Custom Build Spotlight – Building a road bike into a TT weapon. NorthRoad iO
Finding an aero bike that can turn into a competitive TT rig.
Buying a full TT or Triathlon bike when you might only use it a handful of times a year is a real investment. We’re seeing more and more customers come to us seeking ways to gain speed advantages in bikes that they can otherwise use as daily drivers.
The NorthRoad iO is a slippery little number at the best of times. Tailored aero profiles throughout and a fully integrated cockpit allow it to glide through the air and provide you with genuine and measurable speed gains. As far as aero road bikes go, it’s as fast as they get.
However, with this new breed of integrated systems, no longer can we simply bolt TT bars onto handlebars to further the aero benefits as every handlebar seems to be a different shape – and with integrated stems/spacers compatability conflicts can prove tricky.
However, these are the sorts of problems that we at NorthRoad love to attack. Enter this very special custom iO “Transformer” edition that is road racer by day and triathlon weapon by… other day.
We’ve already touched on the iO’s aero properties, but equally as important is that the iO is a far more compliant ride than the current crop of hyper-stiff race bikes. A clever layup of carbon throughout means that there’s strength and support where you need it for power transfer, and compliance and dampening elsewhere. It’s no good being super fast if you’re beaten up after the first 10 minutes.
The iO comes with 50mm deep road race wheels as standard, meaning you can race this beast “out the box”. The deeper section aero wheels reduce your wind resistance more than you might think, without being so deep that you become unstable in side winds or suffer from too much additional weight on lumpy courses.
This is where things got tricky! The standard carbon integrated handlebars that come on the iO make finding “clip on” TT bars tricky (but not impossible, if you do want to go that route!). In this instance, the customer requested a high praying mantis style front end. After much research, we found a Deda system that, with some careful machining and fabrication of internal headset components, would fit beautifully. The TT bars are removable and the space they occupy when in place is replaced with aero spacers that mean you don’t lose the aero benefits on the road. The extensions that came with the “system” weren’t appropriate, and neither were the spacers – so this front end is actually the result of combining 4 (!) separate Deda components to get where we needed to be.
This was an important one! We opted for SRAM Force AXS 12 speed on this one for a number of reasons. Firstly, the SRAM 2×12 speed option gives you great range whilst keeping the steps between the bigger gears really tiny, meaning you can always stay on top of your power/cadence and very rarely will you find yourself in the wrong power band. Secondly, as the bike is intended to be used 50/50 with and without the TT bars, the new SRAM AXS Wireless blips can be placed on the TT bars so you can have gear changing at your finger tips without having to break your aero posture – and to add or remove them doesn’t require any fiddling cable routing. Clever!
Buying a dedicated TT bike can be an expensive investment, and if you’re a cyclist first and time-trialist/triathlete second, finding a bike that will allow you to be fast in both scenarios might be a sensible option.
If you want to talk to us about your next bike, do get in touch! We’re a knowledgeable team and we’ll always offer good honest advice. Click here to get in touch
If however you want out and out speed, why not take a look at our TT/Triathlon bike the Ares? The ultimate super fast, super slippery TT rig. Click here to take a look!