Kestrel Talon Review

The Kestrel Talon X caters to the serious rider who wants a high-quality for racing or triathlon competition. These series features three models named based on the manufacturer and model of the majority of their groupset. We’ll compare the Talon X Shimano Ultegra with others in the Kestrel line as well as comparable models from other lines.

What is the Kestrel Talon Designed to Do?

Stack (551mm)
Reach (387mm)
Price

The Kestrel Talon X seeks to bridge the gap between competition with a more affordable ride for road training. The price tag of a high-performance triathlon bike is easily north of the $5,000 mark, making the Talon X a smart choice for training at a more reasonable cost. The design and components of the bike are top-notch to provide an excellent workout companion.

Who is the Kestrel Talon Good For?

The steed is clearly marketed to the athlete looking for a racing bike with the latest in technology to give them a competitive edge. It’s evident in the choice of materials and components as well as tweaks in the geometry geared toward delivering high performance and steering precision. But the ride will also suit the cyclist who wants an aerodynamic road bike with all the bells and whistles.

  • Frame
  • Groupset

The Kestrel Talon X uses a Kestrel Super Light (KSL) 800K high-modulus carbon fiber frame with a PF30 BB frame and a KSL Carbon, 1 1/8" - 1 1/2" tapered carbon steerer fork.

It uses its inner polyurethane molds judiciously to conserve on weight while maintaining the stiffness for superior performance. It weighs in at 18.50 pounds which is still a tad heavy for a model billed as an aero bike.

Pros

  • cog
    Kestrel customizes each of the frame sizes in the Talon X series with its own unique geometry to provide the best riding experience.
  • cog
    The use of the Ultegra line over the Dura-Ace keeps the cost down while not sacrificing performance.
  • cog
    It provides excellent tire clearance with direct mount caliper brakes and a generous chainstay length for a bike of this class.

Cons

  • cog
    The Shimano groupset adds some unwelcome weight that is noticeable at this level.
  • cog
    The Kestrel Talon X is a wee bit heavy even with the modifications in the frame, especially when compared to similar bikes in the Kestrel line.
  • cog
    Given its use, we’d prefer disc brakes for better stopping power especially at the high speeds this bike would reach.

Expert Quotes

"The 800K carbon is 30 percent more stiff [sic] and allows Kestrel to use 20 percent less material in the production of the frame." - Smart Bike Review

"It's a real pleasure to ride it. The comfort, the looks, the quality; it has it all! A true superstar!” - Smart Outdoor Zone

How Does Kestrel Talon Compare to Other Bikes from Kestrel?

Kestrel took the world by storm with the launch of Talon in 2007, the first aero model ever made. Since that time, the design continues to evolve which we can see with the fine-tuning in its line. Let’s see where the Talon X Shimano Ultegra fits into the mix compared to the Kestrel Legend SL SRAM Red, RT-1100 Shimano Ultegra, RT-1100 Shimano Dura-Ace, and the Legend SL Shimano Dura-Ace.

Stack Height


Stack height = the vertical distance from the bottom bracket to the effective head tube

When we consider stack and reach separately, we find some subtle differences in what each model emphasizes in its geometry as compared to the Talon X. The Legend SL SRAM leans toward a more aerodynamic profile and more aggressive geometry typical of a racing bike. The Talon X Shimano 105 and Talon X Shimano Ultegra don’t lag far behind at 548mm.

Reach Length


Reach length = the horizontal distance between the bottom bracket and the effective head tube. 

The reach lengths of all the bikes hover close together to put the focus on speed and stability. The Talon X Shimano 105 and Talon X Shimano Ultegra push the envelope a little further at 395mm to give it a greater emphasis that we’d expect with a bike meant to use for training for competition.

Head Tube Length


Head tube length = the length of the tube that mounts the front fork steerer. 

The head tube angle of all the bikes is between 73 and 74 degrees which gives all of them an edge in steering ability. The head tube length speaks to the aerodynamics of the ride where we can see that the Talon X Shimano 105 and Talon X Shimano Ultegra put a premium on geometry for a faster, more stable experience. The RT-1000 Shimano Ultegra is a sharp departure because of its focus on endurance with more upright comfort.

Component Differences

Bikes in the same series share common measurements sometimes across the board, making scrutiny of the components essential. All share the same frame and fork except the RT-1100 Shimano Ultegra and RT-1100 Shimano Dura-Ace which includes an FM Disc. One of the biggest impacts of the differences lies with weight where the Talon X Shimano Ultegra comes in at the heaviest at 18.5 pounds and the Legend SL SRAM Red ETAP, 13.70 pounds.

These figures speak to the superior quality of the SRAM RED 22, 52/36T crankset as well as the weight advantage that the Shimano Dura-Ace components bring to the table.

How Does Kestrel Talon Compare to Similar Bikes on the Market?

All of our picks emphasize speed and durability as does the Talon X Shimano Ultegra. They all appeal to the serious competitor which the Kestrel offering does too, albeit, also to a specific class of cyclist. Here, we'll compare the Talon to the Giant TCR Advanced, Cannondale Slate Apex 1, Diamondback Podium Vitesse, Trek Émonda ALR 6, and the Specialized Roubaix Sport.

Chainstay Length


Chainstay length = the level distance from the bottom bracket to the rear wheel. 

The measurements are all what we’d expect in a road bike designed to provide an active, nimble ride. The Talon X Shimano Ultegra comes in the middle at 410mm. That gives these rides excellent maneuverability for taking corners while delivering immediate power transfer to the rear wheel. The Giant TCR Advanced 1 Disc has a slight advantage with a shorter length.

Wheelbase


Wheelbase = the level distance from the rear wheel to the front wheel. 

The wheelbase lengths are just what we’d want in a steed outfitted for racing with the promise of a lively ride. The outlier is the Slate Apex 1 which approaches a form closer to a cyclocross bike. The Talon X follows the road bike expectations with a measurement of 989mm which puts it closer to the geometry of Kestrel’s 5000 SL series, geared toward competitive triathletes.

Head Tube Length


Head tube length = the length of the tube that mounts the front fork steerer. 

The Specialized Roubaix Sport and the Kestrel Talon X have the shortest head tube length at 12.5 cm and 14.2cm, respectively. That increases the aerodynamics of these bikes by giving the rider a lower profile. The higher lengths in the other models reflect the desire to incorporate comfort into the experience with the risk of greater wind resistance and loss of speed.

Stack/Reach


The Talon X has nearly the shortest reach and highest stack among the group at 548mm and 395mm. That means a compromise between comfort and speed which is evident with all the bikes. However, this tradeoff is greatest in the Roubaix Sport with both the highest stack height and greatest reach.

Component Differences

The Slate Apex 1, Podium Vitesse, Roubaix Sport, and the Talon X all have a carbon fiber frame which gives them the edge for raw performance and superior vibration dampening for a smoother ride. The TCR Advanced 1 and the Slate Apex 1 both have hydraulic disc brakes whereas the Roubaix Sport has mechanical ones for better stopping power at the cost of weight and a more complicated set-up.

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