Custom Italian frame house T°Red seems to keep coming up with some alternative to conventional bike designs, and their latest time trial bike is no exception. Eschewing carbon fiber and heavy aero tube shaping, the Levriero TT instead opts for a custom drawn premium steel tubeset with remarkable narrow, mostly round tapered shapes. They claim the material reacts to rider and road input to actually roll quicker than most carbon TT bikes. Oh and did we mention that it still does integration right, even getting updated aero protective shrouds for its disc brake rotors.

TRed Levriero TT fillet brazed steel time trial bike

TRed Levriero TT narrow fillet-brazed steel time trial bike complete

The heart of the bike’s concept is of course the small diameter, super stiff steel tubing, completely fillet brazed together. With the custom drawn, double butted Niobium tubing made in Italy just for TRed, they claim the bike is able to control road vibrations to improve rear wheel traction, and make sure riders stay fresh longer. That could be especially critical in triathlon racing, where athletes need to preserve their legs for the marathon.

TRed Levriero TT narrow fillet-brazed steel time trial bike front end

The Levriero (Italian for Greyhound) takes its name from the dog track, and that’s where the basic color scheme and numbering originates as well.

Integration is key to getting aero, but so is usability. TRed uses a more conventional internal cable routing setup through the downtube, and uses a threaded bottom bracket, although they go for a T47 to get max drivetrain & handling stiffness.

TRed Levriero TT narrow fillet-brazed steel time trial bike frameset

TRed also claim that the small diameter tubing, tapering towards the rear of the bike is almost as slippery in the wind as many carbon TT bikes. There’s no arguing from us there. Sure, the short headtube isn’t especially narrow, but the rest of the bike disappears when you look at the bike directly from the front.

More than comfort, TRed talked about the steel turning frame flex into forward motion, capturing energy and returning it, rather than carbon which just seems to make it disappear.

TRed Levriero TT narrow fillet-brazed steel time trial bike hooded headtube

More integration if evident at the dropped headtube and shaped front end. That shortened headtube does sink the stem down and out of the wind with a hooded connection into the top tube. This provides the bike with the ability to get super low, but still allows more flexibility and keeps drag from stem to bike in control.

TRed Levriero TT narrow fillet-brazed steel time trial bike mechanical disc brake carbon Donchisciotte Don QUixote disc brake protector shroud shield

Those vented carbon disc brake covers, which we saw back at the height of the UCI:peloton’s arguments over the danger of rotors, get updated as well with fancy tear dropped aero vent holes. Available for 200€ for the pair, the Donchisciotte (Italian for Don Quixote) carbon covers use a unique installation method that has you heat shrink a spacer to lock them into place, becoming fixed to your axle end caps. TRed says it is a simple process (and they can be removed) and promised some to test out.

TRed Levriero TT narrow fillet-brazed steel time trial bike Vision Trimax carbon bar

The Levriero TT is available in three complete bike builds – the 1, 3 & 5. This top-level Levriero 5TT retails for a whopping 10,590€ with a SRAM Red eTap chrono setup with extension mounted blips, plus the Vision Trimax and TRed’s own TOOT carbon tri spoke & disc disc rear wheel.

The 7590€ Levriero 3TT gets a mechanical Red group, alloy basebar, and lower spec’d wheels. At 5990€ the Levriero 1TT steps down again to a Force level drivetrain.

TRed Levriero TT narrow fillet-brazed steel time trial bike non driveside

TRed also sells the bike as a frameset alone. It still comes in 1, 3 & 5 variants and their respective gray, yellow & red paint schemes. Each frameset looks for be the same other than color and includes frame, fork, seatpost, headset, bottom bracket & mechanical disc brake calipers. They still vary from 2990€ for the 1, up to 3490€ for the 5.

TredBikes.com

34 COMMENTS

  1. I realize that the author only repeating what T°Red’s told him, but he should know that T°Red told him things that aren’t true. For example, their custom-drawn tubing isn’t “super stiff.” All steels have the same stiffness. For a given wall thickness, stiffness of a steel tube is proportional to the square of its diameter. That means that oversized tubes are much stiffer than standard tubes, and undersized tubes are much more flexible than standard tubes. T°Red Says their tubes are undersized, which means they’re flexible, not “super stiff.”

    Source: I’m an armchair engineer. But that’s only because I’m sitting in an armchair as I write this. When I get up and sit at my desk in a few minutes, I’ll be a mechanical engineer.

    • Since they don’t mention the wall thickness, you really don’t know. And what is the difference in stiffness between a carbon tube and a steel tube of the same wall thickness and diameter as it pertains to a bike frame? No offense, but having worked in the industry for a long time, when someone leads with “i’m an engineer” it really just means they’ve drawn their own conclusions based on speculation.

      • Technically you have a point. It still doesn’t change the fact that many of the manufacturer’s claims have no basis in material science or engineering. I’m a mechanical engineer as well, and if I read you correctly that means my statements carry less weight . That’s odd.

      • It’s interesting that T°Red’s marketing arm is guessing (incorrectly) about how structural and fluid dynamics might work, but you think that it’s the mechanical engineers who are speculating.

        No offense, Matt, but having worked in the industry since 1989, I’m not impressed with your not being impressed. 😉 Here’s some speculation-free engineering for you:

        A 55-cm long tube that’s 25.4mm in diameter with 0.8mm walls weighs about 266 grams.

        An equally stiff narrow (22.2mm ) tube would need a walls almost 40% thicker (1.1mm) and would weigh 314 grams, or 20% more.

        But these guys say their tubes are “super stiff,” which I take to mean “significantly stiffer than regular tubes.” A 22.2mm tube that’s 50% stiffer than a 25.4/0.8mm tube would have walls 2.3 times thicker (1.85mm) and weigh nearly twice as much (509g).

        A fairly light steel frame weighs about 4 lbs/1800 grams. If you built a frame out of 12% narrower tubing that was 50% stiffer than standard tubes, it would weigh about 1.9 times as much as the 4-lb frame. That’s 7.6 pounds, or 3420 grams.

        Let’s give T°Red the benefit of the doubt and assume their claims about a “super-stiff tubeset” are true. OK, but now it’s a very heavy frame. And a circular cross section creates 24 times the drag of a 3:1 airfoil of the same width as the circle. So, yeah.

        An honest slogan would be: “The new T°Red Levriero: it may be heavy, but it sure is slow.”

      • “when someone leads with “i’m an engineer” it really just means they’ve drawn their own conclusions based on speculation.”

        However, engineers have years of education and experience to back up those conclusions based on speculation. How does a Dr tell you you’re sick? Most of the time it’s a conclusion based on speculation. So what you said really makes no sense.

        • Next time I post I will lead with: I am an aerodynamic cycle frame engineer.. and will still get shot down!

          Those disk covers are not aero. The frontal area of a disk is small, the covers are huge.

          Also you can not say super stiff and control road vibrations about the same stuff.

    • Steel definitely doesn’t have the same strength with the same dimensions. Unless you’re a mechanical engineer and your company only orders one grade of steel that’s been treated in the same way.

      • Vegan – “strength”
        Is that young’s modulus (stiffness), yield strength or ultimate strength.
        Bike riders really only care about the first (young’s modulus), although increases in the 2nd and 3rd will allow one to build a lighter bike that won’t break (not sure it’ll be stiffer)
        By and large, most steel’s will have the same young’s modulus, especially the available metallurgy used for tubesets.

          • Yep. JBikes and TheKaiser are exactly right.

            Strength and stiffness are completely unrelated characteristics. The stiffness (Young’s modulus) of all steels is so similar that they’re effectively the same. Most aluminum alloys also have effectively the same stiffness, though there are some minor exceptions.

            No one is building a stiffer steel frame by using a different steel (technically, an iron alloy). Yes, strength varies widely between steels, but steel strength varies widely within a single non-stainless kitchen knife. This is all well understood by engineers and materials scientists; it’s not remotely controversial.

      • We’re all on the same page. Rob English’s steel TT bikes are likely among the most aerodynamic steel bikes ever made. They’re certainly among the most beautiful.

        And English is–wait for it–a mechanical engineer. Matt seems to think engineers are full of it, though, so maybe Matt looks at English’s bikes and thinks, “he has no idea what he’s doing, does he?”

  2. I’m a phisicist the mechanic features UTS, are different for different steel alloys. A CrMo (UTS 900 MPa) is different from a niobium enriched steel (UTS 1280 MPa).
    The same for aluminum alloys titanium alloys and all metals.
    Ah, I’m also an architect. The design of the bike is FEA 3D supplied and tested in lab with strain gauge analisys…

    Source: 20 years of research design and project in industrial design, automotive, biomedical, aerospace.
    A degree in physics
    A degree in architecture and industrial design at the Politecnico di Milano.
    A staff and laboratory in Italy.

    When I sit on a chair is usually to rest.
    My name is Stanco. Romolo Stanco.
    Which in English is “Tired”…

    • What does UTS have to do with tube stiffness?
      Steel alloy stiffness doesn’t significantly vary until you hit very, very high temperatures. UTS and YS have little to do with tube stiffness unless the YS is so low that one needs to add metal to keep it from breaking.

      Strength and stiffness are different things.

    • Romolo, I’m not trying to embarrass you, but you’re not a physicist. You studied physics for two years and then switched to architecture, according to the bio on your own web site. It’s nice that you spent a little time studying physics, but the fact that you can’t distinguish between modulus (stiffness) and ultimate tensile strength speaks for itself.

      I have an undergrad degree in philosophy, but I’d never call myself a philosopher. (My engineering credentials come from grad school. Yes, it was a big switch).

    • Just like metal, CF can store energy when it’s flexed. You don’t get all the energy back, and the energy that you do get back may not contribute to forward motion.

    • All materials store energy when strained (or “flexed,” in Robin’s terms). In the elastic (non-permanent-set) regime, most metals return nearly all the strain energy they store, with a tiny percentage converted to heat.

      Laminar composites (including carbon) have measurable hysteresis under elastic strains, due mostly to interlaminar shear strains. (This is also why carbon frames damp vibration better than most metal frames. Magnesium also has a lot of intrinsic damping).

      So yes, carbon frames return less energy than steel/Al/Ti frames. but the hysteresis losses, while measurable, are so small that they’re just noise. Anyone who claims that hysteresis losses make carbon frames measurably slower than their steel frame is either lying to you or lying to themselves.

  3. I went through and tried to figure out what the deal with T*Red is…

    I wasn’t able to find a single ride review, in english or any other language.

    Can someone point me to one? I really give zero darn’s about the patents-pending, although it is fun to watch the fireworks.

    I’m a research scientist who submits FEA/FVA runs to National Lab clusters that I can come back to and check on in a week to see if the computation is complete, so… I get it. Since I do that type of analysis for a day job, I really just want to ride bikes that inspire me to do so.

    Here is my challenge to T*Red – Have someone do a comparative ride review to another bike of similar function/cost.

    Regardless of all the marketing, that comparative ride review should settle that your bikes are worthwhile – correct?

  4. “TRed talked about the steel turning frame flex into forward motion, capturing energy and returning it, rather than carbon which just seems to make it disappear.”

    This is the exact secret behind the remarkable performance of Nike shoes. It’s not just about absorbing energy, it’s about returning energy. You want a material that is a natural spring. The only two materials currently available for bicycle manufacture that have these characteristics are, you guessed it

    Steel
    Titanium

    That’s it. Every other material is inferior for bicycles. The longer you spend on the bike, the more the material matters. It’s either an energy sink, or an energy store. Aluminum can be good on a full suspension bicycle, due to it’s very high stiffness, but other than that, aluminum is not ideal for bicycle manufacture.

    Essentially, the longer you ride bicycles the more you will realize this. That is the reason why Ti as always had a huge premium, and Steel is the bike of the people.

    The ‘hype’ is actually real in this case, most people don’t really understand why, but they do ‘feel’ it with ride quality, so there feedback on the bike. The bike is telling you what material to use.

    Personally, if we could get some decent Magnesium tubing for a good price, we might see a real revolution in bicycles. Maybe they will develop some better Magnesium alloys eventually and we will get another awesome material for bicycle tubing. But, for now, we just have to accept the oldies are goldies for a reason.

    • uh, you just contradicted yourself in there – Magnesium has some of the same damping properties as composites, unlike steel or titanium. Reality is, it’s all a load of crap in these materials discussions. Either material can be used to create a great bike or a crap bike. But the composite bike will be lighter, and can be made more aerodynamic, will probably last longer at a given weight, and can be built to offer greater damping in the frame itself. Case closed, make your choice.

    • “Aluminum….due to its very high stiffness”

      Compared to what, pasta?

      I had hoped with the invention of the internet that the folksy wisdom and hear-say would die down a bit.

  5. I think the important thing here is that someone has built a TT bike that planes properly. I can’t wait for the Bicycle Quarterly review!

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