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Quintana Roo Kilo.
By Tom Demerly.

Read This About Our Reviews First

The Quintana Roo Kilo is arguably the second dedicated triathlon bike ever built. Following the introduction of the Quintana Roo Superform, a radical 80 degree seat angle bike, in the early 90s, the Kilo (so named because of its 2.2 pound frame weight) was an evolved 78 degree seat angle version.

QR founder and designer Dan Empfield pioneered the use of dual 26" (650c) wheels and a 78-degree seat angle for efficient, comfortable riding in the aerodynamic posture using aero bars. Empfield, along with others such as Ralph Ray, were visionaries of the sport and their influence remains powerful today. Dan Empfield's current project,, is a valuable Internet resource for the multisport athlete and editorial platform for some of the sports most vocal and influential personalities.

The current version of the Quintana Roo Kilo is one of the most advanced value-oriented triathlon bikes on the market, possibly second only to the Cervelo One. It is far superior to "competitors" such as the Fuji Aloha. The new version of the Kilo features fifth-generation triathlon bike refinements not found on any other bike from any other manufacturer. Another plus to the Kilo is its straightforward, no-nonsense component spec.

We've sold, serviced and fit many, many 2001 Quintana Roo Kilos, and we have a lot of experience with them and an thorough knowledge of what their ownership experience is like. The result is, if the bike's measurements match yours, it is an excellent value choice for a triathlon bike. This is a bike for your first triathlon, or for your first Ironman. It is a bike you won't "outgrow" in terms of ability.

Unique features of the Kilo are its geometrically enhanced tubing configuration. That's fancy language for frame tubes that are shaped differently to perform specific functions. The top tube on the Kilo is ovalized with the wide part running left to right; it's wider than it is high. This adds lateral stiffness for standing climbs and big efforts but adds vertical compliance for better ride comfort. The seat tube is slightly bladed with a cut out on some models for wheel clearance.
The Kilo wears a down tube that has a moderate airfoil shape, a concession to cosmetic appearance as much as function. Consumers love those airfoil tubes.

Even the seat stays are slightly ovalized, perhaps improving brake performance a tad, but more for appearance.

Overall the frame of the 2001 Kilo is very good. It gets high marks for its replaceable rear derailleur hanger. This feature enables the rider to install a new derailleur hanger, or attachment point, if the bike is crashed heavily on its left side. The hanger is securely bolted in place and the derailleur attached to that. This modular approach can save your frame in a pinch. Old version Felt B-2s did not have this feature, and we saw at least one frame that was otherwise fine, but had to be scrapped and replaced because of a bent derailleur hanger. Look for this feature on any aluminum triathlon or road bike you buy.

The 2001 Kilo features greatly improved frame features such as a braze on front deraileur hanger (left) and a replaceable rear derailleur hanger (right). These are the truly important features consumers forget to look for in a quality bike, and make an enormous difference in the long term ownership experience.

The front derailleur hanger is brazed on, an enormous improvement over previous model year Kilos that featured a riveted front derailleur hanger. The riveted front derailleur attachment points, found on the older models that were only sold in black, was a source of constant frustration. The derailleur mounts would develop the slightest "wiggle" or movement, throwing the front shifting off chronically. When Quintana Roo changed ownership to the American Bicycle Group in late 1999 the design of the Kilo (and other QR frames) was also completely revamped. The new bikes featured the greatly improved new front derailleur braze on. It is worth noting that front derailleur performance on the new bikes has been nearly perfect, as good or slightly better than all other bikes within $500 of the Kilo's price range. Shifting from the small ring up to the large ring is excellent on the current Kilo. Part of this is also due to the improvement in components including the new Hollowtech Shimano 105 crank and splined, sealed cartridge bearing bottom bracket.

Welds on the slightly more expensive Cannondale MS600 (left)are smoother, stronger and less obvious than the traditional TIG welds on the 2001Quintana Roo Kilo. However, the Kilo welds are still excellent, with not a single failure in 2001.

On the down side, the welds on the Kilo are very obvious. Parked next to a Cervelo or Cannondale the welds look a bit rough. This is a cosmetic issue not related to the bike's performance, ride quality or durability. In fairness, the Kilo is several hundred dollars less than either the Cervelo One or the Cannondale Multisport 600 (or new 2002 Multisport 700), so some amount of finish roughness is acceptable in the name of function and value. If you want the fancy, smooth welds you have to pay more, and they probably won't do much for the performance of the bike.

The Kilo is sold with bullhorn style base bars and Syntace Streamliner aero bars. The base bars are good quality and are flat rise, meaning they have no drop or rise. The aerobars are the best available. Syntace aerobars are so far superior to all other brands they are the obvious choice. The bars are lighter, use less hardware, clamp more securely and have a more durable, bead-blasted finish. They are free of the junky, heavy, fragile "adjustment" hardware you find on some Profile and Cinelli aerobars. The Syntace bars are sold in three sizes. You buy the right size and use that: Having a bunch of extra hardware to carry around on the bike once you've determined the right length for your [Profile or Cinelli] aerobars is utterly pointless. Once their adjusted, you won't move them and they eventually work loose or strip. The Syntace are simply purchased in the correct length for your arms, and there is nothing to go wrong with them. Simple, light and elegant.

We build Kilos with either bullhorn base bars (left) with shifters at the end of the aero bars, or (for hilly courses) drop handlebars and Shimano STi shifters with aerobars. Drop handlebars (right) are a bit of a compromise (tough to ride in the drops), but you can shift with hands on the base bars while climbing in or out of the saddle.

We are also building Kilos with drop handlebars and Shimano STI shift levers. There is an upcharge for this assembly since the Shimano STI levers are more expensive that the combined Dura-Ace bar-end shifters and Dia-Compe 188 levers that are standard on the Kilo. Some people like the drop bar/aerobar combination better than the bullhorns with the shifters in the tips of the aerobars.

It is important to realize the Kilo is a dedicated triathlon bike and not originally designed for use with drop bars. When we assemble the bike in this manner the best position (once the bike is configured for the individual rider with the correct stem length) on the base bars will be with your hands on the STI brake lever hoods. We find that, when correctly fitted with drop bars, the position on the drops is too cramped to be of much use. If you want your Kilo built with drop style base bars and STI levers, count on spending most of your time either in the aerobars (while on the flat terrain) and on the STI brake lever hoods while climbing in or out of the saddle. Some people doing hilly races like Lake Placid might like the drop handlebar option since they can shift gears while climbing in or out of the saddle. With your shifters mounted in the tips of your aerobars you can't shift while climbing out of the saddle: you have to sit down, break your rhythm, make the shift and stand up again.

The wheels on the Kilo are pretty standard for bikes in its price range and have proven excellent. You can log tons of training rides on them and race on them. They are a good workhorse wheel set. To supercharge the bike, buy a set of race wheels. A good set of race wheels will cost about the same as the complete bike, so it's a big upgrade. The Panaracer tires are a pleasant surprise. After riding them for a year we find they may be better than either Continental Gran Prixs or Michelin Axial Pros. Also, our CompuTrainer revealed they had very low rolling resistance numbers. The tires are medium weight, ride great, look OK and have been very flat resistant.

The saddle on the Kilo is very nice and is made to match the nice two-tone blue/black paint scheme. I found the saddle comfortable. The seat post is pretty cheap but works fine. It has those annoying serrations to adjust saddle angle. If your ideal saddle angle is between two serrations you're out of luck. You can replace the post with a micro-adjust style such as Thompson, but it is an expensive upgrade around $100. The existing post works fine, I'm just very fussy. It pays to remember this is one of the least expensive triathlon bikes out there, so they had to cut a few corners.

The Kilo's fork is a nice, curved and bladed carbon fiber design. It is light, extremely durable and provides excellent ride quality. It is largely responsible for the truly exceptional ride and handling quality of the bike. Truthfully, a correctly fitted Kilo at under $1500 has better ride quality than some triathlon bikes costing over double the price. The fork is great and the ride quality is absolute top notch.
We've put quite a few miles on this bikes and I never fail to be impressed by the overall package. The Kilo is closer to perfect than any other complete triathlon bike on the market if it fits you correctly.

Another great feature of the Kilo is size flexibility. The Kilo is available in two versions: A 700c wheel version with a 76.5 degree seat angle available in sizes 55cm., 57cm., 59cm., and 61cm. This suits taller riders with a longer femur bone. A 78 degree seat angle version is available in sizes 47cm., 49cm., 51cm., 53cm., 55cm. and 57cm. This suits a rider who needs more advanced triathlon geometry and tends to slide forward in the saddle when using aerobars. A good set of accurate body measurements will determine which geometry is correct for you. This flexibility in sizing means the Kilo is available in a size and frame geometry that will fit many riders. One qualification I would make about the Kilo is that the top tube runs on the short side. If you have short torso it may be an easy fit in the correct size. Longer torso riders can make do, but will need a longer stem in almost every case. I have longer torso and ride a 55cm. Kilo. I had to retrofit my bike with a 120mm stem. This made the reach measurement perfect and did not affect the handling.

The ownership experience of the Kilo is smooth and trouble free. We've had many Kilos on the road for over a year with no mechanical problems of any kind. Ride quality is way above average, component performance (including critical front shifting) is very, very solid and the bike looks nice with a catchy paint job that should appeal to most people. Good value and better than good performance.

In general, the Kilo is a great bike: Truly a standout. In its price range, there is nothing that compares. You can buy better bikes for $400 more, but if you don't want to spend the extra $400 and the Kilo fits you, it is the best choice.

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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