I have to admit, I’m very excited about this particular post. I can finally announce that I’ve formed a partnership with Quintana Roo!
Introduction to QR & Specs:
Quintana Roo are an American brand based out of Chattanooga in the USA. They were the first brand to come out with a tri-specific wetsuit – being lighter, more buoyant, and more flexible – in 1987. This was followed up with the first tri-specific bike in 1989, which was ridden to records in Ironman NZ that year. QR have a long history of design and innovation which pushes the boundary of what ‘fast’ can mean. I was accepted into the QR Grassroots Sponsorship program, and I’m super happy to be on board my very own slice of history-making equipment for the foreseeable future!
I’m lucky enough to be riding the QR PRFour Disc. Yes, disc! I have disc brakes for the first time for a tri bike, which I’m very happy with. I’ve earlier said that I would be hard-pressed to move back to rim brakes, regardless of how they were set up, and riding the PRFour disc affirms this belief. All of the PR series tri bikes are available with disc brake options, providing great options at every price point. The PRFour offers the same frame shape (so similar performance in terms of aerodynamics) as the leading PRsix disc superbike! Luckily, the PRFour disc starts at $2999 USD for the base setup, instead of the $8500 USD that the PRsix costs! You can also have an optional wheelset upgrade at the point of purchase.
The base spec of the PRFour disc comes with a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset, with an FSA crankset and TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes. 12mm thru-axles increase the lateral stiffness and stability of the bike, which is a great improvement over quick releases. The PRFour disc also has what QR calls ‘Shift +’ technology and a leading edge absent chainstay on the non-diveside (to help hide the rear disc brake), ensuring that the bike is fast and efficient. It also comes with what QR calls a ‘perfect position’ seatpost, where you can move your saddle clamp anywhere between the 77, 80, and 83° pre-set positions, ensuring that you can run off bike incredibly well due to it’s geometry. The PRFour disc isn’t UCI legal (meaning it’s actually designed to be a fast tri bike) due to it’s aerofoil shapes and non-driveside chainstay, and can be fitted all together with two sizes of hex-key. The bike comes with a ‘standard’ front end, meaning you can change out the stem/cockpit to whatever you fancy or whatever will fit you well. For storage, the QRFour comes with an aero rear storage box (called the ‘QBox’) which sits just behind the seatpost, and a top tube bag that sits flush with the stem and top tube. It’s safe to say that the aerodynamics of this design are incredibly well thought out!
The bike comes with what Quintana Roo calls their ‘full-assembly ProBox’. What this means is that QR build the bike up, test it out and ensure that everything is running smoothly, then remove both wheels and the handlebars to fit into a box. There’s a lot of packaging used in order to make sure any QR bike is completely safe throughout it’s journey from the USA to wherever you’re based. The box & packaging can also be reused in order to transport your bike between places if you’re travelling to races, which is pretty neat.
If you wanted to build the bike as it was with the standard specs that the PRFour (or any other QR bike) comes with, then it’s pretty straightforward. There are 4 bolts for the faceplate of the stem – remove them, place the center of the basebar flush with the stem and screw the bolts & faceplace back into place to the correct torque. Add the wheels & quick releases/thru-axles, check that the brakes/gearing work well, and you’re good to go! All you’ll need are two sizes of hex-keys in order to tighten everything up, which means that the process usually takes a maximum of 15 minutes to put the bike together out of the box. Pretty awesome, right?
Unfortunately for me, I’m rarely content with leaving things as they are. I decided I was going to change some things up! I added the following:
- Sram Red 1x etap: this comprises of etap clics (that sit inside the extensions), etap blips (that sit on the basebar for shifting when your hands are near the brakes), the etap blipbox (which sends the signal from your shifters to the derailleurs), and a wi-fli rear derailleur (which has the capacity to hold anything from an 11-28 through to an 11-34 cassette). I went for a wi-fli derailleur as I’m not going to be using a front derailleur for aerodynamic reasons, and I needed the gearing ratio to be somewhat flexible to accommodate how hard some hills on the courses I’ll race are!
- Profile design Aeria Ultimate Stem (V2) & Aeria Hydration. This is used as I don’t particularly like using a BTA (between the arms) bottle as it’s messy, hard to use while racing, and the aeria hydration is simple to use come race-day while keeping the cockpit of my bike aesthetically clean-looking.
- Profile design Aeria AL Evo basebar: I went with the alloy version of the popular Aeria Ultimate aerobars purely due to the price – the AL version is less than half the price of their carbon counterparts, but do exactly the same thing. I’ll take the weight penalty of 100g of so in order to save several hundred dollars.
- Drag2Zero aerobar extensions: these are about as custom as you can get without spending $3000 euro on a pair of Speedbars. They come with a choice of grip, grip angle, extra foam for increased surface area & offer significantly more comfort compared to the two other sets of extensions I had (35a’s and T5+’s, both from profile design). As I don’t have wedges to go under my extensions, these are currently ‘flat’ but still offer a higher hands position. If I feel the need to later on, I’ll add some wedges and see if that helps comfort-wise – but for now, I’m super happy with them. These Drag2Zero extensions aren’t currently available to the public, but will be soon so keep an eye out!
I also use the Profile Design arm cups that come stock with the bike.
The PRFour disc comes standard with Shimano RS170 disc wheels; great for logging miles on, and are essentially bombproof. They use shimano centerlock hubs to ensure great brake engagement & stability when travelling at speed. They aren’t the lightest wheels out there, but have a 25mm external width/23mm internal width which ensure that you can use any tyre size from 23mm through to 32mm without too much hassle. This ensures comfortable training on poor chip roads, like we have in New Zealand!
However I’m training to race, so it stands to reason that I’ll be using some racing wheels. This season I’ll be using some of the hottest new NZ-based wheels from Negative Split. These are, hands down, the coolest looking wheels I’ve ever gotten my hands on – I’m very excited to be getting my hands on the first disc-brake disc wheel. Everything from a clean and aggressive design through to a superior carbon weave and build quality makes this the wheel that every long distance athlete wants to have (or is jealous of…). It will use a 12 x 142 centerlock DT Swiss 350 Straight pull hub with a Shimano freehub body. It’s got a 20.4 internal rim width with a sweet matte black finish, and weighs only 1,480 grams for the full disc! I have to say, I’m stoked to be able to test and race this wheel, and can’t wait to post some fast times on it.
I’ll be using a 50mm disc brake wheel available from Negative Split as well. It uses a radial spoke pattern with 24 PSR aero spokes laced onto a Novatec 12 x 100 centerlock hub. This system ensures that the wheel is laterally stiff and very light at 740 grams – which is incredibly light for a disc brake wheel of this depth!
Both wheels will use 23mm internal width/25mm external width (enabling tyres from 23 to 32mm wide for comfort while racing too!). I’ll be using a 140mm Dura-Ace rotor for braking on both front and rear wheels. They’ll also use Continental GP 5000 clincher tyres in 25mm for the best combination of handling, aerodynamics, and rolling resistance.
All in all, these are the best wheel’s I’ve had the pleasure of using – and I’ve raced on a fair few so far. I can’t wait to race on them!
The Actual Build:
I’ll be the first to admit – I’m not the worlds best bike mechanic. I’m competent
aka I know the difference between one end of the bike and the other, but the final build of this bike was a bit of a challenge for me. In fact, at times this build made me #absolutelymad. Most of my trouble was due to the way the front brake line interacts with the steerer, stem and fork. My brakes are European style, meaning that the front brake is on the right hand side and the back is on the left hand side. The brake line from the right hand side has to wind it’s way from the brake lever, through the basebar, into the steerer tube, down the fork and out the bottom to attach to the brake. This makes for a rather convoluted route for the brake to go! And it also makes it rather interesting for me. During my fit, if I wanted to adjust my stem or move spacers around, I had to unhook the brake cable, remove most of the brake cable whilst threading an old brake cable into the brake cable outer (to make it easier to re-route the brake cable outer once I’d adjusted the fit), pull the brake outer out of the steerer tube and top cap, move the stem/spacers, then re-route everything back to it’s original position – all without accidentally dropping the fork out, squashing the headset bearings (which I did end up doing anyway, oops), or messing up in any other way. I had a horrible time attempting to do this (a fair few times I must admit, but it was valuable learning experience!), and did need help during this process. Afterwards, the process of routing the etap wires to the blipbox, syncing the blipbox with the rear derailleur, adjusting the rear derailleur as needed, trimming the chain & putting it on was relatively straightforward. I also had to change the front double chainring setup that comes as standard on a Shimano crankset to a single ring setup, which required swapping a few bolts around and was fairly easy.
As the rear derailleur I’m using is of the wi-fli variety, I can use a cassette ranging from 11-28 through to 11-34 teeth. This means that as I change courses that I race on, I’ll have to adjust the b limit and high/low limits to ensure that the chain is always in the right gear. I’ve done it a few times for practise now, and there is a fairly comprehensive video from Sram on Youtube that serves as a back-up tutorial if I need it!
Riding a brand new bike can always be a bit daunting. Being unsure if the fit is perfect, if you’ll like the handling, if the wheelbase will let you corner the same as if you were on a different bike… the list of worries can be exhaustive. My biggest worry related to the build of the bike, as this was the first time I was going to be doing a majority of the build with as little help as possible. I wasn’t particularly worried about the fit, as I’ve got my stack and reach measurements relatively down-pat, and almost everything related to comfort or handling can be optimised in some way to ensure that the bike will be perfect every time you build it. Little tip for everyone out there: if it’s not perfect, do some research and work out what you want to achieve, then change the components as you need to. More often than not, there’s a really cheap way of improving your bike immensely, and it’ll drastically improve your feelings towards the bike!
However, the list of exciting things about a new bike can be pretty darn bike as well, and that’s what I experienced! My thoughts on the first ride were very positive – my PRFour disc handled extremely well when on the extensions or on the basebar, and cornered like a demon. I have to thank the design & engineering team at Quintana Roo – it’s very hard to get a properly functioning TT/tri bike that has functionality, aesthetic, and geometry considerations without breaking the $10k USD barrier, and they’ve managed to do it in under $3000. It’s pretty scary how much some other brands are charging for the same thing – think nearly double the price…
Obviously, having disc brakes are a bike plus. They allow me to carry more speed corners, brake later, be more confident that the braking conditions are going to be 100% replicated no matter the weather, are reliable and are easy to maintain
and every once in a while when I’m not focusing drag the brakes through the corners because I sometimes get lazy. If you’re looking to upgrade your bike in the near future, whether it’s a road bike or a TT/tri bike I’d strongly recommend getting a bike equipped with disc brakes!
I can’t thank the team at Quintana Roo enough for letting me come aboard. I’ll be racing this machine on the 7th of December for my first chance of qualifying for the 70.3 World Champs, and I’m itching to race!
If you’re keen on having a look at the bike I’m on, or are keen on getting something similar, you can check out the range here: https://quintanarootri.com/pages/triathlon-bikes