Ten years ago, it was Olympic distance triathlon that helped transform my nascent interest in road cycling into a passion. And I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm.

Triathlon represents an important point of entry for cycling. Over the past decade interest has soared to an all-time high, with participants topping the 550,000 mark in 2012.

Women are a key part of that growth, notably within the popular middle-distance category where they represent 50 percent of racers, according to Erin Sprague, women’s product manager for Specialized Bicycle Components.

It is Olympic and Half-Ironman distance racers – those drawn not only to the fitness rewards, but also to the community and personal fulfillment and self-discovery that the sport at those levels offers — to which Specialized is marketing the new Alias women’s tri bike.

“We all have an alias — an aspirational assumed identity,” said Sprague, as she unveiled the new bike at T2 NYC last week. “This is the bike to help women become their best and most empowered selves.”

Consistent with that message, the new bike’s hallmark is versatility. It’s one aero bike for training and racing.

The geometry of the full-carbon frame with aerodynamic tube design allows the rider to switch readily between road cycling and tri racing positions while maintaining comfort and stability. When used with a 35-mm offset seatpost (not included), the Alias is suitable for logging training miles on group rides. Addition of clip-on aerobars and a no-offset seatpost (both included) moves the rider forward for sustained race-course performance in the aero position.

This 2-in-1 approach counters the need to buy separate bicycles for training and for racing, which can be daunting to those entering the sport. It’s also an advantage for athletes who have minimum storage space.

In addition to comfort and aerodynamics the Alias line takes on-board nutrition (the “fourth discipline” of triathlon) into account. The rubber Remora storage box opens like a coin purse to keep bars and gels neat and readily accessible. Sold separately ($25) it bolts onto the Alias, but comes with a strap for use on other bikes.

The Alias, available in three models and price points (above and below) reflecting technical specs, is the latest addition to an integrated line of  bicycles, saddles and gear designed specifically for women. In her presentation, Sprague highlighted the company’s commitment to creating products “medically designed and scientifically tested” for women’s anatomy. The saddle on the Alias, for example, is the Oura Women’s Expert model.

“Comfort and safety depend on the right fit,” Sprague says. “Fit is not something you see, it’s something you have to try on.”

Thus, Specialized Body Geometry Fit technicians at bike shops are trained to tailor and customize the fit of its bicycles, including the new Alias line, to individual needs, a thorough process that takes 1 ½ – 2 ½ hours.  The Morgan Hill, CA-based company has been creating cycling products specific to women’s needs for more than 11 years.

Top photo: Specialized Alias Pro, $6,000

Above: Specialized Alias Comp, $3,300

Above: Specialized Alias Sport, $2,600

Photos: Specialized

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