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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!
Almost in every race there are accidents. The cyclists fall due to slippery roads, mechanical failure, or a driving error. Or even in some cases because the follow car hits a cyclist. Most of the time these accidents aren’t too bad and in that case the cyclist can continue the race.
In the Tour the France there are several mountain stages, when the cyclists descend these steep mountains they can reach speeds up to 100 km/h. When a cyclist falls at these speeds this can be life threatening, it’s very dangerous. There are several examples of very severe accidents that happened in these kinds of stages.
As you can see in the picture below when you fall down at high speeds with a carbon bike, it shatters which can be very dangerous. It is possible to make the bicycles even lighter and faster, but at high speeds the bicycles should be stiff enough. If this isn’t the case it’s obvious that this can lead to very dangerous situations. That’s the reason why the UCI has strict regulations and every bike should be approved by the UCI before it can be used in official races.
The disadvantage of all these regulations is that it restricts the innovation and creativity for the bicycles manufactures. But thanks to these rules the cycling sport has become a bit less dangerous.
In this post I will give you a short resume of a remarkable event that has occur in recent protour races and my statement on this.
Recently there have been some cycling thefts in the protour peloton. First during the “Tour de Mediterranean”, 17 bikes were stolen from team Garmin-Sharp. Later during the “Driedaagse van De Panne-Koksijde” about 8 bikes were stolen from team Radioshack-Trek. Both thefts were done during the night out of the team truck, which is parked at the hotel were the riders stay. The value of both thefts were estimated at about 100 000-150 000 euros. This is a new trend, cause I have never seen such thefts before, especially because they were done in a short period of time. There has been no link between the 2 thefts up to now, they consider it done by 2 different criminal gangs.
This raises the question if those trucks are protected enough, if the hotel parking’s are guarded well, etc. I think they are not, the team managers tell us they parked a car behind the truck so it is not possible to open the tailboard of the truck. But if you have a truck with 20 bikes of about 10 000 euros, I think you should put a sort alarm system on your truck. I have the feeling that they do not care a lot about their equipment because it’s sponsored (=free) anyway. If I had a bike of 10 000 euros, I would almost guard with my life. That’s the big problem here I think.
This type of bikes were stolen out of the team truck of Radioshack-Trek.