To end this blog I will get back to the start of time trialling innovation and present you a couple of revolutionary bikes (at that moment).
During the 1980s, the idea of aerodynamics and its advantages in time trials began to take hold. Frame builders began to experiment with different frame configurations and tube shapes. During this period, wheel technology took a giant leap forward with the introduction of disc wheels. By the mid- to late ‘80s the time trial bike began to show signs of its developing specialization. Standard drop bars had been replaced with upturned bullhorn bars, frames now had radically forward sloping top tubes that were made possible by smaller front wheels and seat angles became steeper to allow the rider to ride with lower handlebars. While the roots for specialization had been made for the last decade, it was LeMond’s 1989 Tour de France victory that truly started a revolution. In the last twenty years since LeMond’s victory, the time trial bike has revolutionized the bicycle industry, and despite attempts by the UCI, has remained the driving force behind bicycle innovation.
The following pictures will give you a nice idea of time trial evolution.
GREG LeMOND’S BOTTECCHIA (1989)
CHRIS BOARDMAN’S LOTUS SPORT PURSUIT (1992)
MIGUEL INDURAIN’S PINARELLO ESPADA (1994)
BJARNE RIIS AND JAN ULRICH’S PINARELLO’S (1997)
After this bike the UCI introduced new guidelines that would alter time trialing dramatically.
LANCE ARMSTRONG’S LITESPEED BLADE (1999)
BMC TT01 (2008)
TREK EQUINOX TTX (2009)
CERVELO P3 (2009)
Specialized Shiv TT (2010)
In this post I will illustrate what technology nowadays can lead to. I introduce you the lightest bike in the world. This complete road bike tips the scales at a weight of 2.7kg!
Originally owned by German cyclist Gunter Mai, the first build started out at about 3.3kg, lowered to 2.9kg in Mai’s possession. But don’t for one-minute think of this bike as an exhibition piece that’s never properly used. Mai and others put more than 20,000km on it over a period of two years. As it stands today, the bike is believed to have cost in excess of US$ 45,000. The backbone of this exceptional build is a custom 642.5g frame built by a German firm. Bosses were even integrated into the frame’s head tube to accommodate super light, down tube-style shifters. The build features a one-off fork produced by THM, the people behind the world’s lightest production road bike fork. The result is a 185.9g carbon masterpiece between the frame and front wheel.
However this bike is proved to be safe and reliable, it is not allowed to race with by the UCI. This keeps raising questions if the rules are still correct in the 21th century. In my opinion they aren’t, especially the minimum bike weight should be lowered. This can only be good for further research in materials as carbon fiber etc.
As promised in this post an interview with the R&D manager of a bike manufacturer.
1. Is there still room for improving the bikes with the strict regulations of the UCI?
Indeed the regulations of the UCI are making it hard to come up with new innovations. There is however still the opportunity to innovate in the field of aerodynamics and weight within the limits set by the UCI. Since some new components on the bike weigh more (high rims, electronic gears, battery, etc.) it is still advantageous to develop the lightest possible bicycle frame. Also in the area of stiffness and comfort of the frame (absorbing shocks) there are still innovations possible.
2. How does Ridley try to differentiate themselves in comparison with the competition? Because of the strict regulations of the UCI it must be very hard to be creative in the design of new bikes?
The UCI is indeed making it very difficult to differentiate ourselves, but with the necessary creativity it is possible. The integrated brake of the Noah Fast for example is a unique design. Also with the new time trial bike that is in full development there will be some innovations that are unique compared to the competition.
Moreover the biggest part of the end-users doesn’t take part in races of the UCI we have to question ourselves if all the new bikes we develop need to comply with the rules of the UCI. For triathlon for example the rules of the UCI don’t apply.
3. How long does the design/development of a new bike take from idea until a finalized product?
This strongly depends on the type of bike. A new frame that isn’t too complex can be developed in a year and a half (including the production of the mould for the frame), the development of a new time trial bike, including wind tunnel testing, etc. can take up to 2 years.
4. What are the most important evolutions in the world of bike manufacturers?
The weight of the bike and the aerodynamics are still two points which most other brands try to outperform the other. They also try to integrate comfort zones in the frameworks to absorb shocks of the road as good possible. Also in the field of brakes there are coming some new innovations. The brakes are more and more integrated into frame and fork and gradually there are more and more bikes with disc brakes coming to the market. What gears are concerned, there is a trend towards the electronic gear shifting.
5. The frames of the bikes are made in China; did you notice a raised interest in the cycling sport these last few years in China?
Not only the Chinese bike market but the whole Asian market has known a serious growth. Given the large population there is huge potential and therefore it is important that we take advantage of this growth.
Maybe you already knew this, but time trial bikes are not only used in time trials, they are also used in the triathlon races. In this discipline the athlete first has to swim 3.8km than he has to ride 180km on a bicycle and to finish they have to run a marathon which is 42.195km. For the 180km cycling the athletes make use of a time trial bike. As you may have noticed the distance is much longer than a normal time trial, that’s why a triathlon bicycle is a bit different, it improves the comfort for the long distance.
The biggest difference with time trial is that the rules of the UCI don’t apply in triathlon; they follow a different set of rules created by the ITU (International Triathlon Union). These rules are less strict than the rules of the UCI which gives the bike manufacturers more designing freedom. Although there are some rumors that they are going to implement the rules of the UCI in the future.
Some manufacturers have created a special triathlon bike, like for example the shiv from specialized. This bike has a drinking reservoir in the frame of the bike which isn’t allowed by the UCI but can be used in triathlons. Other manufacturers don’t have a special triathlon bike but sell their time trial bikes with extras. Like for example extra bottle holders for extra drinking bottles, etc.
In this post I will show you a video of that other side nobody sees in cycling races. This one is about the riders who can not follow the peloton due to different reasons in Paris-Roubaix. They mostly ride alone and suffer hard trying to get back at the peloton but at a certain point this is not possible anymore. When those riders are more than 25 minutes behind the peloton they have to take place in the “bezemwagen” and continue their way to Roubaix in that car.
This shows how hard cycling can be in contrast with a lot of other sports. Cycling is pure physical and, you have to push your body true a barrier of pain to win races. Thats the reason I like this sport and im happy I can contribute to the performances of these riders true Ridley.
Enjoy this short video!
In the newspaper of the 26 of March, I read that drugs are going to become cheaper. The government is trying to make 2,500 drugs of all kinds cheaper (chronical treatments such as diabetes but also antibiotics and the contraceptive pill), as the minister of Public Health Laurette Onkelinx (PS).says. For some drugs the price reduction can be 50, 60 or even 70%, but she indicates that it is the only way to make drugs available for everybody. Last year, a reduction of the 1.95% was required to fit the budget agreement. Later on an even harder reduction was necessary by the obligated comparison within six European countries. as expected, the pharmaceutical sector was not really pleased with this fact, and the negotiations did not go easily. This is a strong sector, and it provides about 31,000 people with work. For this reason, a consensus had to be found: the prices are going to be reduced and the companies get support in their research. Since the first of April, the new prices are legit, and a saving of ten million Euros should be accomplished.
I think this is a lice initiative, but the problem is only shoved around instead of taken care of. The pharmaceutical sector is trying to innovate and make better drugs, improve existing drugs and invent new ones. As there are still a lot of diseases that cannot be cured, or resistant variants of the disease are developed, the pharmaceutical sector will always need to be able to respond to this. A second remark, is the fact that, once a drug is developed, it is only patented for a certain period. After this period other companies can make the drug as well, and use it as a base for new drug development, or homeopathic variants of the drugs can be made. These all have a great impact on the pharmaceutical sector. As I already said in a previous post, the employees of Janssen are afraid of losing their job, since the division of Springhouse had closed its R&D site. This is another slap in the face for these employees. If they lose their job, the lower prices of drugs will not concern them that much, and an even harder decrease will be necessary as the unemployment will increase.
In the R&D, it is not unusual to work with external partners. It is thanks to innovation that it is possible to share ideas, have opinions and be able to change your original vision. This is made possible by the establishment of C.R.E.A.T.e or ‘Community of Research Excellence & Advanced Technology’ that has taken an important step towards the extension of an innovative discovery organization on world scale. In the past, every research team and every pharmaceutical actor, behaved like it was on an island, where the results never left. By the use of an open innovative environment, everything is possible these days.
CREATe plays the role of partner and integrator within Janssen. By working international together with about 350 people, equally divided in Europe and the US, it is possible to share ideas with the world. The assignment of CREATe is to identify and help the movement of compounds in the early stages of development in order to increase the chance of a positive outcome. Within Europe, I am proud to pronounce, that Beerse is the largest team, next to Val de Reuil (France) and Toledo (Spain). Both Europe and the US have experts that the other teams need, and this is why it is important to communicate in an open way.
CREATe has four strategic areas namely: core scientific technologies, molecular sciences, integrative system Biology and translational sciences. The first area, core scientific technologies, registers every molecule that has ever been synthesized within Janssen. It is the goal of CREATe to further complement this library. The second area of molecular sciences tries to make it easier to find the right couple the right target substances to the corresponding diseases. Integrative system Biology is the third area, where tests are developed in order the research the effects of a molecule. The fourth and last area is translational sciences. Here the capacity is tested, with which a molecule will be accepted by the body and the improvement of the safety of a chemical molecule.
These four areas are important to secure a safe future for the patients, and new ideas are getting harder to come up with. Do you think you can come up with some possibilities for future drugs or improvements?