Carbon frame bikes used to be only included in the highest of price ranges, and that included road bikes from Kestrel, who were actually the first name in carbon fiber frames.
Fortunately, carbon frame technology is much more affordable now, making the technology more accessible.
Kestrel’s Talon road bike is one of the most affordable road bikes you’ll come across.
It offers a true carbon fiber frame, with plenty of impressive components to help you get the most out of it.
The bike also features some unique design advantages that help push it to a different level, making it truly stand out as the best carbon frame value currently available.
In terms of quality, the Talon is the best road bike you can get for the money.
It combines all of the factors you want out of a competition-worthy road bike, but is also very versatile, and has some smart designs and features that allow for multiple uses with ease.
Gone are the days of spending thousands of dollars on a high-quality road bike. There are certainly plenty of manufactures who are trying to entice cyclists with affordably priced high-end cycles, with lots of mixed results.
Some may have a good frame, but lack the right components. Or vice versa.
The Talon nails it all right across the board, beginning with the frame itself. The carbon frame features an aerodynamic shape, falling in line with the rest of the Talon’s aero features.
When fully equipped, the Talon weighs just under 20 lbs, and offers a good amount of flex in the frame to absorb shock.
There are some other factors worth mentioning as well, such as the innovative Kestrel H-Stays, which feature an asymmetrical shape, help to make the seat and chainstays more aerodynamic, while also improving lateral stiffness and energy transfer.
This helps counteract the loss of pedal power going into the frame’s flex that you get from carbon fiber.
Smart huh? Just one more reason why this is such as great bike.
Another great feature is the adjustability on the seatpost and saddle. Depending on the setting, you can choose a more racing-oriented stance, or a triathlon stance.
The drivetrain of the Talon mixes in proprietary gear and Shimano components. The Enhanced Modulus Hybrid is made by Kestrel, and is combined with Shimano 105 front and rear derailleurs, and shifters as well.
This gives you a total of 11 speeds, all of which are very precise when shifting after a tune up.
Braking is very responsive as well. The Talon uses Tektro R540 dual-pivot calipers, which are controlled with Shimano 105 STI brake levers. This gives you a very controlled type of braking, without feeling too mushy or too crisp.
The wheelset of the Talon is worth giving some attention to. The wheels are Oval Concept 327, which are both light and sturdy. The rear wheel actually includes four extra spokes that give it more support for weight and increased speed.
Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tires are included as well, which provide excellent grip and durability at any speed. Perfect for those that prefer longer rides.
Aside from being highly adjustable and aerodynamic, the EMS Pro Carbon seatpost offers a strategic angle, and has the same shock-absorbing properties of the frame.
Combine that with the included saddle that’s very comfortable, and ergonomic handles, and you've got yourself an easy-riding road bike that’s just as suited for racing as it is recreational and fitness use.
All of these factors go into creating a very well-rounded road bike that performs at a level two or three times its actual price range.
We have no doubts that it would outperform plenty of high-end models in a blind test.
There’s a lot to love here.
You truly are getting a high-performance bike at an intentionally-low price. It’s incredibly rare to find a carbon frame this cheap, especially one that’s made by the actual inventors of carbon frames.
The Shimano gear components are an industry-favorite, so you’re not getting some weird combination of random shifters and derailleurs.
The Kestrel brand crank and cassette are perfectly fine, and see to hold up well. The H-Stays and adjustable seat and saddle settings make an already great bike even better.
The aerodynamic design is not to be overlooked either. Every detail of this bike is meant to factor into its overall ability to cut through the wind. You’ll definitely notice it.
Aside from the usual gripes people have about having to actually assemble a bike they ordered through the mail from somewhere like Amazon, there really isn’t much wrong with the Talon.
Every detail has been thought out, and quality components used for the most part.
Everyone seems to be picky about wheelsets and saddles, so there are a few who have purchased the Talon who have quickly swapped out the wheelset, and possibly the saddle as well.
As with most saddles, you may just need to try it out first to see if it's good for you.
The low amount of speeds (11) is sort of perplexing, especially when similar carbon frame bikes have anywhere from 14 to even 20.
However, the gear ratio has been tweaked to help offset this, so you may be surprised how much versatility the middle gears offer.
Amazon seems to always have the lowest price for Kestrel bikes, so that’s going to be your best bet when ordering online.
As with any online bike purchase, set aside some money for a professional tune up at your local bike shop, you’ll be glad you did.
We mean it when we say the Kestrel Talon is our favorite bike. Yes, there are others that can be considered better, but nothing near the Talon offers this much performance and quality, with a carbon frame, all for under $1,500.
We’re still not sure how they pulled it off. But buyers don’t care -- the Talon is popular for a reason.
If you are ready to take the step up to a high-end bike, but don’t want to actually pay a high-end price, the Talon is your best option by far.
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This post was last updated on February 25th, 2018 at 10:15 am
Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start BikesReviewed.com. In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.
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