Fred Thomas A-D tt Carbon vs Tadej Pogačar Colnago K.One

VeloNews recently toured Tadej Pogačar's Colnago K.One time trial bike that he used in stage three of 2022 Tirreno-Adriatico. The main feature is that Tadej is running a single 58t front chainring. He is also using a rim brake version of the K.One and he is sticking to an eleven speed drive train. His set up resonated with me because I started running my tt Carbon Limited as a 1X last year and discovered that it has transformed my time trial performance.

I am using the Stone Cycling aluminum 58t chainring which is easily and affordably found on eBay. The teeth on this chainring are designed to run as a 1X so you do not need a chain guide. Campagnolo Super Record may not have this design feature, but I suppose Tadej uses one on because if the chain drops for any reason his race is over. I have not dropped a chain on my 1X set up over many miles of riding.

Running a 1X on my tt Carbon Limited added an aero benefit (and a visual triumph) by eliminating the front derailleur and left shifter. But the primary gains are lower weight: no front derailleur, left shifter or small chain ring. It is also more practical. I never used the small ring anyway.

Next, my tt Carbon Limited is still running ten speed. With a 58t front chainring, I have never once felt that I needed to run eleven speed or even twelve speed for that matter. Even on rolling terrain, I have been able to ride the sweet spot of the cassette and not once needed anything lower than a nineteen or maybe a twenty-one.

The anxiety that the gearing is too much to turn over is one that exists in the mind. With practice you will find that running an 11-25 cassette will provide you with a sufficient vocabulary of gears for standard terrain. I started out running an 11-28 and quickly realized that it was not necessary for the hills in my neighborhood or anytime trial I have ever raced. An 11-28 is a good option if you are entering time trial that has a single steep climb somewhere on the course. Frequently, the momentum you build up on a time trial bike flattens out the hills more than you would expect if you were on a road bike.

Tadej's K.One features electronic shifting which I would love to have, but have forgone because I think regular mechanical shifting is sufficient. Also, the resources you save are better allocated towards a disc wheel and a deep dish front wheel. Rather than obsess about aero "front ends", I get the bike fitting professionals at Fit Werx to make my position on the bike as fast as it can be.

If you build up your tt Carbon Limited with 1X, you will have to be sure to spend plenty of time riding it before you race. Your RPMs are lower than what you may be used to. This affects your center of gravity and it can make the bike more tricky to manage especially when there is wind, or a blast of air from a truck coming in the opposite direction. You can also get going very quickly and cars will misjudge how fast you are going: ride a loop on quiet roads somewhere and run lights front and rear. I have made this type of ride a regular part of my training.

As I keep saying, it is the golden age of time trial bikes: many people are upgrading their time trial bikes to disc brakes or abandoning the discipline altogether. Consequently, there is a great selection of lightly used time trial frames and aero wheels on the market. Spending huge sums on a proprietary and complicated time trial bike is not necessary: mechanical ten speed or eleven speed drive trains will do just fine, rim brakes will still allow you to stop and standard aero bars and extensions are still fast.

The tt Carbon Limited is an affordable candidate for such a bike: it is easy to work on and modify and having it available bike adds a whole new dimension to your training and racing. It is a necessity if you want to be competitive in a stage race.

It is amusing to find that there are some similarities between my tt Carbon Limited and Tadej Pogačar's K.One. But as we all know, it is not the bike so much as it is the guy who is pedaling it. On that basis there is no comparison. Knowing that I have something in common with the fastest cyclist of the age makes me think that I can be fast, and just thinking that I am sure gives me a mental edge that helps produce a few extra watts. 

If you have any questions about any of this, there is video here about the upgrade on the Rideable TV You Tube Channel. You can also contact me and I will be pleased to answer any questions you have. Become Bike. Become A-D Bike.

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