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SCOTT Project F01 Aero Road Racing bike

Road Bike 20 2736

After a disappointing Tour start this year, Mark Cavendish seems to be back on track with his second stage win in two days. The attention is back on Cav, but the bike that he is riding, the recently unveiled SCOTT F01, deserves a lot of attention as well. The new aerodynamic road racing bike, which SCOTT developed in close partnership with Team HTC-Columbia and Drag2Zero services, was presented at a press conference in Rotterdam right before the Prologue.

The goal of the F01 project was to “achieve aerodynamic performance with a light and stiff profile.” Specifically, SCOTT set out to:

•Reduce overall drag of rider and bike at 45 KPH by 20 watts, between 0-20 degree crosswind with a 20 to 30 % reduction of frame drag compared to standard tube.

•Reach Addict stiffness with only 5% increase in weight

The design was developed and tested in the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Wind Tunnel. As you can see in the slide image from SCOTT’s presentation, it uses a 3:2 ratio tube profile that looks like an airfoil shape with the tail removed (like a very short Kamm tail profile). If you look at the picture above, the red colored sections on the backs of certain tubes indicate where the trailing airfoil edges have been removed. According to the company, the result of this project is a frame that is stiff and 20% lighter than most of the other aero frames on the market.

The bike is not available to the public yet, but it is a great example of an equipment sponsor really putting a new design through the paces during the three weeks of the Tour. That is something that I always like to see, and it really is what makes the Tour de France the race to watch for bike geeks.

Back to Cavendish though…it is no surprise that he wanted flashy custom graphics on his Project F01 bike. Check out this Bike Radar profile of his bike to see how the graphic designers at SCOTT interpreted his request for a “ninja theme.” Creating a tasteful design with splattered blood as a primary element is no easy task, but I think they did a pretty nice job with it.

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  1. Champs July 9, 2010 at 10:35 pm -  Reply

    This looks like the *least* aero of all the aero road bikes, and I’m wondering if it’s just a gimmick. Cervelo can’t get all of its sponsored riders to use the Soloist/S platform, and Garmin seems not to make serious use of the Felt AR.

    Yes, they look great, but I’m thinking it must take a very special bike to convert the guys who put in a century every day.

    • Andrew July 10, 2010 at 4:15 pm -  Reply

      When it comes to aerodynamics, looks are deceptive. Trek also made a TT bike with a truncated Kamm profile, so there may be something to the concept.

      If you can trick the air into thinking it’s following an aerofoil, who needs the rest of the aerofoil?

      • Champs July 12, 2010 at 3:57 am -  Reply

        I don’t dispute the aerodynamics, just the benefit. Other teams have access to aero frames, but prefer not to use them. Maybe the power savings just isn’t worth it after several hours and 200k+ on the road, just like skinsuits and minimalist TT saddles.

  2. Ross Nicholson July 10, 2010 at 4:55 pm -  Reply

    Obviously, the airfoil should be around both rider and bicycle for best effect. I have one, it’s called a Quest velomobile.

    • Andrew July 10, 2010 at 7:11 pm -  Reply

      Ahh, but I’m pretty sure the UCI banned those in the 1930s.

      …as with all other things innovative, as they’ve appeared.

  3. Nick July 11, 2010 at 10:45 pm -  Reply

    I think this is interesting because it shows you can have decent aero performance with a relatively traditional tube profile. (I’m sure the UCI loves this.) I’d love to see a steel tubeset that used these profiles… like some beautiful 953 frame that was both as light and as aero as carbon.

  4. Loving the Bike July 12, 2010 at 12:27 am -  Reply

    I wish I had half the bike knowledge you have…..I also wish I had some cool custom graphics like on Cav’s F01.


  5. mommus July 12, 2010 at 5:47 am -  Reply

    I can’t see how the aero performace gain over a round tube will make any difference, as the trailing profile of an object is just as important (aerodynamically) as the leading edge. the turbulence caused at the trailing edge would be similar to, or worse than that of a round tube. When Formula 1 suspension linkages and wishbones are Kamm-tailed profiles, then we’ll know Scott were on to something. Though I don’t doubt that it decreases crosswind drag… and it does look pretty mean.

    • Andrew July 12, 2010 at 11:39 am -  Reply

      I’m pretty sure the designers know all about the important of trailing edge aerodynamics. Round tubes are generally terrible, aerodynamically – even a half-round (with the flat side facing back) has a lower Cd, so an optimized Kamm profile just builds on that principle.

      F1 cars operate in an entirely different speed envelope where aerodynamic performance is far more significant than it is on a bicycle, and their suspension members represent a smaller proportion of the total vehicle’s weight compared to a bicycle tubeset, where aero-tubing can weigh significantly more than more structurally optimized designs.

      I think the idea behind this is more of a jack-of-all trades tubeset that is fairly light, fairly stiff, and fairly aero.

      • Nick July 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm -  Reply

        I think the idea is also that it is a semi-aero profile that is UCI legal. The reason aero tubesets are said to be less stiff is that in order to maintain the required 1:3 ratio AND remain within the maximum width requirements (8cm for the headtube/main tubes, I believe it is less for the stays) the tubes must be significantly thinner than optimum stiffness requires.

        Without the UCI 1:3 and 8cm rules, nobody would be considering a kamm profile, because tubes could be large enough to be stiff and long enough to be aero. The lower weight claim is just a red herring to sell more bicycles – in truth, good aerodynamics trumps low weight so completely that even a kg or two is irrelevant in terms of frame weight.

        • Ross Nicholson July 25, 2010 at 1:34 pm -  Reply

          This is correct. The physics is not going to change. UCI can change, however. UCI races should be closely followed by aerodynamic bicycle races of identical course and duration so that direct comparisons can be impressed upon the public. UCI’s ignorance and superstition must be displaced. It is every cyclist’s duty to overthrow their absurd rulings by comparison or, failing that, subterfuge. Otherwise, the people we will fail will be our own children.

          • Champs July 25, 2010 at 1:49 pm -  Reply

            It is fashionable to disagree with UCI rules, and their choices are at times frustrating, but the Lugano charter is what holds back pro racing in the best sort of way; the peloton is not a Critical Mass-style parade of freak bikes, and there is no permanent class of have-nots deprived of disruptive, patent-protected technology.

          • Ross Nicholson July 25, 2010 at 2:43 pm -  Reply

            UCI rules are not unfashionable, but evil, Champs. They force designers to ‘work within the rules’ when the UCI rules are both backward and arbitrary. It should be criminal to waste so much talent in such unproductive and useless patrimony. UCI could require identical bicycles for all competitors and no one would object. Improvements can indeed be disruptive, but it is in the nature of things to improve. Patent protection does impose costs, but breakthrough patents could be replaced with awarded prizes to agreeable innovators. The final result of freedom to innovate would be faster, more comfortable bicycles, and wider acceptance & use by the public. As to aesthetics, nothing is uglier than artificial and completely unnecessary retardation.

  6. Champs July 18, 2010 at 3:54 am -  Reply

    Cavendish rode the F01 for a day, but regressed back to his Addict use, ostensibly due to a fit issue that would be worked out shortly. That was half a Tour ago, and he’s still not back on the aero wagon.

    Food for thought.

  7. Phil July 23, 2010 at 6:06 pm -  Reply

    Any aerodynamic advantage from aero tubes is lost once it’s placed immediately behind the front wheel which has made the airflow a mess. Don’t believe “experts” demonstrating how one shape is better than another in a drawing showing a nice, steady, undisturbed airflow coming conveniently from the front. How nice! If only it were like that once we remember the pesky front wheel thingy, and we get hit by crosswinds. Structurally aero tubes are a disaster and round is way ahead. Even square is better, but a little rough to look at I guess.
    Formula one suspension arms are round for structural reasons, but faired over for aero reasons.
    Anyway I have another frame question. Why do some frames have the seat stays meeting the seat tube several inches below the point where the top tube meets the seat tube? This is ugly and stresses the seat tube for no reason. The line of stress in this design takes a dogleg thru the seat tube, meaning it has to be beefed up to prevent slight flexing and possible cracking. In the conventional method all tubes intersect nicely, not incurring a couple of unecessary stress points.

    • Nick July 25, 2010 at 12:28 pm -  Reply

      I’d love to see some credentials/studies that backed up that statement… It’s an interesting idea which sounds like it has some validity… but I kind of doubt millions of combined dollars of wind tunnel studies by companies like Zipp, Cervelo, etc…( whose results are fairly easily available online, AND which focus heavily on crosswind performance) would have falsified a benefit from their ridiculously expensive to produce aero frames.

      About the dropped seatstay design though… I think it ends up being more of an aesthetic decision. Some makers might claim an aero advantage, though I’m sure you would debate that.

      Though this doesn’t apply to a carbon frame, on an aluminum (and possibly steel) frame it could make the frame stronger, because the extensive amount of welding that occurs in a traditional seatstay cluster makes a pretty huge heat affected zone. Dropping the chainstays down a bit means your weld stresses can be more distributed.

      • Nick July 25, 2010 at 12:29 pm -  Reply

        Oops, I meant to say seatstays in that last sentence.

        • Ross Nicholson July 25, 2010 at 1:44 pm -  Reply

          Phil is right about the aerodynamics, Nick, although his ‘ugly’ take is open to question. In general, where materials or art retards progress, materials or art should be improved or circumvented. Bare bicycles are idiotic inefficiencies … however this comes from a man who has spent 10000 dollars on an aerodynamic bicycle, so take my take with a grain of salt, eh? Sometimes exorbitant expenditures can be justified in the Quest. Ahem.

          • Nick July 25, 2010 at 6:47 pm -  Reply

            Come on, cite something supporting this.

            I understand the claim that in the realm of human powered vehicles, traditional, UCI legal bikes have awful aerodynamics.

            The claim I think is totally wrong is the one you seem to be making, which is: the difference between an “aero” UCI legal bike (Say a modern TT rig w/ 80mm rims) and a “non-aero” UCI legal bike (Say a high end Indy Fab with Open Pro rims) is so negligible that it it is irrelevant , despite the tiny margins by which races are won or lost.

  8. James Harness July 25, 2010 at 11:35 am -  Reply

    ”Any aerodynamic advantage from aero tubes is lost once it’s placed immediately behind the front wheel which has made the airflow a mess.”

    That’s an oversimplification and an insult to the industry. Even the flow of dirty air can be enhanced and optimised.

    It’s true that Cav’s not been winning on F01 due to the fit issue mentioned. It’s also true that F01 is actually the most popular frame with HTC Columbia, due to its combination of stiffness, lightweight and aerodynamic efficiency.

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