mount for a Duotrap sensor is built into the non-driveside chainstay while mounts on the top tube and behind the seat tube allow you to add aerodynamically optimised tool and fuel carriers. In the 7.0 configuration, the Speed Concept also comes with Bontrager bars, a Vision saddle and a Shimano 105 drivetrain.

Carbon forks complete the aero set-up, although the wheels would be the first thing to upgrade

The wheels supplied are from Bontrager – Trek’s in-house component brand – and they’re fairly standard shallow, alloy training wheels, performing with no issues or thrills on standard training rides. The benefit of the training rims is that they keep the price down in comparison to coming supplied with deep-rim race wheels (especially if you’ve already got your own) but, if you haven’t got a set of race hoops stashed in the garage, these will be the first things you’ll want to upgrade if you’re serious about increasing race-day speed.

A lot to carry

You get a lot of bike with the Speed Concept 7.0. Not just in terms of all the aerodynamic shaping and integration but also in terms of weight. It tips the 220 scales at 9kg, which is exactly the same as the £2.5k Specialized Shiv Elite tested recently, but the Trek feels heavier when you’re riding it than that other major player.

Once it’s going, the Speed Concept is fine but getting it going takes quite a bit of coercion. It’s not one of those bikes that springs into action; rather accelerating it is a noticeable labour. And although the Speed Concept’s weight helps somewhat when you’re cruising on the flat, you can feel gravity taking its toll on the hills – the speed bleeds out of it.

It’s a shame because in other respects the Speed Concept handles well. It’s a rock-solid platform that corners with confidence and has the stiffness needed to let you push all your effort into it knowing that none of it’s getting lost in flex. The only trouble is the weight that makes it so stiff also makes it so difficult to shift.

The integrated brakes are good, especially the boosted back brake. Often integrated brakes can be a little lacking in stopping power, especially on tri/TT bikes, but not in this case. The Speed Concept has plenty of stopping power – and frankly, given the momentum you can build up with the weight it’s carrying, it needs it.

There are no worries on the comfort and adjustability front with plenty of scope for shifting the bars and saddle back and forth, in and out, and up and down to get them in the right places before you ride. And even though stiffness was a priority for the Speed Concept, it’s not been engineered in at the cost of its comfort while you’re riding.

The Speed Concept 7.0 has plenty going for it. But it’s in a very competitive price bracket and its weight is holding it back. Granted it’s not significantly heavier than many of its rivals, but it feels like it is out on the road. And that’s when all it’s carrying is a rider and a 500ml bottle. So you can imagine what it’s like when it’s loaded down with the full complement of storage options, integrated or not.

Verdict: Potentially a great bike but in this guise it’s buried under what feels like a lot of extra weight, 69%

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Contact : www.trekbikes.com