As Dan has written extensively as of late, now is the time to make your purchases for the 2021/2022 racing season. Bike manufacturers have inventory available now that, once the market starts to pick up, will not likely be replenished for a long period of time. If your race machine is starting to get a bit long in the tooth, now's the time to act.
Now, you have a big decision to make if you're making a purchase: are you going to go with rim brakes or disc brakes? Canyon has both closeouts on existing rim brake SpeedMax bikes, as well as the 9 watt saving disc brake bike now available. Here's how I came to my decision to move to disc brake -- I just wanted a single standard in the house for all of our bikes, wheels, and drivetrains. For the longest time, we had a mishmash of cassettes, freehub bodies, braking systems, and acceptable tire widths. It made for a nightmarish wrenching situation and an even worse looking basement workshop. So with Kelly moving to a new OBED Boundary, and me already on a Parlee Chebacco, it was an easy call: my next tri bike would have disc brakes, 12mm thru axles, 160mm rotors, and 11 speed drivetrain.
Once that decision was made, and my budget was set, then it was time to start narrowing the field of contenders down. I've been pretty lucky to have fittings run by a couple of the best in the business: Ian Buchanan up at Fit Werx, and Slowman himself. My fit experiences are a perfect example of the professional consensus Dan recently wrote about. Pad stack and reach from both fittings are within a couple millimeters of another, and saddle height were the same. Given my somewhat slightly taller pad stack to reach requirements, I generally look for bikes without an integrated fork/stem combination. I'd previously ridden a rim brake P3 and liked it well enough, so the new P-Series made the short list.
Ultimately, I decided on a PRfive. Part of this is, in full disclosure, Quintana Roo is a partner of Slowtwitch. But I also decided on the PRfive because of the direct-to-consumer shopping methodology, and little touches throughout the purchasing process. I wanted to put that experience to the test -- is it really as easy as Quintana Roo makes it seem?
Yes. And no.
The Purchasing and Unboxing Experience
First off, let's be clear: if you're trying to buy any direct-to-consumer bike without first having a full fitting done, you're doing this the wrong way. We're trying to find a bike that fits you and your position, not fit a bike to you and your position. That distinction often gets lost on many consumers, and ultimately leads to bad fits, bad bike choices, and poor experiences in triathlon and leads many to exit the sport. If this describes you, you can still wind up on board a Quintana Roo through a retailer following your fit session.
Now, for those of you who can buy a bike D2C: QR nails the purchasing experience. From being able to select your color combination, to spec'ing out the drivetrain choices, and upgrading wheel sets, it's a very slick user experience on the website. QR invested a lot of time and effort into their website, and it shows. After some hemming and hawing, I wound up with the PRfive disc with mechanical Ultegra, and upgrading to the HED Vanquish wheelset. Why not Ultegra Di2? To be honest, after having it on my P3, I really didn't love it compared to mechanical. And if I didn't love it, it wasn't worth spending money on.
Now, placing your order doesn't mean that you'll have a bike on your doorstep in 3 days. To the contrary! There's still a fair bit of lead time. It's more akin to special ordering through your bike shop in terms of timing. First off, that paint takes time to do; although the frames are manufactured overseas, they are painted in Tennessee. And then there's the actual build to do. QR bikes come nearly completely built to your door. There's very little for you to do once the bike is in your hands, besides tightening a few bolts and throwing the wheelset into place.
No, seriously. It's that simple.
In fact, here's my bike, about 5 minutes from unpacking it from FedEx to fully assembled.
I have only a single bone to pick with QR in terms of their assembly process, but it's one of my pet peeves: they do not run the cables fully through the Profile Design extensions and out the rear ports. Instead, they run them out of the port near the grip and will tape the cable to the extension instead. I can't emphasize this enough: this drives me nuts. God intended for cables to run through those extensions! Cleaning that up requires re-cabling the entire bike, which is decidedly not a positive experience. (Yes, I know, this is an argument for Di2.)
I also opted to have tubeless Schwalbe Pro One's installed on the HED Vanquish's. These came, held air quite well without sealant, and away we went. I've since topped them up with Stan's, although a large sidewall cut due to user error has limited the number of miles I've put on them. For those in the northeastern US who are intimately familiar with pothole avoidance, a pro tip: Pro One's probably won't survive hitting a pothole on a descent at 40 MPH, but they will hold on long enough for you to limp the couple of miles back to the house before finishing spewing Stan's through the sidewall.
The Riding Experience
I've ridden an awful lot of tri bikes in my decade in the sport. I've bought and sold more bikes than I can count. My two favorite bikes, prior to riding the PRfive, was the original generation Blue Triad EX and Quintana Roo's CD0.1. I liked different things about each bike; the Triad was a great handling and climbing bike, whereas the CD0.1 always felt fast underneath me as terrain flattened out. Neither was perfect, but my best results came while riding these bikes, and I always enjoyed them.
The PRfive seemed to marry those two experiences for me. The beefy non-drive side stay, combined with the thru axles, did a very good job of transmitting power on demand. I felt like the bike was very predictable in its handling, even with the Vanquish wheels on board and a healthy amount of turbulent air from passing traffic at 50+ MPH. And, not for nothing, first time out on the bike and I took a couple of local Strava KOMs by a healthy margin that had been well out of reach before hand. Now, sure, some of that is conditions based, and some of that is probably placebo, but the bike really felt great underneath me.
With a few hundred miles under the belt, I've been completely satisfied with this bike. Everything works as it should. Wrenching on it, like all of the PR-series bikes, is simple. There's something to be said for something that just works, out of the box, exactly as the manufacturer intended for it. And that's exactly what Quintana Roo has delivered here: a nearly-flawless execution of direct-to-consumer with a great fitting bike.
All QR bikes are currently on sale, including the bike reviewed here.