For the all-new VRS Fluidity, Time have taken their standard race bike geometry and added 15mm to the head tube while shortening the top tube by 5mm. Their aim was to achieve a more comfortable, sportive-friendly riding position while retaining the handling traits that have made them one of the most accomplished brands in road racing.
The frame’s tube shapes look remarkably minimal compared to many of the VRS Fluidity’s oversized rivals. The top tube starts broad and reinforced at the head tube and then flows through a triangulated shape to the integrated seatmast. The down tube is a little bigger, though not overly so, and smoothly transitions through its length from a triangular profile to a slimmer, squarer ovalised bottom bracket junction.
While most modern designs use an oversize bottom bracket shell to beef up stiffness, Time have achieved exactly the same result with a much slimmer bottom bracket area flowing into deep chainstays. The seatstays have a slight outward radius and taper to a very slim dropout section.
We’d expect a frame like this to feel a bit soft and floaty. That it doesn’t only bolsters the reputation of the clever carbon engineers at Time. Up front, the latest incarnation of the company’s brilliant Safe+ fork keeps the steering and control sharp, positive and vibration-free.
When it comes to describing the VRS’s ride, Time have beaten us to it – ‘Fluidity’ is definitely the word. Get out and ride it, and once you’re accustomed to the slightly more upright position its character comes to the fore.
It’s rare to find a bike that just seems to flow the way the VRS does. Whether you’re muscling through crowds, honking uphill or dropping a descent at the limit, the Fluidity never feels anything but assured. It inspires masses of confidence, helping you push that little bit faster and deeper into corners, and enabling you to hold that speed and exit faster.
The standard drop bar and tall head tube meant we were able to spend long stretches in the drops on fast, flat sections in comfort, never feeling forced or uneasy while tucked up to beat the wind.
Unlike many bikes designed purely with sportive riding and comfort in mind, the Time doesn’t isolate you from the road surface. There’s no significant jarring or vibration over the rough stuff. But the frame also feeds back information, making you aware of grip and contact, aiding the goal of going quickly.
The VRS isn’t without fault, but none of that is down to the brilliant frame and fork. £4,000-plus is a lot to spend on a bike but when you factor in that the frameset costs £3,039.99 on its own, it’s clear there will be some compromises when it comes to equipment.
Athena is Campagnolo’s base-level 11-speed offering but with an upgrade to the carbon chainset it has proven just as capable and slick as higher priced Campagnolo groupsets. The bar and stem from Deda’s Zero 100 range are great mid-level items too, as is the comfortable Selle Italia saddle.
The Scirocco wheels are low down in the Campagnolo range and a little weighty for a bike of this calibre. That said, they’re tough and roll smoothly. The base-level Vittoria Rubino tyres are a bit sluggish though; switch these out and you’ll unleash the Fluidity’s full potential.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.