Kuota K-Factor Review: Is it the best mid-level time trial bike?

Kuota K-Factor

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

K Factor front

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.

kuota-k-factor-tt-bike

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.

Easton Attack Bar

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.

Come on Kuota, send me a Kueen K and prove me wrong

Come on Kuota, send me a Kueen K and prove me wrong

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.

6 responses to “Kuota K-Factor Review: Is it the best mid-level time trial bike?

  1. Where’d you get the wheel cover? Did it come with the wheelset or is it after market?

  2. The wheel cover is from WheelBuilder.com. It was pretty easy to put on and only adds about 300 grams to the wheel weight. They actually custom cut the covers depending on your wheel type. For $90 it’s a great way to get 90% of the benefits of a disc wheel without the cost. The drawbacks:
    1. You can’t train on these. The covers are intended for racing only and won’t hold up to regular use/abuse.
    2. You don’t get the cool sound that comes from a full carbon disc (that sound must be worth at least 20 watts in placebo effect).

  3. What size do you ride? Your height and inseam? I am thinking about picking up a used K-factor. I think I will be ok with a large at 6′, 32″ inseam but was wondering is a medium would work.

  4. Did you look at the Cervelo P2? At the same price, would you still go with Kuota?

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