Best buy of the tirathlon bike
category: Cervelo's new 2006 Dual.
Bike companies face a tough challenge
each year with the requirement to introduce new product and
keep things fresh. The best companies still compete for new
triathlon bike buyer’s discretionary income. This competition
is fueled with technological improvements and emotional design.
For 2006 Cervelo may be the overall winner in the most important
category: The smartest buy. It is easy to make a case that the
new 2006 Cervelo Dual is the best bang for the buck triathlon
bike from any manufacturer in any price category, and that is
a big accomplishment.
Updated graphics and a silver
paint scheme for 2006.
It takes the right balance and a
lot of experience in the “niche of a niche” category
that is triathlon bikes to really get it right. Many companies,
including the largest in the industry, have tried to nail the
“Best Value” triathlon bike category and only one
or two have even come close to succeeding.
We’ve looked at the Cervelo
Dual before and it has always been a nice bike with a long list
of editors’ awards and accolades. Cervelo could have gone
many directions with the Dual for 2006 including upward in price.
When the company took the wraps off the new 2006 Dual equipped
with a Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain at a price most companies
sell their Ultegra equipped bike it became obvious where Cervelo
was going with the Dual. Cervelo intended to dominate the category.
When you compare the Cervelo Dual to other triathlon bikes in
the critical sub-$2000 price category you will see for yourself
why it is the best buy. Here are the bullet points on Cervelo’s
- At an MSRP of $1899 the 2006 Dual is the
lowest priced Dura-Ace derailleur and shifter equipped triathlon
bike commonly available.
- With genuine Easton/Velomax wheels, a Selle
Italia triathlon specific saddle, Visiontech aerodynamic
base bars and aerobars, aftermarket quality Vittoria tires,
a genuine Shimano brand chain (Ultegra no less) and 6600
series Shimano Ultegra cogset, $300 Wolf carbon aerodynamic
fork and even genuine Shimano brand cables and housings
the parts spec on the Dual has no compromises. Even the
OEM Cervelo brakes are actually exactly the same weight
as Shimano’s new Dura-Ace calipers at 154 grams but
are better suited for use with the brake levers on the Dual.
The parts spec on this bike is without flaw or shortcoming.
- The frame represents the sum total of all
of Cervelo’s aluminum frame research, development
and testing to date. Tour de France time trials and multiple
Ironman triathlons have been won on frames using the down
tube and the top tube from the Dual.
- The Cervelo Dual frame is the only truly
aerodynamic frame in the under $2000 price category from
- Tube sets used in the Dual are proprietary
to Cervelo and not used by any other bicycle manufacturer.
- As a company, Cervelo got their start designing
and building aerodynamic bicycles and it continues to be
their only business. This concentration of resources has
given them a technological and marketing advantage.
- As a brand, Cervelo was the #1 bike according
to the Slowtwitch.com Kona Bike count at the Ironman Triathlon
World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
First off, the Dual is not an entry
level triathlon bike, just an entry level price. This is not
a compromise bike you buy to get started. It is the bike you
buy once and for all to be in the sport. At about $1899.99 this
is the bike you will buy for your first triathlon and continue
racing and training on as your level of interest and experience
in the sport continues. In fact, the 2004 Triathlon World Championships
were actually won on a Cervelo Dual frame. No “entry level”
bike can make that claim. The only thing entry level about the
Dual is the price. Therein lays the wisdom in buying a Dual:
You don’t have to upgrade it. Buy it, fit it and ride
it. You won’t have to update it any time in the foreseeable
future. You can hot rod it with race wheels, and the Dual is
worthy of that. As for the basic bike it uses a parts kit that
has more in common with Cervelo’s flagship P3 Carbon than
with any sub $2000 triathlon bike.
Let’s go front to back on the 2006 Cervelo
Aftermarket upgrade quality wheel
and tire spec on the new Dual.
Tire and wheel spec on the Dual are
the same Easton/Velomax wheels speced on the $4499 Cervelo P3C.
These are the most reliable original equipment wheels we have
seen from any manufacturer. The hub shell is one piece; there
is no seam in the middle. Look under the sticker on the hub
body of some famous maker wheel sets. That little line is a
seam. That seam causes problems like creaking under hard accelerations
or with riders above 180 pounds. There is no seam in the center
of the Easton Velomax hub. The bearings are durable and free-running
out of the box. The rim has a machined brake track and is exceptionally
durable even on Michigan roads. This is your everyday wheel.
These Easton Velomax Vista wheels are still hand built to precise
tolerances with individual serial numbers. There is no short
cut here. They are top notch- that is why you see this very
wheelset on $4500 bikes from several manufacturers.
|Tire selection is the Vittoria Rubino Pro
Slick on the 700c size bikes. It is a 23c tire, the best
tire width for all but the largest 230 pound plus rider.
A rider over 230 pounds may want to use a 700 X 25c tire
for better ride quality and durability.
A one piece hub body is
durable and trouble free.
The Wolf carbon fiber fork
is used on Cervelo's flagship P3C.
We sell this tire aftermarket
as an upgrade to other bikes; it is standard on the Cervelo
Dual. The tire has excellent ride and is about as flat
resistant as anything else available without sacrificing
ride quality. Cervelo also installed the right valve stem
length inner tubes in the Dual for easy tire inflation.
The Wolf carbon fork is sold as an aftermarket
fork for about $300. The fork isn’t the lightest
of the high performance forks, but is in the same weight
category as other $300 forks. It does have a wind-tunnel
tested and proven aerodynamic shape and is durable and
comfortable. The front wheel dropouts will take season
after season of use including use on car racks.
The cockpit on the Dual is my favorite,
and the one I keep going back to after trying aerobar set-ups
that are four times as expensive but not as comfortable. The
2006 Cervelo Dual uses the Visiontech/FSA aluminum aerobar and
wing shaped, aerodynamic base bar. The bars are 26.0 outside
diameter, which I like, and are compatible with a very wide
range of handlebar stems so your bike fitter can size your bike
precisely. One criticism I do have of the Cervelo Dual in the
smaller frame sizes is that it is usually shipped to us with
230 millimeter aerobars. Those are too short for many customers
in the 51 cm frame size range. We frequently swap these out
for size for a better fit. I wish Cervelo hat speced the smaller
frame sizes with one size longer aerobar so we didn’t
have to correct it here in the store.
|Brake levers are the classic Dia-Compe 188’s
we’ve seen on about every triathlon bike since triathlon
bikes started. If there is a mundane spot in Cervelo’s
spec this is it. After years of using this lever they are,
well, just fine but a trifle boring. I would have liked
to see something with a return spring (more on that in a
minute) or something that just looked a little racier. This
is the same brake lever Lance Armstrong has used in tour
de France time trials. The lever works very well and is
among the lightest brake levers available, it is just old
news. That said, there is no reason to upgrade except if
you can find a lever that has a return spring such as some
of the newer Tektro aero brake levers that are roughly double
the price and either heavier or the same weight.
Our favorite Visiontech
cockpit with Dura-Ace shifters is easily sized and aerodynamic.
Shifters are Shimano Dura-Ace 10
speed and begin the entire Shimano Dura-Ace 10 speed transmission
and drive train ensemble on the bike. You can’t say anything
about this: It is Shimano’s top of the line and the best
there is. This is what won the last 7 Tours de France and literally
too many triathlons to count. There is no where to upgrade from
here. Simply put, the Dual is a Dura-Ace triathlon bike for
well under $2000. while that is far fro its only achievement,
that is its most noteworthy.
Cervelo's Mach 2 brake
weighs the same as Shimano Dura-Ace at 154 grams.
|I’ve seen Cervelo get some criticism
for not using Shimano brand brakes on their bikes. This
criticism is unfounded and not well informed. Here’s
why: The Cervelo labeled “Mach 2” brakes used
on the Cervelo Dual weigh 154 grams, the exact same weight
for a Shimano Dura-Ace brake caliper. The brakes on the
Dual weigh the same as Dura-Ace- to the gram. As for function,
the brakes on the Cervelo Dual are actually a better choice
than Shimano Dura-Ace on this bike. The Dura-Ace caliper
is designed to work with the Shimano Dual Control SLR STI
brake lever. That brake lever/shifter has a powerful return
spring since it is a full size road brake lever and not
an aerodynamic, lightweight brake lever. The Cervelo Mach
2 brake has a friction reducing spring bushing plate and
a powerful return spring that works perfectly with the lightweight,
spring-less Dia-Compe 188 brake levers. If you really take
the time to actually look at the Cervelo Mach 2 brake you
will learn it is actually a better choice than the Shimano
calipers on this bike.
The frame is the result of a lot of work on Cervelo’s
part over the previous years. No other manufacturer can
match this combination of faster aerodynamic design and
excellent ride quality, durability and nice frame fit- at
any price. The real edge here is likely ride quality and
frame aerodynamics. While the virtues of frame aerodynamics
are debated over and over anyone can see that Cervelo’s
design is at least different than all the others. The profile
of the tubes is more streamlined with a very sharp trailing
edge. Cervelo does claim that wind tunnel testing has substantiated
that their aerodynamic frames are faster in testing than
competing brands. I am cynical about wind tunnel test data.
I’m not cynical about race results though, and Cervelo
has top professional athletes and teams buying their frames
to race on when other companies are trying to give the same
athletes bikes. To me, that speaks louder than reams of
wind tunnel test data.
Frame quality has made
Cervelo famous, such as the Cervelo Dual's Smartwall 2
Aero down tube.
Cable routing on the Cervelo Dual
remains the most straightforward internal cable system available.
The use of genuine Shimano brand cables on the Cervelo Dual
is a big bonus for us that most customers will appreciate without
knowing it. All the cable housings are the right diameter. This
isn’t true on every bike out of the box. Most competing
brands do use a downgrade cable set that is not as stiff or
durable as the genuine Shimano brand cables and housings on
the Cervelo Dual.
No seperate cable stops to fall
out or rattle make this the best internal cable routing
in the industry.
|There is only one water bottle mount on the
Cervelo Dual so you will be shopping for either handlebar
or behind-the-saddle style hydration system if you intend
to go anything longer than Olympic distance. Our favorites
are the Jetstream handlebar system and the Minoura rear
saddle rack that works very well with the Cervelo Dual bladed
aerodynamic seatpost. The Profile Designs style that mounts
on a round seatpost does not work on the Cervelo Dual because
of the bladed aero seatpost.
The front derailleur hanger is a
welded on design that is durable enough to never have been a
problem on the many Cervelo Duals we have sold and serviced.
Cervelo put a little extra material here and that was wise.
The hanger is stiff and front shifting is excellent on the Cervelo
Dual as a result.
|The rear triangle on the bike is solid and
unremarkable. Cervelo was smart to put technology where
it benefits the rider and then go with tired and true designs
where new technology only offers dubious benefit. As a result,
you have straight, narrow seat stays on the Cervelo Dual
and some more sophisticated, hefty 23 millimeter chainstays.
The rear dropouts are refreshingly easy to use and straightforward.
They are a conventional design so rear wheel removal is
easier than with the currently in vogue rear-facing horizontal
dropouts. Most customers quickly learn to remove and replace
a rear wheel with the Cervelo Dual dropouts but struggle
with the rear-facing horizontal designs. The derailleur
hanger is replaceable and we’ve actually never had
the occasion of one failing, a big achievement considering
how many Cervelo Duals on the road.
Unique bottom bracket offset provides
good weight distribution and beefy chainstays improve
The crank on the Cervelo Dual is
the FSA Gossamer alloy crank on an external bearing Mega-Exo
bottom bracket. The most remarkable thing I can say about this
set up is the front shifting is oddly crisp. The FSA chainrings
have the largest pick-up rivets I’ve seen on a chainring
so the chain doesn’t have much choice when you shift from
the small chainring up to the big. I’m glad Cervelo didn’t
put some carbon-bling froo-froo designer crankset on this bike.
The sturdy and reasonably light (lighter than some carbon façade
cranks) FSA Gossamer cranks provide perfect shifting in front
and will outlast anything else in this price category. Cervelo
also went to the trouble of putting commensurate crank lengths
on the Dual with a full spread of 170 mm, 172.5 mm and 175 mm
arms I the sizes that make sense. This also makes it easy for
us to have a few extra sets of longer and short cranks on hand
to swap them out for precise sizing to your body dimensions
when we fit you.
We've had perfect front
shifting performance with the FSA Gossamer crank and chain
|The fit on the Cervelo Dual is well conceived
and realistic. The head tube of the Dual shares the same
height in each frame size as Cervelo’s P2C and P2SL.
It is higher than the P3 family of bikes by 15 mm starting
at size 54 cm. Having a higher head tube on this bike is
a good idea since a lot of Cervelo Dual customers will be
using this bike at Ironman and need the option to build
a little higher front end for greater comfort. With the
slightly higher front on the Dual this can be achieved without
using a huge stack of headset spacers.
The cornerstone of Cervelo’s
success has been their proven variable geometry seatpost design.
This is much more than just a seatpost that can be reversed
and angled forward. If you put a seatpost with this much forward
angle or offset on any other bike you would have too much weight
on the front wheel and very poor handling bike; the steering
would be too responsive. There is a subtle combination of actual
frame seat tube angle, chainstay length, seat tube curve and
rearward bottom bracket offset that enable this design to give
the bike stable steering through a very wide range of effective
seatpost angles. The head angle on the Cervelo Dual is also
slackish at a maximum of 72.5 degrees and only 72 degrees on
the 48 cm. If you aren’t familiar with these statistics
basically they make the bike easier to ride in the aerobars
and enable you to more easily reach your water bottle and perform
other on-bike functions from the aero position.
Selle Italia based the Cervelo
saddle on the successful SLR T1 design.
The saddle on the Cervelo Dual is
the Selle Italia SLR T1 shape saddle made for Cervelo by Selle
Italia. It is a triathlon specific design and feels like the
identical firmness as the Selle Italia SLR T1 that retails for
over $150 with Titanium rails (the Cervelo version has manganese
rails). I’ve raced on this saddle over three seasons.
If you can’t get comfortable riding the nose in the aero
position on this saddle I don’t think it is the because
of the saddle. This is one of the most tolerant aero-specific
position saddles available.
A replaceable derailleur
hanger and beautifully made conventional rear dropouts.
|The Cervelo Dual has always been a solid
bike. The 2006 version of the Cervelo Dual integrates three
elements that make it the best buy of the entire triathlon
bike category: 1, Best component spec below $2000, and arguably,
very little to improve on at any price. 2, Excellent and
proven frame design, fit and aerodynamics. 3, The lowest
price for a bike of its type.
From any angle you review the Cervelo
Dual; it is simply the best buy in a triathlon bike.
Best buy triathlon bike for 2006:
Cervelo's Dura-Ace equipped Dual at $1899.99.