With TT season fast approaching, we take a closer look at Aaron's fully modded-out Cannondale Superslice. With access to just about every go-faster upgrade out there, would you have made the same component choices as Aaron when every second counts?
Our Staff Bike features take a closer look at the bikes belonging to road.cc staffers and regular contributors; when we clock out from work, these are the bikes that you'll find us on. It might come as a surprise that Aaron, the editor of off.road.cc, can often be found upon a TT bike. If there was a discipline further away from mountain biking then this is probably it!
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Aaron's frame of choice is a 54cm disc brake Cannondale Superslice 2019. The paint scheme won't be to everyone's liking, but Aaron admits that he's a bit of a sucker for a garish paintjob, appreciating the blurred graphics that make the bike look fast standing still. Do you agree, or would you have gone for something more subtle?
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The front end is a full Vision Metron TFA Aerobar affair, and I have to say it does fit rather flush with the frame. TT riders' positions have evolved over recent years with the aero extensions getting more angled in order to close the gap between the rider's arms and head. Closing this void is supposedly more aerodynamic.
Aaron's bars currently sit at a 15-degree angle, although he plans to angle them even higher in the near future. You might be wondering whether all of this is UCI-legal, and the answer is no. Luckily very few TT races in the UK take place under UCI rules as they are organised by Cycling Time Trials (CTT) rather than British Cycling or the UCI.
Whereas many TT bikes will have the Di2 junction box hidden away in the base bar or stem, Aaron has copied an idea that he first saw on a Canyon Speedmax, where the junction box is mounted to the end of the aero extension. This allows easier access for gear indexing, and more importantly charging the battery.
A Project 76 computer mount holds a Garmin Edge 520 (only a smaller computer will fit) just inches from Aaron's face.
On his screen, Aaron opts for elapsed time and average speed. This may come as a surprise to many riders, including me. During the few time trials I've competed in I've stared at my power, but as Aaron sounds like he knows what he's doing and has the times to prove it, I'll be giving this a go next time!
Since 2022, to improve rider safety, it is now mandatory to fit both a front and rear light to your TT bike for CTT events. Therefore a Knog Blinder Mini sits on a removable bridge between the aero bars and a Bontrager Flare RT rear light is attached (less professionally, but equally as neatly) under the saddle.
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TT saddles differ to standard road saddles in both their shape and materials used, and this Prologo Zero TT CPC features Tirox alloy rails. Aaron explains that there's little need for a lighter carbon version due to weight being all but irrelevant in most TT events. As a result this Cannondale Slice weighs in at just over 9kg, more than some of Aaron's mountain bikes.
You'll also notice rubberised sections on the nose of the saddle. These prevent the rider from slipping forwards and provide adequate grip when in an aggressive TT position whatever the weather.
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Wheels can make a huge difference (relative to other components) when racing the clock, and it's DT Swiss hoops that are the rims of choice. Both are part of the ARC1100 series with an 80mm on the front and a full disc at the back. Both have ceramic bearings within the 180 Dicut hubs. If you want to listen to the sound of the 36T ratchet then be sure to watch the video or follow road.cc on Instagram.
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Like many time triallers Aaron opts for a tubeless tyre set-up. Tubeless supposedly offers lower rolling resistance than tyres with inner tubes or tubular tyres, but Aaron says that he does this for the simple reason of comfort. Riding a TT bike can be a twitchy and uncomfortable experience, so running lower pressures can help to 'settle' the bike.
Schwalbe Pro One TTs are the tyres of choice due to their impressive speed, but Aaron has also found them to be a little more robust than other TT tyres on the market. Currently, they're both 25mm in width, although the rear one will soon be changed to 28mm.
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The groupset is a right old jumble of parts! The discs are 140mm Shimano XTR M900s, and being a lighter rider Aaron runs this size on all of his bikes. The callipers and mech body are Ultegra whilst the shifters are Dura-Ace.
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Moving on to the cranks, you'll find a 1x setup with an Aerocoach chain guide to reduce the chances of a stray chain on rough roads. This is a 54T rotor aero ring paired with an 11-28T cassette at the rear, carbon Rotor Aldhu crank arms and inSpider power meter.
You'll often find time triallers using a larger chainring than most road riders to improve their chain line. As average speeds are higher during a TT race, a larger ring up front can help to bring the chain closer to the middle of the cassette block at the rear. The benefits are said to be two-fold: the chain runs straighter and hence more efficiently, as well as having to go through a less tight curve when under tension again reducing drivetrain losses.
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The drivetrain is completed by a CeramicsSeed waxed chain and a set of Look Keo Blade pedals with ceramic bearings.
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Obviously, the elephant in the room is the CeramicSpeed OSPW Aero. These cost a ludicrous amount of money for what most people agree will result in a tiny watt saving. Aaron predicts this is responsible for saving him roughly one second over a 10-mile TT, so not a lot but he did say that this type of race can be won by less.
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An Elite Chrono aero water bottle is likely the least used bit of kit on the bike. Aaron explained to me that if you come out of aero position and take a drink then you can wave goodbye to the podium. (unless you're Fillipo Ganna).
On a 25-mile TT the bottle will get used just once, and for longer than that most riders opt to use a hydration bladder and straw positioned elsewhere so that they can take on the necessary fluids without picking a fight with the air.
For more wild and wacky machines, check out more of our Staff Bikes.
Are you tempted to give a TT a go this season? Let us know in the comments section below!
The manufacturers are not interested in tribology so much as corrosion. They prep their chains for shelf life in the supply chain.
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