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© Richard Melik
The Bike Tech of Kona 2015
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Friday 23rd October 2015


Tags  Canyon  |  Ceramic Speed  |  Culprit  |  Enve  |  Kona 2015  |  Richard Melik  |  Ventum  |  Zipp


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Fast athletes and the latest and greatest kit - physical capability and the best technology come together every year in Kona for the Ironman World Championships. Richard Melik has been 'our man in Kona' for several years now, a visit which is something of a busman's holiday given he is a confessed bike and equipment geek, something that comes in very useful in his day job as a bike fitter at Freespeed (www.freespeed.co.uk) in London.

In this piece, Richard runs through some of the 2015 Kona Bike Technology that was on show in Hawaii this year and will be coming your way in stores or online soon.


Bike Tech from Kona 2015

One of the highlights of any trip to Kona, for me at least, is to wander around the expo and check out some of the latest bike technology.

Ceramic Speed (www.ceramicspeed.com)

First up was a chat with Ben Powell of Ceramic Speed, a relatively small Danish company that is really punching above its weight and he suggested that 45% of the pros racing at Kona were using at least one of their products. Most of these were unsponsored athletes who had chosen to buy the products themselves.

Predominantly recognised for their ceramic bearings and bottom brackets, they have recently introduced oversize derailleur pulley wheels and UFO chains.

The pulleys are huge and take a bit of getting used to from a visual standpoint, but the theory is that they straighten the chainline around the pulley wheels and with the ceramic bearings they claim to reduce friction by 60%. These pulleys can be retrofitted to existing Shimano derailleurs.

Ceramic Speed

The UFO (Ultra Fast Optimised) chains have a unique design and are treated with a wax based lubricant that is optimal for about 200 miles of use and can save between 2-5 watts, pretty significant at the pointy end of the field. Once the wax has worn off you are still left with a high quality chain but these chains are predominantly aimed at the high performance racing market where seconds matter.

For more information visit: http://www.ceramicspeed.com/sport/our-products/

Enve Wheels (www.enve.com)

One of the unusual aspects of the Kona expo is that you can often chat with the owners and designers of the various brands rather than simply junior sales staff. In previous years Phil White, one of the founders of Cervelo, has always been very visible and this year Jim Felt, the founder of Felt bicycles, was on hand to discuss last minute mechanical issues with any athletes who dropped by their tent.

On that note, it was a pleasure to spend time with aerodynamics guru Simon Smart at the Enve tent. In town to launch their new super fast 7.8 wheelset he was also an interested observer of the race having had a hand in the design of both the new Scott and Giant TT frames and the Endura skin suits that several of the favourites were riding and wearing.

Enve

The new 7.8 is a completely new wheelset design and is claimed to be faster than their previous deeper 8.9 rims.

The front and rear wheels have completely redesigned rim shapes and widths, Simon explained that the front wheel has a cleaner flow and improved steering stability which is a much greater consideration than for the rear wheel which has greater frame interaction and a more turbulent air flow.

The wheels will ship as standard with new Enve carbon hubs using Ceramic Speed bearings but there remains the option to select DT Swiss and Chris King hubs if preferred.

Enve

Here is a great promotional video by Enve featuring the UK's own Rachel Joyce:

Rachel Joyce - Ready from ENVE Composites on Vimeo.

For more information visit: http://enve.com/products/ses-7-8/

Zipp Wheels (www.zipp.com)

Another wheel launch of note in race week was the Zipp 808 NSW wheelset. The Nest Speed Weaponry project, named after the Nest development lab within Zipp headquarters, showcased some exciting innovations.

Zipp

A new rim shape and ‘sawtooth' dimple design are claimed to give a 3-4 watt saving and an 8-10% crosswind stability improvement over a traditional pair of Firecrest 808s.

One of the most compelling aspects of the new wheels are the Cognition hubs which use magnets to release the ratchet mechanism when coasting, creating significantly less friction than traditional hubs.

Zipp

Finally braking performance has been improved with the Silicon Carbide treatment on the Showstopper brake track, always good to know that braking is reliable even if you aren't planning to slow down much during a race!

For more information visit: http://www.zipp.com/nsw/

Ventum (www.ventumracing.com)

A bike that we hadn't seen before in the flesh was the Ventum, a new breed of carbon monocoque frame that echoes some of the technology used by Chris Boardman and his 1992 Barcelona Olympics gold medal winning Lotus bike.

Ventum

The result of an engineering and entrepreneurial partnership between Jimmy Seear and Diaa Nour the bike is a love it or hate it design, particularly when seen without the optional water bottle on the top tube.

A Ventum white paper, however, claims a 24% reduction in drag over the next fastest bike (Cervelo P5) in their wind tunnel tests. Currently being ridden by pro athletes Leanda Cave and Kyle Buckingham amongst others it has been raced throughout 2015 but is finally available to buy as of December this year.

Ventum

We overheard several people putting in orders for the bike at the expo so there are plenty of athletes convinced by the wind tunnel data.

For more information visit: www.ventumracing.com

Canyon (www.canyon.com)

Probably the bike that we were most keen to see in person was the new Canyon Speedmax CF SLX. We now know this to be an Ironman World Championship winning bike courtesy of Jan Frodeno before it has even been released and we were very impressed by some of the features on the bike.

Canyon

It has taken a great bike, the existing Speedmax, and significantly improved it with excellent use of integrated storage to create fairings and improve aerodynamics. Other nice touches included the recesses within the armpad risers to push in the Di2 cabling, keeping the cables neat and out of the wind yet easily accessible.

With dedicated places to stow tools, energy bars, gels and an integrated hydration system Canyon could be putting the storage accessory companies out of business! With their usual ultra competitive pricing we expect these bikes to quite literally fly out of the Canyon factory when pre orders are taken in December.

Canyon

For more information visit: www.canyon.com/en/

Culprit Bicycles (www.culpritbicycles.com)

The final bike that caught our eye in race week was a prototype TT frame from Culprit Bicycles, the Legend. An innovative design with no seat stays and supersized chain stays, together with a disc brake option, the bike has been designed with integration and ease of travel in mind alongside the obvious speed requirements.

Culprit

The brand is currently wind testing the model before taking it to production and there are plans to launch it through Kickstarter later in the year with a promise of a 35% reduction in an already attractive price to early adopters.

For more information visit: http://culpritbicycles.com

#GBKONA 2015 Coverage


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