Over the past 5 years the powerhouse tri bike
brands got their start as the boutique brands of a decade ago.
People look for uniqueness in triathlon bikes. Felt started
with two models. Cervelo started their pitch with one model
sold out of the back of a car. Among the sometimes fashion conscious
and fickle spirited tri bike buyer it matters to have something
no one else has. There is something special about being the
new, mysterious brand. When you own it, you are the insider,
the trend setter, the one who spreads the word. The big question
that remains among tri bike companies is: Who is the next big
brand? Who holds the next hot ticket?
A lot of factors go into a successful triathlon
bike brand. There has to be sizzle and steak. The bike has to
be solid and functional, appealing and fashionable. For a bike
brand to be successful it has to be equal parts Betty Crocker,
Anna Kournikova and Traci Lords. It has to work, people have
to like it and it has to have sex appeal.
For 2006 Javelin is at the pointy end of the emerging
triathlon brand spear. The brand is ready to blow up this year.
Javelin’s rise to prominence during
2006 will likely seem like a lot of famous musicians: It will
seem like overnight success but is actually rooted in over a
decade or more of very hard work and lots of experience sharpening
the tip of the spear and forging the blade.
This is the steak: Beautiful weld quality and solid frame
|Several factors may take Javelin to the level of the major
brands during the next year and beyond. First and most importantly,
the bikes are well designed and well made. Secondly, they
carry a hefty amount of uniqueness and differentiation.
Thirdly, Javelin has resources to introduce new models,
maintain good inventory levels to keep lead times low and
ship quickly. Fourth, Javelin has done their homework with
sports marketing. Top pro triathletes and cyclists are winning
on Javelin. The brand becomes more visible every month.
Fifth, Javelin’s sales and marketing manager “Mac”
McEneaney is one of the sharpest guys in the industry. And
sixth, the refined, no-B.S. functional design and “niche
of a niche” aura will make people want the bikes.
As we go into the heat of the 2006 selling season Javelin
is poised to be the emerging brand.
Javelin got their start the usual way: A
small bike company. But having expanded and after scoring a
few major sports marketing coups the company has shown up on
the radar big time. In 2005 the TIAA/Cref Pro Cycling Team used
Javelin bicycles. Top triathlon superstar Simon Lessing of the
Tri Dubai Team (The new Team J. David?) and Ironman legend Michael
Lovato win on Javelin now. Javelin started a grass roots sponsorship
program with "Team Javelin", a middle-of-the-pack
and age group sports marketing program with over 1,000 athletes
in 2005. Team Javelin is open to all athletes who are evaluated
after completing an application on line at www.javelintriathlonteam.com.
Athletes are eligible for a 25% discount off Javelin frames
and have access to the team uniforms and other significant sponsorships.
Team Javelin for 2005 is long since full with applications for
2006 Team Javelin being accepted and evaluated in late '05 and
through early '06.
TIAA/Cref Pro Cycling Team used the Arcole for time trials.
Powerhouse Tri Dubai athlete Simon Lessing is one of Javelin's
Ironman superstar Michael Lovato is another Javelin athlete.
I just finished 800 hard miles on a new Javelin
Arcole test bike and I want to tell you about this bike. For
a long list of reasons Arcole is a remarkable bike, and I loved
it. It is also a very unusual bike among triathlon bikes.
The Arcole is a 7005 series all-aluminum bike
using butted, multi-shaped aero tubes. Nothing unique about
that, but several other factors makes it unique among triathlon
and time trial bikes. Since aero-tube, aluminum tri bikes are
relatively commonplace now there has to be some uniqueness and
differentiation to make one bike shine over others.
Team Javelin athletes receive
a 25% discount on Javelin frames and spread the Javelin
|Bike fit, dimensions and geometry should ultimately be
the determining factor in your buying decision. Nothing
influences performance more than bike fit. The way your
bike fits your body is the single most important determining
factor in how comfortable, safe and fast you will be and
how well you run off the bike. Fit is one of the areas the
Arcole offers some very unique opportunities.
The geometry used on the Arcole is not garden
variety tri angles and dimensions- and therein lays an interesting
set of opportunities. . There are four size names available:
51cm, 54cm, 57cm, and 61cm. I tested a 51cm frame and the fit
was good for me. The 51cm frame has the following dimensions:
Seat tube, center of bottom bracket to absolute
top of seat tube: 50.1 cm.
Seat tube, center of bottom bracket to center of top tube: 43.0
cm. (Note: Top tube is 6.5 cm deep at seatpost union, center
is 3.25 cm.)
Top tube, center of seat tube to center of head tube: 52.0 cm.
Head tube, bottom to top overall dimension: 10.5 cm.
The top tube on the Javelin Arcole slopes
very slightly to the rear in a semi-compact configuration. This
is particularly useful for long-torso, short leg riders. The
sloping top tube provides a lower bike center of gravity, more
stand-over height and exposed seatpost for better standing climbing
and an overall better fit for short leg, long torso riders.
Again, this is largely unique to Javelin for a truly credible
tri bike. With the lowered top tube the short-legged, long torso
rider can rock the bike back and forth between his legs through
a greater arc. The top tube won’t hit you high between
A slightly sloping top tube with the unique "whale
tail" provide interesting fit opportunities.
For the long torso/short leg athlete the Arcole is a good
It would appear Javelin built the Arcole
with no small measure of inspiration from some of Cervelo’s
designs. The Arcole uses a narrow, aerodynamic 1” diameter
head tube. I like that. That has been a feature of both Felt
and Cervelo in the past.
The Selcof dual position head seatpost also
gives a nod to Cervelo’s designs. This Selcof seatpost
mimics the function of Cervelo’s variable geometry seatpost
used on their Dual, P2K, P2SL, Soloist and P3 series. The Selcof
post is a novel effort at providing a wide range of effective
seat tube angles on the Arcole but honestly, the Selcof post
is not as nice as Cervelo’s proven variable geometry post.
That said, the Selcof post gets the job done and is 24% lighter
than Cervelo’s variable geometry seatpost. The Cervelo
alloy, aerodynamic, airfoil shaped variable geometry seatpost
is 318 grams while the Selcof tips the scale at 242 grams. I
decided to substitute an even lighter weight Thomson Elite zero-setback
post at only 204 grams cut to the same length as the Selcof.
The Thomson Elite seatpost was 16% lighter than the Selcof.
This enabled me to achieve an 81 degree effective seat tube
angle with very precise angular adjustment for the saddle. I
notice that Javelin’s sponsored pros also use the Thomson
post frequently to save a few grams over the Selcof supplied
with the Arcole frame. For about $90 the Thomson post is a worthwhile
upgrade. If you are a fan of carbon fiber seatposts you are
out of luck here. That I am aware of, there are no 25.0 mm diameter
carbon seatposts available and frankly, aluminum is probably
a better material for this application.
Thomson Elite zero setback post on Left, The original
equipment Selcof post on the right.
The unique Selcof post offers substantial adjustment but
looks a bit gadgety and is a trifle heavy.
The seatpost diameter of the Arcole is a
somewhat unusual 25.0 mm. This is narrower than the more typical
27.2. Also, Arcole uses predominantly round seat posts, the
only type available in 25.0 mm diameter, as opposed to aero,
wing shaped posts. Wind tunnel tests have produced data supporting
the theory that round seatposts are actually more aerodynamic
and faster than blade or wing shaped seatposts. This is likely
due to the variable turbulence created by the legs rotating
during the pedal stroke and constantly redirecting the boundary
layer onto the sides of the post at radical yaw angles. At higher
cadences this effect may be diminished. The narrow, 25 mm diameter
round post of the Arcole is likely more aerodynamic than a bladed
post especially in big gears at high speed and lower cadences.
How much of an advantage this translates to (if any) is probably
impossible to quantify, but it is a novel and logical approach
to the design different from everyone else. When you use the
lightweight Thomson Elite zero setback post this set-up is much
lighter than any bladed quasi-aero seatpost, 46% lighter than
Cervelo’s alloy bladed airfoil shaped seatpost.
The extra hardware adds weight to the Selcof post at 242
The Thomson Elite is a more elegant solution that weighs
less. This is what the Javelin pros ride.
A well designed, durable and easily repaired binder bolt.
Another unique feature of the Arcole is the fully recessed
aerodynamic seatpost binder bolt. This is a nice, functional
design. Some aero bikes have very cobbled seatpost binder assemblies.
The binder assembly on the Arcole is excellent and dependable.
You may not think this is important until you take your bike
out of the flight case at the site of your big race to find
the proprietary bolt assembly is stripped and there is no replacement.
That probably will never happen with an Arcole. The binder assembly
is easy to use and works dependably. That said we accidentally
rounded-out the threads on our test bike with an ill-fitting
wrench. To the Arcole’s credit, the repair was simple,
quick and inexpensive using standard binder bolt parts available
at any bike shop. This is a big bonus for the traveling athlete.
Cable routing is the nerve center of shifting and braking.
Javelin's system is simple, light and mechanically sound.
Minimal bends in the housing make for free-running inner
When I saw the cable routing on the Arcole I was concerned.
Mac McEneaney simply said, “Try it…” The cable
routing is simply a naked, oval hole bored in the frame tubing.
It gave me bad flashbacks to old cable routing on the 2002 Litespeed
Blade which was quite poor. There is not even the slightest
attempt at a cable guide; it is just a hole in the frame. Mark
“The Taskmaster” Trzeciak did the build on the bike
and the cable routing while I watched. Before you dismiss this
as crude let me suggest that elegance is not when there is nothing
more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away. There
are no cheesy plastic press fit cable guides that pop out with
annoying regularity. The Javelin Arcole did an end run around
that problem. There is no difficulty running a bare cable through
the frame. The inner cable lives safely inside cable housing
the entire length inside the frame. This is a solid, simple,
functional design. It prevents the intrusion of foreign matter
and moisture into the cable system, but does permit it inside
the frame. Drain holes will facilitate rain and wash water leaving
the inside of the frame. Litespeed tried a less refined version
of this cable routing on very early versions of their Blade.
It didn’t work on the old Blade, and tended to seriously
abrade the outside of the cable housing when you turned your
handlebars. Javelin’s interpretation of the design is
much cleaner and more sophisticated. The edges of the holes
are not jagged and the cable moves smoothly. It works incredibly
well and is ultra-simple. I like this cable routing technique.
The Arcole scores big points here with the simplest, most functional
internal cable routing in the industry.
The "whale tail" assembly is very deep at the
top tube/seat tube union.
And then tapers down to nearly round at the head tube
This unusual design may help the rear end stiffness of
the bike, especially on standing climbs.
There is a couple interesting things about the
shape of the tubing on the Arcole. The weird “whale tail”
top tube is very deep as it melds with the seat tube, somewhat
vertically bladed. The top tube tapers to a nearly round shape
at the head tube. There could be any number of reasons for this
configuration or no reason. One thing I do believe is it helps
give the Arcole its number one selling feature: Gear mashing,
wind pushing, 30+ M.P.H. stiffness in the rear end. The Arcole
is the stiffest aluminum tri bike I have ever ridden. I like
The seat tube on the Arcole is bladed and
airfoil shaped with a wheel cut out. The gap between the wheel
cutout and the tire when the rear wheel is in place is large
enough to render the cutout largely cosmetic in nature. For
a rear wheel seat tube cut out to really work well aerodynamically
the gap has to be extremely small, about two credit cards thick
at most. Arcole falls short here, but the wheel cutout looks
cool and the extra material may soak up some road shock but
adds weight at the same time. That said, Javelin was smart to
include this wheel cut-out as customers tend to like the appearance
of it more so than a round seat tube.
A very clean and nicely done rear wheel cut-out.
The large gap between tire and seat tube likely compromises
|The rear end of the Arcole is the secret to bike’s
overall stiffness. The massive “Air Management Stays”
for seatstays and the super-hefty 30 mm chainstays form
an unyielding rear triangle that is built to transfer horsepower
like a chain gang on a Roman slave ship. The rear end of
this bike is bracingly stiff. You pedal: it goes. My Arcole
was armed with a 54/11 top gear on 700c wheels. I could
occasionally turn that gear in the right wind and terrain
conditions. When I did my speed always started with the
number “3”. I love the rear end of the Arcole.
It is so incredibly stiff and strong. The addition of a
substantial amount of material also takes the edge off the
bumps. The Arcole is brutally stiff, but rides with Ironman
distance comfort even in my small 51cm frame dimensions.
In the larger sizes, Arcole would only get better. Think
of the Arcole as an aluminum version of the new Litespeed
Blade with semi-compact geometry.
I can clearly remember a Sunday solo ride
on the Arcole: It was 65 miles flat out with an 8 mile run after.
I tore into the Arcole with everything I had. It was one of
those rare rides where there was almost no wind, the heat was
rising and the only resistance was my anaerobic threshold. The
Arcole was resplendid and ballsy. It is a brute of a bike. I
pounded the entire ride. I swear, a bike with a stiff rear triangle
is good for minutes off a half Ironman or Ironman distance bike
split. This bike is the Pontiac GTO hot rod of the tri bike
world. It is a muscle car. When you pedal, you hear Metallica
The huge, deep seat stays are the girders that make the
rear end so powerful.
The blade shape and hour-glass chain stays add strength
Braking is excellent at the rear wheel- no mushiness with
a solid brake bridge in big seat stays.
With this muscle car motif comes do-it-yourself maintainability
and tough crash survivability. The Arcole is one of the few
exotic tri bikes to still use a replaceable rear derailleur
hanger. That is important, especially if you travel to races.
The new generation of super tri bikes with integrated, non-replaceable
derailleur hangers is a disaster waiting to happen. One boot
in the wrong place on your flight case and your frame is destroyed.
With a replaceable hanger you simply put a spare hanger in your
race tool bag. This could save your frame and your race.
The replaceable derailleur hanger is a critical component
for athletes who have a bike knocked over in transition
or roughed up in a flight case.
In the larger frame sizes the Arcole is better than almost
any other aluminum tri bike. It is also a strong option
for some riders in the smaller sizes if you want excellent
The current version of the Arcole will never be
a light bike. The Zero bladed, aero carbon fiber fork it came
with was an absolute pig- it weighed an oppressive 522 grams.
I replaced it with my favorite Easton EC90 Aero carbon fiber,
bladed, carbon steer tube fork complete with carbon dropouts
weighing in at a feathery 316 grams. This was an incredible
41% weight savings over the original fork. The fork supplied
with the Arcole is really too heavy for a nice bike. The Arcole
frame is a trifle portly weight-wise on its own. When you add
the original anvil-weight fork and the heavy Selcof seatpost
the whole package could double as the anchor on the Titanic.
When you buy an Arcole you have to put it on a diet and ditch
the original fork and the Selcof seatpost. If you replace them
with the Thomson Elite seatpost and the Easton EC90 Aero fork
you save 244 grams or just over a half pound (53 one hundredths
of a pound to be exact) . This may seem like a pain, but I argue
the main fuselage of the Arcole and its awesome stiffness is
worth it. Perhaps Javelin can do an “Arcole UL”
that is sold with the lighter components in the package for
an extra $300. It would be worth it.
Overall, the Javelin Arcole has to be considered
one of the top four aluminum triathlon bikes available alongside
the Guru Cron-Alu, Cervelo P3SL and the Cannondale Slice Aero
frame. It is unique in many ways from these frames with different
tubing, geometry, design, durability and stiffness. The Arcole
stands alone from these other bikes and compliments them each
as a viable alternative for riders who want a balls-out; unyielding
super race bike that turns big gears into small bike splits.
For the rider who wants top notch workmanship
and mechanical performa nce, incredible high speed ride quality
and rear end stiffness the Arcole belongs on your short list.
If you are a long torso, short leg rider above 5’8”
tall who likes to mash the big gears the Arcole could be a match
made in heaven. And if you want something no one else has this
is the time to buy an Arcole, but I wager you won’t be
alone for long….