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Alex Dowsett reveals his hour record bike for tomorrow’s attempt

Factor’s Hanzo TT bike, HED’s Volo wheels, Aerocoach’s Ascalon bars and a £950 gold chainring; here’s Dowsett’s equipment choices and why he has chosen them

Israel Start-Up Nation rider Alex Dowsett has his sights on bettering the current world hour record of 55.089km, in the Aguascalientes velodrome at 1,887m above sea level in Mexico tomorrow, Wednesday November 3 at 10pm. Here’s a breakdown of his equipment selections for the attempt and his reasoning behind each decision.

The British rider previously held the record for five weeks after riding 52.937 kilometres at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester in early May 2015, only for it to be beaten by Sir Bradley Wiggins shortly after. In 2019 Victor Campenaerts set the current record at the same velodrome Dowsett will use.

> Catch up with our Drink At Your Desk Friday episode featuring Alex Dowsett

The 33-year old is now attempting to regain the record. Here is the bike that he hopes is going to set him to do so.

“In terms of Israel Start-Up Nation sponsors, obviously I’m on a Factor, but I could use whatever I like basically. The team have been super supportive of that,”  Dowsett says in a video he posted on YouTube about the bike.

Frame

First off, as Dowsett mentioned, he’s going to be on a Factor bike, the brand’s new Hanzo TT bike.

The UCI has recently relaxed a few rules and Factor has optimised accordingly. Dowsett gives the example of how the profile of the headtube extends really far back. He adds: “It’s super narrow, only 15mm wide here [at the long plane] which is pretty much unrivalled.”

Alex Dowsett Hour Bike long plane.JPG

Then there’s the downtube which has been optimised around typical aero bottles  from brands such as Elite. “You can put a bottle in here or you can not run a bottle in here and it really does not make a blind bit of difference which is great.”

While most of the frame is made of carbon, the exceptions are the seatstays and chainstays which are instead 3mm thick 3D printed titanium produced by Silca in order to use track ends. As well as serving that important function, Dowsett adds, "it’s ridiculously stiff - it makes a smooth track feel bumpy.”

Wheels

Dowsett is rolling on HED’s Volo wheels wrapped in Vittoria’s Pista Ora tyres, the 23mm version both on the front and the back. The Volos are hollow cavity wheels which means there’s no rim with spokes inside.

His spare wheels are Campagnolo’s Ghiblis with a 19mm Pista Speed on the front and 23mm on the back. “Campag’s [wheels] are quite a bit narrower and it’s tough to get the right tyre rim combo,” Dowsett says.

2021 Alex Dowsett hour record wheels.JPG

“We tested the Campag versus the HED; there was bugger all in it but the HEDs just edged the Campags so we’re running the HEDs.”

With the Hanzo, “the fork is intentionally splayed very wide away from the wheel and the reason for that is to stop wheel fork interaction.

2021 Alex Dowsett hour record rear view.JPG

“The width of the bike is not in the same sort of vein as the Hope Lotus where the idea of those forks and rear stays is to put them in line with your legs,” Dowsett says. “This is simply to separate the wheel and tyre and it has done it well.”

Gearing

Aerocoach supplies the Aten chainring (priced at a whopping £950 on the Aerocoach website) and White Industries the sprocket. Dowsett is running a 61-tooth chainring at the front and 13-tooth sprocket at the back.

“The idea of this chainring is that the outside of it has been built up to smooth off the airflow between chain and chain ring - there’s a saving at 60km/hr of 25cm per lap.”

But Dowsett admits: “I won’t see that much because the air is less dense here and I’m not going to be travelling at 60km/hr for any part of the hour.”

Chain wise, Dowsett has opted for Izumi’s Super Toughness Kai (waxed) as, quite simply, “it’s regarded as the best track chain”.

Bars

Aerocoach also provides the Ascalon bars. “I’ve been using these for a long time now; I’ve had them on my Factor TT bikes, on my World’s bike last year - it’s a bar I get on very well with.

2021 Alex Dowsett Hour record AeroCoach Ascalon bars.JPG

“I don’t much like the custom stuff that you see a lot of time triallist’s [use],” Dowsett says, “because you have to fit them not in a TT scenario.

“What I prefer about the Aerocoach system is that out the box it fits me perfectly,” Dowsett says. “My arms just slot in. I’ve got a one finger hold, I’ve got the option of two finger hold, but the one finger hold is more than enough."

The arm extensions are at a 20 degree angle though. “We’ve had to put some shims underneath the pads to bring them up to a 15 degree angle as per UCI rules,” says Dowsett.

Putting the bars on was one of the most difficult aspects to this bike, Dowsett says. There’s currently no way of fitting aftermarket parts as the Hanzo is so new. “It’s quite unique in that it is not a stack system - the fork is the handlebar stack.”

To fit the Ascalon bars Dowsett’s hour bike has been kitted out with what he describes as a sort of bayonet system. “This took some time to get made, it had to be made accurately and to be super strong.

“I’m sure it can be refined, it’s a little bit heavy, but weight doesn’t really matter on the track,” Dowsett says. “If you were to add three or four kilos to your record package without compromising aerodynamics, it would cost you one third of a watt.

“When we’re trying to hold 350 [watts] that really is something that is quite irrelevant.”

Bearings

CeramicSpeed bearings are used in the headset, both wheels and bottom bracket.

“They already come super slippery, but took the seals out, blasted all the sort of grease that comes with it out,” Dowsett says.

“CeramicSpeed have a special TT and track grease, put the minimum amount necessary of that in and there’s a noticeable difference in the way that the wheels are spinning.”

Cycling computer

“Obviously I can’t have a head unit on my handlebars,” Dowsett points out, but he does have his Hammerhead Karoo 2 tucked underneath his saddle. “I’d love to tell you there’s a delightful mount there but honestly the mount is superglued in.”

2021 Alex Dowsett hour record Karoo 2.JPG

> Review: Hammerhead Karoo 2

To finish the build all off, Speedplay supplies the pedals, Rotor the 170mm Aldhu cranks and Simmons the saddle, which Dowsett says, “is the right mix between holding me in place and allowing me to rotate the hips”.

“There’s my bike, hopefully I’ll be able to do it justice,” Dowsett wraps up.

Below is the full video. The attempt will begin at 10pm GMT tomorrow, and you can watch it live on BBC iPlayer from 9:45pm. 

What do you think of Dowsett’s spec choices? Let us know in the comments as always. 

Images: Screenshots from Alex Dowsett: My Hour Record Bike on YouTube

Anna has been hooked on bikes ever since her youthful beginnings at Hillingdon Cycle Circuit. As an avid road and track racer, she reached the heady heights of a ProCyclingStats profile before leaving for university. Having now completed an MA in Multimedia Journalism, she’s hoping to add some (more successful) results. Although her greatest wish is for the broader acceptance of wearing funky cycling socks over the top of leg warmers.

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