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Tour bikes follow up

Uncategorized 15 1016

Well, the Tour has been over for a few days now and I am already starting to miss it. I posted a few times early on about bikes of the Tour, but I just want to do a quick post today about the bikes in general. A trend that you probably all have been noticing in racing is the use of more and more aero equipment on road stages. Deep section rims and aero frame shapes are not just for time trials anymore. In a good tech article on that subject, James Huang of CyclingNews points out that the UCI minimum weight limit is the driving force behind some of the aero equipment in the pro peloton. As bike weights continue to decline, the pros are using more “time trial like” aero equipment to add back the grams to get to 6.8kg. The new Felt AR, which I mentioned in an earlier post, is a great example of a TT inspired road frame. Just look at the AR road bikes compared to the Felt time trial bikes and you can understand why a fellow pro rider asked Magnus Backstedt if he was riding a time trial bike in The Dutch Food Classic last month.

Enough about road bikes though, because the time trial bikes are my favorites to see during the Tour. The bikes I liked best in this year’s race were the Ridley Deans (pictured above) that were ridden by Cadel Evans and the Silence-Lotto team. Many other time trial bikes have been inspired by the Cervelo P3’s wheel hugging seattube (the prototype Giants for example), but I think the Ridley frames have the best looking lines of any time trial bike available today. The Giant has seat post that extends straight up from the curve at the top of the wheel (similar to a P3), but the Ridley has a very nice looking curve to make that transition with an angled seat mast. OK, maybe my description is a bit confusing, but just look at the pictures to see what I mean. Aesthetics are subjective, but in my opinion, the Dean is the best looking bike that was ridden in the Tour this year. Others may have been faster, but hey, the engine has something to do with that too, right?

I could go on and on, but I am out of time so I will spare you the rambling and cut this post short. Those of you who want to read more about the Ridley TT bike though can check out Ron’s post about it from a couple of weeks ago.

Update: I forgot to mention Ron’s follow-up post about the Dean. More good stuff for those of you interested in engineering.

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  1. Will July 30, 2008 at 3:49 pm -  Reply

    I want to know how Giant got away with using a fairing on the front of their bike this year.

  2. Ron July 30, 2008 at 8:32 pm -  Reply

    Will, sure that bike looks unusual enough, but I thought a fairing is actually a fully or partially enclosed aerodynamic structure around the bicycle. Giant didn’t use any such thing. Please correct me.

  3. Ron July 30, 2008 at 8:46 pm -  Reply

    Wait, I take that back. I looked at the pictures again and it looks like a fairing for the headtube. Or something like that.

    This isn’t the only bike designed in this fashion. The new LOOK 596 TT bike has a headtube fairing.

    LINK for a video.

    A few months ago, I remember seeing an Argon 18 TT bike with the front fork acting as a fairing for the front portion of the bike. The front brakes were also mounted behind the fork.

    Here’s a link to a video of that bike.

  4. bikesgonewild July 31, 2008 at 2:41 am -  Reply

    …i believe w/ an astute designer & a clever copy writer, those “fairings” you gentlemen have noticed, might simply be referred to as “shaped support structures” for the aerobar/stem combination…

    …the new felt bayonet fork offers the same advantage, from a different design perspective…& chipotle's 'tour' bikes were recently retrofitted older frames…(the frames look like what was used during ‘toc’…but note the ‘bayonet’ fork is a different orange color)

    …the ridley dean tt bike, while not quite as radical in it’s head tube shape, doesn’t seem to suffer from the same pretension…love the bi-blade fork, though…

    …the obvious advantage of both the giant tt bike & ridley is that unlike the look 595 tt bike & the felt da tt bike, the placement of the front brake is nicely tucked away behind the fork…

    …that said, the ‘tour’ tt bikes of scott, cervelo, specialized, colnago, time, bianchi, cannondale, et al, aren't designed (as of yet) w/ the front end aero advantage as a real concern, oddly enough, considering the hyperbole…

    …& as you noted, ron, one of the two argon 18 tt models, does have the front brake behind the fork…

  5. James July 31, 2008 at 7:36 am -  Reply

    Good point about the front brake placement behind the fork. The Jamis Xenith TT bike ( a really nice bike from Jamis) is another one with the front and rear brakes tucked away behind the fork and under the chainstays. I am surprised that everyone is not doing that, at least with the front brake, at this point.

  6. GhostRider July 31, 2008 at 10:48 am -  Reply

    James…um, it is “time trial”, not “time trail”. You got it right at least once in your article, though!

    Did the UCI do away with their old rule about outlawing aero shapes that weren’t necessary for actual structure? Does anyone remember that?

  7. James July 31, 2008 at 12:18 pm -  Reply

    ghostrider, that is a typing mistake that I seem to make a lot for some reason. Spell check obviously won’t find it, so I checked the post to make sure that I typed trial and not trail. Can’t believe I missed one. Oh well, I’ll fix the post.

    Anyway, that UCI rule is still in effect. It reads:

    Section 1.3.024- Any device, added or blended into the structure, that is destined to decrease, or which has the effect
    of decreasing, resistance to air penetration or artificially to accelerate propulsion, such as a protective
    screen, fuselage form of fairing or the like, shall be prohibited.

    I guess it is open to interpretation exactly what is and isn’t a fairing as bikesgonewild pointed out. You never know how our good pals at the UCI are going to apply their cryptic little rules, so it probably pays to have a backup plan in cases like this.

  8. James July 31, 2008 at 12:27 pm -  Reply

    Yikes, I really did type “time trail” more than “time trial”. I must be dislexic or something. If anyone else wants to scan my posts for typos, feel free. I have to warn you though; you will have your work cut out for you because I maek a lott of tpiyng mistaeks in the avearge psot.

  9. bikesgonewild July 31, 2008 at 1:41 pm -  Reply

    …james…& here i thought "time trail” was a comparative method of analyzing the relative amounts of “trail” between two different forks by using a chronometer…as in "due to the rake & trail of fork #1, it effectively catches a side load 0.027sec faster than fork #2, when directional input is applied"

    …i was convinced you were onto something…uh, besides dyslexia …

    …& james…i, ummm, uh hate to kick a man when he's down, but you spelled dyslexic wrong, too…

  10. James July 31, 2008 at 2:30 pm -  Reply

    Man, another spelling error. I give up for today.

    Good comment though bgw; funny stuff. For future reference though, if you ever think that I am on to something again, just assume that it is some sort of typographical error.

  11. bikesgonewild July 31, 2008 at 3:40 pm -  Reply


    …i mean, i’ll be checking…

  12. PMgD August 1, 2008 at 5:00 am -  Reply

    Although I believe the TT bikes always look cool I’m still missing a lot of things to it. I, myself am more into recumbents and if you see what is happening in that little segment, you wonder why UCI doesn’t allow more freedom and let recumbents join the race. Anyways, that’s a long lasting discussion.
    Anyways, it would be cool to see what the difference would be between an (unfaired) recumbent and a TT bike… (and put a pro on the TT bike). Anybody up to set this up?

    A couple of examples from the recumbent “industry/DIY”.
    Tucking away the front brake on the back of the front fork… There are a couple of recumbents that have their front brake build into the front fork, reducing drag even more.
    Aero front fork has been in use for a really long time (single sided or double sided, whatever you wish).

    Also, did you know that Mike Burrows( comes out of the recumbent scene and that he’s the one who basicly introduced aerodynamics into “normal” cycling.

  13. James August 1, 2008 at 8:44 am -  Reply

    PMgD. I am no expert on recumbents, but I do agree that it would be fun to see them competing in a stage race with upright bicycles. I can’t see it happing in the Tout anytime soon, but something like a pro open class race would be interesting and would certainly foster the design and development of some interesting bikes.

    And yeah, I am very familiar with the work of Mike Burrows. I have posted about him on the blog many times. I consider him to be one of the most innovative bike designers alive today.

  14. Will August 3, 2008 at 9:26 am -  Reply

    From what I’ve seen of the M5 Racer with its stock carbon fairing, an amature cyclist would be able to run away and hide from any pro in a flat to rolling terrain time trial. The wind tunnel data I saw said that 250 watts would be good enough for 45mph (in fully faired configuration). Also, only 175 watts to go 24mph in the unfaired configuration. That’s lets wattage than most people spin on the trainer trying to get warmed up for the ITT.

  15. SuperDave November 16, 2008 at 1:30 am -  Reply

    Do you have any information to suggest brake placement behind the fork is more aerodynamic much less faster? What direction do you think the air is flowing at the top of the fork? I wouldn’t say the brake placement is an “obvious advantage”, in fact all the wind tunnel data I have supports the opposite, a clean trailing edge is more critical.

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