Article written by Jack Sexty of 220 Triathlon, featured in the November 2020 edition of the magazine // Images by ©www.ASDesign.uk.com
Quintana Roo have made further refinements to their flagship triathlon bike but is it worth splashing out for? We find out in an exclusive superbike test.
After impressing us with its smooth ride feel and sleek integration when we reviewed version one back in issue 368, tri-bike pioneers Quintana Roo are back with the PRsix2 (£9,895.95 as tested or £3,799.95 as a frameset only). It’s currently being ridden by Ironman world record holder Matt Hanson (who clocked a 7:39:25 overall time at Ironman Texas in 2018) and British powerhouse Joe Skipper. Skipper piloted the PRsix2 to the 12-hour time trial record in August, riding 325.5 miles (533km) at a frightening average speed of 27.1mph (43.6km/h).
The changes made on the PRsix2 are evolutionary rather than a complete overhaul, with the frame maintaining the same silhouette but with some tweaks to bring the weight down by 10% and the stiffness up by 11%, according to QR. While we weren’t given an exact weight, on our scales we weighed the bike at 9.62kg with the new exclusive QR Aeria hydration system attached, compared to 9.57kg for our last PRsix test bike without the hydration set-up or a power meter, so the frameset is undoubtedly lighter.
Another change comes in the form of a T47 threaded bottom bracket instead of the PF30 system on the first PRsix. As it’s the same size as a PF30, this standard allows for all the benefits of a wide bottom bracket area without any of the creaking that can potentially arise from Pressfit systems, so should be a winner all round.
Finally, the port for the Shimano Di2 electronic gear system has been integrated neatly where the top tube and downtube meet, providing an easily accessible point for charging. Exposed wires and cables have no place on a tri superbike in 2020, so this also makes for a clean appearance that keeps everything internal.
In terms of features worth shouting about that haven’t changed, that huge non-driveside chainstay immediately stands out, and is integral to QR’s mantra when it comes to aerodynamic optimisation. Supported by countless hours of refinement in the wind tunnel, QR say it minimises frame flex and increases the aero profile of the non-driveside, balancing out the weight of the driveside components to make the bike more stable.
The above thinking also extends to the downtube, which QR calls their ‘SHIFT+ Technology’. The downtube is offset to concentrate airflow away from the ‘dirty’ driveside towards the ‘clean’ side, which makes the drivetrain ‘virtually invisible to the wind’, say QR. It should all add up to better aerodynamics across a wider range of yaw angles, more stability and a ‘sail effect’ in crosswinds to save triathletes more energy for the run.
The geometry is completely unchanged, with an adjustable seat angle and an 11.5cm head tube, 72° head angle and fairly long 99.5cm wheelbase on our 52cm size test bike. 4.8cm of fork offset pushes the front wheel’s axle further in front of the head angle than you’d find on road bikes to account for the rider being positioned further forward on a tri bike.
The version of the PRsix2 we have on test is absolutely top-of-the-range, upgraded with a CeramicSpeed OSPW system on the rear derailleur, CeramicSpeed bearings, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shifting, an FSA power meter chainset, and high-end carbon wheels and bars from Vision. All the added extras are specced by QR’s UK distributor Windwave, who will sell this exact build directly to customers for £9,895.95. The frameset is priced at £3,799.95, so if you don’t quite have £10k to spend then QR have a number of UK dealers who can build you a bike with slightly less luxurious components. On QR’s American site, a PRsix2 with Shimano Ultegra Di2 shifting and training wheels is $7,650, so a race-ready full build could be purchased for around the £7,000 mark.
On top of the 55mm deep wheels and ceramic luxury, you get superior stopping power from Shimano’s Dura-Ace hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors – a pleasing upgraded compared to the mechanical disc brakes we had on our PRsix test rig, which we don’t think belong on a superbike. There’s no expense spared, and on paper the PRSix2 is everything we dream of in a tri bike...but did that translate to superior performance on the road?
As we’d expect an advanced triathlon bike to be in 2020, the PRsix2 is highly adjustable so you can obtain your required position with relative ease. Via the seat clamp that can move the seat angle from 77° right through to a super steep 83°, we settled for a position somewhere in the middle, and moved the saddle rails forward slightly to give us a fairly aggressive position.
The quality Fabric Tri saddle is one we rate highly and kept us comfortable on long test rides. It’s worth mentioning the PRsix2 comes with a saddle clamp that takes standard round rails, but if your favourite tri perch has oval-shaped carbon rails then QR’s UK distributor, Windwave, can supply the compatible hardware.
We’ve commented before how QR’s tri bikes offer a classy, planted ride that appear to dampen any vibrations beneath us, inspiring confidence on corners and descents. Once again that’s the case on the PRsix2, as it somehow manages to offer stability akin to a gravel bike while also feeling as rapid as the most aggressive aero racer you’ve ever ridden. We’ve no doubt the SHIFT+ tech and balancing of weight on the non-driveside definitely makes a difference in this respect, making the bike feel stable even on windy days. Quintana Roo previously told us the move to disc brakes will also have contributed to this sensation because the larger fork and thru-axles provide extra stiffness compared to their rim brake PRsix.
While it’s no featherweight bike by any means, the PRsix2 is similar in weight to other top-end tri bikes and proved to be an efficient climber on some rolling Mendip Hills test rides. It’s most at home zipping along on the flats, of course, but the weight reduction and nimble steering mean that the bike should excel on hilly or pan flat courses alike.
This quality frameset is deserved of quality components, and we definitely got them on our test bike. Vision’s Metron 55SL carbon wheelset paired with Hutchinson Fusion5 Performance tyres are ideal for the majority of races, with the 55mm wheel depth offering plenty of aero benefits while not being any trouble in high winds (the rock-solid build of the PRsix adds to the stability in crosswinds). As an added bonus, the freehub on the Metron rear wheel is terrifyingly loud, perfect for intimidating the competition as you fly past them on descents.
The bars are also courtesy of Vision in the form of their Trimax Carbon integrated system, which allows for lots of adjustment to adjust the stack of the aerobars to your preference. The armrest width and tilt of the base bars can also be adjusted, offering everything you could realistically want to achieve your ideal position. In use, we’d no issues being in the aero position for extended periods and found them perfectly comfortable.
Our FSA Powerbox chainset came with 52/36 chainrings, a pretty standard size that top-end riders may want to swap for larger to give themselves a bigger top gear and more efficient chain line for pushing Joe Skipper-esque average speeds. While it’s not really possible to distinguish the difference they make while riding, the OSPW system, bearings and waxed chain from CeramicSpeed promises some extra drivetrain efficiency – and if you’re spending nearly £10,000 on a bike then you want every watt to count, so they’re appropriate for this high-end build.
With space for two bottle cages in the frame’s triangle, a top-tube pouch, rear storage and front-end hydration, the PRsix2 is ready to race an Ironman with no other storage solutions needed. This version of Profile Design’s Aeria hydration system is exclusive to the PRsix2, and can easily be slid on and off the QR 2.5 aero stem. Able to hold around 900ml of fluid, the straw is pleasant to drink from and snaps onto the top magnetically when not in use. For us it’s infinitely better than reaching around for bottles on saddle rail-mounted hydration solutions because you can also fill it on the go by squeezing the contents of a bottle into the fill port. There’s also a computer mount, which you can remove via a single Allen key bolt if not required. Removing the mount also allows you to take off the lid if you need to clean the inside.
The top-tube pouch simply zips open and shut, and sits flush with the hydration system to retain the aerodynamics. We managed to fit four gels in our standard-sized pouch, but if you’re hungry then you can also choose a larger version which retails at £64.95.
The QBox rear storage is a simple but neat innovation with space for an inner tube, CO2 canister and multitool inside, plus an integrated rear light. A simple sliding mechanism allows you to get the lid on or off, which is a little on the stiff side being solid plastic. We could potentially see ourselves getting frustrated while trying to access flat kit for a rapid roadside repair, but it’s nothing a calm head and a bit of force won’t solve.
It’s very difficult to find fault with the new PRsix, as the small gripes we had with the first iteration have been addressed. We’d always be in favour of making it lighter still if the aerodynamics were unaffected, and perhaps the rear QBox could be reworked slightly to make it easier to open... but, really, we’re clutching at straws.
It’s also damn expensive, of course, but considering our test bike came with an integrated power meter, storage and CeramicSpeed upgrades, we think it arguably represents better value than the likes of the top-end Specialized S-Works Shiv, which is priced at £10,500.
Overall, we were very impressed with the PRsix2 and couldn’t recommend it enough if you want one of the very best triathlon bikes money can buy. Yes, it’s a gigantic spend, but if your budget is unlimited then the version we received is absolutely ready to race and perfectly optimised for long-course tri. Quintana Roo’s Superform was the first truly triathlon-specific bike, and true to form one of the original multisport brands are still at the forefront of innovation over thirty years later.
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