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by Matt de Neef
February 26, 2020
Photography by Peter Svendsen Ebro/Argon 18
Cycling Australia has officially revealed the bike that its track riders will compete on at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Argon 18’s new 2020 Electron Pro is the result of more than two years of research and development in a collaboration that involved Cycling Australia, Argon 18, Zipp, Monash University and Adelaide University.
Much of the development process was focused on reducing the bike’s frontal profile. The result is a new pursuit fork design that brings the fork legs as close to the disc wheel as possible, reportedly reducing fork drag by 30% compared to the bike’s previous iteration. This is notable for being the opposite approach to that taken by Great Britain, Lotus and Hope Technology — that collaboration led to considerably wider front fork spacing, also with the goal of reducing fork drag.
To accommodate the narrow fork spacing, the Electron Pro’s new pursuit configuration features a 40 mm front axle — considerably narrower than the industry standard of 100 mm. The 2020 Electron Pro’s sprint configuration, meanwhile, keeps the standard axle.
The pursuit fork on the new Electron Pro hugs the front wheel tightly, reportedly reducing aerodynamic drag.
The pursuit fork’s 40 mm axle necessitated the design of a new disc wheel: the Zipp Super-9 Tubular Track Disc AUS. While the new wheel is said to optimise “supreme aerodynamics, power transfer, stiffness, lightweight and durability” it’s not clear whether it offers any improvements over previous iterations.
The 2020 Electron Pro also features aerodynamic improvements to the bike’s handlebars and extensions.
“The sprint dropbar features molded grips that are designed to guide the orientation of the elbows and shoulders to achieve optimal aero results,” Argon 18 suggests in a primer on the new design. “For the pursuit cockpit, the aero extensions were molded closely to the rider’s arms in order to offer maximum stiffness and precise piloting, with measurable drag reduction from improved positioning.”
As for the frame itself, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis and wind tunnel testing were reportedly used to refine aerodynamic performance, while finite element analysis (FEA) was used to determine what effect any aero modifications would have on the frame’s stiffness. It’s unclear whether that work has resulted in any significant changes to the new frame, but a company primer on the design suggests “the layup was then optimised based on these [testing] results, to achieve minimum weight while maintaining frame stiffness and strength.”
The new Electron Pro also boasts an integrated speed sensor mount, which reportedly allows for data acquisition and transmission without compromising the frame’s aero performance.
While the new Electron Pro was officially unveiled on Tuesday, it has already been used in competition: at the Track World Cup in Cambridge, New Zealand in December last year. This week’s official announcement comes on the eve of the 2020 Track World Championships in Berlin, the last major international competition before the Tokyo Olympics begin in late July.
In November last year Australian bike and component brand Bastion revealed it had made 3D-printed titanium stems, Madison handlebars and cranksets for Australia’s track team bikes. This week’s announcement makes no mention of Bastion components, but the brand’s products could still be used in both Berlin and Tokyo. CyclingTips understands that Bastion components have been registered for use at the Olympics but that, given the parts’ bespoke nature, their use will depend on team selections.
As per UCI guidelines, the new Electron Pro is publicly available for purchase. US$18,000 (AU$27,270) will get you the frameset, the pursuit and sprint cockpit, the standard and narrow fork, and the Zipp wheelset.