Any long time reader of the site knows our fascination with aero road bikes. On the surface they appear to provide the ability to race a crit on Saturday and rack in transition on Sunday. Some of these frames provide the aero dynamic abilities of TT specific frames. One of the limitations, however, is geometry. An aero road bike is built for road riding—not triathlons—and have a more shallow seat tube angle. To overcome this, many athletes slam their saddles forward. While this allows for the seat tube angle they desire, it starts to throw off the balance of the bike. All of a sudden you have placed a large amount of weight out over the front wheel of the bike, which means that handling is liable to suffer.
So what would happen if a manufacturer built an aero road bike with a steeper seat tube angle that was meant for triathletes? Instead of a road bike that can be used by triathletes, think of this as a tri bike that can be used in the peloton.
For those looking to purchase a single do-it-all bike, this could be the one. And this is exactly what the Specialized Alias is meant to do. With a 77°-78° seat tube angle this is a bike aimed toward triathletes, yet with standard drop bars so it can be easily ridden on Sunday group rides. The Alias is a female-specific frame and all three models that Specialized is offering will be built with their FACT 10r carbon (the same carbon used in the standard Venge). While the standard seat post offers the steeper seat tube angle, Specialized will offer a 35mm-offset seat post for the times you are looking for a more traditional road position. The Alias will be available in five sizes with the full geometry chart below.
Being an aero road bike, the Alias features aero tube shapes as well as cambered airfoil seat stays. The cabling is routed internally within the frame.
Specialized is offering the Alias in 3 models ranging from the 105-equipped Sport for $2600 to the Dura-Ace equipped Pro for $6,000. In the middle you will find the Comp, featuring Ultegra for $3300. The Pro is the most race ready with an included set of Roval 40mm wheels. All three models feature top tube bolts for the removable Remora storage box (or after-market bento box).
Conceptually we are huge fans of this bike. In many ways this is a bike we have long been asking for. But we have to admit that we were a bit disappointed with a few decisions Specialized made in designing this bike. First, while we believe they had good reason to make this a women-specific model, it doesn’t change the fact that we would like to see this concept available to both men’s and women’s.
Additionally, judging by the eye test alone, this bike is not nearly as aero as the Venge—a bike a few years old but still winning races on a regular basis. One needs only to look at the cutout-less seat tube to realize the Venge is going to have this bike beat. For this to be a true aero road bike (and a tri bike on top of that) we would have expected this to take aero to a level above the Venge, including more aggressive tube shaping and hidden brakes in the front and rear.
Finally, we think that there were opportunities price-wise (and component-wise) that Specialized is not taking advantage of at launch (though could accommodate in future model years). At a low price point, this is the perfect type of bike for potential triathletes who are looking to buy their first “real” bike but are not sure whether they will just be participating solely in triathlons or eventually road racing as well. We feel that the $2600 price point is too high for entry level athletes, even with a 15-20% markdown. Instead, we would have liked to have seen a Tiagra model that (with discounts) could have come in right around $2000. On the high end, this is a bike begging for Di2. If Specialized had gone with Ultegra Di2 vs. Dura-Ace mechanical they could have offered a tremendous package. By including a 5-port junction box as well as TT shifters, any athlete could easily convert their bike to a dual shifting triathlon setup as simply as plugging in a few wires and bolting down their aero bars.
But all that being said, we can’t deny that for certain shoppers the Alias is going to represent the ideal bike—one that is purposely built for triathlon but is just as good for group rides, and the occasional road race when needed. When Specialized introduced the tri-specific Shiv a few years ago, many people questioned if there was really a market. However, it didn’t take long for Specialized to prove their doubters wrong. We suspect that Specialized may be onto something here once again and that—with a few model tweaks—they may have another sales success on their hands.