After a long hunt trying to find a quality triathlon bike without spending $5000, online ads for the new A2 (pronounced A-squared) direct to consumer brand started showing up in my feed. Their primary bike is the SP, short for Speed Phreak, and was designed after the founder hit the same issue of too many over priced bikes.
A2 SP does not have the same huge brand name behind it that others like Felt, Trek, Cannondale, or QuintanaRoo but what it lacks there it passes along to consumers in savings on their entry level bike. We have no affiliation with A2, this article is a review from a real consumer who spent real money on the bike. If you want the TLDR version: The A2 SP is a fantastic tri-bike with tons of high end features at one of the lowest prices of an “entry level” ride.
Nearly all bikes have gone up in price since 2020, at first due to supply constraints and then because of macro economic factors. This meant that it became increasingly difficult to find a carbon fiber frame triathlon bike for anything below $3k. When we purchased the SP was the only entry level triathlon bike that fit that bill. Thanks to great marketing, and direct outreach from their founder AJ to close the sale, this bike showed up 10 days after purchase and at just under $2900 including delivery and a set of pedals.
Background On Why We Upgraded to a Triathlon Bike
As a mildly experienced triathlete, one who has done 4 Olympic distance races over spread out over the last 12 years, the SP is the first true triathlon or even road bike we bought. Previous races were done with either a $300 entry level road bike purchased from Walmart, and a second hand touring bike purchased off Facebook marketplace.
To be clear, if you are a first time competitor those options will do. We are big fans of the idea that you can do a triathlon on minimal training with pretty much any gear (read our review of doing a triathlon with no training).
With that caveat out of the way, this year marks the third time entering the same race, the Mission Viejo based OC Tri, Olympic distance triathlon. This year the race is the US Triathlon Associations state championship for California. Although not because of this, this year also marks the first time hiring a triathlon coach and trying to follow a real training plan to get more fit. With that level of on going investment and the decision that this is at least a recurring hobby, the decision to move to a triathlon bike made sense.
The benefits of a triathlon bike to time and comfort are considerable. At longer distances the geometry helps to take some of the work off of the quads and makes it easier to run off the bike. The configuration of the bike is also designed for sitting in an aero position for longer, which works for triathlons where drafting is not allowed. Compared to standard cycling races where there is a peloton, this shift to an aero position is a worth while trade off as it benefits for time but at the risk of giving up handling.
A2 markets the bike as an entry level option that is adjustable while delivering all the known benefits of a tri bike. This matched what we were looking for, and the appeal of being able to buy some time benefits somewhat affordable makes sense. The final benefit we wanted out of a triathlon bike is to look the part. Sure, this is complete vanity, but there is something to be said for the confidence boost of showing up to a start line feeling like you belong there. In this regards the A2 SP fully delivers, it is one slick looking bike.
Purchase Experience & Shipping from A2
Direct to consumer sales have their benefit on price, but it requires a bit of trust in the brand since it is hard to demo a bike. A2 delivered on a wonderful purchase experience. Overall since this was the first time buying a tri bike the goal was to ensure one that was adjustable long term but that also actually fit.
After putting one of the bikes in my cart, and filling out their questionnaire, I waited a few days to purchase. In that time I got a text message from AJ (who turns out to be the founder of A2) asking if I had questions and looking to confirm I was ordering the right size.
Beyond just getting the right size, AJ was able to personally answer all of my remaining questions. We went back and forth on text messaging over the course of a day, with him even recommending pedals that worked with my existing shoes and adding them into the order. It was clear from the communication that A2 understood the concerns of having a remote purchase for something that should fit so personally. AJ offered to do a remote fitting, to ensure that I wound up with the right front spacing after assembly.
After the text exchange and order the bike arrived around 10 days later. Given the stories of supply constraints, this was great (and in line with what AJ confirmed via text) as it provided a solid 2 months to get situated with the bike before racing.
The SP showed up well packed in a standard bike box. Everything was well protected inside the packaging and there we no issues with components. Although the bike requires “self assembly” this really only came down to tightening about 8 bolts which took about 20 minutes even without having a stand to rest the bike in. Front axel popped on easily, seat post next, cockpit, and then the pedals.
Honestly the hardest part about the assembly was breaking down the massive box afterwards to get into the recycle bins. Within 30 minutes of breaking things open I was able to take it out for a quick ride in the neighborhood.
Beyond the initial assembly there was some slight dialing in needed on the first ride. Most notably was a tweak to the front brake which rubbed enough to be annoying. Fixing this took less than five minutes, although just riding it for an hour or so likely would have worn down the brake pad enough to do the same thing.
First Ride on the A2 Speed Phreak
Of course beyond just how it looks and how easy it is to build, the important thing about a new bike is how it rides. In short, the A2 SP feels fast. In part this is because moving from a mountain bike and a touring bike to a full aero position light weight triathlon bike is not a direct comparison. With more than 1000 miles on a Peloton in the past few months, pedaling hard is nothing new, but feeling the speed of actually moving at 20+ MPH even on a moderate ride is exhilarating.
Handling at Speed: For how fast it rides the bike handles very well too, and was easy to pick up even considering this was the first time riding on aero bars. On the first few corners of course taking it slower was the plan but overall the bike was stable and not surprising in how it rolled through things. Heading downhill it was possible to get up to serious speeds, passing 40MPH, and the sheer speed caused me to tap the breaks well before anything on the bike started to feel unstable. With even more rides I expect to feel increasingly comfortable, but it is still fair to say that sitting over the front wheel on a TT or Tri style bike will always handle differently than a pure road bike.
First Time Aero Bar Tip: As a first time tri bike rider the other thing to get used to was having the gear shift mounted on the front of aero bars. This requires a bit more thinking ahead to ensure you’re in the right gear especially headed into a hill. For climbs it is less important to be in the aero position, so I prefer to be on the drop bars, which eliminates the ability to quickly down shift. The new riding style will take some getting used to.
A2 SP Comfort: In terms of comfort both the saddle and the cockpit are easy to settle into. A proper fit of course will dial in more of this. Even though AJ and the A2 team offered a virtual fit, coaches and friends have all suggested that a proper fit is as much a coaching and learning session as it is a mechanical exercise.
After the first few round the neighborhood rides I did get a fit on it, which proved useful in adding some spacers to the raise the aero bars and dialing in the seat height. We also tilted the aero bars up slightly and I was informed that the end caps on the aero bars (which were included) would be required to make the bike ride legal in races. Working with the A2 for fit was very easy, other than a slightly harder to reach seat post allen bolt, dialing in the fit only took a couple of minutes.
A2 Speed Phreak Comparisons of Entry Level Tri Bikes
A2 offers a few comparisons on their site that are attempt to compare the SP to other entry level bikes from other manufacturers. One of the things about the A2 to note is that it is designed to be low cost and customizable. This means that some of the additional features and higher end components are left off.
For the most part though the components are the same. Take for example the derailleurs which are all Shimano 105. Mircoshift shifters make an appearance on these as well. This is fairly common as there are a handful of standard manufacturers for the major component types, while bike brands themselves are often denoted by the frame and fork manufacturers which carry the major brand names.
|Bike||Price||Weight*||Derailleur||Wheel set||Noted Features|
|A2 Speed Phreak||$2899||20 lbs 5 oz||Shimano 105||Vision Team 30 Aluminum|
|Quintana Roo PRFour||$3095||22 lbs 8 oz||Shimano 105||Shimano RS370 – Aluminum||Rear storage and top tube storage included|
|Canyon Speedmax CF||$3799||20 lbs 11 oz||Shimano 105||DT Swiss P 1800 – Aluminum||Built in tool box and nutrition packs|
We should note that the weight reported here is sourced from a variety of areas and component changes could make a big impact. Still, for everyone except for the most high end this shows they are all in a similar range and even heavier clothes or specific nutrition packed is going to make a bigger different.
A2 does find some cost savings by avoiding some additional features on the frame, notably the presence of additional storage. Thankfully though these hydration systems, bottle cages, and storage are often easy to find in other forums and are a great option to find a deal on at a local bike shop. We have seen plenty of deals for 20%-30% off accessories like this from our shops, including shops that do a great job with bike fits and builds if you want some help in assembly.
Overall Thoughts on the A2 Speed Phreak
After getting the bike, building, and taking it for a ride the review should make it obvious that the feeling is that it has been a great investment. A few hits in list form:
- For under $3000, there are nearly no other pure triathlon bikes available. We’re very happy overall with the purchase.
- Despite requiring assembly, the A2 is easy to build and can be ridden within 30 minutes of unboxing (all tools are included, but you will need pedals).
- Speed Phreak feels fast and is easy to get comfortable on. Being in aero bars is still a unique feeling compared to other bikes.
- SP handles well out of the box, and does not have any major short comings for even a moderately experienced rider.
- A proper bike fit is still a good idea, turn to local bike shops to find a reliable fit option.
- Even experienced folks (my local bike shop, and tri coach) may not have heard of A Squared, but upon seeing and working on it there were no issues. You may have to walk it into a shop to ensure the right fit of any components or upgrades.
The Core of A Triathlon Bike Review- Is It Fast?
While there are comfort and aesthetic reasons to move to a triathlon bike, the real desire was to get faster. Given that this review would not be complete without some real results.
With the move to the A2 SP, along with a slight increase in training, my personal results were that my bike leg of an Olympic distance triathlon move from my worst to my best relative discipline. See the full race report of the my first race on the A2, the OC Triathlon Olympic Distance.
In large part this was thanks to the ability to get into a comfortable aero position and hold it while putting down power. Over a hilly course with a solid section of downhill riding on the A2 felt a bit like an amusement park ride. The best part of a recent race were the five miles shown above – they were FAST.
At no point over that 5 mile span did I get passed by a rider. The A2 was both aero and stable enough to continue pedaling.