Eurobike 2011: Time Trial bike roundup… Storck, Time, Specialized, Rafael, BMC, Argon 18 & more…
We've trawled the show looking at slippery bikes, here's what we found...
There's lots of TT bikes at Eurobike: this isn't even all of them, we're off to Canyon's stand in a bit to see their new one and we'll probably pass ten we haven't seen on the way. But we've had a ggod enough trawl around to get a good idea of the trends for this year, so here they are.
Main trend: everyone has realised that Mini V brakes are the best thing ever for time trial bikes. There's lots of reasons for this. The first and most important reason is that the two brake units can seamlessly integrate with both a front fork and a frame, really easily. There's nothing but a cable between the two sides to disrupt airflow, and the curved noodle makes tight cabling simple.
The vast majority of the the Mini Vs on display are the TRP units pictured above. TRP showed them at the Taipei show and Wilier were so impressed that they immediately went away and designed their new frame around them (there's a separate story on the lovely Wilier coming later). Felt, Argon18, Look and a bunch of other manufacturers have adopted them too, and we reckon they'll be more or less ubiquitous next year because they're more or less perfect for the job.
Shape wise, neither pointy nor curvy has won the battle. There's still plenty of both types of frame, as you'll see below. Science dictates that at some point all TT frames should converge on the single best design, but testing methods differ and marketing departments aren't awash with scientists so don't hold your breath. Let's have a look at some of the standout bikes. In alphabetical order, so if you're looking for the Wilier then get busy with the scroll. We haven't majored on the manufacturers' claims for these bikes, mainly because if we did we'd be telling you that most of them are certifiably the fastest out there...
We saw Argon 18's new TT frame last month down on the South coast but we weren't allowed to talk about it unti now. It's a lovely looking thing alright, and the frameset comes not only with the seatpost and the 'exclusive integrated aero brakes' (the TRPs then) but also the highly adjustable 'Oneness Concept' handlebar setup. Just add wheels and a groupset and you're ready to roll. Oh, and a saddle.
The E-118 is one of an increasing number of bikes with an external steerer, which is useful to increase the length of the head tube area and make it more aerofoil-shaped.
Straight out of the 'angular' camp of TT bike building, the BMC Time Machine is all straight lines and sharp edges.
The Time Machine takes the Mini-V integration to the next level, hiding the cable behind a kind of fairing. We won't call it a fairing in front of the UCI though. It also uses a 'Sub A Concept' tube profile, which is a sort of truncated teardrop shape but with a lip on either side near the front. Needless to say, BMC claim it reduces drag.
Boardman's AiR TT 9.4 is more reminiscent of some aero road frames than the most extreme TT bikes, looks nice though. The main reason we stuck it in is so that we can tell you about our chat with Chris Boardman on the FSA stand, whereupon we learned that he's enjoyed the twin joys of camping at Eurobike and the Etape sag wagon in his long and fun-filled life. And that he sketches his designs for the Boardman bikes by the pool.
Cannondale's Slice is out of the curvy camp and again, bears more than a passing resemblance to some of the newer aero road frames such as the Cervelo S5...
...and the Cinelli WYSIWYG is also cut from similar cloth. Except that it's emblazoned with a rather natty and bright paintjob that extends to the wheels. Now that we think about it, this one looks a lot like an S5.
Colnago's Flight TT isn't new, but it was rather resplendent in this black and fluoro red paintjob that didn't photograph too well.
De Rosa's 3-THL bike didn't quite come out as it appears in the flesh, a super-garish yellowy green. Sort of works though in a way that only the Italians can manage.
Felt's DA1r already has some success under its belt in the Triathlon sphere, and Felt claim that the new frame is 14% more aero and 13% stiffer than the previous incarnation. Felt use a process called InsideOut Moulding to reduce the excess resin inside the voids within the frame, which makes for a lighter structure.
The Giant Trinity Advanced SL: you wouldn't call it pretty. Or at least we wouldn't. But there's plenty of them being ridden fast in the pro peloton. Giant take the 'making the external steerer into a big frontal aerofoil' ruse to about as extreme a level as we've seen.
Repeat after us: this is a stem, not a fairing... The Di2 controller sticking out of the side can't be doing wonders for the airflow though.
Isaac have had a tough few years: they had to recall a huge amount of bikes due to an issue with the forks, which certainly didn't help. But they're still around, and the Muon is their sharp and pointy TT rig.
It's not as pointy as this Skil-Shimano Koga TT bike though. Lordy. It looks like they designed it using an Etch-a-Sketch. Doesn't mean it's not quick though, which is the endgame for TT...
This one's de Backer's and this is where he keeps his sandwiches.
Significantly more pleasing on the eye is the Olmo Kronos, in muted grey. Probably not the slipperiest with its standard brakes and internal steerer, but one of the best looking we think.
Rafael can generally be relied upon to put together a pleasing looking frame in whatever sphere they're building in: this TT bike is a little spoilt by the big drinks-bottle-cum-head-tube-extension on the front, but Triathletes won't care if it makes them faster. The UCI will care though...
From curvy to spiky and back to curvy again - it was like that all round the show. Ridley's Dean has to wear the company's rather boastful and possibly not accurate web URL - www.thefastestbikeintheworld.com - like a cross, but apart from that we think it's a purposeful beast.
Ridley use air channels in the fork and seatstays which they claim improves the air flow over the bike. They also use rough surfaces to break up airflow in places.
Neither too curvy nor too spiky, Scott's Plasma bike looked crazy modern when it was first launched and now you'd probably describe it as middle of the road. In a pleasing way.
We've even got used to the Specialized Shiv now. This one belongs to Tony Martin, who's been piloting it to victory in pretty much ever time trial he's ridden in the last few months. So maybe this is the fastest bike in the world? Or maybe Tony has the best legs...
'I told you so' award goes to Markus Storck: the Storck Aero 2 has been using mini-Vs for ages, albeit special Mini-Vs with a Carbon leaf spring. They're inside the front fork. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, eh Markus?
Time's RXR TT bike is all Gallic angles and certainly looks purposeful...
...and last up for now is the Wilier twin foil, which is our favourite TT bike of the show and warrants a story all of its own, which it will be getting shortly. If we see any more TT bikes (we will) then we'll add them to the gallery, along with any technical nuggets we find out. In the meantime, look at the front of the Wilier again. Lovely.