Merida brings comfort to the time trial with the new Time Warp TT

Just three weeks after first spotting Team Bahrain Victorious racing on a new time trial bike, Merida has officially announced the new Time Warp TT. The new bike is the fourth generation of Merida’s Time Warp platform and while the outgoing frame was updated as recently as 2019, with the move to disc brakes and wider tires, Merida decided to update the Time Warp again.

The new Time Warp features several subtle design tweaks, with the most notable update being the switch to a disc brake-only setup. Of all the disc brake usage scenarios, TT bikes are perhaps the most complex. For one thing, the braking performance of disc brakes is unaffected by the integrated cable routing through tight angles that plagues the rim brakes of TT bikes. Improved braking predictability and modulation should allow riders to brake later and corner faster with more confidence.

On the other hand, compared to the most advanced integrated rim brake options, disc calipers and rotors come with an aerodynamic drag penalty. That said, there are those who believe that the aerodynamic penalty at the rotor and hub is at least outweighed by the aerodynamic gains found in the frame design made possible by disc brakes. Of all the debates over disc brakes and aero conundrums, disc brake versus rim brakes on TT bikes is perhaps the most difficult to solve.

With the question of disc brakes entirely unanswered, the switch to disc brakes means Merida can include clearance for up to 28mm tires on the new frame. The benefits of wider tires have long been established in road racing, but it’s only recently that we’ve seen more teams opt for wider tires for time trial days. These wider tires can provide increased grip, reduced rolling resistance and improved comfort. It is this improved comfort that Merida has developed for the new Time Warp TT.

Improving comfort is rarely at the top of a brand’s list of key goals when designing a new time trial frame. There is a level of acceptance that “this is going to hurt” for any rider who jumps onto a time trial bike. However, we now understand that with improved comfort comes less physical fatigue, potentially creating less fatigue, which can translate into improved performance. In addition to the option for wider tires, Merida includes its S-Flex seatpost with increased compliance in its offering to find marginal comfort-enhancing gains.

Interestingly, after first noting the comfort improvements, Merida’s announcement of the new Time Warp doesn’t focus on aerodynamics, but on weight. Merida references the 400g weight savings found in the previous generation Time Warp frame and claims the new bike retains the same light weight. The shallower downtube and seattube-to-toptube junction caught our eye when we first spotted the new bike at Tirreno Adriatico. Merida now confirms that these design changes have helped it create a disc-brake bike that tips the scales at the same weight as its rim-brake predecessor. As the brand noted: “To compensate for the heavier disc brakes of the new model, we looked to reduce the cross-sections of the new TT frameset, becoming thinner in certain areas and reducing the material where that was possible.”

I dare say that the importance of aero still trumps weight and comfort for most time trials. Merida’s press release again references the outgoing Time Warp’s benchmark performance, noting the drag reduction of around 9 watts at 50 km/h found in the previous generation frame. Although the announcement makes no reference to how the new frame compares, Merida told us, “the goal of the new Time Warp TT Disc was to achieve the same level of aerodynamic resistance as [its] predecessor while keeping the same weight of the new disc version.

Merida tested the new frame in the GST wind tunnel in Immenstaad, Germany, and claims “results from both generations of Time Warp TT were within a tight 0.5 watt range.” Notes: Merida tested both the new and outgoing Time Warp without a rider, saddle, or aero extensions. Merida points to the identical saddle and extensions used on both bikes, but I would still like to see testing for complete systems.

The Time Warp TT will be available as a frame and fork option only. Along with this, riders will receive the S-Flex seatpost and Vision Metron TT base bar. The new frame is available in three sizes – small, medium and large – with black as the only color option. Merida has yet to set a price for the Time Warp TT.

More information is available at Merida-bikes.com.