Friday, October 09, 2009

Interbike 2009 - Aero Road Bikes

One of my annual goals (for two years anyway) have been to see more and more aero road frames. You know, for mass start races.

It all started with the Cervelo bikes. It helped that CSC did some pretty cool things in races, like explode them by team time trialing at the front just as the field turned a corner into a hard crosswind. Then Ridley came out with the Noah, Look had their kinda aero bike, and I started getting that "aero-bike-need" kinda feeling.

And I looked for more alternatives, more extreme bikes.

I've basically been shot down for two years running. Yeah, I found some, but not really. This year I found one that, frankly, makes me wonder why I'm not riding one: the Blue AC1 and its featherweight sibling, the AC1SL.

This is the first time I saw it:

The AC1SL

I didn't get to see the bike - it was the end of the day so the guys in the booths were knackered.

The AC1, locked up.

Note the aero downtube, the semi-faired rear wheel area, and, apparently, at some point, a BB30 bottom bracket.

AC1 again.

Check out all the details. The primary visual one is the downtube following the fork and the front wheel. The second most obvious one is the duo of cables diving into the top tube just behind the stem. Disappointingly the rear brake cable follows a normal path.

The Blue site has no info on the bikes. No, that's not quite correct. At this time it's unclear how much these frames will cost. But they have one of the two big fittings I like to see on a road bike - BB30. The other, the 1.5" lower headset bearing, seems to be missing.

I saw another bike, one being distributed by Sinclair Imports, the company best known at Interbike for holding the extremely exclusive Sinclair Imports party (relatively tame link). The company name is Stevens, and the bike is the SLR.

Nice bike.

Skinny profile, rear brake notwithstanding.

I love the sight of an aero seat mast over an aero seat tube with a deep profile rim hiding just behind. It looks like... Victory.

(Apologies to Apacolypse Now)

I like the waisted headtube.

The Stevens doesn't present as aggressive a profile as the Blues - no downtube arcs following the front wheel. It has a slight top tube bulge, but nothing too close or cutting edge.

Another take on the SLR, but this one in "real". In Holland too, so even better.

It seems a bit lame, two bikes in all the ones that I saw in Vegas. It's a pity because I think that aero has a place in mass start races. When wind resistance is everything, working on details could make sense. Yes, the rider supplies the most drag, but getting the bike slimmed out will make a difference.

Keep in mind I didn't come close to riding either of these bikes - I have no idea how they ride, if the cables bind in their internal routes, how much of a pain it would be to fiddle with the bikes (like a broken cable, or trying to ride with a broken spoke).

I'm assuming the bikes ride fine because, frankly, all bikes have to ride fine in in these days. Making a better bike nowadays means either getting it lighter, more efficient, or more aero. Or some combination of the above.

So, disappointingly, I'll wait until next year for the killer, over the top, hopefully UCI legal aero mass start road bike.

4 comments:

Sigberto said...

If you click on "complete builds" a table pops up with the price(s) for the AC1...

Aki said...

heh, thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Which do you think is faster?
1) FELT AR (team issue)
vs
2) BLUE AC1SL
Cheers

Aki said...

ha. I trust Felt's aero work. And the AC1SL seems very similar. At this level it's splitting hairs - it'll be more about cost, weight, and rigidity/efficiency. But compared to my fat bike, I think both of them would be a small but discernible bit faster. I'd love to do back to back sprints and such on my bike and some aero bikes.