Best position for Merckx TT?

I know that there are a number of TT discussions, but I didn’t find anything specific on Merckx position. Is the best position aero on the hoods and arms over the cross bar when safe vs riding in the drops? I am a road racer who doesn’t own a TT rig but figured I’d support the local race (Calaveras TT in Norcal) and try my hand at one run with clip ons and one run Merckx this weekend. Any advice is appreciated!


Specialized covered this in some video.

  1. Assuming upper body is held in the same exact position:
    • Hands on hoods with forearms level to the ground is faster than hands in the drops with forearms more vertical.
    • That hood position presents less vertical surface area and cylindrical shape of the arm, and is faster as a result.

Thanks @mcneese.chad I’ll look for that video. This is what I suspected. Will be interesting to see the difference of the bars vs Merckx.

No real info here beyond what Chad McNeese already posted… just wanted to say that I’m doing the Calaveras TT primarily to support it as well, and am JUST doing the Merckx. No expectation to place well, but just planning to use it to put in a good hard effort and see how I perform personally!


Good luck and see you in the morning - I also liked the article linked within the one you posted. As someone who has zero interest in buying a TT rig (Much rather have second race bike or mountain bike), I wish amateur stage races didn’t allow TT rigs at least cat 3 and lower maybe…

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I can kinda see your point, but its not really fair to those who do time trial and have a dedicated bike for it.

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For me, optimizing the gear and position for TTs is half the fun… I’d agree that for cat 4 or 5 maybe it’d make sense to limit to Merckx to lower the barrier for entry though.

I’ll be at the Calaveras TT tomorrow too, racing cat 3, then open Merckx… see you there!

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I hear you guys - I am not saying no TT rigs at all, especially in TT’s. But at least in Norcal our calendar doesn’t seem to have nearly enough TT’s to justify another expensive bike (IMO). Additionally there are very few Stage Races in California as well, and as someone who very much loves road racing and trains very seriously, I wish I didn’t just have to essentially concede that I have no GC prospect simply because I don’t have TT bike. I think there could be a way to structure it perhaps where there are two mirrored races essentially. I don’t know, just rambling thoughts mostly! I love racing, but have definitely noticed smaller fields the past few years and like to go through mental exercises of how to turn that around. Anyhow, see you guys in the morning!


I totally feel you there. One of our local (mid-atlantic) stage races used to do two separate GCs in the same race, one standard and one Merckx. This meant those of us without TT bikes had a real competition to fight for, and those with could use their blingy machine. For some reason, though, they did away with that this year. It’s too bad, it seemed like a pretty great solution.

Yeah I definitely wish there were more TTs in norcal… I consider myself to be somewhat of a TT specialist, but it’s disappointing that I rarely get to race them.

Yes! That is exactly what I was thinking, but thought people would say no way! Sad to hear it’s gone, but glad to know that format has existed. I might start trying to float that around more in Norcal…though unfortunately I don’t have high hopes, I feel like a total odd man out in the Bay Area without a TT rig/everyone seems to have one.

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On a related topic-- how much time would clip-on TT bars generally save (assuming you trained your position for a while beforehand) over just good aero posture with hoods/drops?

I just did a local TT (20.7km), and amazingly won my category (thanks TR! Held 300w perfectly throughout!-- would have been absolutely unable to dream of doing that a month or two back), but came third overall to a couple of people who were lets say, more mechanically equipped (both had aero bars, one even had a full disc on back) and they bested me by about a minute.

Curious hold close I could have gotten with a simple change like throwing on some aerobars. (I’m a big rider, generally Nate shaped (6’5" 185lb))

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some data tidbits in this post (I’m more Pete like at 6’ 1" and 210lbs):

Cherry picking data from our club TT spreadsheet…

  • 29.3mph / 371W on that course for a duathlon age group international champion, in full TT setup (TT bike, skin suit, helmet, etc).
  • 24mph / 284W on that course for middle age club guy doing Merckx class on regular road bike (nobody else came close to that, dude is slippery!)
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My back-of-the-envelope math says that the TT setup had about 30% lower drag than the Merckx setup.

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