The old saying goes, “records are made to be broken.” For five years, I’d talked of attempting a series of place-to-place records without ever putting my tyres on the start line and giving it a go.
It took a broken leg in December 2021 to finally kick my rear end into gear. The leg would recover and I would finally give these place-to-place records a shot. Unsurprisingly to anyone who knows me, having an adequately optimised time trial bike was the biggest obstacle to any previous attempts.
2022 became as much about building the best bike for these attempts as it did about recovering from injury or breaking records. Here is the next instalment in our ‘building the best bike for’ series, in which I put together what I think is the perfect setup for a given challenge or event.
Long story short, I took aim at three records, broke one, missed another, and didn’t even make the start line of the third.
This best build is slightly different. The other builds in this series were more event or demand-specific. A time trial bike built for tackling endurance records requires much more adaptability to meet the demands of different courses and durations. Furthermore, the only thing faster than TT tech is often how quickly said tech is superseded by the next time-defying aero upgrade. Rather than my version of the best bike for time trialling, consider this just one configuration in an ever-changing setup.
At the heart of any build is the frame. Given the range of distances and varying courses these record attempts would take us on, I needed not only an aero TT frame, but one that offers plenty of easy adjustment. I decided on the Factor Hanzo. With an ultra narrow and deep head tube, truncated tubing, external fork steerer and mono riser front end, wide set fork legs, dropped seat stays and disc brakes, the Hanzo is all kinds of modern.
The Hanzo features all sorts of narrow and wide lines, integration with adjustability, and the speed of a pure TT bike but with much better handling than I expected.
Which aero nerd doesn’t love a bit of truncated tubing?
Are those seat stays or a rear wing?
If I could change one thing about the Hanzo, I’d have that downtube hug the front wheel.
The base bar
The nosecone-like fork steerer flows into the narrow headtube, combining to create this ultra deep front end.
Just how narrow is the head tube? This angle offers a better view.
The bottom bracket is as tall as the head tube is deep.
The wide stays are the final piece in this UCI-legal puzzle.
With the frame in place, we went shopping for front end watt saving. Time trial extensions have come a long way since that fateful day Greg Lemond won the ’89 Tour by mere seconds over Laurent Fignon. The modern day ‘skis’ not only offer a more aero position, but almost integrate with the arm to improve the overall aero profile and spread the load of the entire forearm. The elbow rests are no longer rests but rather supports to help the rider contort into a rocket-shaped object. The Wattshop Anemoi offer all that and look fast standing still.
Again, the bike had to be adjustable for different events and distances. The Hanzo fork and Factor base plate mount combine to create a mono-riser setup. While it is intended that the steerer be cut to length, by removing the top cap the mono-riser setup offers a huge range of front end height adjustment for more or less aggressive positions. These Wattshop angled risers offer relatively quick and simple aero extension micro angle adjustment from 5 to 25°. The anodised 7075-T6 aluminium risers tilt the entire aero extension and neatly route the Di2 wires through the risers into the Factor base plate.
Completeing the Wattshop front end are these Anemoi carbon arm rests. These high sided armrests offer improved support, comfort and aerodynamic integration with the arm compared to more traditional open armrests. I find pushing my arms against the high sides helps me hold a more compact and aerodynamic position for longer.
While the arm rests are available as either two-piece (pictured) and one-piece setups, I opted for the two piece for those records or races where UCI regulations are applicable. The UCI currently prohibits the use of one piece armrests.
What kind of time trial nerd would I be without some data to geek out on. Of course, the Aerosensor aero meter is useful for dialing in the optimal time trial position, but it is also offers a host of other capabilities including real-world aero testing, aero mapping courses to determine the best equipment setup for a given day or conditions.
Deep rim or tri-spoke? How about both! The Princeton Carbon Works Mach 7580 TS is a 75/80 mm deep sinusoidal rim tri spoke. the tri spoke features a 20.5mm hook to hook tyre bed, 27 mm external width and proprietary integrated one-piece aerodynamic axle. The dream time trial wheel comes at a cost though, at $2,750 it’s probably unsurprising Princeton has a “price is for one front wheel only” note on this wheel’s webpage.
Like a shark fin for the road.
Out back it’s the new Black Inc Zero disc designed to match the Hanzo frame. The asymmetrical disc features a lenticular shape and a drive-side only “virtual 100mm” rim said to offer as much as 20 watts of “thrust”. Flip it around and the disc features a bulbous lenticular shape said to offer significant aero gains on the non-drive side. This bulbous shape is not possible on the drive side due to the space required for the drive train, hence the asyymetrical and, frankly, bizarre looking design.
Fast wheels need fast tyres. The 25mm GP 5000 TT TDF offering improved aerodyanmics and reduced rolling resistance upfront with a Silca speed shield for the most marginal of gains…
Paired with a GP 5000 S TR 28 mm out back for further reduced rolling resistance out back where aero is less of a priority.
Speaking of the marginal-est of marginal gains. I love the thinking behind the Revolver Aeroto disc rotor fairings.
Front and rear carbon fairings, on tiny 140mm rotors, what’s not to love.
Hydration is key. Aerodynamics are keyer! I have a stash of Elite Chrono CX aero bottles and cages from an Ultra race I targeted a few years back, and the bottle design integrates neatly with the Hanzo downtube. Even if I opt to carry my race drink in a Camelbak under the skinsuit for non-UCI events.
Time trial bike comfort is relative; we accept there will be some discomfort. Shifting, sliding and even a certain degree of numbness was deemed an inevitable consequence of riding in an aero position. The Wove V8 TT saddle is said to address those issues. Colorado-based Wove claims the V8 is “the time trial saddle that will change how you feel about being in the aerobars.” The 140 gram carbon saddle is designed to reduce the chance of thigh rubbing and soft tissue pressure when in the aerobars, while the highly grippy material helps riders maintain their aero position without having to recreate the Tony Martin sandpaper disaster.
The nose of the V8 is designed to be longer and narrower than most TT saddles, while the rear is still wide enough to ride in an upright position. The rear also features bottle cage mounting points, meaning I could add another Elite aero bottle out back should I need to carry more hydration or, the more likely scenario, there is an aero gain from mounting an aero bottle in such a way to help smooth the airflow off my rear end.
Surprise, surprise. There’s a power meter on this bike. Specifically, the Rotor InSpider power meter mounted to 170mm Rotor Aldhu cranks.
“Go big or go home.” The chainring is this mega 60-tooth offering from Pyramid Cycle Design. The aluminium narrow-wide TT rings feature an intricate design so secure it eliminates the need for a chain catcher, while the wider 4mm thick chainrings better match the chain width for an improved aerodynamic interaction. Also, did I mention it’s a 60 tooth! This chain is treated with the Silca Secret Hot Melt wax, while a Silca pre-treated chain is reserved for race day.
Speedplay Aero pedals, the time trialling connoisseurs pedal of choice.
Speaking of aero adaptions to standard components, is the CeramicSpeed OSPW Aero the most controversial component of all time? Depending on your position, the aero pulley system is a gift from the time trialling gods that incorporates the gains of oversized pulley wheels without the aero drag penalty, or, is just another way to do derailleur pulleys. I’m very firmly in the ‘time trialling gods gift’ camp.
This is not the end, it’s the story so far. The hunt for TT tech and marginal gains never ends.