In the early 1990s, triathlete Nobuyuki Joe Tanaka was fed up with his standard road bike and began tinkering. After achieving personal success with his own tri-specific bike, he realised our sport had its own unique demands and Ceepo were born in 2002.
Ceepo are bikes born purely out of triathlon, for triathlon and, with top Kiwi Gina Crawford already having ridden hers onto the podium at Challenge Wanaka this year, they deliver at the top level.
The Katana is Ceepo's number two frame behind the Viper, and while the Viper may have more aerodynamic trickery the Katana looks no slouch. The tube shapes are intentionally simple, with big chunky chainstays to help maximise stiffness and a lowered down tube to enhance aerodynamics. It's targeted at middle-and long-distance racers with the consistent message being that this is a bike designed to help you run better.
The Coal Spin K2 K50 wheelset | is hand built and lightweight (at 1, 580 g), while the 50 mm rim depth is a solid choice for UK races. Retailing at £699, they don't compare to the £ 2,000 pairs we tested last issue but they're no disappointment and are genuinely race ready. The Veloflex Corsa tyres racing show intent, too, and have a reputation for being a feeling set of tubular clinchers. The bulk of the groupset, including front and rear mechs, is SRAM's second-tier mechanical Force in its 10-speed incarnation. But the crankset is Rotor's Flow. The elliptical QRings aren't to everyone's tastes but we've been riding them for a few years and are convinced they give us fresher legs for the run.
The front brake is a standard SRAM Force rear calliper but the TTV is tucked neatly away out of the wind on the chainstays. Profile Aeria cockpit Design is a superb choice that offers a brilliant amount of adjustability and has been ridden to Ironman Worlds glory by Mirinda Carfrae. Up top, the Fizik Arione Tri saddle 2 should contribute to a plush ride.
Sometimes, right from the first pedal strokes, you ride a bike and it just feels right. The Katana falls into this category. Some of this comes down to the adjustability of the Profile Design cockpit, but the bike's superbly accommodating geometry undoubtedly plays a huge part. You feel aero and powerful but also comfortable. You can immediately settle into long-course mode, confident that you could ride strong for hours.
The Katana is no sluggish sofa on wheels, though, and suffers collarbo from none of the response issues that sometimes dog tri-specific bikes. It's nimble through bends with no unexpected dives or lurches and pleasingly accelerates on exit. On long flats it hammers along wonderfully and, even when battling broken winter roads, feels smooth and reassuringly stable.
The Spin wheels are impeccably well-behaved in crosswinds, allowing you to totally relax, but they still improve your straight-line speed. Hit a slight rise and whether you choose an aggressive or conservative approach the Katana responds accordingly. On longer climbs, the low weight and stiffness pay dividends.
The SRAM Force front mech has no issues with the QRings and shifting at the rear is crisp, even under load. Heading downhill, the stability on the aerobars allows you to stay low for longer and, when you do rise to slow for a bend, the braking surfaces on the wheels Spin scrub speed well. It's not a white-knuckle thrill-fest but it's certainly confidence-inspiring. Finally, once you've dismounted, the Katana seems to have some elixir of youth in its make-up and leaves you noticeably fresh and ready for the run.
Long-course comfort but with with a pleasing sporty side.
Solid choices where it counts in the frame, cockpit and wheelset |.
Fully race ready but you really want to top-tier groupset at this price.
One of the comfiest tri-specific bikes we've ridden