Aero Road Bike with extensions vs Time Trial Bike

Hi team,

I am looking into a new bike this fall/ next spring.

I currently ride a Felt F5 from 2013. Its been my do everything bike for 6 years now.

This is my time with trainer road and it’s been fantastic so far. From doing workouts and the podcast I really like the idea of time trial. I have never raced a time trial before and it seems like the world of TT is a very deep rabbit hole.

I love riding my bike and have recently stepped away from my previous main sport of Olympic Weightlifting and the bike seems to be filling the gap nicely.

Both sports seem very linear. Power is power and you either make the lift or you don’t.

I have a few questions:
I am wondering if there is a different between an aero road bike with extensions / time trial bars attached compared to a dedicated time trial bike?

Would you/ how would you choose your new bike based on your body shape/geometry?

I live in Bergen Norway and the felt f5 will carry on to be my do everything bike considering the weather. The new bike will be on the trainer and for future endeavors in racing for the most part.

Thanks for your time.

If you aren’t financially limited in your choice then the benefits of a dedicated TT bike are worthwhile. If you are looking to save some money then an aero road frame with aerobars can be setup to be reasonably close to a time trial bike.

Basically…it depends how far down the TT rabbit hole you want to go. If you plan to go very far down there and optimize everything then there’s no reason not to get the TT bike now


The faster you go, the more important aerodynamics become (over power). A dedicated TT bike is more aero than an aero road bike.

In a way it depends what you want from racing TTs. If you’re chasing PBs and personal power targets, any bike will do. But if you’re trying to be competitive and win things, you’ll quickly enter the spiral of marginal gains. TTing is a very equipment-heavy form of the sport. Its not only the bike, its the helmet, shoes, clothing, aero shoe covers…and then someone develops something new, or you find out you can’t do your most aero position on your bike, and you need to spend more…

I would enter a few TTs with your current bike, and just go from there.

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Take a look at the Madone Speed that was just announced:


And just before that, they released updated Madone SL 6 and SL 7 models that feature regular handlebars that allow fitting of aero bar extensions.

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Interesting, hadn’t seen that. The problem as I see it is that TT and road positions are very different. I simply don’t think it is possible to have aero bars and drop bars that both work with the same position - if the aero extensions are in the right place for a good TT position, then the drops are going to be far too low for a road position, and vice versa if the drops are in the right place the aero extensions will be too high. So at best you’re going to have one bike where you have to move the bars (and probably the saddle) depending on whether you’re riding road or TT. Maybe a design that made it really easy to switch the positions would be ok, but seems to me it would get pretty tedious moving it around the whole time.

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If you do a lot of riding in each style then it’s not a great option, but if you do 1 or 2 TTs in a year and the rest of your riding is in road configuration, the amount of hassle for a change would probably be worth it.

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Using one bike for road and TT can work. There are ways to make each one more optimal, depending on how often or quickly you want to swap between them.

  • The best way that is fast and super convenient is the RedShift Switch Aero System. I got one from their original Kickstarter and it is one of the best purchases I have made.

    • If you have a 27.2mm diameter seat post, it allows swapping from a road position to a TT position in seconds. Is rotates forward and locks into position. It returns to the road setup in the same time.
    • The aero bars start with a main clamp that stays on the bars. Then you can quickly install or remove the bars anytime you want.
  • For other bikes, you can get 2 seat posts, install a seat on each (and possibly a TT focused on on that version) and swap between them.

The overall issue is that your TT and road setup should be different with respect to your saddle height and fore/aft position. As mentioned above, using a road setup with aero bars is not optimal. I can go a bit deeper into the specifics of the differences, but won’t spend that time now or unless it is needed.