The ‘Race of truth’, they call time trials. That’s on account of the fact it’s just you, your bike, and the clock. Nowhere to hide. They call’ testing’ fun, but to the uninitiated it can seem quite the opposite. And the bikes, they’re a different breed if all you’re used to are road bikes.
So it was with mild pleasure that I was given the Alexo TT to test, despite Richard being the hardened tester amongst our flock. He had some vision of it turning me into a full-time tester, or something. Never, I told him. That was before I rode the Alexo, however…
The Alexo up close
Carbontec is a company which specialises in importing carbon frames, wheels and other bits and pieces. They have a nice line of road frames, but the Alexo represents their first foray into the world of time trialling.
The Alexo is, without a doubt, striking to look at. From every angle it looks fast and purposeful, with every curve and bulge being designed to mercilessly slice air into tiny fragments of its former self. Made from T1000 6K carbon the frame has been meticulously shaped to create as little drag as possible.
The head tube is very short in length and holds the huge flat aero down tube and a tiny ovalised top tube in place. The seat tube, as is customary on TT bikes, is cut away around the rear wheel for reduced drag and is of a large ovalised shape. Out back the rear stays are fat and do the usual jiggle around the wheel for clearance. An aero seat post slots into the seat tube and two bolts hold it in place, and handy measurements on the seat post ease initial setup.
To further decrease drag all the cables are routed internally, with the rear brake and rear shifter slotting along either sides of the top tube, with the front shifter cable going through the down tube. Though the internally routed cables cut down on drag, they did compromise the cable routing and we struggled to get a happy setup with the cables.
The 52cm bike fitted me just perfectly (I normally ride a 56/57), with the geometry putting me over the front of the bottom bracket for that perfect time trial position. As typical of TT bikes, the Alexo had a very short head tube so the front end was very low, and the short top tube positioned me over the low-pro bars perfectly. A steep 76° seat angle and 72.5° head angle kept handling neutral, and despite being a beginner I found the bike relatively easy to get to grips with. Yes it was a bit skittish to begin with and my first ride through London traffic was an eye-opener, but once onto quieter roads and up to speed, the handling became a lot more settled. Once you’re in the time trial position it handles nicely.
Beside having an aero frame, a good set of low-pro bars are important, and we had few complaints other than cable routing with the carbon Gigantex items fitted. They offered a wide range of adjustment and so we found getting our position dialled easy. They weigh 800g which is on a level with other TT bars, but they seemed a little flexy when out of the saddle and getting up to cruising speed.
A near full complement of Shimano Ultegra components, save for the carbon Onyxx chainset, completed the build. Slowing the bike down were a pair of Tektro R720 callipers with carbon Tektro brake levers. Stem and seatpost were Onyxx branded items, with a rather comfy Velo saddle completing the package.
Fast wheels are an important consideration in getting a quick time, and are a good place to spend a little extra money. The Detec wheels cost £599 a pair if bought separately, and considering they’re a 50mm deep section wheel with carbon rim represent good value and are significantly cheaper than some comparable products. In fact, the bulging rim profile isn’t too dissimilar to those on the Vuelta WR Carbon Pro wheels we tested recently.
This bike we’re testing costs a very reasonable £1899, or if you fancy Dura-Ace you’ll be paying out £1999. No, there aren’t many high-end and familiar brands on display here, but put aside any snobbery and you’ve got a very affordable high performance bike.
Being a TT novice, I had certain trepidations with my first few rides aboard the Alexo, especially as I first had to run the gauntlet through London rush hour. To begin with I found the steering very twitchy, but with not much time I became accustomed to the unique character of the bike. It’s once you get the bike up to speed – and its weight holds it back a little here – you realise it’s a fine handling bike. On the TT bars and it responds accurately to your inputs, and always remains very neutral. For beginners then, the Alexxo ticks all the boxes.
But don’t rule it out if you’re a more hardened tester. Lacking as it does the kudos of more familiar brand names, the Alexxo is almost bargain cheap yet comes with some really nice kit. The wheels were the highlight of the whole package, offering lots of speed relatively cheaply. If you’re looking to take a step into the TT world and want a serious bit of kit, take some time to have a closer look at the Alexxo. It may just surprise you.