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Tour de France tech: Scott’s new F01 bikes

HTC-Columbia is testing a new bike said to be as stiff and light as previous models, but more aerodynamic.

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2010 Tour de France Tech: The Scott F01 road bike
Born in the windtunnel.

The parade of new bikes and tech at the 2010 Tour de France continues with Scott Bicycles and their F01 project road bike. The new road bike is built to blend the stiffness and responsive handling demanded by Mark Cavendish with the aerodynamics to aid his powerful leadout train. Impressively, despite claims of significant wind-cheating benefit, Scott says the bike only gained a few grams over its current top-end road racing model, the Addict.

“The name is the name of a project, because it is still a prototype,” said Lionel Giardin, who is responsible for global marketing with Scott Bicycles. “We’re going to validate it on the Tour de France this year, and the name is Project F01.”

The F01 project has been in the works for over a year. “The kickoff of the project was made after the Giro 2009,” explained Giardin. “It was after the presentation of the Plasma TT, which was really innovative and aerodynamic, which was when I drink coffee and say, ‘so, what’s next?’ and it’s where this thing starts.”

Giardin’s description of the F01 road bike’s properties is impressive. He says that the goal was to bring aerodynamics to a road frame without losing the light weight and stiffness of the Addict. “It’s not only aerodynamic but it’s a real road racing bike which blends stiffness and light weight,” said Giardin.

Scott’s material indicates that the goals were achieved with a frame and fork tipping the scales at 1277 grams. According to Scott, the frame alone weighs just 840 grams, which is only five percent more than the Addict.

And in terms of aerodynamics, Giardin says that the F01’s tube profiles offers up to a 20-watt power savings for a bike and rider in the wind tunnel. “When you go for a long ride and when you push to 300 watts, that makes a huge difference at the end of the stage,” he said.

Scott’s aerodynamics data charts indicate that when compared to bikes like Felt’s AR and Cervelo’s S3, it’s similarly slippery in the wind. But it also claims to be up to 20-percent lighter. And, Scott’s tests indicate that it’s stiffer in both the head tube and bottom bracket.

Scott achieved its goals not by using deeply bladed frame tubes, but by taking familiar airfoil shapes and chopping off the trailing edges. It’s a design long exploited in the automotive industry and last year, Trek introduced the idea to cycling with its Speed Concept time trial bike, which is now in production. Trek’s shape is different from Scott’s. The Wisconsin company calls it a “Kamm Tail” airfoil.

Referring to Scott’s new tube shape, “The technology we used is what we call the F01 aero technology,” said Giardin. “We take a NACA profile, which is a basic aero profile, but we use only the leading edge on the front of the tube. Then, we shave the rest. But to make sure it works we have to work on the transition between the leading edge and the rear area. And here, it’s the angle and radius that is going to make the difference,” he explained.

2010 Tour de France Tech: The Scott F01 road bike

The objective with this kind of aerodynamic shape is to keep airflow smooth and laminar across the tube shapes. Careful rounding of both leading and trailing edges helps meet the goal and prevents turbulence as airflow separates from the tubes. The shape forces flow separation from the tube earlier than what is typical, but the careful tube shaping keeps drag-inducing turbulence to a minimum. One benefit of this shape is effective aerodynamics not only heading directly into the wind, but also at yaw angles of 10, 15, and up to 20 or 25 degrees.

For now, Scott is calling the bike a prototype, and is using the HTC-Columbia team for testing. Giardin said, “For us it’s really important to get a validation at the Tour de France with multiple stages and all kinds of racing situations. Really to test what this bike is like and how it’s going to react and get really strong feedback from our team,” he said.

“It is really exciting to see the guys, really exciting to see this new bike racing and how it’s going to work,” added Giardin. “For us it’s the best time to get a racing bike out. We’ve been working with the team, they’re really involved in our process of development, and now it’s time to get it on the road.”

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