In my bike-choosing decision, the final choice was a very tough one. It came down to the BMC TimeMachine, the Specialized Shiv, and the Quintana Roo CD01. These are all great bikes with terrific frame designs, and they each had a lot to recommend them.
Overall, I'd say that the BMC Timemachine was the nicest riding bike. It handled well, climbed well, was smooth enough on the bumpy roads but still stiff enough to feel responsive. It was a very nice bike, and it's unique Euro look and feel make it a standout in the current triathlon/time trial offerings. The biggest detriment to choosing it was that it's just a more expensive bike. It's not as mass-produced as some of the others, and that meant I would have to accept a lower component set if I bought it. Since I was already taking a step down from Dura-Ace on my last bike to the Ultegra price range for this one, I felt I didn't want to go all the way down to 105 components. Maybe if I lived in Texas or Florida, I would consider it. But every ride I do here starts with hills, ends with hills (I live on a hill) and most likely has hills in between. I knew if I was shifting constantly and having to endure chatter from my component group, I'd be irritated, no matter how nice the frame was.
So that brought me down to the final two. The Specialized Shiv Comp Rival had a lot to recommend it: a very innovative fast frame, with that cool integrated in-frame drink holder (thus eliminating at least one extra bottle or fluid-holding device attached to the frame), a great set of aerobars, and a comfortable fast ride. I took it out for another hour of road testing and let's just say I didn't want to turn around! One of the plusses is that my local bike store carries it, which means that I would have help getting the bike set up and fit right to me. The downsides that I saw were that Specialized intentionally designed the frameset with a very flat riding profile, meaning it's hard to achieve a really deep aero position. Word is that Chris McCormack had to ride a size Small just to get it steep enough for his riding position. While the Small fit me fine, it was clear from starting to adjust it to my fit that I would be in a more flat position on this bike, and I didn't relish the idea of going to an Extra Small, especially with 700 wheels.
On the other hand, the Quintana Roo CD01 is meant to be ridden steep and aggressively. With my extreme flexibility and strong core, I can handle a more aggressive riding position than most triathletes. So this was probably more important to me than it might be to other people with stiffer backs and tighter hip flexors. The CD01 is an incredibly adjustable bike, with a seat tube that's readily marked with the different angles right on it, and a one-bolt adjustment to quickly change your angle. To get the same kind of flexibility on the Shiv, I would have to buy a different seat post and flip it around, change the seat around, etc. Also, in the same price range, the CD01 comes with full Ultegra, while the Shiv comes with a SRAM Rival/Apex mix that puts it in a slightly lower component group. The downside is that I would have to order it, which meant no hand-holding from my local bike shop and more of the work of fitting it myself.
Tomorrow: the shocking selection!