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Australia rolls out new 3D printed titanium handlebars and cranks to improve aerodynamics

Not to be outdone by the new Hope/Lotus track bike developed for the British Cycling track team, Australia’s Bastion has developed stunning 3D printed titanium handlebars and cranks for Cycling Australia as the race for Tokyo 2020 heats up.

Bastion is a name you might be familiar with if you’ve ever been to the Bespoked UK Handbuilt show, where it has shown bikes made from 3D printing titanium lugs with carbon fibre tubes. 

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It has now put this expertise to use in a new handlebar, stem and crankset for the Cycling Australia team to use in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, provided it passes all the relevant tests and checks. The new stem, handlebar and crankset are designed to be used with the teams Argon 18 Electron Pro track bikes.

Bastion Advanced Engineering and Design (BAED), the division of Bastion Cycles responsible for the new components, has used Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) using Ti-6AL-4V  (Grade 5) titanium combined with filament wound carbon fibre to produce the futuristic-looking components. The process has allowed Bastion to take Cycling Australia’s ideas for new components and quickly turn them into working prototypes.

Titanium_Crank_2(Credit-Bastion)

The cranks have been designed to be aerodynamic, lightweight and extremely stiff. They’ve also integrated a wireless SRM power meter into the cranks. It’s a three-piece structure with each piece 3D printed from titanium, held together with titanium bolts and using infinitely variable alloy 7075 pedal inserts to adjust the crank arm length from 165 to 180mm.

“The stiffness benchmark targets were based on cranks previously used at the Olympic level, but are no longer available. We exceed the stiffness (N/mm at the pedal spindle) of these benchmark cranks by 16%,” explains James Woolcock, Engineering Director at Bastion

Titanium_Crank_1(Credit-Bastion)

“The use of our hollow lattice and stressed-skin shell structure has pushed the weight down, the SRM plate alone makes up roughly 1/3rd the total assembly. Bearing running surfaces and pedal insert bores are post machined, but cinching splines, threads and all other features are ‘as-printed’.  Surface finishing is a combination of vibratory rumbling, blasting and some other Bastion know-how,” he adds.

The Madison Bar to use its actual name has been designed to provide an optimal aerodynamic position by minimising the frontal surface area. The unique shape allows multiple hand and riding positions yet offers “stability and control when on the hoods” whilst also delivering a high level of stiffness. Like the cranks, the bars fully utilise 3D printed titanium.

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“The motivation for the shape of these bars came from study done by Cycling Australia. They came to us with a first-cut concept that we have refined with prototypes back-and-forth between Bastion and Cycling Australia.  With the ergonomics and shape nailed down, we got to work on the structural design and internal detail. Again the hollow lattice, stressed-skin strategy is employed along with stiffening ribs and optimised wall thicknesses to meet the stiffness targets,” explains James Woolcock, Engineering Director at Bastion.

The final component is the Sprint Stem, designed to connect the Madison Bar to the front of the Argon 18 Electron Pro track bike. It uses the regular 4-bolt interface as the conventional stem and bar so no special components or modifications are needed to the rather conventional frame. The stem is going to be available in various lengths up to 160mm with effective angles between +17/-17-degree as well as several stack heights.

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It’s clear that Bastion and Cycling Australia have looked to focus on improving performance by reducing the frontal surface area of the rider with the distinctive handlebar, but using a regular track frame that has been raced previously in competition. The components also provide a wide range of fit adjustments and can be adjusted to suit different rides to ensure the aero optimisation of every athlete. It’s all-together a more conservative approach than British Cycling but the real test will be next summer.

The new components have received UCI approval and were used in Glasgow over the weekend in order to achieve the necessary acceptance from the UCI to be ridden at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Sprint Stem is available to order now and the bars and cranks will be available for order from 1st January 2020. More info at www.bastioncycles.com

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.