To get a carbon time trial bike for this price usually means buying from an online brand, but if you want the TLC a good bike shop can provide then the Quintana Roo Kilo C is an option.
Better known in triathlon circles (the company were founded by Ironman racer Dan Empfield), Quintana Roo take a different approach to bike geometry than traditional, low-profile TT bikes. Empfield and his design team are big believers in a very steep seat angle to widen the angle between legs and torso. The Kilo’s seatpost lets you choose an angle as steep as 80 degrees.
Quintana Roo believe that a more comfortable rider is a faster rider, and our large Kilo C’s 180mm head tube gives an upright position. Removing spacers to lower the stem gives a flatter-backed riding position, but you can’t get as low on the Quintana Roo as you can on some of its rivals.
It’s hard to get away from the idea that lower is faster, but on early getting-to-know-you test rides we warmed to the Kilo’s more relaxed position. The tall head tube and relatively short top tube took all strain out of riding on the bar extensions, whose ski-bend shape also proved super-comfortable. To some extent this shape may have gone out of fashion, but it certainly puts your wrists at a more comfortable angle than a straight bar or slight S-bend.
The Roo’s comfort doesn’t just come from its geometry. It offers a noticeably softer ride than equivalent aluminium bikes, gliding where they stutter, and its steady-as-she-goes geometry makes it very stable at speed. Comfort doesn’t come at the expense of a wishy-washy response when you push up to race pace. The frame is more than stiff enough, although the rear wheel did sometimes catch the brake blocks when really going for it out of the saddle.
Given the quality of the frame, you might expect compromises elsewhere, but while there’s room for upgrades as and when you have the cash, there’s nothing we’d be desperate to change before race day. The R500 wheels aren’t the lightest but they roll along well enough once up to speed, and similarly the Continental Ultra Sport tyres are nothing special but they’re serviceable enough.
Gear shifts are courtesy of SRAM Rival. Nominally a step up from Apex, in practice it feels very similar, with equally crisp shifts. Quintana Roo raise eyebrows by fitting a compact chainset to a race bike, but we only wished for a higher gear than its 50x12t when descending steep hills or pushing flat-out with a tail wind.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.