Part 1: Who is Swift Carbon and what is the Aeronaut?
Part 2: A detailed look at the bike.
Part 3: TriBomb Bottom Line
We have had the Swift Aeronaut under us for going on 6 weeks now and feel that we have a pretty good grasp on how we think this frame performs. The Aeronaut comes as a "package" deal, which seems to be becoming more and more popular these days. The drawback to this
setup is of course, price for one, and potential lack of adjustability for another. For this type of system to work, there has to be a great deal of adjustment built into the design. Trek is one such example, the Speed Concept does a great job of integrating a design that will adjust to a wide range of riders. Otherwise, you may end up paying for parts that you don't need or can't use.
Overall, the Aeronaut produces a stable and confident feeling for the rider. The overall ride felt a little "harsh" to us compared to others we've ridden, which certainly comes into play with longer distance events. The bike handles very well when tucked in the aero position (where you should be for the majority of the time) it tracks consistently and the steering doesn't feel "jerky" or unpredictable. The Swift bars are a cool looking design, and what we would call semi-integrated. This particular setup does away with a traditional stem, and instead uses a built in "stem" that is molded into the bars.
If this setup fits you, then it's game on! Otherwise, you have paid for a cockpit that is worthless to you. The good news is that with this bike you can easily swap over to a more traditional setup if need be. In our testing these bars were not the most comfortable, and could clearly benefit from being more adjustable. The extensions are at a nice angle from a comfort standpoint, but the whole piece could benefit from more fore-aft adjustment in our opinion. With that said, the one piece cockpit is far from the sturdiest of bars. On any type of surface, other than glass smooth, you will feel the vibration from the road.
If you split the bike in half, the bottom half of the bike is clearly built for successful power transmission. From the oversized bottom bracket area (BB30) to the beefed up chainstays the Aeronaut handles steady power output very well. We did notice that the bike does not play very well with out of the saddle quick accelerations whether on the flats or climbs.
The seat tube does hug the wheel relatively well, although it isn't quite as aggressive as some of the newer frames out there. Also, it seems the trend now is for this section to be much wider in hopes of providing more of a shield in order to improve aerodynamics. Also, along the aerodynamic lines, we would really like to see the rear brake hidden under the crank as it has been well proven that leaving it hanging out on the back of the frame is not a good choice.
The seat post and seat clamp area are very pleasing to the eye. You get a 2 position UCI legal seat post and the clamp is seamlessly hidden into the frame and features a rubber cover, which is extremely nice for wet rides. However, this joint area of the top tube and seat tube is our biggest concern.
We don't have the largest folks here at TriBomb, but we still noticed the flex where the top tube joins the seat tube. This area is intentionally notched in order for the seat post clamp to blend smoothly with the frame, but we can't imagine what the frame would do with a larger rider applying bursts of power.
The front of the bike looks nice with the integrated fork crown and downtube, but leaves a wider than normal profile that doesn't seem to be the most aero option. The front brake is in the normal position, which is the only choice given the way the downtube joins the fork.
The bike comes as frame, fork, seatpost, and cockpit. We have had some questions as to the source of the frame. Yes, Swift is using an "open" mold for the Aeronaut out of necessity to jump into the triathlon market as a young company, but they have assured us they are in the processes of finalizing their own design for next year's release. They also chose high quality carbon and resins with this mold. While we are on the topic, the folks that make these open molds are the same people that make many of the popular bikes you see on the road. Needless to say, we are eager to see what the new design looks like.
The MSRP numbers we were given come in at $2999. You get the frame, fork, seatpost, and the Swift semi-integrated bars.
TriBomb Bottom Line
It seems to us that the team that Swift has assembled has the potential to make some top notch (although next design we hope they skip the notch) bikes. The Aeronaut isn't a bad bike, but given the price range, we feel that their might be options that provide better "bang for the buck". We are eager to see the new designs that Swift is in the process of finalizing.