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2014 New Trek Speed Concept

When Trek unveiled the original Speed Concept back in 2009, it was a total jaw-dropper. No one had ever seen a frame with components so beautifully integrated from tip to tail. Virtually every cable on the bike was completely hidden, the word “Kammtail” became part of the triathlete's vernacular, and hidden centerpull brakes gave the bike the cleanliness of a track rig. It was amazing, and put Trek's competitors on notice that they needed to step up their game. 

Fast forward to today, and it's easy to see the Speed Concept's influence on the triathlon world. Bikes like the BMC TM01, Cervelo P5, Pinarelo Bolide, and Felt's brand new IA owe plenty of design inspiration to Trek's excellent work with the SC. Canon Bicycles even gave a similar name to their SC-esque rig, the Canyon Concept Speedmax. Trek's influence on the market is undeniable. Integrated brakes are everywhere. Truncated airfoils have taken center stage. And best of all, the market has begun to focus on the message that a tri-specific fit is the most important component of the bicycle purchase, thanks to the runaway success of the Speed Concept. 

So where does Trek go from here? Can lightning strike twice? Is there a way to refresh the platform and make it new and exciting, without losing what made it so special in the first place? The answer is a resounding YES. The 2014 Speed Concept isn't just an awesome new rig, it's proof that Trek listens to its customers. Virtually every complaint I could come up with about the original bike has been addressed in one way or another on the new bike. I'm so excited about what Trek has done here, I can barely keep my thoughts in order. I'm going to try to write this review in the usual way I do in-depth frame features: start from the front of the bike and work my way back and down. And that's fitting, because probably the coolest stuff about the new bike is in the new front-end, specifically that insanely awesome aerobar. 

But before we dive into all the specifics, it's worth noting that Trek hasn't just revised the original Speed Concept. This isn’t an incremental update; it’s a completely new bike, with entirely new molds, and a set of completely revised mechanical concepts. 

So hit the jump, and let's get started.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t spend an entire page devoted to just one component of the bike. But in the case of the new Speed Concept, that may barely do it justice. This new bar is a wildly new design, and since the first time I saw the thing, from a race image of the bike underneath Fabian Cancellara, I was determined to check it out firsthand. 

The first thing you notice about this bar is that it doesn’t have the traditional double-pedestal design that virtually every bar on the market uses. This bad boy has just a single riser, to which both arm pads and both extensions are attached. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this concept, since it appeared in some of Cervelo’s P5 development prototypes. shown off at the expo of the 2011 edition of Ironman Hawaii. But Trek is the first one to take the bold step of putting it into a production bike. 

The single-riser design, which Trek calls its Monospacer design, both reduces frontal area and provides some potent solutions to problems that plagued the original Speed Concept. The first of these is the tilt mechanism. On the original bike, extension tilt was controlled independently on each side, via a relatively small cylinder that was clamped to an overwhelming 14 Nm of force, the extent of which wasn’t even sufficient to keep them put. If you hit a big bump, the weight of your arms could throw one or both of extensions out of alignment, even with the ungodly torque on those through-bolts. The new design is both completely secure, requires much less torque to operate, and ensures that both extensions remain in perfect symmetry adjusted. It’s brilliant. 

My only real complaint about the Monospacer and Monoextension system is that, as of this writing, you are limited to the extensions that Trek makes, and you can't achieve any roll adjustment (twisting the extensions inward). I always roll my extensions inward, so it's a little annoying not to be able to do that. And I'd like to be able to put different extensions on the bike. However, this too is something that Trek is working on. Soon enough, you'll be able to buy a Monoextension that also contains clamping hardware for traditional 22.2mm extensions. It'll allow you to use your favorite extensions, roll them inward, AND adjust the reach independent of the rest of the aerobar hardware. I haven't been able to get my hands on this new piece, but I hope to do so in the near future. Hopefully it doesn't compromise the beautiful aesthetics and aerodynamics of this lovely bar. Speaking of which, the base bar remains an ultra-deep airfoil, and now has been revised to have flat hand holds, which I personally prefer. But if you want something for your hand to press against, Trek provides little bumpers that you can put under the bar tape to provide that. 

Next up is the internal cable routing. The new route through the Monoextension and Monospacer is amazing, and completely hides the cables. In this way, it achieves the last remaining improvement on hidden cables left behind by its predecessor, which left a bit of exposed cable from the extensions going into the base bar. However, this improvement comes with a small cost: any time you want to swap out your Monospacer to adjust stack height, you have to reroute your shifter cables. If you're running an electronic shifting system (and if you paid the big money for this frame, you really SHOULD be using electronic components of some kind or another), the cable routing isn't as big a deal. You just have to unplug your shifters, adjust, and plug them back in. It's a lot nicer than having to rerun an entirely new steel cable. But it's still more difficult than just adding a spacer and keeping everything else intact. This is just the cost of the integrated bar. 

As with the original Speed Concept, you CAN choose to take off the integrated bar entirely, use the "Steerer Stub" component, and run any bar/stem combo you like. Of course, you'll have a very hard time matching the smooth aesthetics and brilliant aerodynamic design of the integrated components, but you could probably find hardware that provided a more convenient way to adjust your position. But ultimately, the integrated bar is amazing. It uses fewer bolts than its predecessor, those bolts require less torque to hold the hardware in place, and the full combination of parts is lighter. They could be made lighter still, with some refinement of some of the beefier parts, but there's very little to complain about with this bar. It's really awesome. 

Hit the jump and let's talk about the frame and the fit of the bike.

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