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Paris-Roubaix tire pressure is a conundrum; riders want high pressure for the road sections and low pressure for the cobblestones. This year, Team DSM can have their cake and eat it too with an on-bike system that can increase or decrease tubeless tire pressures at the touch of a button.
The UCI approved the system on Monday.
Team DSM confirmed to VeloNews that its men’s and women’s teams plan to use partner brand Scope’s hub-based Atmoz product for Paris-Roubaix this coming weekend.
Having high pressure means less rolling resistance on the pavement, but a jarring ride on the cobbles. But having very low tire pressure for the cobbles means they are giving up valuable watts the rest of the race. Now Team DSM can adjust on the fly.
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Per UCI regulation, Scope’s gadget is already available on the mass market, currently selling at a hefty €3,304 ($3,591).
DSM officials confirmed to VeloNews on Tuesday that Scope and the team will officially launch the product Friday, just in time for “Hell of the North.”
How does it work?
Team DSM and the Dutch wheel brand Scope are longtime collaborators, with each entity listing the other on its list of official suppliers.
The UCI specifically linked to Scope’s Atmoz in its press statement Monday and provided extra information on how it worked.
“Authorized in line with article 1.3.004 of the UCI Regulations, the tire pressure management system is controlled by buttons on the handlebar and uses mechanical valves to regulate airflow between the air reservoir and the tubeless tire,” read the UCI release. “The system does not alter the structural integrity of the wheelset and does not contain any moving parts or compressors.”
The pressure-management system is the product of what Team DSM revealed to VeloNews was a multi-year project that it hopes will push forward race performance across the road calendar.
“Via two remote controller buttons you can manually adjust your tire pressure, while your actual tire pressure is visible on your bike computer,” reads the brand’s official retail description of the system. “With easily up to 30 watts of reduced rolling resistance, combined with improved comfort and safety in rough and wet conditions, this product will be revolutionary for the cycling industry.”
The Atmoz works via mechanical valves that regulate airflow between an air reservoir and the tire.
Handlebar-mounted buttons wirelessly connect to a control unit that initiates real-time pressure inflation or deflation in a system that can be retroactively added to any 29″ (700c) wheelset.
Gravaa also launched a similar product last year for gravel and MTB systems.
Pressures on the pavé
The UCI approval of the new tech, backdated April 1, comes perfectly timed ahead of the Paris-Roubaix weekend.
Roubaix men’s and women’s races are events where tire pressure can make-or-break monument dreams.
Riders spend hours in cobblestone recons tweaking set-ups to the tiniest detail in the quest to balance comfort and control for the pavé with the speed needed for the traditional surfaces that make up some 80 percent of the parcours.
There’s no perfect mid-point however, and typically one focus has to make way for the other.
Heinrich Haussler told VeloNews that his ride to 10th place last year was founded on a set of near-empty Continental tires running at 2.6 and 2.7 bar (38 and 39psi) that angled toward the control needed on the mud-slicked cobblestones.
“I really like riding super low pressure, and when I knew it was raining I decided to risk it,” Haussler said. “I knew I would suffer a little bit in the first 90Ks [before the first set of cobbles], just from the rolling resistance.
“But I knew once we hit that first section that on the cobblestones, where the differences were made, it would pay off. That’s why when I was on the cobblestones I was never really in trouble.”
For comparison, Lizzie Deignan made history at the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes on a set of Pirelli P Zero tubeless tires running just 2.3 bar (33psi).
In theory, Scope’s system will eradicate the need for DSM’s riders to trade between cobblestone comfort and traditional-surface speed this weekend in an advancement that could change the game altogether.
And the potential advantages won’t end in the Roubaix velodrome.
Weight considerations aside, the system could serve the lastest marginal gain across the top-tier calendar, from the dirt and dust of Strade Bianche and cobbles of Flanders to the increasingly included gravel tracks of grand tour stages.
Paris-Roubaix has seen many innovations and experiments with tech, some as simple as double bar tape and bottle cage grip-strips to highly developed gadgets like Specialized’s FutureShock steerer tube dampener.
Will in-race tire pressure regulation become the latest marginal mainstay?
Keep tabs on Team DSM this weekend to find out.
Stay tuned for more information of the DSM-Scope system in the coming week. The team will also be producing a video about the project very soon.
From Fall 2021