In the beginning there was Cervelo, and Cervelo was with Gerard Vroomen and Phil White, and Cervelo was Gerard Vroomen and Phil White. In them were ideas, and the ideas were the aerodynamic shaping of bicycles.
And aerodynamics was tested in the wind-tunnel, and the wind-tunnel operators calculated it muchly.
In time there was a bike sent from Cervelo (in 2001), whose name was the Soloist. It was aluminium. It was not that light (1,351g), but it was sent to bear witness to aerodynamic advantage. That was the true marginal gain, which now affects every rider that comes into the world.
Today the aero story hardly needs telling, the bikes and the plethora of data driven claims speak for themselves.
Direct comparisons between rival bikes aren’t easy, as everything from the testing standards to testing apparatus differs from manufacturer to manufacturer – a fact a cynic will say is bent to each manufacturer’s will, allowing it to claim ‘our bike is the fastest’.
The Auriga is British brand Tifosi’s first fully aero bike. Developed alongside the Spirit Tifosi domestic race team, it’s claimed to ‘slice through the air and shave minutes off your race, while the carefully engineered geometry keeps the handling snappy and precise.’
Bold claims indeed, but the Auriga backs them up with the kind of performance that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Cervelo is no stranger to speed, and here we have the Cervelo S5, the most recent genesis of the Cervelo Soloist.
It’s long been lauded as one the fastest bikes out there, and a string of big wins by Cav, Cummings and Co. since Cervelo’s reintroduction to the pro peloton won’t do anything to undermine the bike’s cult status.
If a bike’s going to have ‘Vector flaps’* it better be fast, and luckily the Madone, as routinely raced by Trek-Segafredo, is. In German magazine Tour’s recent independent aero tests, the Madone tied for fastest road bike with the Specialized Venge ViAS in a strict wind tunnel scenario.
But it’s also more than just an aero machine – the rear end employs Trek’s IsoSpeed decoupler system for extra compliance and comfort over bumps.
Specialized Venge ViAS Disc
With Sram eTap, hydraulic discs, bolt-thru axles and tubeless carbon clinchers, the Venge ViAS epitomises every major change to have happened to road bikes in the last five years.
Specialized claims it holds a 116 second advantage over its Tarmac, and Tour magazine tests show the Venge to be on par with the Trek Madone as the fastest production road bike in the world.
Ridley Noah SL
The Noah SL has slimmed down and lost a few features since the futuristic Noah Fast, but under Andre Greipel seems no less quick.
Trip strips and integrated brakes have gone, but the trademark cut-outs in the fork legs remain, channels designed to deal with turbulent air from the spokes.
The frame now weighs a claimed 950g, but stiffness seems assured. After all, have you seen Greipel’s legs?
Pinarello Dogma F8
With Chris Froome on board, the Pinarello Dogma F8 has a brace of Tour de France victories to its name. The aerodynamics come courtesy of Jaguar (which modelled the tube shapes in its wind-tunnel), while the handling and ride feel are classic Pinarello, handed down from the previous race-winning Dogma 65.1.
Bianchi Oltre XR4
Bianchi’s race bike range has recently been joined by the latest Oltre XR4, which includes the company’s proprietary Countervail – a viscoelastic carbon material that reduces road buzz.
While the tubes of the frame are suitably blade-like, Bianchi reckons the real aero gains come from the rider being able to maintain an aero tuck for longer, thanks to the Countervail, which makes the ride less harsh and reduces fatigue.
It’s the rider that creates most of the drag, after all.
Factor’s One is the successor to the radical Vis Vires, distilling it’s left-field aero know-how into a frame that is UCI legal but still seriously fast. Factor worked with aero specialists bf1systems to tone down and reshape the front end without increasing drag, yet the One keeps Factor’s signature ‘Twin-Vane’ down tube, which it claims siphons turbulent air from the front wheel through the frame, rather than around it.
The only bike to have received flowers from Marcel Kittel (after he took out his frustrations on it at the 2014 Tirreno-Adriatico), the Propel manages to blend excellent ride comfort with aero-clout and fast handling.
The position is of the ‘stick the rider up high’ persuasion, with a tall headtube in the Cervelo mode, and with a roster of big-race wins, it looks to work.
Bob Parlee started his life in carbon building racing yachts, so he knows a thing or two about speed and drag. This debut into the aero-road market marks a departure from the handbuilt road bikes that made Parlee famous (and which it still builds in Boston), the brand having taken production of the ESX to the Far East in order to keep costs down and keep up with demand.
Otherwise, though, the same Parlee ride quality and attention to detail is retained, only it gets some pretty mean looking styling.
Argon 18 Nitrogen
Balance is the name of the game for Argon 18’s Nitrogen – it takes comfort cues from the Canadian brand’s Gallium Pro and blends them with aero profiling inspired by the E-118 TT frameset.
Argon 18 are sponsoring WorldTour team Astana in 2017, so Fabio Aru will likely choose the Nitrogen as his weapon of choice in his campaign to notch up more Grand Tour victories.
Source and page 2 on www.cyclist.co.uk
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