Schwinn Prologue

THE STORY
Created to grace the transition area of Sprint and Olympic-length triathlons, and the parking lots of local time-trials, the affordable Schwinn Prologue was an ingenious move by the storied company to address the growing masses of the multi-sport crowd and the burgeoning time trial cult. For just over one thousand bucks you can compete against people who have spent their life savings to get to the starting line.

THE FRAME AND PARTS

The Prologue is transition-area ready with aero tubes, an aero post and tri saddle.

Constructed of ‘Super Butted N’Litened Gold Label Aluminum’ (read: ‘butted aluminum tubing’) and featuring a ‘Black Label Carbon Pro Aero Fork’ (slim-profile carbon fiber fork blades), the Prologue advertises some serious wind cheating for a less-than-serious outflow of cash. Its aero seat tube, seatpost and downtube are backed up with FSA Vision TT handlebars, FSA Gossamer cranks and an aero seatpost. Mix that up with Shimano 105/Tiagra derailleurs and 105 bar-end shifters (nice touch for the price), and you have the performance to back up its speedy looks. Brakes are Tektro RX-40 dual-pivot (front) and RX-40S rear, and the Prologue rolls on Schwalbe Lugano tires. Beyond its worthy component selection is TT-specific frame geometry-witnessed by its 75-degree seat angle. Looking at Schwinn’s bargain rocket makes you want to hop onto its Selle San Marco Trilon saddle to see if its speed matches its spiff.

THE RIDE
It’s hard not to like this bike. The idea was great: to get more people to experience the flat-back, head-down, arms-out-and-go-position so athletes at the entry- and enthusiast-level can experience the joy of spinning the big ring without spilling big bucks on a money-munching, wind-tunnel tested carbon wunderbike.

You know what? The Prologue actually performs up. It exceeded our expectations once we got it out on the road, shifted to the only ring allowed in a triathlon or TT (the big ring, that is) and got going. It’s not super-light, but neither are the $15,000 one-offs that the Prologue emulates. Once moving, the design and components worked well together and we were tempted to take the bike farther and faster the next ride out.

THE VERDICT
Sometimes a good idea is only that, but with the Prologue, a good idea created a nice bike for not just the true beginner, but for someone who wants to put a few seasons on a worthy steed and save enough money to enter and travel to events. This isn’t a low-level road bike frame with aero-bars slapped on-it’s designed, built and outfitted with a purpose. There are a few companies out there who have a lower-end Tri/TT bike, but few are available with out-of-the-box bar-end shifting, an aero-specific design and a solid component package for $1199. Good work, Schwinn. 

Price: $1199
Weight: 21.8 pounds
Info: www.schwinnbike.com