Advice on buying a TT bike

by Mooman16   March 10, 2013  

Hello All,

I completed a few time trials last year on my road bike - a Giant TCR Advanced 2, size medium-large (53.5cm). This year I'm taking the plunge and buying a time trial bike.

I have two questions. Firstly, I've heard from some people that you generally choose a size down from your road bike. Is that correct?

Secondly, I'm on a limited budget of around £1200. I've see the Kestrel bikes on CRC - and the Kestrel Talon Tri - Shimano 105 2013 looks to tick all the boxes for me. http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=82204

Seems really good value for money given that it is a carbon machine. The only thing I might do immediately is upgrade the cranks to a 53/39 set up. I'd be really interested to hear any feedback anybody has about the Kestrel brand, or indeed the bike itself. And of course, if anybody thinks there are better bikes for the same budget, let me know.

Many thanks,

Mooman16

21 user comments

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Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8859 posts]
10th March 2013 - 16:39

13 Likes

Hmm .... the Vitus bike looks really good. Just wondering if it would be a bit big for me though.

posted by Mooman16 [32 posts]
10th March 2013 - 16:52

11 Likes

I would spend the money on wheels, a skinsuit and an aero helmet.

£1200 isn't going to buy you anything special. An inferior (heavier?) bike with budget wheels won't make you faster. And how often will you race it? Just my tuppence...

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1965 posts]
10th March 2013 - 22:23

10 Likes

Simon E wrote:
I would spend the money on wheels, a skinsuit and an aero helmet.

£1200 isn't going to buy you anything special. An inferior (heavier?) bike with budget wheels won't make you faster. And how often will you race it? Just my tuppence...

I quite agree, BUT, I have given up trying to explain this to people who come here asking like they have their mind made up.

If it was me.

I'd take the road bike you have, get a decent set of TT bars, a aero helmet and aero wheels

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8859 posts]
10th March 2013 - 22:47

9 Likes

Yes .... the wheels aren't great, so a pair of tubs from Planet X would have to be on the upgrade list at some point. Hoping to do a full season of club TT events, followed by a 100mile TT event in September. That's the goal anyhow! Smile

posted by Mooman16 [32 posts]
10th March 2013 - 23:59

10 Likes

Get some PHIAN wheels.

They're really good.

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1730 posts]
11th March 2013 - 0:13

16 Likes

I will tell you now. YOU DO NOT want to be doing 100 mile TT on a full TT bike, it might sound like the perfect bike, but you have two positions on a TT, up or down.

Where as, fitting TT bars to a road bike, you have hoods, top bar, drops and down on the TT bars, plus some others, but 100m on a TT bike with destroy you.....

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8859 posts]
11th March 2013 - 0:56

16 Likes

Gkam84 wrote:
I will tell you now. YOU DO NOT want to be doing 100 mile TT on a full TT bike, it might sound like the perfect bike, but you have two positions on a TT, up or down.

Where as, fitting TT bars to a road bike, you have hoods, top bar, drops and down on the TT bars, plus some others, but 100m on a TT bike with destroy you.....

Triathletes would disagree ;x

posted by SammyG [295 posts]
11th March 2013 - 9:14

8 Likes

Keith, I don't think doing a '100' on a time trial bike is a problem - provided you are accustomed to the position. Plenty of people in last year's West Cheshire 12 hour were on TT bikes and the quick guys were still going hell-for-leather even after 11½ hours!

The aero gain of a dedicated TT bike is much less than manufacturers would have us believe. Some info:
http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/article/technique-aerodynamics-on-a-b...
http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/article/how-aero-is-aero-19273/
Most of gain of TT bike is the rider's reduced drag thanks to lower aerobars, not the frame. Some TT frames are not optimised for high yaw angles (crosswind), so can actually be slower in the real world.

As for people having already made their mind up and just wanting confirmation, yes, I'm afraid that happens all too often.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1965 posts]
11th March 2013 - 11:43

5 Likes

posted by SammyG [295 posts]
11th March 2013 - 14:03

9 Likes


Nice one SammyG, I'd forgotten about that. The Nike suit was, as the text says, noticeably better than standard skinsuits of the day (and a lot more expensive). Some commercially available skinsuits today may have a similar advantage. TT frames usually come a long way down the lists of £/watt saved.

Here's another resource: http://www.socalttseries.com/p/time-trial-aerodynamics.html

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1965 posts]
11th March 2013 - 15:21

11 Likes

SammyG wrote:
Gkam84 wrote:
I will tell you now. YOU DO NOT want to be doing 100 mile TT on a full TT bike, it might sound like the perfect bike, but you have two positions on a TT, up or down.

Where as, fitting TT bars to a road bike, you have hoods, top bar, drops and down on the TT bars, plus some others, but 100m on a TT bike with destroy you.....

Triathletes would disagree ;x

Yeah, Ironman's are 112 miles on the bike, most would do it on a TT bike, but there are not your Joe Average.

I think Wiggo would be in pain after a 100 miles on his TT bike...

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8859 posts]
11th March 2013 - 16:42

11 Likes

i doubt wiggo would be in pain, have you seen the riser blocks under his arm rests on that thing!?

posted by mathewshotbolt [100 posts]
11th March 2013 - 21:30

9 Likes

Hello Everybody,

A lot of really great feedback from everyone. Truly appreciated. I've made a decision ... I'm not going to buy the TT bike. Smile Here's why:

1) The stats about the difference all the other components make in comparison to the frame.

2) The distance for the main event I'm planning this year .... the comfort factor can't be forgotten

3) If I'm really gonna be serious, then it will have to be a 'proper' TT bike .... one where I feel I won't have made any compromises. So .... that means a bigger budget that doesn't currently exist.

So here's the plan: get a skinsuit, a proper TT helmet (already got a sit of clip-on bars), and a decent set of aero wheels for the TCR Advanced 2. I reckon I can spend up to £600 on wheels without the missus having a heart attack.

Anyhow ... many thanks once again to you all.

Mooman

posted by Mooman16 [32 posts]
11th March 2013 - 22:03

14 Likes

Good decision I think.

Skinsuit.....Castelli San Remo?? Worth a look, They are expensive, like £200-£250 expensive.....BUT, if you don't mind the colour and team logo's. Here is a good special deal http://www.castellicafe.co.uk/Felt-Colbornes-2012-Castelli-Sanremo-Speed...

TT Helmet, be careful and research that, you want some protection. If it was me, I'd be looking at the newer Giro and Kask things the pro's are wearing over on of the tear drop shape.

Wheel's, well the sky's the limit, get something suitable Smile

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8859 posts]
12th March 2013 - 1:59

13 Likes

I think this is very mis-leading for most folk.

The article states that the gains are calculated for someone riding a 40km TT in 48 minutes! Aside from Mr Wiggins, I know no-one that fast, I guess many of us fall into the bracket of just dipping under the hour.

... the thing is, the more time you're out there the more time is accrued to the benefits listed in this article. So if you're doing 40km in say 60 minutes rather than 48 then you can add 25% to those savings.

If you're riding a 100 and accrue all of those benefits then they'll save you 4x that, or just over 28 minutes from the article, add 25% and it becomes 35 minutes.

Not an inconsiderable amount of time and not a bad saving.

However it doesn't stop there. I don't know many folk who can ride 100 miles in 4 hours. Most folk would take another hour at least for this distance. So you add ANOTHER 25% to the savings so far. Let's call that another 9 minutes.

Total saving for a 100 mile TT from accruing all of the benefits listed in the article - 44 minutes.

If you then added some extra savings from a more aero TT bike position (compared to a roadie position & assuming you'd trained on the bike to be able to do that) then the savings would be even greater.

NorthernRouleur

posted by NorthernRouleur [26 posts]
12th March 2013 - 10:13

13 Likes

take a look at http://www.timetriallingforum.co.uk/ as there is always loads of hardly used kit for sale in the classifieds.

As far as a skinsuit is concerned either a club one or something from Impsport's range will suffice. The mega money skinsuits like Assos and Castelli are nice but the benefits are minimal and not worth it if you're new to TTing.You can't wear anything with trade team logos on unless you actually ride for that team in open time trials so the Castelli one mentioned above would be a no-no for anything other than club events.

The main thing to concentrate on is your position, you need to be aero but still be able to put out the power so super low isn't always the best. Your back wants be as flat as possible but you need to be able to maintain the position for the length of the race.

Once your position is sorted then get your helmet. It needs to fit flat against your back when you are in race mode so your suppleness is going to determine what style of helmet will suit, i.e. long tail or stubby.

As far as wheels go Planet X are perfectly good for a beginner and for the rear you could get some carbon fibre disc covers from the likes of http://www.raltech.co.uk/Prod_3-Wh-Cov.html £110 so aero on a budget.

With regards to comfort/distance, for 100 milers I would slip another 10mm of spacers under the stem from my usual position.

Follow me on-
Twitter - @StuKerton
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stuke's picture

posted by stuke [313 posts]
12th March 2013 - 12:37

8 Likes

100 mile TT?! Can't think if anything less pleasurable, but good luck to you!

Assuming you are not a professional athlete, a comfortable frame which offers a position that is efficient yet sustainable for 4-5 hrs should be the priority, but then I think you've concluded that yourself.

Just curious, is the 100 mile TT held on a totally flat course? If so I really don't understand the appeal and if not, you'd need a bike that can climb as well as go fast on the flat..

posted by 700c [556 posts]
12th March 2013 - 16:32

8 Likes

700c wrote:
Just curious, is the 100 mile TT held on a totally flat course? If so I really don't understand the appeal and if not, you'd need a bike that can climb as well as go fast on the flat..

Variety is the spice of life, and racing a '100' is only as hard as you make it. If you're not into time trialling you probably wouldn't understand the appeal.

Plenty of amateurs do 100 mile time trials. RTTC National 100 was on our local course last year and the Anfield '100' is a traditional event held on Shropshire's rough and grippy roads. As for climbing, the benefit of aero gear is more important than weight unless it's particularly steep.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1965 posts]
12th March 2013 - 17:53

4 Likes

@Simon E - guess I view 100 miles as endurance/ social rather than something I'd want to time trial, but yes it's horses for courses! My only TT experience is over 10 mile routes to date.

If terrain is varied over 100 miles then surely a 'normal', light bike with a variety of positions is best? Aero gear, yes, but a full on TT rig would hurt a bit, I reckon.

posted by 700c [556 posts]
12th March 2013 - 18:15

5 Likes

700c wrote:
If terrain is varied over 100 miles then surely a 'normal', light bike with a variety of positions is best?

Not if you're racing.

Most time triallists will ride TT bikes with rear disc even on really steep hills (like the Beacon RC Little Mountain). It is generally accepted that even then the weight penalty over lightweight frame and wheels is less than the aerodymic gains on the flat and downhill sections.

When climbing you have to use the end pods if you have a bike with aerobars. On a road bike with tri-bars there's no room on handlebar tops so it's hoods/bends.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1965 posts]
13th March 2013 - 13:39

5 Likes