Aero is everything, or so the saying goes. Well, maybe not if you look at the new Merida Time Warp TT, which launches today.
The world of competitive cycling has gone through phases of chasing one metric or another at the expense of all else. We've had the pursuit of the lowest weight possible, as well as bikes that aim for absolute stiffness at the expense of all else, resulting in some uncomfortable riding experiences. Lately, we've been in the age of aerodynamics, but things may be on the turn as the aero returns become more and more diminishing within the framework of UCI legality.
The new Time Warp TT, available as a frameset only, claims to be faster than its predecessor (no surprises there). Not because it is more aero, but because it is more comfortable with better braking.
Just a disc brake retrofit?
While moving away from rim brakes to discs appears to be the major change, it's not the only one. The new Merida Time Warp TT frame has been subtly overhauled throughout. The biggest change visually is a smaller triangular panel between the seat tube and the down tube, but in order to accommodate discs, the chainstays and forks have also been reengineered to deal with the asymmetrical nature of the braking forces. This usually makes bikes heavier, in much the same way as a convertible car is usually heavier than a hard-top thanks to the stronger chassis requirements.
This latest version of the Time Warp TT frameset has an identical claimed weight to its predecessor, perhaps due to doing away with the large panel. It also has the same aerodynamic efficiency, according to Merida, but despite being the same on paper from a numerical performance standpoint, Merida insists it's faster.
How can it be faster?
As we covered earlier, the dogged pursuit of a single metric becomes a case of diminishing returns with enough iterations. Instead of giant leaps in aero, Merida has focussed on a more holistic design process, putting rider comfort and handling (not often the best feature of even the best time trial bikes) at the forefront.
Primarily this increase in comfort is down to the frameset being able to accommodate larger tyres, up to 28mm. Smoother is faster it seems. The switch to discs - following general industry trends - also gives the rider more consistent and more powerful brakes, letting them brake later and more confidently than before - not dissimilar from why Matej Mohoric used larger disc rotors at Milan San Remo.
The other major comfort-inducer is a new S-Flex seatpost. Given that the majority of frame compliance comes at the seatpost, adding a more flexible option can add greatly to the cushy factor, whilst still allowing the frame to keep that much-needed stiffness for pedalling efficiency against the clock.
While here in the UK, the ten-mile time trial reigns supreme, not all TT bikes are confined to such short bursts, and having a bike that's more bearable over longer distances can only be a good thing if there are no detriments to performance elsewhere.
Spec and pricing
Oddly, the Merida Time Warp TT has been released as a frameset option only, rather than as a complete build, which perhaps reflects the scarcity of parts we're all still dealing with at the moment. In addition, at the time of writing, no pricing data is available from Merida.
For whatever Merida decide to charge, you will get the frame and fork, S-Flex seatpost, Vision compatible base bar (but no extensions) and a headset.
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Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. There are very few types of cycling he's not dabbled in, and he has a particular affection for older bikes and long lasting components. Road riding was his first love, before graduating to racing CX in Yorkshire. He's been touring on a vintage tandem all the way through to fixed gear gravel riding and MTB too. When he's not out riding one of his many bikes he can usually be found in the garage making his own frames and components as a part time framebuilder, restoring old mountain bikes, or walking his collie in the Lake District.
Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, 1988 Specialized Rockhopper, Stooge Mk4, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross