The best TT bike isn’t a TT bike

I had a nasty crash on a TT bike a few years ago. I made the mistake of saying ‘on your left!’ to two neewbies on city bikes while I was going fast down a hill. I gave them far too much warning, plenty of time for one to swing left, one to swing right in section and form a wall, where there was a sharp drop off the trail on either side. I was braking the whole time but traditional TT bike brakes take a good half a minute or more to slow someone down from 45 mph. Another problem besides poor brakes is the ‘bullhorns’ where you brake from are slippery and provide little control for fancy maneuvering.

In the intervening time, I’ve also spent a lot of time going for Strava KOMs/segments. Strava KOMs – excluding those on true long climbs – are theoretically good for TT bikes – solo speed, but often you want more handling and sprinting ability than a TT bike really offers.

So you see where I am coming from when I came up with the idea for my latest bike.

  • Disc Brakes -> high stopping power
  • 3T Revo TT bars -> the aero TT position with a much better maneuvering position
  • Not a standard TT frame -> something that can corner and sprint a little
  • Wireless shifting -> allows multiple shifting positions, smoothly
  • 1x gearing -> more aero, lighter, and cheaper for a bike that isn’t meant for hills anyway

Disc brake TT framesets are still rather on the rare side. The original plan was to use a Cervelo P-Series TT frame, but on something of a whim I went with a Specialized Allez Sprint Disc. For starters, it is a bike renowned for its crit performance. Secondly, it is significantly cheaper. Thirdly, it has amazing paint schemes available. It was a great choice.

One of the simple truths behind this build is the fact that the frame of TT bikes is not that much faster than modern road bikes. There are multiple sources for this information, but I really like this video:

The final part list runs something like this:

  • Specialized Allez Sprint Disc (Red Gloss)
  • Shimano GRX Di2 RD-RX817 + TT end shifters + Di2 TT brake levers
  • 3T Revo LTD TT bars
  • Praxis Zayante Carbon Cranks with 4iiii Power Meter
  • Garbaruk 52T GXP 1x chainring
  • TRP Hy-hrd hybrid hydraulic disc brakes
  • HED Vanquish Wheels

Overall cost for the bike was roughly $5500. That includes some discounts, but also a bunch of extra parts (since the Allez came as a complete bike not just a frameset). I reckon a comparable but cheaper version could be built for around $3000. At 18.8 lbs (8.5 kg) it is far from the lightest bike, but roughly identical to, say, a Canyon Speedmax, and lighter than most TT bikes.

I didn’t really mean this bike to be a full time TT bike. It isn’t as fast as the Trek Speed Concept, but it isn’t too far off either. The only major con is a poorly integrated cockpit setup. In fact, I think most riders would be far better off using a bike like this rather than a “proper” TT bike. It feels much safer to ride. It is much more comfortable to ride (especially on a bumpy road). More safety and comfort leads to more time on the TT bike, which leads to a better adjusted position.

Most importantly, the black components with the red paint scheme looks incredible! The red tint over the aluminum actually gives it much more depth than a standard paint scheme, something not conveyed well in pictures. I am a particular fan of that massive 1x chairing, it also looks amazing, while contributing to the excellent stiffness of the bike. Overall, I am extremely satisfied with this bike.

As a complete aside, I’d rank the Allez Sprint or the Canyon Ultimate as the best value race bikes in my experience.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *