I’ve had my Kuota K-Factor TT bike for about 4 months now, which means it is time for a full review.
First, the build:
Frame – Kuota K-Factor
Gruppo – Shimano Dura Ace
Base bars & aero bars – Easton Attack
Stem – Easton EC90
Bar tape – Arundel Gecko
Saddle – Fizik Arionne
Wheels – FlashPoint FP60s
Tires – Continental GP4000s
Pedals – Look Keo Sprint
You can see from the pic above that the bike doesn’t much of a front profile, which is good (less surface to catch the wind). The total rig (including pedals, bottle cages, computer, etc.) is 17.6 lbs. This is pretty light for a TT set-up. Some of this is due to the K-Factor’s respectable 1320 gram frame weight. This is very good for a TT frame in the low-to-medium price range.
So the bike’s pretty light, but is it stiff? Stiff enough. On a TT bike the only time stiffness is a big factor is out of the start house and when you hit a hill. The K-Factor isn’t the mountain goat that my Kuota Kredo is, but again, it’s pretty solid. The TT position and geometry is going to hurt you more on the hills than the weight or stiffness of the bike (unless your name is Fabian Cancellara.
I raced the K-Factor in a 40K time trial in July (my first TT ever) and did good enough to capture second in my category. I used a wheel cover on my rear wheel and had no problem controlling the bike in crosswind. It’s an incredibly stable TT bike. I’ve also ridden several centuries on the bike in preparation for the Texas Time Trials. I find the bike very comfortable for long-distance-hammering. The carbon frame helps smooth out the rough stuff and I’ve been able to find an aggressive, yet comfortable position on the bike. I also like the narrow top tube, which doesn’t interfere with pedaling. It’s best to keep your knees in when pedaling a TT bike (more aero); however, in today’s world of larger and lighter carbon tubes, I’ve run into lots of frames where the top tube can be a nuisance (knees hitting the tube when pedaling). This is not a problem on the K-Factor.
I’m also really pleased with my Easton Attack integrated aero bar. It’s light (350 grams) and very stiff. However, there is no way to adjust the aero bars or arm pads, so make sure you like the fit before buying them. They’re actually so light that it takes a couple rides before you’re confident that they won’t just snap in your hands . . . they’re that light.
With a good set of carbon tubular wheels, this bike could be close to 16 pounds, which would be competitive with any TT bike on the market. There are definitely lighter, stiffer and more aero bikes on the market, but those frames alone cost $4,000+. For most riders, myself included, I don’t think the increased cost would justify the very small increase in performance.
However, if Kuota wants to send me a Kueen K to prove my wrong, I’ll give it a try.
If you’re a triathlete or road racer still time trialing on a conventional road bike or a road bike with clip-on aero bars, and you’re wondering if a TT bike is worth it . . . in the words of Ferris Bueller
“If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”
A TT bike is easily worth 2 mph. It’s that simple. Ride the bike enough to be comfortable on it . . . let your muscles adapt . . .and you can ride 2 mph faster at the same level of effort. TestRider.com actually has a great video that details the benefits of a TT bike. Additionally, that benefit only increases as you go faster (since wind resistance increases exponentially with speed). So if what you can afford is a Kuota K-Factor, I’m guessing that you won’t be disappointed.