Merida brings comfort to time trialling with the new Time Warp TT

The new rig features disc brakes, clearance for wider tyres, and a compliant seatpost for comfier TTing.

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Just three weeks after we first spotted the Bahrain Victorious squad racing on a new time trial bike, Merida has officially announced the new Time Warp TT. The new bike is the fourth generation of Merida’s Time Warp platform and while the outgoing frame was updated as recently as 2019, with the shift to disc brakes and wider tyres, Merida has moved to update the Time Warp once again. 

The new Time Warp features several subtle design tweaks, with the most noticeable update being the switch to a disc-brake-only setup. Of all the use case scenarios for disc brakes, TT bikes are perhaps the most complex. On the one hand, disc brake braking performance is unaffected by the integrated cable routing through tight angles that so beleaguers rim brakes on TT bikes. The improved braking predictability and modulation should mean riders can brake later and corner faster with more confidence.

On the other hand, compared with the most advanced integrated rim-brake options, disc callipers and rotors come with an aero drag penalty. That said, there are those who believe the aero penalty at the rotor and hub is at least offset by the aero gains found in frame design made possible by disc brakes. Of all the disc brake debates and aero conundrums, disc brake versus rim brakes on TT bikes is perhaps the most difficult to crack.

With the disc brake question left entirely unanswered, the switch to disc brakes does mean Merida can include clearance for up to 28 mm tyres on the new frame. The benefits of wider tyres are long established in road racing, but only recently have we seen more teams opt for wider rubber for time trial days. These wider tyres can provide increased grip, reduced rolling resistance, and improved comfort. It’s that improved comfort that Merida has honed in on for the new Time Warp TT.

Improved comfort rarely features near the top of any brand’s list of key objectives when designing a new time trial frame. There is a level of acceptance that “this is going to hurt” for any rider hopping on a time trial bike. However, we now understand that with improved comfort comes decreased physical strain, potentially creating less fatigue, which can translate into improved performance. In addition to the option for wider tyres, Merida includes its S-Flex seatpost with increased compliance in its bid to find comfort-improving marginal gains. 

Interestingly, after first noting the comfort improvements, Merida’s announcement of the new Time Warp turns it attention not to aerodynamics, but to weight. Merida references the 400 g weight-saving found in the previous generation Time Warp frame and claims the new bike maintains that same low weight. The shallower down tube, and seat tube to top tube junction caught our attention when we first spotted the new bike at Tirreno Adriatico. Merida now confirms these design changes helped it create a disc brake bike that tips the scales at the same weight as its rim-brake predecessor. As noted by the brand: “To compensate for the heavier disc brakes at the new model, we looked at reducing the cross-sections of the new TT-frame-set, becoming slimmer in certain areas and reducing material where possible.”

I dare say the importance of aerodynamics still supersede weight and comfort for most time triallists, though. Merida’s press release again references the performance benchmarks of the outgoing Time Warp, noting the roughly 9-watt drag reduction at 50 km/h found in the previous-generation frame. While the announcement makes no reference to how the new frame compares, Merida told us, “the target for the new Time Warp TT Disc was to achieve the same level of aerodynamic resistance as [its] predecessor while also keeping the weight of the new disc version the same.”

Merida has tested the new frame in the GST wind-tunnel at Immenstaad, Germany and claims, “the results of both generations of Time Warp TT were within a tight range of 0.5 watts.” Worth noting: Merida tested both the new and the outgoing Time Warp without a rider, saddle, or aero extensions. Merida points to the identical saddle and extensions used on both bikes, but I’d still like to see testing for complete systems.

The Time Warp TT will be available as a frame-and-fork-only option. With that riders will get the S-Flex seatpost and the Vision Metron TT base bar. The new frame comes in three sizes – small, medium, and large – with black as seemingly the only colour option. Merida has not yet set pricing for the Time Warp TT. 

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