If only it was possible to cut through all the techno-babble that surrounds time trial bikes as cleanly as the best of them cuts through the air, the world would be a happier place and my head would hurt a lot less. Over the next few days we'll be bringing you the pick of the 2009 time trial and triathlon bikes – starting with Isaac's Joule Aerotic range from one of the companies that doesn't go to town with its technical claims.
While no part of the bike industry is immune to the allure of baffling technical jargon, with a heavy garnish of spuriuos claims and context-free statistics nowhere does the techno BS come at you as hard and fast as when it comes to weighing up the competing claims of the world's most aerodynamic bikes. Over the last couple of years I can think of four manufacturers who've all claimed that theirs is the most aerodynamic bike, and Storck have claimed that theirs is the fastest which amounts to much the same thing. They can't all be the most aerodynamic, or at least if they are, given the immutable nature of the laws of physics, and the fact that they are all trying to solve the same problem, their bikes should all look the same. They don't. Although it's got to be admitted that the business ends of a number of this year's models do look a bit similar…
Most manufacturers seem to agree that the headtube/fork crown interface is crucial hence the pre-eminence of integrated forks on all the top bikes.
More emphasis is being put on providing shelter for the wheels a la the Cervelo P3 – the latest Scott Plasma is probably the most extreme example of this – its rear wheel can be adjusted to give a frame clearance so tight that it's roughly the depth of a credit card… umm, velodrome only for that surely.
Top tube profiles are getting more sculpted – to deal with crosswinds, say Trek and Scott.
All the top bikes have got integrated cable routing, and all have some sort of system to make replacing and servicing cables easier. Most also claim no loss of rear shifting performance.
One-piece integrated seat posts are on the way out, removable integrated seatposts are this year's thing. And, as we've said, if your fork isn't integrated forget it – Argon 18 take things to their logical conclusion on that one…
Carbon is king, but Ti manufacturers Litespeed haven't thrown the towel in yet and new ways to manufacturing titanium tubing such as hydroforming and ever more sophisticated ways of folding flat Ti to form tubes mean the titanium bike may still be a competitive option.
Everyone's having a pop at the Cervelo P3 – which hasn't changed this year. Cervelo's line is that improving on perfection isn't easy. Not that it seems to have stopped Trek or Scott having a go. Or indeed Cervelo who have just launched the new P4 at Interbike.
We'll be looking at many of the bikes mentioned here in more detail and you can find more pics, and some very full captions in our Time trial gallery over the next few days, but before we do here's a plea for next year on behalf of time trial bike buyers, and simple hacks, everywhere. Why don't all the manufacturers get together and come up with one easily understandable figure to describe the overall drag of a bike: an average of frontal drag and, say, three or for measurements for crosswind drag at a number of agreed angles. Then all we'd have to do is compare the numbers and we could then get on with arguing the relative merits of aerodynamics versus weight, stiffness, geometry etc. and I wouldn't get a headache every year when it comes to writing an article like this.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.