Kestrel Talon Tri Shimano 105 Bicycle Review

The bike you choose can make a big difference when participating in a triathlon. Strong and lightweight, the Kestrel Talon Tri Shimano 105 is loaded with features -- but you don’t have to be loaded financially to afford it. This bike is generally considered a great choice for beginning riders.

Overall Rating

  • Highly adjustable for custom fit
  • Durable and lightweight all-carbon frame
  • High-quality Oval 327 wheels
  • Kestrel is a trusted manufacturer
  • stethoscope
    Designed for both race and road
  • Customer service can be hard to reach
  • Included saddle not very high quality
  • stethoscope
    11 speeds relatively low for a racing bike

Key Features

Kestrel Enhanced Modulus Hybrid (EMH) Carbon

The bike is constructed with a combination of 800K and 700K carbon fibers, which are lightweight and compliant yet still strong.

Aerodynamic Designs

The seat post, seat tube and stays are all aerodynamically contoured. An A2 wind tunnel is used to design the bike. Plus, all cables are routed internally through the bike to further help drive airflow across the exterior.

Kestrel EMS Pro Aero Seatpost

The saddle can be mounted either forward (for triathlons) or backward (for roads). Over Concepts tri saddle is included.

Kestrel H-Stays

You won’t find these asymmetrical seat stays and chainsaws on any non-Kestrel bikes. The H-Stays are great if you want to deliver maximum power to the bike, which is often important during mountain biking and long rides.

Top Brand Names in Both Frame and Wheels

Kestrel is an innovator in all-carbon composite bike frames, and the Talon Tri 105 continues this trend. The Talon can easily shift from a triathlon-style position to road ready.

Kestrel and Shimano components combine to create a well-made, durable and lightweight bike. The bike is suitable for a wide variety of riders. Amateurs and those new to triathlons will appreciate the ability to train on the road but still be able race as a tri bike.


Kestrel has been developing carbon frames since 1987. They’re able to create high-quality carbon bikes which are as inexpensive as many aluminum bikes.

Kestrel Talon Tri Shimano Review   

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the features of the Talon Tri:

On Component Quality

Kestrel is an industry leader in bike frames. They actually built the world’s first all-carbon bike frame in 1987, and have been a leading innovator in carbon bike parts ever since (source). With the included wheels, the Talon Tri weights a very mobile 20.28 pounds.

Kestral has their own line of bike accessories called Oval. One advantage of buying a Kestral bike is the included Oval components. The Talon Tri pairs 105 derailleurs with an Oval Concepts 500 crankset and 50-34 forged Praxis rings.

This setup is especially great for hills. You’ll be able to climb steep terrain without exerting a ton of leg power.

Additionally, the bike uses Shimano gear. If you’re a biking veteran, you’re almost certainly familiar with Shimano. But if the name’s unfamiliar, all you really need to know is Shimano has a great reputation for quality parts.

On Frame Weight and Strength    

The Kestrel carbon frame is arguably the star of the show here. An aerodynamic design and fully internal cable routing combine to allow clean airflow. The Talon made extensive use of A2 Wind Tunnel testing during design. 

On Gear Precision and Ease of Use

The Shimano gear adds a powerful layer of versatility to the bike. Their 11 speed 105 front and rear derailleurs allow for precision shifting usually only found in more expensive bikes. Plus, the 105 is just one of many lightweight components.

Kestrel also includes their proprietary H-Stays. These are asymmetrical seat stays and chain stays. Together these stays dampen vibrations from the road. They also improve power transfer by reducing lateral stiffness.

On Wheel Quality and Type

Oval 327 wheels are standard equipment here. While they’re not the absolute best set of wheels, they’re far better than what we’d expect in this price range.

Beginning and intermediate riders should be able to get a few seasons worth of use before needing an upgrade.

On Saddle Comfort and Support

The saddle is also from Oval Concepts. Personally, we found the 300T Tri saddle to be firm, comfortable and supportive. But we’re hesitant to endorse it much more than that just because saddle comfort can vary wildly between riders.

The saddle is supported by the Kestrel EMS Pro aero seat post. A wide range of adjustable seating positions are available. This allows for riders of all sizes to sit comfortably during both casual and competitive riding.

On Potential Upgrades  

Usually when buying a new bike in this price range, you won’t get the whole package. Likely at least one or two components will need to be upgraded. That’s just the tradeoff for the lower price. 

That’s not really the case here. No components jumped out as needing immediate improvement or upgrades. The frame, gears and wheels were all high quality. Even the H-Stays, saddle settings, Kestral crank and cassette were durable and well-made.

If you’re new to the world of biking, and not too sure what type of components you need, this is a good bike to start with.  

On Price

The price is a huge selling point with this bike. The price is very low compared to the high-quality components used. The reason for this is because Kestrel saves by using their own Oval Concepts line of parts.

This carbon bike is actually cheaper than many top-of-the-line aluminum bikes from other manufacturers. If you’re looking for a bike which will keep you competitive in a triathlon, the Talon Tri is an affordable solution.

Many beginning triathletes prefer the Talon Tri because it can also be used as a road bike. So if you’re not preparing for a triathlon, the bike doesn’t have to sit in the garage unused.  

On Versatility

This bike is completely adjustable based on rider preferences. You can ride this bike on the road or shift the frame into triathlon-style.

Five sizes are available. Different tube lengths, diameters, shapes and carbon layups create a great ride based on your individual needs. These options accommodate riders of practically any size and height.

How Does It Compare?

Let’s take a look at how the Talon Tri compares to other bikes with similar features or prices. Three of the leading competitors for the Kestrel are:

  • Cervelo P5X
  • Kestrel Talon Road 105
  • Schwinn Axios TT

On Pricing

Cervelo bikes are considered some of the best racing and triathlon bikes around. They have the price tag to match, too. A Cervelo bike can easily run you over $10,000.

If there’s no limit to your bike budget, you can’t really go wrong with the Cervelo P5X. But for the rest of us, the Talon Tri is a bike of comparable quality (seriously) but at a price which won’t break the bank. The Kestrel Talon Tri retails for $1,130.

If you’re looking for a triathlon bike with a much lower price tag, consider the Schwinn Axios TT. Priced under $400, this bike is extremely affordable. Of course, the Talon Tri 105 has much better components, which probably make it a better value overall.

On Build Quality

Now, does the Kestrel Talon Tri have the same overall quality as a Cervelo? Not exactly. But the differences between the two are smaller than you might think. Aside from having excellent build quality, the 20.28-pound Talon Tri is a full pound lighter than the 21.96 pound Cervelo P5X.

On Versatility

While the Talon Tri works great on the road, it might not be the best choice if the road is the only place you’ll ride. If you’re looking for a road bike of similar quality and construction, you might prefer the Kestrel Talon Road 105.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with the Cervelo P5X, we found that the Talon was much more versatile. Taking a $10,000 bike out for a casual ride in the city isn’t exactly a carefree experience. But the Kestrel can easily be used in busy urban environments.


Kestrel knows aerodynamic carbon bike frames. Shimano knows bike gear. Together these two manufacturers bring a lot experience and features to this bike.

Plus, the low price makes this a great option for anyone just getting into triathlons and other serious riding. Kestrel’s in-house Oval line ensure the entire bike is constructed with components designed to work together. You’re getting an entire bike you can start using right away.

While the Talon Tri isn’t the absolute top-of-the-line, it’s well-built and an overall great value for beginning and intermediate riders. The carbon frame, A2 tested design, Oval wheels and Shimano components create a bike which outrides the competition.  

Whether you’re new to triathlons or are an experienced vet, the affordable and powerful Kestral Talon Tri Shimano 105 is definitely worth your consideration.

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