Swift carbon neurogen
Price £ 2,700 ( frameset) > Weight 8.26kg > www. swiftcarbon.com
thi s is a very modern time trial bike, and not just in the sense that it includes many of the latest ideas on cheating the wind. The Neurogen seems especially modern because it was designed purely in CFD on a computer and it has never been into a wind tunnel, not even for verification or some photos for the brochure. That isn’t so unusual, of course; many smaller brands are unable to afford the vast cost of wind tunnel time. What’s different about the Neurogen is that it’s now a pro-issue bike (with Drapac) and while there may have been little proof of its speed when it first went on sale, on the bike’s pro debut it was ridden to victory in the U23 Australian National TT Championships by Jordan Kerby on a flat and windy course. While that doesn’t prove it’s faster than everything else, it certainly proves that it can compete with the best.
Since being unveiled at the end of 2012, the Neurogen has undergone continued development and is now stiffer and lighter thanks to a new moulding process. It also wears Swift’s integrated cockpit with an aero stem and single central spacer for reduced frontal area. It’s easy to adjust and able to blend smoothly into the toptube (except my legs are too long so the drop would be unrideable). So far the N-gen is only available as a frameset (with the bar and post) but complete builds are on the way with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 or SRAM Red as we’re testing. Both versions come with an aero Rotor Flow crankset and Fizik Arione Tri2 saddle.
The stock wheels are Easton EA90SL training hoops, or you can pay to upgrade to Zipp 808 Firecrests. We rode the N-gen on the Eastons and then threw in a Cole Trispoke/Disc combo to race.
The Neurogen makes it easy to feel comfortable and go fast straight away because it feels so much like a road bike. That is to say, it isn’t lacking rigidity in the BB, headtube or fork like many TT bikes. The handling is accurate, stable and thanks to the stiff base bar it’s consistent between both positions. You soon get the confidence to blast through roundabouts on the extensions.
The Eastons are at the upper end of what you’d call training wheels. Compared to the Coles, they are about as aerodynamic as the Natural History Museum but you can still maintain a good speed and they accelerate briskly. They also have a level of compliance that’s welcome on longer training rides. I did two hours without feeling beaten up. Kudos to the saddle, too.
TRP’s TTV brakes are, as every time we’ve encountered them, a good looking but fiddly option. They are more aerodynamic than regular brakes and they are powerful but they lack sufficient self-centering force and require more cable pull than most TT brake levers provide, so if you set the pads away from the rim to avoid brake rub, you end up with very squidgy brake feel. They’re also difficult to set up for wide rims, though that would get easier with practice.
I raced the Neurogen in a club 10 (16km) on a sporting course, finishing in 22:11, and in an Open 25 (40km) on a blustery day, stopping the clock at 57:05. I placed second in each behind classy riders whom I’ve no business even getting close to. Wind tunnel tested or not, this is a quick bike.