Best TT frame/bike in the mid-range

Does anyone have any thoughts or knowledge on what are some of the best options on TT bike/frame sets in terms of performance? Like actual differences and not just marketing…

I’m guessing that with the research and development that manufacturers put into designing frames/bikes that each brand is pretty close to optimised, and in reality there is little or no actual performance difference from one frame set or bike to another (when comparing across brands at similar price points).

I’m looking to buy my first TT bike (mainly for use in Ironman events (70.3 and full)) and would appreciate drawing on the wisdom of TR forum users.

It’s a big investment and I’d like to get good value for the money. I’m looking in the mid-range in terms of price (€3-4000). Obviously, I would like to get the best bike I can in that price range, but is there all that much difference really!?

Do peoples choices come down more to say, brand alliances or personal preferences…The one thing that I am thinking is that I should prioritise increased levels of integration in my decision given that I’ll mainly be using the bike in long-course triathlon.

Thoughts and comments appreciated :slight_smile:

IME you can get into your personnel optimal position on nearly any frame. The real important thing is to train as much as possible in position for the type of time trial you will race. I wanted a more modern front end so, a bit more aero integrated bar/stem/steerer complex yet, didn’t want to break the bank to get it. Therefore, I went the used route as the number of nearly new mid to high end bikes seem very numerous. It didn’t matter to me what the manufacturer was. BMC, Cervelo, Scott, Specialized, Orbea, Argon to name a few all have models in the mid range that fit the bill. It was just a matter of time before an awesome deal dropped into my lap.

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That is not necessarily true…especially if you prefer a “long & low” position. For example, it is literally impossible for me to ride the previous generation Shiv Tri frames. Throughout most of this decade, the trend had been towards higher and shorter frames and, as a result, I have stuck with my ~2009 Shiv TT w/ nosecone, simply because I could not get low / long enough on almost any frame out there.

So while many (most?) people can get on a wide variety of frames, long & low can still be a challenge…the trend is reversing a bit, thankfully.

This just reinforces that you should be shopping by fit first, aero and other considerations second. And yes, most bikes in this price range are damn good, so you likely aren’t giving up much by choosing one over another.


If in the UK, Boardman TT bikes can’t be beaten for the money.

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If in the UK, Boardman TT bikes can’t be beaten for the money.

Unless you have to build one. The brake clearance with the TRP rear end is a horror…you end up having to shave pads to fit the current crop of wider wheels. The front isn’t much better. Cable routing is a nightmare…you end up kinking and re-cutting cables almost every time you adjust the brakes. Plus, they simply ship you a box of parts if you purchase a frameset, so you get to puzzle out the placement of some of the weirder bits.

It’s not an impossible task, and it’s an EXCELLENT TT bike (as are all the Boardman bikes), but it’s not something I want to maintain. This is a common complaint from many of the pro team mechanics (across multiple lines of “superbikes”), as well.

I’ve been eyeing the Argon 18 E-117 and recently announced E-117 Disc. A lot of bike for the money compared to Cervelo. I’m not into tris enough yet, so it’s doubtful I’ll get one anytime soon, but take a look.

My TTE 9.4 clearance is fine, no issues with wider wheels. Agree about the internals being a faff on though.

There are some pretty good deals out there on Cervelo P3 frames and bikes, particularly with the new bikes moving to disc brakes which IMO aren’t necessary on TT bikes which are rarely if ever used on steep or technical courses. P3 isn’t the cheapest but they hold their value well and you can build a bike that is both very aero but also pretty simple to live with and maintain without busting the bank. If you pick up a frameset there are some pretty good aftermarket bar options from companies like Tririg, Zipp, Profile which can make for a very clean build. And doesn’t involve any proprietary integrated components which can be a hassle to service and hard to get parts for.

Would also seriously consider going secondhand, there are some bargains out there. TT bikes tend to be low mileage as a lot of people only really use them for racing and on the trainer. And triathletes in particular like to upgrade frequently, so there are some pretty recent model bikes getting sold.

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The new Argon 18 E117T Disc looks awesome! I loved my E117T (rim brakes), I can only imagine the disc version will be an upgrade. UCI legal for TT and very competitive for Ironman events without the big price tag.
Personaly, I’m eyeing their new E118T+ Disc, which looks :star_struck:

I stand corrected then.

The 117 is ok, but unless you go to an integrated front end as stated by a previous poster you lose a lot. Nice bike for the money, but I’d opt for bikes with better front ends.

Premier Bike

$6k gets ultegra di2 with a disc wheel and deep front race wheel, and the bike in the wind tunnel performs on par with $15k super-bikes. Actually better if you factor in the optimized chain.

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The Premier is the one I would go for right now for the money. Dan’s response and customer service is also the best in the business. Wish I had one…

Yeah as above invest a bit of the money to get a fit first and then see which bike fits to you (make an informed decision)

Depends where you are but a canyon can get you a sweet frame and even a good wheelset for that price.

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Trek Speed Concept is a brilliant bike. The front bend is adjustable to an almost infinite degree. Handles very nicely too.

Agreed…if I had to buy a new TT bike right now, this would be my choice, hands down. Huge range of fit options, aero and outstanding value.

My other choice would be the new Shiv TT disc, but since that is $14K and basically vaporware, the Premier Tactical gets the nod. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Curious… what are the technical advantages of an integrated frontend? I totally get that it is more aesthetically pleasing and looks more seamless and professional—there’s no question that it looks cooler, sleeker, and more refined. But other than that, what are the significant** advantages? It seems like some of these integrated front-ends are pseudo-proprietary and if you ever needed to swap out a new stem, headset, cap, brakes and so forth, that you might have difficulty finding replacements that fit, particularly if you’re looking a few years down the road.

(**I realize that there is some minuscule amount of aerodynamic improvement with an integrated headset, particularly in a controlled test environment, but all other factors being equal, the difference between a fully integrated frontend vs non is statistically irrelevant for all but the highest caliber of triathlete or TT specialist.)

Actually, a well-designed integrated front end can be one of the biggest aerodynamic improvement you can get out on a bike.

Cables themselves are an aero nightmare…round shapes are the worst in terms of aero drag. There are images out there showing the airfoil equivalent of a a pencil-sized round tube. Massive difference.

Then adding in better designed base bar / arobar and integrating everything into a seamless design and you have a very fast bike.

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I have a Boardman Att 9.4. Very comfortable. Picked it up second hand for a bargain price. Spent spare cash of decent wheels.

Spend money on double Di2 (as having two options for changing is soooo convenient) and a really adjustable set of bars (eg 3T) so you can dial in and adjust your position and height.

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I have an earlier ATT and do not find it a problem with brake adjustment. Swiss make slimmer pads for the rear. I hear the front brakes can be a faff with the newer TTE forks, but the older forks are not bad at all to adjust the brakes.