QR unveils a new mold

Quintana Roo's latest tri bike is the PR6, shipping now in size-52. A suite of sizes will arrive a size at a time, 5 in all, 700c except for the 46cm, which will be in a 650c size as is traditional with this brand.

There is one thing new with this bike, new meaning not found anywhere on any bike as far as I can tell. First, the 52cm bike actually measures 52cm. No tri bike since the early 90s has had a sizing nomenclature that matches any dimension on the bike. With this bike the 52cm size means the stack of the bike is 52cm tall. That by itself means something else: stack and reach were inputs to the bike's design, rather than outputs. That might not mean anything to you, but the upshot is this: the bike's sizing is properly graded, that is, a 54cm is proportionally longer and taller than a 52cm, a 56cm equally proportionally larger than a 54cm, and so forth.

This bike is going to be less "long/low" than some bikes in its competitive set, like the Felt DA and its own CD0.1 and Illicito. It's more of a fat-of-the-bell-curve bike, fitwise, like all the new Cervelos and Trek's Speed Concept. It's a "superbike" in that the frame, fork and stem all kind of smoosh together. This means the bike will defy typical methods of prescriptive fitting, and will require a fit spreadsheet or chart that gives you a complete bike prescription based on either handlebar x/y metrics or a pad x/y numbers.

What did I just say? Nothing that scary. What I'm saying is that, as in the case of, say, a Speed Concept, if you measure the horizontal (x) distance from the bottom bracket to the center of the armrest pad, and the vertical (y) distance as well, QR is going to have a chart for you. You'll plunk those numbers into that calculator, or you find the intersection of those x and y numbers that cell, as you might find on a spreadsheet and you'll be given the "solution" which sounds something like "56cm, center hole-set, 10mm of pedestals." If that doesn't tell you exactly how the bike should be purchased and set up, it'll tell your dealer how it should be set up.

By "center hole-set" I'm referring to how the stem on this bike works. The stem has a top and bottom piece, like the top and bottom of a sub sandwich roll slit horizontally. You can slide the top of the stem forward and if you do so bolts passing through the top half of the stem thread into the bottom half of the stem in a forward set of holes. There are 3 hole-sets altogether. You get height through a set of aero-shaped pedestals that are part of the stem assembly. It is not the most elegant stem motif I've ever seen on a bike, but it's functional, soundly conceived and, as far as fitting goes, intuitive.

One final thought about fit: Do not resort to standard measurement ideas when deciding which size fits you. Me, for example, I just about always ride a bike company's 58cm bike, road or tri. With this bike, no way. Its 56cm bike measures 560 in stack and 435mm in reach. That's plenty of reach for me and bordering on too much stack. Really, it'd be about perfect, with no pedestals or spacers. Were I to ride this bike's next size up, 58.5cm, its largest size, that bike would be monstrous big. It's got a stack/reach of 585/445, with a front/center of 665mm, which just makes it a big, big bike. I'm 6'2", and I would probably have to be 2" taller to ride this larger size.

Aerodynamics
QR is doing with the PR6 what Felt did with the IA: designing a bike just for tri, without consideration given to UCI's rules. QR says it designed its bike with that in mind, and employs a "boat tail" theme to the trailing edges of its tubes as opposed to, say, Trek's use of Kamm tails. In fact, QR experimented with making Kamm tails into boat tails on a Speed Concept and adjacent is an image of that experiment. QR says it saw a significant advantage. Boat tails are deeper than Kamm tails and are probably less effective on a UCI-legal bike.

The PR6 keeps with the really huge non-driveside chain stay (image below), but it uses all 4 stays 2 seat stays and 2 chain stays to make this bike stiffer in all axes (especially the lateral) than, presumably, its Illicito.

Then there is the drag chart. You've got to have one these, right? It's at the bottom of this overview. One thing I like about this bike: it doesn't "win" its own wind tunnel test. If anything, the Speed Concept wins. (I'd like to have seen the Felt IA in this test.) What QR tries to do, I think, is make a bike that's "in the discussion" aerodynamically while remaining easy to build and adjust, and while being relatively light, a good fitting bike for most people and so forth. In other words, it seeks to do what all bikes are supposed to do (stop when the brake levers are depressed, handle well, not break, etc.) while still being competitive aerodynamically.

One thing I noticed right away, first glance, is that all the fork's surface area is behind the dropout. I've had to wrestle with some of the new superbikes when riding deep wheels in gusty conditions, and I suspect some of it may be a lot of fork and nosecone surface area in front of the steering axis. I don't know how this new QR bike is going to handle because I haven't yet ridden it, but one thing that almost never gets tested is the torque on the fixture holding the front wheel during a wind tunnel test when the bike is in a yaw. That torque would represent the force you feel when you're steering in a yaw. Some surface area behind the steering axis wouldn't be unwelcome. Heck, I wouldn't mind something resembling a fly swatter emanating from the front dropout and pointing backward, to add surface area behind the steering axis, magnified by a long lever. But I digress...

Simplicity
QR maintains that 2 Allen wrenches will assemble this bike. I haven't built this bike from the ground up but, assuming so, great. I need 3 wrenches 2 Allens and a Torx just to mount and adjust each Campagnolo brake caliper on my road bike. Speaking of brake calipers, nice that this bike uses just a standard front brake. Bikes have been getting pretty hard to assemble and adjust lately. This seems to be a bike you could disassemble for airline travel without wondering whether you'll get it all back together again at a race.

Known unknowns
QR says this is a light bike, that it built a bike with both aerodynamics and weight in mind. But I don't have published weights yet nor have I weighed this QR bike myself.

Also, there are some specs I don't have yet. I do not know what the stem lengths are in their various configurations. Basically, you have 3 stem lengths you can make out of this proprietary stem config, and those lengths are X, X+1cm, and X+2cm.

Because I do not know what X is, I don't know what the 3 stems lengths are. X is, to me, the distance from the center of the stem clamp to the center of the handlebar clamp, and I don't know that measure. So, the 3 stem configs are 8cm, 9cm and 10cm, or 9cm, 10cm and 11cm, and so forth. I would like to know this.

I don't know the fork offset. Because of this I don't know the trail. I'm kind of hoping for an offset like 43mm to 45mm, because that would place the bike's trail at 60mm to 62mm. The longer those stem configs, the more I'm hoping for 62mm of trail. The shorter the configs the more I'm hoping for 60mm of trail.

The QR fellows will be reading this overview and I suppose they'll post in the Facebook comments below appending to this article.

Price and spec
There are some nice spec choices on this bike and I'm not surprised because QR has been forward thinking on spec for a half-dozen years now. First, how nice that they send the bike with both horizontal, rear facing, dropouts and semi-verts? You have your choice of style, and you choose horizontal if you want to move that wheel right up behind the seat tube, vertical if you don't want to hassle with wheel exit during a tire change. Thing is, if you suck a chain and bend your dropout all to heck, you have a set of replacement dropouts. Me, I ride my MTB with a set of dropouts in my spare tube bag, because I've gotten stuck in East Hell-and-gone with a bent dropout and I don't want any more experience with that sort of thing. You could do the same with these dropouts, and take the second set with you, just make sure you also have the corresponding Allen key that changes the dropouts.

The chain rings are a split-the-baby 52/36, saddle is an ISM Road, and the aerobars are Profile Design's excellent T4+Carbon. The groupkit is Shimano's electronic Ultegra and the bike comes with a set of Reynolds deep (clincher) race wheels, and as I'll be writing I've come to hold a new opinion on this. On my tri bike, I always ride with my race wheels. I err on the side of the deepest wheels I can handle, but that means I need to spend a lot of time riding these wheels in training. I therefore think it's okay to sell a bike with deep wheels, just make sure that they're the wheels you want.

The PR6 is not an inexpensive bike, at $8,500. But then its spec, Ultegra electronic plus pricey Reynolds wheels, kind of demands a price of this nature. This is not going to be the only price point this frame class ever sees. You'll no doubt see this frame mold downstreamed eventually, and I would not be surprised if this bike is sold at something under $5000 and maybe under $4000 in a year or two. But it won't be with this groupkit and these wheels.