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The Santos Tour Down Under is the first WorldTour race of the year and it’s not just new bikes that are on display. There’s also an array of new tech being used by the teams of the 2017 TDU.
Some teams are testing new equipment ahead of the European season, others are using the new year to debut entirely new frames and bike builds. Here’s a look at the new bits and pieces on show at the Tour Down Under.
And if you love your bike tech, be sure to stay tuned in the coming days: we’ll be rounding up the latest in kits, shoes and helmets soon too.
Ridley Helium SLX, Noah Disc and Fenix SL Disc
Revealed at the Tour Down Under, Ridley’s update on the lightweight Helium SL platform has arrived. It’s a bike that US tech editor James Huang first teased at the 2016 Tapei Cycle Show.
The new Helium SLX is a wholly new frameset that boosts stiffness-to-weight compared to the Helium SL predecessor. Despite its smoother profile, there was no talk from Ridley on its design being influenced by aerodynamic factors.
The new frameset will be ridden by the likes of 2016 Tour de France King of the Mountains winner Thomas De Gendt and Grand-Tour smasher Adam Hansen. Both riders were at the bike’s new launch and spoke positively of the previous Helium SL, before suggesting that the increase in stiffness is only a positive change.
In a medium size with paint, the new Helium SLX frame is claimed to weigh just 750grams. It’s an impressive weight made better through a claimed 15% increase in front-end stiffness, something that Hansen claims is noticeable to him.
A big help for this increased stiffness is the move to a straight-bladed front fork. A PressFit 30 (PF30) bottom bracket, revised carbon layup and new tube shapes are all other contributing aspects on how the stiffness to weight ratio was improved.
Ridley pointed to the stainless steel inserts at the dropouts that protect from repetitive clamping wear. Such a feature shows consideration for long-term use and is certainly heavier than using straight carbon dropouts as many other lightweight frames do.
Internal cable routing is new to the Helium platform too, with Hansen pointing out that the rear brake cable is run diagonally through the top tube (in on the right, out on the left) to prevent the inner cable from rattling on the frame. A nice touch.
The new Helium is one of three new platforms being released for 2017, with the Noah SL Disc and Fenix SL Disc endurance bike previously announced too. The latter being a bike that’s a new top-level offering to Ridley’s best-selling platform. This new premium version offers space for 30mm tyres, 12mm thru-axles front and rear and Ridley’s signature diamond shaped tubes which are said to resist side impacts.
Pinarello Dogma F10
Sky’s new bike has already had plenty of attention, and has been perhaps overshadowed by the public patent dispute from Velocite.
The new frame is a refinement on the Dogma F8, a bike the entire Sky team has used in the majority of its races since mid-July 2014. The new F10 builds on this successful winning (and selling) platform with extra aero trickery first seen in the Italian company’s Bollide timetrial bikes.
This includes a concave downtube that tucks the bidon into the frame, small flaps that sit behind the back of the forktips and a third mounting bolt on the seattube to place a bottle cage even lower on the frame. The widely bowed fork shape continues over from the F8.
Further subtle aero improvements are seen with new Shimano Di2 integration. What Pinarello dubs ‘E-Link’, places the Shimano Di2 junction box in the downtube instead of the previous position that saw the junction box placed beneath the stem suspended by a rubber strap. Pinarello are one of the first to offer such Di2 integration, perhaps only beaten by the Trek Madone 9.
It’s the latest Shimano Di2 R9150 groupset that features this new junction box to sit within the downtube, and Sky are the only team at this year’s Tour Down Under with such a thing.
The new frame also improves on its stiffness to weight ratio, dropping frame weight to 820g for an unpainted 53cm. Frame stiffness is said to be up by 7% but it’s unclear where it’s being measured.
Geometry is unchanged from the F8. Bikes are shipping to dealers already.
Shimano Dura-Ace powermeter
There’s little new to tell of the Dura-Ace powermeter, except that it’s now in use. FDJ have Shimano’s first production powermeter on all its race bikes, with Giant-Sunweb expecting to receive theirs shortly too.
FDJ has a close relationship with Shimano, with prototypes of Shimano’s first powermeter seen previously with the French outfit.
The rechargeable powermeter has a small pod visible between the chainrings and a slim part bonded to the left crank arm. The wire connecting the right crank to the left runs through the hollow cranks and spindle. A special preload end-cap allows access so that the left arm can be unplugged from the right during servicing.
FDJ are using the powermeters with Garmin 520 Edge computers.
SRM is undoubtedly the leading choice of powermeter in the pro peleton, but in recent years the German units have been looking a little overweight compared to options from the likes of 4iii, Pioneer and Stages.
Perhaps partly due to Shimano releasing its own powermeter, SRM has clearly invested into creating its own lightweight version to headline its range. This new spindle-based version is already found on bikes of Bahrain-Merida, and will soon be found on the bikes of Ag2r too.
Said to weight just 99grams each, the carbon crank arms were originally designed with help from fellow German company THM-Carbones. Unsurprising, SRM’s new crank arms look a lot like THM’s Clavicula SE crankset. The powermeter is currently setup with Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 chainrings.
Further proving that SRM is making a play at offering its own complete cranksets, we spotted a new alloy version on the spare team bikes of Bahrain-Merida. Speaking to a team mechanic, the alloy crank mimics the design of the lightweight carbon version and adds approximately 100grams as a whole setup. If this is true, this alloy version will still be lighter than the current Shimano 11-speed version that’s based on Dura-Ace R9000 cranks.
More from SRM, Lotto-Soudal’s Adam Hansen has been spotted riding a couple of different miscellaneous units. The Australian easily has the most unusual bike setup in the pro peloton and rides with 180mm cranks. With such an odd choice, the teams usual Campagnolo SRM isn’t an option and instead he was riding what appeared to be Lightning carbon cranks with an SRM spider.
It’s likely these are a short-term solution until SRM can offer something closer to the new carbon crank being used by Bahrain. Since the weekend, we’ve spotted Hansen riding what looks to be an unlabelled Rotor SRM.
Flaér Revo Via chain luber
ORICA-Scott has a new sponsorship agreement with Flaér (trading name of Scottoiler Sport Solutions) which sees automated Revo Via chain lubers fitted to the downtube of team bikes. With continuous electronically released lube, the system claims to save as much as 12-Watts of energy at the rear wheel – a number that could well be true at the later point of a race. Team mechanic, Craig Geater, said that even if half that number is true, it’s an advantage.
The reservoir unit, which houses the electronics and battery, sits on the downtube, mounted on a bracket from the bidon cage bolts. This mount is similar in function to how the battery was held in the first generation Shimano Dura-Ace Di2. The unit itself is reminiscent in size and shape to the original Campagnolo EPS battery, if not a little smaller.
From here, oil is released down a tube that runs to the rear derailleur. This hose has a mount that lets lube drip onto the bottom pulley wheel. The system can be programmed to lube the chain as often as every 30 seconds.
Flaér has its own lube, a thinner, non-sticky oil. It’s something that Geater says is actually easier to wash off than standard chain lube.
The downside? Such tech is said to add 121grams to the bike, and that’s before a maximum of 27ml of lube is added.
Giant NeosTrack GPS computer
Giant’s new ‘NeosTrack’ GPS computer is new to us, but appears to share close similarity and a feature list with a Bryton 530 unit. Given the sheer investment needed to create a wholly new computer, it would make sense if Giant has rebranded an existing product or worked with a partner.
The team are currently using the GPS with Pioneer powermeters but will soon switch to Shimano Dura-Ace units.
The computer can display Shimano Di2 gear selection. According to Giant, this new device will be available for sale later in the year.
Vision Metron 5D aero handlebar
Another item first found at the 2016 Taipei Cycle Show, the majority of Lotto-JumboNL team bikes feature the new Vision Metron 5D integrated handlebar and stem.
A division of FSA, the aero handlebar claims to be the stiffest integrated bar setup on the market. At a claimed 395grams, it’s not an overly light setup and so the stiffness claim is likely accurate.
Cables are run internally with space available for the current generation Shimano Di2 junction box.
A bolt-on computer mount sits off the front of bars for Garmin computers. Although with a computer mounted, the setup isn’t quite as low-profile.