I purchased a new Kestrel Talon road bicycle in March of this year, and since cycling is my passion along with writing and managing an online business, I thought I would write a post and update everyone interested on my impressions of my bike.
A little background is in order.
My old ride was a 2003 Cannondale R700 road bike. It had Shimano 105 shifters and an Ultegra rear derailleur. I inherited it from my daughter, who inherited it from my son-in-law. He was my height so when I got the bike it was a great fit. It was a really nice bike, and still is, but I was finally in a position to get a carbon fiber bike. I have wanted a carbon frame bike for a few years now.
I settled on the Kestrel Talon after extensive research online. I was looking for my first full carbon bike, and had a budget of about $2000, but I wanted to keep it well below that if I could. I’m 65 years old, and this was maybe my last new bicycle. I don’t know how many years and miles I have in this old body, so I wanted to get the best bike I could for my money. The best way to do that is to do your homework.
Research was the name of the game
The first thing I did was visit my local bike shops and take a look at what they had to offer. I looked at Giants, Treks, Cannondales, Specializeds, and others. Most were at or beyond the limit of my budget. One bike shop wanted to sell me an aluminum frame bike. I told them that I was already riding one and wanted carbon. I told the sales person that if I wanted aluminum I was already there.
The second thing I did was research online. I visited the websites of the major manufacturers listed above, and went over specs and customer reviews. I found a couple of warehouses that basically were drop shippers for other manufacturers, Bikes Direct was the one I settled on.
I initially was interested in a Motobecane with Shimano Ultegra components, but after reading reviews and forums I learned that the carbon frame was an old design and hadn’t been updated in a while. About then is when I came across the Kestrel Talon.
The Talon is basically a Triathlon bicycle that can be configured for road riding. Bikes Direct had a Talon with Shimano 105 components for about $1300 and one with Shimano Ultegra components for about $200 more. I wasn’t sure which one to get, but after more research and after discussing components with several riders, I settled on the 105 version. The main difference between the two is that the 105 components are a little heavier than the Ultegra components. I decided to save the $200. I need to lose way more weight than the difference in the components.
I was a little nervous about buying without trying
Nobody here in western Colorado sold Kestrels, so there was no way for me to go for a test ride. I compensated by more research, including You Tube videos and reviews. I was encouraged by the positive reviews. There were very few negative reviews of the Talon. One of my main concerns was what size bike I should buy, but the research helped me decide that too. I placed my order with Bikes Direct.
This is not a reveiw of Bikes Direct, but let me say here that my total experience with them was great!. Ordering was easy, my shipment arrived in good condition, and everything was there. I ordered the 53 cm size, which was closest to my current (Cannondale) ride.
I took my bike to one of the local bike shops to have it assembled, which cost me about $200 (I had to buy pedal clips). I spent $100 on the clips alone. That’s money well spent. I never would have been able to assemble it as well by myself. The cables are inside the frame for one thing. That alone convinced me to have a professional put it together
I made it a point to ask the bike mechanic what he thought of the Talon, He was impressed by the quality and looks, as was I.
I had been leary about buying online without riding the bike, but I needn’t have worried. I was happy from the first moment I got on my new bike.
My opinion after 2500 miles in the saddle
Wow! I LOVE this bike! There might be, and I’m sure there are, better bikes out there, but I have absolutely NO complaints about my Kestrel Talon. My very first ride put a smile on my face. Don’t get me wrong, the old aluminum Cannondale was a great bike, but the Kestrel tracked better, was more stable, and had a smoother ride than the Cannondale did.
The Shimano 105 components shift easily and crisply. The bike is lighter than the Cannondale. It weights about 14.5 pounds “empty.” By that I mean before adding water bottles, seat pack full of spare tube and CO2 bottles, and handlebar pack with snacks and cell phone power pack. And without the 215 pound rider.
I can climb much easier. I power up hills without shifting down, or only downshifting one gear. I have two chain rings in front, and I’m always in the bigger one. A few hills have me shifting to the smaller front ring, but most don’t.
On the first Saturday in May of this year (2017) I rode in the Frontrunner Century bike ride. It’s a Utah ride that starts in Salt Lake City and finishes in Ogden. It’s a metric century, so it’s about 63 miles total. The bike was great, and I only saw one other Kestrel during the ride. There were around 700 riders total, I think. That’s another thing I like about the bike – you don’t see very many people riding them, so they’re somewhat unique.
The styling is great, the ride is awesome, and after 2500 miles I’ve only had it in once to have the shifting adjusted. I’ve had several flat tires, but that’s normal out here in goat head country. If you don’t live where there are goat heads, you don’t know what I’m talking about, but they are weeds that grow along the roads and produce little heads with very sharp “horns” that go right through a bike tire. Riding with slimed tires is a must around here. I’ll write a post about the evil little weeds soon. Check back.
If you want a quality bicycle at a reasonable price, a Kestrel Talon is a great choice.
Anyway, that’s my opinion of my Talon. 2500 miles is plenty enough to get a good opinion and to evaluate the bike. It’s still riding strong, and still looks great. I need to wash it more often, but so do most riders, I’d bet. It’s reliable and responsive, and this 65 year-old body enjoys its time in the saddle. By the way, when I was reading reviews of the Talon, several reviewers said that they thought it needed a better saddle. So far I find that the saddle is just fine.
We cyclists are always looking for great looking cycling clothing at a price we can afford. I found a great site on eBay with great prices for gear. I’ve purchased 3 sets so far, and have been happy with each set even though they cost about a tenth of what you will pay at the bike store. Here’s the link.
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Also, please leave a comment if you found this post helpful, or even if you didn’t. Thanks.