A Glimpse of Time Trial Technology
Can you buy speed? A look at some of the time trial equipment used in this year's Tour de France.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o /?> Can you buy speed? It is true in many forms of racing including bicycles. Ask Greg Lemond who was at the forefront of technical innovations for cycling and time trials. You will see evolutions of different equipment used by the racers in today?s team time trial.
Can you buy speed? It is true in many forms of racing including bicycles. Ask Greg Lemond who was at the forefront of technical innovations for cycling and time trials. You will see evolutions of different equipment used by the racers in today?s team time trial.
Let?s begin with aero bars. Experts say they are the single most important feature of a time trail bicycle. Studies have shown they can save a whopping 4 minutes based on a 30mph/48kph over a 30k course. Cowhorn bars are more aero than clip-ons. Of course, the intent of these bars is to position the rider in an aerodynamic position to reduce drag.
Skin suits have been developed with hoods to look like a speed skater from the Olympics. And we?re not talking about ordinary coolmax material. The material is scientifically aerodynamic and consists of a ?boundary layer". Airspeed next to your body is different than the airspeed around it. The boundary layer helps move the air more quickly away from your body. The boundary layer is made very thin which has less wind resistance. The layers are sewn so the seems go with the airflow.
Ask Tyler Hamilton of CSC about the importance of a time trial wheelset. His Zipp 909 wheelset helped him win the Tour de Romandie time trail.
The new dimpled skin disc is designed to benefit from aero frames. The disc skin is embossed with over 4900 dimples of 5 different diameters in a pattern, which forces the airflow to form thinner, turbulent boundary layers. The front is a 58mm <?xml:namespace prefix = v /?>
Look at the USPS Trek time trail bike. The aero tubing is everywhere. Even the chainstays are flared. This tubing was modified and shaped based upon wind tunnel testing.
Strap on an aero helmet and shoe covers and you are on your way. While watching the television broadcast, look at the differences. The fin on the back of the helmet helps to eliminate turbulence and create a fast and smooth airflow. Shoecovers, well?every little bit helps! In the prologue time trial, rumor has it that David Millar (Cofidis) even had the mechanics remove the front derailleur in order to make his bike even faster. He didn?t think he would need it when using only a single chainring at the front. Problem was that the chain popped off as he reached the cobblestones.
Stay low, keep aero, go fast! (with the right amount of money and the right skills!)
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