For 2014 Boardman bikes is bringing out a new time trial bike to succeed the AiR/TT, ridden to victory in the Kona Ironman triathlon.
Boardman claims that the new AiR/TTE is a whopping four percent faster than the previous incarnation, thanks to ‘holistic modelling’, in which the complete bike and rider is studied, rather than just focusing on the aerodynamics of the bike in isolation.
That’s a huge claim. Boardman says against a rider doing 25 mph on an AiR/TT, his or her clone on an AiR/TTE will cover 25 miles 144 seconds faster, all other things being equal.
This video shows the wind tunnel testing of the AiR/TT, the first part of a two-step measurement process that Boardman undertook to assess the difference between the two bikes.
Chris Boardman said: “The all-new AiR/TTE project has been an exciting project for the R&D team here at Boardman and is an example of our holistic approach to design as part of our >B56 Special Projects Dept.
“We’ve taken the Kona winning AiR/TT and developed the incredible AiR/TTE with impressive results — in a world of marginal gains, four percent is massive.
“This video was taken during a session to gather data for a direct comparison between the original TT and the new TTE. Now onto the next one!”
The AiR/TTE’s gains come from improving airflow over many areas of the frame, among other things.
One of the most striking illustrations of this is the airflow around the stem. The AiR/TTE is on the right in this illustration from Boardman’s computational fluid dynamics modelling. You can see how much cleaner the air flow is.
That four percent improvement in speed comes from some equally dramatic improvements in the frame, fork and stem aerodynamics.
Chris told road.cc: "The frame/fork/bar package alone was actually 14-24% lower drag than the 2012 model but I thought it was unfair to tell people that and stop there. So we did repeat tunnel tests, including the rider. This gave us an average of 7% aero improvement for the rider and bike package (we rounded down not up to get 7%).
"I thought it was unfair to stop there too so we factored in all other possible power uses as well and it equated to a robust claim of 4% improvement in actual race performance. Even for this we rounded down not up, it was actually closer to 5%."
Speed doesn’t come cheap. With Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and a pair of Zipp carbon clinchers, the AiR/TTE 9.8 will put a £9,000 hole in your bank account. But it’s okay: you’ve got until April to save up, sell a kidney or put your children on eBay.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.