By Matt Pacocha
Ag2r-La Mondiale’s Rinaldo Nocentini scored a tough win in stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California aboard BH’s G4 Global Concept team bike on Saturday.
While we don’t have the winner’s bike to profile, we did catch up with the team earlier in the week and managed to grab some shots and details about the team’s bikes, produced by Spain’s Fabricante de bicicletas de Álava.
The team is actually riding bikes from last year, due in part to transAtlantic travel problems and partly because of the difficulty working out compatibility issues among all of the team’s sponsored 2009 components.
Ag2r doesn’t rely solely on one component manufacturer for its drivetrains; instead, it’s split down the middle between Campagnolo, which provides shifters, derailleurs and cassette, and FSA, which provides handlebars, stems, brakes and cranks.
Those last components, cranks and chainrings, are the one creating issue, as FSA doesn’t currently make an 11-speed compatible chainring or a crank with a bolt pattern that accepts Campagnolo’s chainrings.
FSA’s Max Ralph says that the 11-speed rings are in development and will be available to the team before the season hits full stride. As a result, the team is still relying on 10-speed Campagnolo drivetrains.
Ralph has good news for both the team and consumers, though. FSA will offer its top tier K-Force crank with a 130mm bolt pattern to consumers in 2009. By Tour time, FSA will likely have a prototype 11-speed time trial shifter available for the team to use, so long as the team’s Campagnolo contract permits its use.
“It allows for better shifting in the aero position,” said Ralph. “You have to move less (than any other shifter on the market) to shift it.”
BH’s G4 Global Concept team bike will be available in a consumer version for a suggested retail sticker price $6600. BH USA founder Chris Cocalis said a 54cm version will tip the scales at a featherweight 13.25-pounds, perhaps justifying the hefty price tag.
Cocalis said he is pleased with the reception BH bikes have received since they’ve been used at the top tier of the peloton, but added the company is now working frantically to comply with the UCI’s recent promise to end its rather lax enforcement of its aerodynamic profile rules. Evidently BH had just finished cutting its molds for a brand new time trial bike that was to be released this spring, but the new bike missed the 3:1 ratio rule by 1 centimeter. That meant the molds had to be scrapped and re-cut, causing a delay on the delivery of the bike, not to mention the considerable investment in now-useless molds and the ensuing retooling effort.
“It’s like less than 1 centimeter, but we can’t risk that for those guys,” he said. “We’ve got to re-cut all of the molds anyway to build them 30 bikes, so all of them have to be that way. You have to have it right.”
12-Pound BH G4Like Cannondale, BH built up a special bike for the AToC expo that weighed in at 12-pounds. While not quite as light as the Cannondale’s ultra light build, the BH was just as impressive because it relied on even more standard components than those used by Cannondale to build its show bike.
FSA and SRAM are the primary components of the build. The only non-standard items are Power Cordz cables, Nokon aluminum housing, KMC chain and an aluminum cassette from IRD. The wheels use the same Edge low-profile rims as the Cannondale, but with DT 190 hubs instead of Tune.