The last few years, Quintana Roo has championed that it’s bikes were built for the masses; athletes that travel to races, and that have to put their own bikes together. For all the superbikes out there, there are, without question superheadaches that accompany, particularly with integrated front ends. They come in the form of proprietary brakes. Substandard braking systems. Brake covers. Special stems that require multiple and odd-sized tools. And proprietary front ends that limit fit adjustability. For low as the front end drag may be as it may be, it’s potentially 100 times as frustrating putting it together. And heaven forbid something breaks…
So it was with much anticipation that Quintana Roo debuts the PRsix the day before the Ironman 70.3 Oceanside in North County San Diego, Calif., with pros Cait Snow and Sonja Wieck in attendance along with a few key partners and select media. While QR’s own Illicito with it’s non-driveside monostay was its first modern “superbike,” this one goes back to two stays. Not as “radical,” but it’s the front end (and it’s end-user utility) that makes this a superbike for the people, of the people and by the people.
“We’ve taken a minimalist approach to the athletes needs. This is a bike for the athlete that travels,” said Quintana Roo lead engineer Brad DeVaney.
Quintana Roo showed LAVA this bike in early prototype status at the QR booth in October at the 2013 Hawaii Ironman, and by their own admission, it wasn’t ready for prime time. As such, we honored their request to keep it on the hush-hush tip. In its final iteration, it’s unique, highly impressive and certainly for those that aren’t mechanically inclined will be a dream to build at the race venue in your hotel room, without causing more drama or headaches than you already have with a race on your docket.
This is where the PR6 shines. While the early prototype looked, well, like a rough prototype, this final version shines.
The story here is a base “stem” that sets atop the steerer. In fact, the alloy stem (with a weight-saving cutout on its underside) serves to be the bike’s top crown cap, saving weight and materials in the process. (In parallel, the QR fork has a molded-in carbon lower race instead of a hammered-in alloy one, also saving weight and fuss).
That “stem” then serves as a platform upon which a lower cradle is placed, which itself serves as the lower clamp for the standard 31.8 aerobar of your choice. It then comes with a top cap that cinches the aerobar vertically to the lower cradle, and voila; your aerobar is affixed to your stem, and you’re off to the races.
And it’s fit-adjustable, too; want the bar to come up? Up to four 1cm vertical stack, bullet-shaped spacers can provide bar lift. Want to go forward? The PR6 stem will affix to one of three fore/aft positions via the three fixing bolts. With the four vertical adjust options and three fore/aft options, it’s effectively the equivalent of 12 stem length and rise/fall options.
The stem is effectively its own X/Y axis setup that looks on its face like it will work very well with standard fitting protocol from any reputable fitter, whether FIST, Retul or the like. Anything after that is micro-fitting with your aerobar pads, extensions, etc. The Profile Design Aria was a sound choice as the stock offering by QR; it’s got 7.5mm of height adjust in the pads, and tons of extension length/canting option.
Finally, there’s just one small bolt kit. A nice departure from the massive bolt kit options we see from other brands.
When you’re traveling, it’s as easy and familiar with a front-loading stem assembly, but rotated vertically. No funky nosecones to remove—or break—or lose. No tiny 2.5mm hex bolts to roll away, requiring a microscope to find.
And hex keys needed for the entire bike? A 4mm and 5mm. That’s it. Apart from a pedal wrench, you can build and break down the bike with a multitool (though proper T- or L-handle wrenches, or a torque wrench are the proper tools for the job).
COCKPIT ADJUSTABILITY AND FIT
The PRsix is keen on proper fit. To that end, it has a very aggressive seat tube angle variance (adjustable at the angle-rising seat clamp): 77 to 83 degrees.
Sizing run will be 46cm (650c wheels), 50, 52, 54, 56, 58.5cm (700c wheels). DeVaney said all bike are built with a uniform front wheel-to-downtube reach for uniform drag numbers, across the range of frame sizes
BOATTAIL vs. KAMMTAIL
It’s splitting of hairs, but that’s the deal with these aero bikes, right? Quintana Roo engineer Brad DeCaney explains: while Kammtail lops off to a hard edge, Boattail tapers slightly before it lops off. It’s a slight difference, but it’s one seen in two areas, automotive aerodynamics (seen on the trailing edge of 18-wheeled long-haul semis that see massive fuel consumption savings by adding a trailing taper before the sudden termination), and in ballistics, on the trailing edge of bullets. It’s a small difference, but one that sets it apart from what we’ve seen as “kammtail.” The difference is slight, but it’s noticeable on the trailing edge of the downtube, seattube and seatstays.
The rest of the bike has the key QR hallmarks, namely Shift+ Technology, with an offset downtube for focused airflow rerouting away from the drivetrain, and a wide, aero non-driveside chainstay. QR opted to run seatstays on both sides of this model (a departure from the Illicito) in the interest of stiffness.
Ah, the downfall of many superbikes. Proprietary systems that either cause headaches or simply have sub-standard mechanical capability. Quintana Roo is now the first to build a bike that comes with two brake mount style options. It will ship complete with Shimano’s new two-post aero brake.
And using a Shimano direct-mount brake front and rear is an undeniable win; the brand has been the high water mark in stopping power for decades; Tektro could never touch this dual-pivot design. For all the “aero brakes out there, this is hands down the best OE mechanical aero brake. When you want to stop… you’ll stop. QR also echos other brands like Cervelo in saying that the front brake cable is within the error of the tunnel; that is, any drag is creates is so negligible, it’s effectively invisible and doesn’t matter.
Further, if you wanted to run your favorite center-mount aero brake, like a TriRig, or Magura RT8TT hydraulics, you can take the two-post Shimano brakes out, plug the female ports on the fork, and install through the crown race with a traditional center-mount post. That will allow you to truly run your own aero brakes, whether a TriRig Omega, Simpkins EE, Magura RT8TT, etc., front and rear. Further, you can still run a traditional brake front brake from any manufacturer, including SRAM or Campagnolo, though one would still have to go with a narrow-stance brake from any of the aforementioned brands (Shimano, Magura, TriRig, etc.) for the rear brake to fit within the tight confines under the bottom bracket shell.
Really, the message is, you can pretty much run whatever brakes you like. But those Shimano stoppers really are the best you can put on there apart from Magura hydraulics.
The frame will come with two sets of replaceable dropouts: vertical and horizontal. Those devotees to one or the other can make for easy wheel changes with vertical dropouts, or go with horizontal ones to tuck the rear wheel in tight to the frame.
The bottom bracket will be 68mm wide using Pressfit 30 standard; as a tri bike, DeVaney said they didn’t need a wide bearing stance for out-of-saddle or sprinting stiffness. Thus, they opted for narrower—and more aero.
While the early models on display didn’t have them, production frames will have top-tube bottle bosses at the front of the top tube for the current market of bolt-affixed bento boxes, like those from Xlab.
QR’s wind tunnel testing and weight comparatives claim to put it in the ballpark of the major players; it is claimed to have better drag numbers at negative 15 and 15 degrees yaw than the bikes it tested against (Orbea Ordu, Argon 18 E118, Specialized Shiv, Cervelo P5 and Trek Speed Concept), and at no to low yaw (zero to six/negative six degrees), and is in the roundhouse from 7 to 14 degrees, standardized on Zipp 808 tubulars. In terms of weight, QR claims the PRsix to be the lightest among those brands as well.
The PRsix will see its first action next weekend at Ironman 70.3 Galveston, not under a pro, but under Quintana Roo CEO Peter Hurley. As frame molds open and bikes ship in the coming months, they will start seeding to their pro athletes like Caitlin Snow, and on to customers. The 52cm will be the first bikes to be showing up, and thusly among the first athletes will be QT2 athletes, namely Pat Wheeler and Chris Baird.
SPEC, PRICING, AVAILABILITY
Retailers will see the PR6 this year as a complete bike with Shimano 11-speed Ultegra Di2 (with the cylindrical battery placed in a bracket within the seatpost), Profile Design Aria aerobar and Reynolds carbon clincher deep dish wheels race-ready at $8,500. Framesets will be available at $4,500. Quintana Roo says they will be on dealer floors within the month of April, with size runs filling out the line on a monthly basis.
By our estimation, the PRsix will be QR’s most popular bike by a landslide: it has incredible versatility, real-world parts, will be easy to build and is a price that won’t break the bank. Of course, the proof is in the pudding; LAVA will be looking forward to a bike to test in the coming months for a detailed review.
For more on the PRsix, visit www.quintanarootri.com