Wiggins' go-faster kit

The other products that helped Wiggo get that gold... including what you can't see

by Mat Brett   August 3, 2012  

Bradley on his way to another gold medal

We’ve already given you the details of the UK Sport frame and fork that Bradley Wiggins rode to time trial glory but here’s the story of other specialist equipment that he used.

It’s pretty well known that Wiggins uses non-round chainrings from O.Symetric. The idea, in brief, is that the effective size of the chainring varies depending on where your legs are in the pedal stroke. You are pushing a smaller gear through the deadspots at the top and bottom of the pedal stroke, and a larger gear when the cranks are near horizontal – where you can produce most force. Make sense?

You’re not allowed to call the rings oval or elliptical, by the way. O.Symetric call them a TwinCam design.

Whether or not you’re convinced by the evidence that they improve power output and efficiency, we can see sales booming, particularly because Chris Froome uses O.Symetric as well.

The rest of the groupset looks like standard Shimano Dura-Ace mechanical. It’s interesting that both the front and rear brakes are positioned conventionally and exposed to the wind. Ever more time trial bikes come with a front brake that’s sheltered behind the fork legs and the rear one behind the bottom bracket.

That looks like a Hed H3 front wheel that Wiggins is running there but we’re not sure about the rear disc. The handlebar set up is a custom option.

The helmet, like the frame and fork, is a UK Sport design. It’s the Aero Helmet as shown on the UK Sport website with Wiggo’s mod roundel added. The rules state that the equipment has to be commercially available so UK Sport are obliged to sell it. However, they say, “The equipment... is manufactured in the UK to order by hand consequently lead time from order to delivery can sometimes be long.

“Items such as the frame, forks, and helmets were developed using cutting edge techniques, this R&D was funded by UKS and British Cycling. Although most of this expenditure has been absorbed by the GB Team, the very low volumes of equipment produced, the construction methods outlined above plus the use of the very best materials means the price of these items is in line with their specialist nature.”

In other words, you’ll have to work pretty hard to get a price, you’ll have to save up, and it might take a while. But it is available. Definitely.

You can’t see Wiggins’ shoes because he has Adidas shoe covers over the top to reduce drag, but we’re reliably informed that he raced in Bonts – Bont Zeros, to be precise. They are the shoes that he used for his Tour de France win too (although he got a yellow pair for riding into Paris).

Wiggins is a big fan of the Australian brand, despite them not being an official sponsor of Team Sky. The Zeros have a fully-mouldable carbon monocoque sole that’s very thin – just 3.6mm. The EVA insole is mouldable too while the uppers are laminated silver glass-fibre. They have a lace closure with an aero cover over the top although Wiggins obviously believes he can reduce drag still further with the shoe covers.

Bont give the weight of the Zeros at just 170g per shoe. If you want a pair, they’ll cost you £390 from Saddleback.

19 user comments

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Bradley would also have won on his Pinarello, or indeed any modern TT bike - except the one that Sanchez used! The guy is just a supreme athlete. But where does he go from here?

posted by Arwel [3 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 12:49

13 Likes

Ermm.

Is that a lightweight disc?

Its what he used in the tour ain't it?

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1733 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 13:09

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Raleigh wrote:
Ermm.

Is that a lightweight disc?

Its what he used in the tour ain't it?

I think so, yes. Just wouldn't say for certain.

posted by Mat Brett [1956 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 13:49

10 Likes

i thought the UCI in their wisdom decided bont shoes were a no-no, or am i behind the times?

posted by thehood [24 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 14:39

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@thehood +1, I thought that too.

Regarding the rest of the kit, the spirit of the rules is that they should be using kit the rest of us can buy, but BC appear to have side-stepped that by offering the stuff as custom items through uk sport but at extortionate prices (not even listed!) with lead times on production etc. I believe the aero helmets are £3k, and the track bikes £20k. I know Chris Boardman talks about "butting up against the rules", but is this a bit heavy on the gamesmanship?

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3471 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 15:22

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It was specifically the Bont Crono shoes that the UCI had an issue with, rather than Bonts as a whole http://www.bont.com/cycling/products/Specialty/crono/

The last we heard they were still arguing the toss about it, the contention being that if these aren't allowed, countless other products should be banned too.

Bont have turned this into a positive by boasting that their shoes are too fast for the UCI.

Whatever, the Zeros are UCI legal. Unless UCI decide to move the goalposts. But they'd never do something like that, would they?

Crono.jpeg

posted by Mat Brett [1956 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 15:25

7 Likes

Is that right? £3k for the helmets?

Here's a quote I took down ages ago.

"They set out the rules - our job is to innovate within those rules."

That's not from cycling, it's the Speedo vice-president Sean Hastings talking about FINA, the world governing body of swimming.

The point being, whatever the sport, people are always going to push things as far as they can within the rules. In this case, that extends to making the products perhaps only technically available to the public.

Is it gamesmanship or just being smart? It's a matter of interpretation. I've no idea if UCI have an issue with what British Cycling have done but, if they do, maybe they should have written the rules right in the first place.

posted by Mat Brett [1956 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 15:49

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I seem to recall in old motorbike Superbikes homologation for race use stated something like 1000 units had to be available for public purchase hence the ability to quite easily buy a Honda RC45 (if you had the cash). BC have obviously worked up to the limit of UCI rules. On Beeb yesterday in one of the technical pieces about the "Secret Squirrels" Chris B stated that since Beijing BC had shown the UCI everything during development. So no room to complain within the current rules. If they don't like what's happened all they can do is change the rules for the future.

posted by 1961BikiE [87 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 16:09

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Yes, GB have introduced some new kit on the road and the track, and yes, they have in some cases pushed as hard against the rules as possible.

Worth noting though that throughout they have been involved in consultation with the UCI's technical people, including Chris Boardman and others making trips to Aigle to have equipment cleared in advance so there is no chance of being caught out on a technicality once at the Olympics.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8503 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 16:44

11 Likes

Interesting that the UK Sport forks all have a 1" steerer, and not the 1 1/8" or 1 1/2" we're seeing on all newer bikes. What do they know that we don't?

mr-andrew's picture

posted by mr-andrew [300 posts]
3rd August 2012 - 17:16

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An thoughts why he was running mechanical DuraAce instead of Di2?

posted by greenrock [4 posts]
4th August 2012 - 2:24

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greenrock wrote:
An thoughts why he was running mechanical DuraAce instead of Di2?

His own perceived reliability..... Less room for issues maybe.....

posted by martyntr [116 posts]
4th August 2012 - 6:12

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How about the organisers go out and buy a hundred supermarket £200 bikes, have the shop set them up, and send the whole field off on a time trial on those? It would be interesting to see how they make out.

The bikes could be donated to a charity like Re-cycle afterwards - if they ar still in any condition to be used.

Or, a boris-bike event? The course would obviously need to be a lot shorter to ensure it could be completed in daylight, but it would be interesting to see how fast the blue meanies can be persuaded to go. One would like to think that condition-wise they would still be fully functional (after a service), or you would hope so, considering how much they cost each.

posted by Paul M [325 posts]
4th August 2012 - 8:13

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mr-andrew wrote:
Interesting that the UK Sport forks all have a 1" steerer, and not the 1 1/8" or 1 1/2" we're seeing on all newer bikes. What do they know that we don't?

Only interesting to geeks like us Wink but I would guess it is to do with weight Vs. durability Vs. aerodynamics.

For instance

Weight: less material overall in a 1inch set up (Smaller headset, narrower steere, etc)

Aero: I bet 1/8 or 1/4 inch shows up in testing in the wind tunnel.

Durability: The reason you or I don't see it. A 1 inch headset shares the riders load over less contact area than 1 1/8th or 1 1/4. They don't last as long. We want bikes and bits that last a reasonable amount of time, but with £23m quid in the bank between '09 and '13 UKsport can foot the bill of a few more headsets!

posted by mattbibbings [103 posts]
4th August 2012 - 8:34

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mattbibbings wrote:

Weight: less material overall in a 1inch set up (Smaller headset, narrower steere, etc)

Aero: I bet 1/8 or 1/4 inch shows up in testing in the wind tunnel.

Durability: The reason you or I don't see it. A 1 inch headset shares the riders load over less contact area than 1 1/8th or 1 1/4. They don't last as long. We want bikes and bits that last a reasonable amount of time, but with £23m quid in the bank between '09 and '13 UKsport can foot the bill of a few more headsets!

I imagine the reason most companies go to taper headsets is stiffness, which 1" steerers never really had (assuming you believe the 1000% stiffness increases you get told about each new model year). Of course if you have money to burn im sure you could get the latest carbon fibres, rolled on the thighs of Dave Brailsford, to give you a bike that was 10000% stiffer than the competition.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [423 posts]
4th August 2012 - 16:20

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greenrock wrote:
An thoughts why he was running mechanical DuraAce instead of Di2?

One reason I have read (and I don't know if it's the only reason) is that it allows him a better position on the aerobars as dimensions are measured to the end of the shifters whereas on the Di2 the bars are effectively that bit shorter. Several other riders choose mechanical shifting.

I can't remember where I saw it, but this quote refers to Taylor Phinney's setup, chosen for the same reason:

Quote:
"Phinney uses mechanical Dura-Ace on his time trial bike because of the way the UCI measures the shifters when it comes to his time trial position. The maximum allowable extension can be no more than 80cm (with the morphological exception for tall riders) in front of the bicycle’s bottom bracket. But where the UCI measures the end of the extension on the shifter varies.

Di2 shifters are measured at the end of the shifter and mechanical shifters are measured at the pivot of the shifter. Using the mechanical drivetrain gives Phinney a front end that is effectively several centimeters longer.

Bradley Wiggins and other tall riders also choose mechanical bar-end shifters instead of Di2 for this reason."


From http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/05/giro-ditalia/ask-nick-phinneys-me...

As for headset/head tube stiffness, you are rarely yanking on the bars during a time trial so even if a 1.25" or tapered tube is stiffer you can bet it's less important than the slimmer profile of the 1" front end.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2057 posts]
5th August 2012 - 8:52

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sub £50k? Peanuts compared to even the most modest of motor sports

dafyddp's picture

posted by dafyddp [180 posts]
5th August 2012 - 20:48

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Too bad no details on the doping program he used...

posted by badbadleroybrown [17 posts]
5th August 2012 - 22:06

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badbadleroybrown wrote:
Too bad no details on the doping program he used...

Lazy lazy stupid response.

posted by Pierre [90 posts]
7th August 2012 - 11:13

12 Likes