Where is TT bike development going in 2021/22?

Hey there everyone.
While I love all the bikes, TT Bikes are my greatest passion. TTing is just an extremely sophisticated discipline, where differences in material can have great influence.
As a relative newbie to road cycling (< 2 years), I have not „participated“ in the development of the TT bike market over the past decades, but I think I have quite a good grasp of the past 5 to 10 years.
The most obvious development in the TT bike market in recent years, is obviously very similar to that in road bikes, with disc brakes, electronic gearing and higher level of integration becoming ever more prevalent.
Another thing, that is rather similar to road bikes, is the move away from „all out aero“ and more into „lightweight usable aero“.
What this has lead to, at least IMO, is that many of the fastest (aerodynamically) TT bikes, are now several years old. The previous gen Cervelo P5 test quite a bit faster than the current gen. Apparently TREK has attempted to develop a Disc brake, more nimble TT bike, but with the same speed as the Speedconcept, and, this is according to someone close to the brand, didn’t manage to nearly match the speed.
Disc brakes are the most obvious reason for that, as a spinning rotor likely costs you 3 to 5 watts compared to a rim brake.
TT bikes are also a small, very Specialist segment, with Tri bikes being the much more mainstream product.

Having watched all TTs in the GTs so far this year and also several ITT championships, it became very apparent to me that several big bike manufactures have not updated their TT bike in ages.
The biggest ones in Canyon, Giant and Trek have hardly changed in years, and are all rim brake only. Branchi, Pinarello, Colnago look very 2010s, still only rim brakes.
BMC, Factor and Cervelo have updated their respective top models, however, both are „hybrids“ with a big focus on Tri.
The latest Specialized Shiv TT is definitely a „new“ take on TT bikes, with it being more resemblant to an aero road bike, and high focus on nimbleness. It is also one of the very few „for TT only“ bikes.
A bike that got me very interested however is the new Scott Plasma 6. It is of course a Tri bike with reservoir, storages etc. Just by its looks, it appears very aero, and has smart solutions, that might get you a slight edge here and there.

With all this said, what do you think, where are TT bikes headed for the next two years?
I am sure that all these brands will have to release something at some point. Of course, the likelihood is very high, that there will be ever more TT bikes and Tri bikes morph into one (which I would really not like).
I am not sure, if the direction is more into the „full-blown-aero“ (like Speedconcept or 2015 Cercelo P5), especially with the UCI-regulations on frames set to loosen up.

Or is the direction more „road bike like“ like the Shiv TT, with more focus on weight and handling? Looking at the recent TTs in GTs, many pros would probably love to have a lighter bike (Bologna TT 2019, Planche des belles filles etc.).

Would really like to hear your opinions or maybe even insights into knowledge I don‘t have.

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Well, from what we’ve seen with recent releases like the Plasma 6 they’re going well beyond the price most people can/are willing to afford–spending over $21,000 CDN on a bicycle is just insane, IMO. It’s great that there’s still some innovation going on, at least in the triathlon space with more integrated storage/hydration options, but it’s hard for me to get too excited about them due to the prices. :confused:

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I completely agree, that the price of the Plasma 6 is laughably high. However, I am happy to see a lot of innovation, that hopefully is build upon and trickles down. A lot more interesting than the many lookalikes that were released over the years

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I think one development you’ve missed in the last few years is that of adjustability, mainly on the front end. Lots more options out there now that make it relatively easy to adjust stack, reach and tilt of your pads and extensions. Which makes it much easier to refine and dial in your optimal position, or even be able to tweak your position for different courses and distances.

The other trend is towards longer (and often custom moulded) arm rests. Which improve both comfort and aero. Don’t think many (or any?) bikes come with these as standard right now. So maybe that will be the next area of improvement with bike manufacturers developing their own armrests or partnering with or buying companies that make them.

In terms of frames, like you I’m struggling to see where any improvements are going to come from for TTers unless the UCI rules open up some new area of development. Better integrated storage is great for triathletes, and even if it makes the bike less aero or heavier it might well make them faster overall if the alternative is taking a super aero frame and then strapping a bento box to it. But that’s not really a benefit for TTers other than maybe those doing ultra distances. I assume everything will go disc brake eventually but there’s much less justification for it in TT than there is on road bikes given that most TT and tri courses really aren’t very technical. Disc brakes might make you a bit safer on training rides, they’re not going to make you faster in races. As for weight, the pros seem to just jump on their road bikes for any significant climbs during TTs anyway!

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Yeah some stuff is just insanity. The Specialized Shiv is 14k USD!!! I love the look of that bike and think of myself as a TT guy, but could never drop that type of coin.

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That’s definitely a trend that’s taken off in the past couple years. Some of them are kinda ridiculous looking like the TriRig set (starting at a mere $850 USD, $750 pre-order pricing): https://www.tririg.com/store.php?c=scoops

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The Shiv TT is certainly expensive, but not that bad of a deal. It is €12,500 in Europe, with a rather expensive set of wheels (Roval CLX 64 - €2,500) and a full disc wheel (€2,200) included. Many other bikes cost the same, with no disc, or no other rear wheel included. Obviously still mega expensive.

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I‘d be very interested to see if the development in TT bikes goes into a more crazy direction like in track cycling. There are suggestions in the direction, that the UCI might allow TT bikes to go in the direction of a bike like the Lotus/Hope Track bike. This is due to allowing super narrow fork legs/blades.
A design freedom like that would be crazy, and might yield completely new potentials…

Idk if such bike design makes sense when riding outdoors and not having the luxury of a front disc wheel.

Some tri bikes like the latest Specialized Shiv have started to inch down this path with making the front fork have a lot more clearance to the front wheel so I could see more innovation on the triathlon end of things where UCI doesn’t get in the way.


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I’m not certain I agree with a few of your premises…notably the idea that TT bikes are trying to be more like aero road bikes. I’m not even sure the Shiv TT represents that. IMO, it is simply a evolution of the previous design, taking what Specialized has learned in the aero category over the years and applied to the new design (notably the gap between the seat tube and rear wheel, etc).

The reality is that there are a lot of great TT bikes out there and the differences are getting smaller and smaller in terms of aero benefits. So they will focus on things like usability, convenience and adjustability (ease thereof). Lighter bikes will also start to emerge.

What remains to be seen will be how the new UCI regulations impact TT designs…this may open up new aero designs / benefits that could serve as differentiators vs. the competition.

I‘d say the 2020 Shiv TT is the 2019 Venge of TT bikes. Aero at the forefront, but clearly not at all cost. They have the same seatpost, because it was „aero enough“ (not as aerodynamic as that of the Vias or the previous gen Shiv), but more comfy.
Not hugging the seat tube to the rear wheel on the Shiv, which even Tarmac SL7 still has, had been done since the 321 Disc doesn’t need air „That Smoove“, to be efficient.
However you see it, the Shiv TT is clearly a newer approach to TT bikes, but not necessarily the one that will proliferate. I would really love to see someone go all out aero (like Geometry 19 in the Canyon Aeroad). Then we at least know what is possible, and everyone can decide if they want aero over everything, or lesser versions of that, that are better in other aspects.

Makes me think the top end bikes would/could have a factory option to have no extensions just the mounting points for them. Anyone spending in excess of £10,000 will probably have a set they like so why not exclude them in the first place? Or even have a selection to choose from at the start otherwise you’re paying for something you have or something that won’t necessarily work for your position.

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Yeah, I’d agree with that approach. Both of my last TT bikes, I just let the stock cockpit in the box and never touched it. I don’t think it’d save that much $ in the grand scheme of things though, since the stock extension setup is usually pretty basic.

Agree, but by the same logic I think top end bikes shouldn’t come with saddles! You should be able to spec crank length as well, especially on TT bikes where many people ride shorter cranks to get more aero.

I think there’s a big opportunity for some of the direct retailers like Canyon to give people way more configuration options when buying a bike. Should be like cars where you can configure whatever you want within the range of options/components they offer. Colour, groupset, wheels, bar width, stem length, saddle, crank length, gearing, bar tape colour, etc.

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ding ding ding!

where are we going with TT bikes? Not far with the bike itself, more with the holistic approach to bike and rider and full blown optimization of both.
With better access to data in recent years we have seen what matters, and what frankly is just throwing money at a problem for the sake of it.
The new bikes, with better integration, better adjustability, etc. allow the rider to optimize position, which is the single biggest source of creating a more aerodynamic package moving down the road.

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Very true, especially with direct sales, if you can’t customise it then have the cheapest saddle going - no point speccing a carbon railed beauty if it’s not the saddle for me.
Although at this point you’ve almost ended up at a custom bike at which point your lbs might be best.

IDK, but, given the body is by far the largest part of the drag equation, a reliable, easy to use, on the bike CdA meter would interest me. Aeropod et al. don’t seem to be there yet. At least from what I’ve read I’m hesitant to spend the money at the moment.

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Of course the bike has a smaller impact than the rider. The bike has to be adjustable enough to allow the rider to generate the most Watts per square meter of CdA.

However, the bike is not at all irrelevant in this equation. In the video of Ollie Bridgewood being aerotested for his bike fit, they said it was 29% for the bike and 71% for the rider in his case. Not sure if that makes sense, but over 20% is clearly a big chunk to work on.


I don‘t know how much a bike can really improve the aerodynamics of the rider within UCI regulations, over a current gen TT bike (like the Shiv or the Speedconcept, that already offer many many adjustment areas). I wouldn’t know anything I couldn’t do with my Shiv now, that I‘d desire. I am in a very good position now, but can still move my seat post up AND down several inches, forward AND backward several centimeters, my arm cups up AND down several inches, back and forward several centimeters and change angles in any direction I‘d want out of the box.
The next big thing might be, as already suggested above, that extensions, saddles and cranks become more custom. Saddles and Cranks have a large impact on comfort and biomechanics, while extensions can have large implications on reducing rider drag (praying mantis, ergonomic extensions that shelter the forearms).
There is certainly room for improvement.

Ummmm… My perspective, as someone who varies from flat fast 10s to 12hr TT, I want to adjust my front end to suit conditions, and I buy prudently as I want to keep the costs of this game reasonable.
here is my 2 penneth…

  1. I am not sure about disc braked TT bikes. In theory I don’t need to brake as much so this seems like a complication (and yet another set of wheels)… (and given most of us have a training set and a race set, yet more cost).

  2. Does a different frame design really make that much difference? Is there really much difference across frames from different maunfacturers? £10k worth? I think, once you are close to a limit, there is little effect.

  3. I suspect, even wheels, once reasonably optlimised don’t make a great deal more difference. Conditions like wind, have a greater influence on front wheel depth choice, than a few watts. The Boardman centre said, don’t worry too much about front wheels, its the position that makes a difference. Sure with my own Chung tests I can find differences and choose a more optimised set, and perhaps a more comfoirtable, reliable set (wider tubeless).

  4. I am in the camp of several here, that having a fully (and easily) adjustable front end is far more important than much else. I have seen loads of posts of people annoyed with specific parts needed for a highly integrated front end that limits adjustability. As someone who varies from flat fast 10s to 12hr TT, I want to adjust my front end to suit conditions. I would add I think double Di2 (or its etap equivalemnt) is great for maintaining position (that is on TT bars and base bars). … and it makes swapping things around far easier. Likewise crank length…

  5. I am relatively sceptical that various bike frames make much of a difference overall. Look at the way teams are swapping bike manufacturers for next season, even at the GT/pro level. It is simply a merry go round. More likely I now people who have swapped because they no longer want the hassle of integrated front brakes, (and teh risk of them rubbing), and its their birthday so they want a treat. After a certain level I suspect the difference is very small relative to teh consequences of a a bad fitting bike.

  6. I would like integrated spares carryying capability on my bike. Just in case, so I can avoid a long walk home… or back to HQ…

  7. I think position, skin suits and possibly helmet make more difference. And teh ability to hold it.

  8. Aero is important, but not everything. Power in the position, individual flexibility and conditioning make a massive difference. …and comfort and confidence in that position. …and much of that leads to having an efficient position… having a bike that is comfortable, and ajustable to the right position, set up well, seems to me to be the key.

Swapping one expensive bike for another expensive bike at £4k, £6k, £10k a bike… I am just not sure, for us normal world TTers…

Dribble across from the Tri world is fine in the UK, for non UCI races… As an ex triathlete I would love a beam bike… but perhaps not to race on one… :slight_smile:

Final thought - a few years ago, didn’t someone win the National 10 on a second hand TT bike, running 9 speed manual, with cheap wheels, the whole lot costing less that £1000… ? https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/latest-news/how-a-bike-costing-1000-won-the-national-10-mile-time-trial-championship-189583

Well, if the spectrum of needs is that wide (short TT to all day in the bike), you obviously need a lot of adjustment at all times. For such needs, a Triathlon bike, that is made for TTs from 40k to 180k (1 to 6hours) might be your best bet here. It will also offer a solution to drink and consume food on the bike. I do think that the new Scott Plasma is actually a very interesting concept. Of course it is mightily expensive, but the focus here is definitely ease of adjustment
https://www.scott-sports.com/gb/en/plasma-6

However, there will always be hyper focused Time Trial bikes, since TTs are part of every race calendar, and pros will be unhappy with using a heavier Tri Bike, with many of them also being UCI illegal.

While I can‘t say adjusting the cockpit on the Shiv TT is any fun (it is actually painful), I do not think that the high end market will shift towards disintegrating cables and hoses again, at least not in the next few years.
I do think, that a shift in UCI regulation can have a major influence in aerodynamics, that makes buying a new frame worth it.
I also totally agree, that the market will however have to focus more on making the products more usable.