Quintana Roo Split R review£2,999.00

Natural short-course racer

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Quintana Roo were one of – if not the – original triathlon bike manufacturers pioneering now universally accepted developments such as super-steep seat angles. However, the Split R is a more conventional ride – and doesn't offer much more than a pair of clip-on aero bars compared to better-value standard road bikes.

Ride & handling: Responsive character is dulled by heavy wheels

Comparison with conventional bikes is inevitable, because that’s how the Split R rides, as well as looks. The long reach gives plenty of room to stretch out and get your speed on. With your thumbs over the extension tips and cups under your forearms you can get a comfortable semi-tuck for straight line or climbing sections.

While the weighty wheels and high overall mass (8,860g/19.53lb) reduce responsiveness, good power transfer characteristics through the crank and chainstays mean it puts in a solid push when needed.

STI levers with built-in shifters also make gear changing on climbs a cinch, so if you start to lose momentum you can at least compensate, rather than crucify yourself. The lack of tip shift levers means you have to break your semi-aero tuck  to change gear too.

The secure hand position when you’re hooked into the compact bars makes fast descents much less unnerving than on a cowhorned aero bike. There are no big sail sections on rim or frame to catch crosswinds either.

It cuts a reasonable balance between a taut feel that’ll cope with powerful riders, and not being too clattery on rough roads. You’ll be aware of the surface you’re spinning across, but we only got a proper kick in the kidneys if we clobbered a big hole.

Big chainstays and stout down tube with twist-resistant head tube mean it pursues rapid direction change with persistent accuracy. This gives it a great cut and carve agility for tight, more technical courses, where the STI shifters will prove their worth. You’ll need lighter wheels to light it up on exit and drive the advantage home, though.

QRoo fit cute, short-prong vision extensions out of the box too, for a draft-legal, semi-aero position: qroo fit cute, short-prong vision extensions out of the box too, for a draft-legal, semi-aero position
QRoo fit cute, short-prong vision extensions out of the box too, for a draft-legal, semi-aero position: qroo fit cute, short-prong vision extensions out of the box too, for a draft-legal, semi-aero position

Chassis: Tight-riding yet roomy frame builds into a multi-purpose all rounder

Unlike Quintana Roo's pure aero bikes, the Split R has a relatively tall and back-friendly front end. The sucked in head tube centre minimises the cross section though, and the upper part of the down tube follows a fat aero profile.

It then boxes up for a full-width wrap around the conventional bottom bracket, while the flattened top tube extends into an H-shaped chainstay structure. The rest of the frame is relatively conventional, with  all cables, apart from the rear brake, externally routed, and two conventional bottle mounts.

Unfortunately the cradle on the round section FSA post won’t dip low enough for a flat saddle position if you reverse it to give a more forward saddle position. The full-carbon Quintana Roo fork is also relatively broad in aero terms.

Frame and fork weight (1,280g and 470g, respectively) are high for a £3,000 bike. Five frame sizes mean a good range of bike fit and generous top tube length stops you from feeling cramped on climbs.

Equipment: Reasonable overall spec but we'd expect more for the price

The obvious difference between the Split R and Quintana’s normal tri range is the conventional roadie drop bars. To keep things comfortable and controlled, they’re very compact versions with a short drop and short forward reach that keeps hands high and close. QRoo fit cute, short-prong Vision extensions out of the box too, for a draft-legal, group-friendly semi-aero position.

The Shimano Ultegra transmission gets pimped up with a Dura-Ace rear mech to catch your eye and it all works very quietly and quickly through the long-throw STI combined shift and brake levers. The Quintana Roo-branded Alex wheelset is heavy (1,820g), and its only aero concession is bladed spokes. Despite their name, Continental Ultra Race tyres are more a training than competition set of boots too, although they’ll certainly last.

Non-cartridge pads on unbranded brakes mean deceleration is as dulled as acceleration too, but at least switching pads is a relatively cheap, yet effective, upgrade. The very basic saddle makes its presence felt quickly on less-than-perfect roads, and the seatpost is the most basic carbon model FSA produce. As a result, it’s hard to escape the feeling that you’re being short-changed in kit terms compared to many conventional £3,000 bikes.

Quintana roo split r: quintana roo split r
Quintana roo split r: quintana roo split r

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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