Merida's new Time Warp time trial/triathlon bike may not be the first 2010 bike we've seen, but it manages to be pretty early to the party and potentially something special too at time trial bike with a changeable head tube height.
UCI rule changes notwithstanding there really isn't that much difference in terms of efficiency between all the top aero bike designs – so according to Merida what they've done is to take a step back and while still using all the latest CAD modelling and wind tunnel techniques to hone the Timewarp's aero profile concentrate as much on the rider, the least aero part of the whole equation, and ride efficiency.
Merida's head of design Juergen Falke is a 9 ½ hour full Ironman competitor so when he sets out to design a bike for time triallists and triathletes he has a pretty good insight into what's needed. The big problem for designers of aero bikes at the moment is that they are trying to serve two distinct markets: triathletes and time triallists, who even if they are both racing against the clock have differing needs and demands – most top aero bikes already acknowledge this to some degree by having reversible seat posts allowing for a choice of position over the bottom bracket – the Time Warp 4 takes this a step further.
That both types of rider want aerodynamic efficiency is a given but short distance time triallists can consider much lower aero-positions than multi-sport athletes or indeed longer distance time triallists. A short distance time triallist can finish their ride in 20 or so minutes and collapse to recover but Ironman competitors or those doing a 100, or 12 or 24 hour time trials will be on the bike for many hours and when the triathlete finishes he or she must run a fast marathon.
Falke reckons that using the same frame leads to crazy solutions, such as towers of spacers or positive angled MTB-stems, to elongate the too short head-tube of a TT-frame for Ironman distance races. His solution to this is the MODULAR HEAD head-tube system. By changing the green wedge at the head tube the rider can lift the stem by 40mm without the use of additional spacers. In fact the system gives you a choice of three different head tube heights: take the wedge out for the lowest setting, for a bit more height add the 20mm wedge, or if you need more still swap that out for the 40mm wedge. Ingenious.
The Time Warp 4 will be available as frameset or complete bike – the latter will ship with the SRAM S80/60 wheelset pictured. Not details on price or when they will hit the UK shops as yet, but we'll keep you posted.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.