Tour de France

Tech gallery: Team Sky’s Pinarello Graal time trial bike

A look at Team Sky's Pinarello Graal time trial bikes.

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Team Sky's Pinarello Graal time trial bikes
Team Sky's Pinarello Graal time trial bike

We caught glimpses of it during the Giro and the Tour de France, streaking along under the likes of Team Sky riders Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas. But up to recently, good information about the new Pinarello Graal time trial bike has been limited.

But bit by bit, the bike seems to be inching toward a public unveiling.

A debut under Wiggins

Back at the Tour start in Rotterdam, Team Sky mechanic Philip Tisma gave us just a little insight on the exotic-looking bike. Wiggins rode it in the Giro d’Italia, but the Tour de France marked the first time that every team rider would have a Graal platform for the time trials. “Now is the real first test actually,” said Tisma. “Now there are more guys on it.”

Before the racing began, Tisma told us that team leader Wiggins had three of the bikes built and set up to his specs, but hadn’t decided if he’d race the Di2-equipped bike preferred by most Shimano-sponsored riders, or if he’d go with mechanical Dura-Ace.

In the Giro prologue, he rode mechanical Dura-Ace. But in the final Giro time trial of stage 21, he rode Di2. What gives? Why would anyone in pick mechanical Dura-Ace time trial shift levers over the vaunted Di2?

It’s in order to push the limits of what the UCI considers legal for aero extension length. The UCI measures aero extension length to the center attachment bolt on mechanical shifters, but all the way out to the tip of the shifter with Di2. As a result, Wiggins can ride aero extensions that are effectively longer simply by using the mechanical shifters.

Team Sky's Pinarello Graal time trial bikes
The bike we photographed was set up with Di2

As to other details on Wiggins’s bike, they’re not extraordinary but as with the extensions, they’re certainly designed to push for every advantage. Ceramic bearings on nearly every rotating part, including BB, headset, hubs, and derailleur pulleys, are the norm. Likewise with titanium bolts. Remarkably, Tisma said that Wiggins’s bike weighed just over 6.8kg – that’s barely above the UCI minimum weight and a relative rarity in aero bikes. Hed wheels are the standard as are Dura-Ace components and Prologo saddles.

More details come to light

We’re happy to report that marketing and design specialist Jenny Tuttle at Gita Sport, Pinarello’s U.S. distributor, finally hooked us up with more details on the Graal time trial bikes. Obviously in classic Italian fashion, it’s a beauty to behold. But for Wiggins and Team Sky, it’s got the function they demand to power down good rides for their sponsors.

Pinarello’s marketing material says that their experience with the Dogma road platform helped in designing the new Graal TT frameset. (Related: Team Bissell’s Pinarello Dogma team bikes)

“The cardinal points of the GRAAL start from new geometries with respect to the FM1 (Pinarello’s current aero frame),” reads Pinarello’s description of the bike, “With wider angles on the vertical seat tube and seat post. New tube sections generated directly by the computer, in particular narrowing the down tube to maximize performance, and the front brake is new as well, situated behind the fork to improve the aerodynamic coefficient. “

The Graal frame will be available in two versions. One specifically designed for Di2 will have internal wiring and the battery integrated under the left chainstay. The version for mechanical shifting also has internally routed cables, but the non-drive chainstay is thinner since it lacks the battery perch.

Other frame design features are relatively standard. The carbon frame is made from Pinarello’s 60HM1K material. The steerer tube uses internal 1 1/8th-inch upper and lower bearings, supporting the Graal Carbon 60HM1K fork. At least on the team bikes, the bottom bracket is threaded for standard external bearings. As is common on some purpose-built aero bikes, the upper seat tube is vertical and a curved lower portion shrouds the rear wheel. Pinarello says a 54cm frame weighs 1100 grams.

Team Sky's Pinarello Graal time trial bikes
The base bar presents a sleek profile to the wind.

Pinarello built a handlebar to integrate with the form of the frame. The GRAAL handlebar has internal passages for both electronic and mechanical cables to achieve clean aerodynamics. The bar width is 410 mm with multiple stem extensions available (120 mm, 105 mm, and 90 mm). As you might expect, the aero extensions are interchangeable for various widths and tilt angles and adjustable for height and length. The GRAAL frame and handlebar are made of Torayca 60HM carbon fiber with a 1K carbon weave finish and Nanoalloy technology. The GRAAL frame will be available in five sizes and will be completely customizable on the Pinarello Web site.