We stopped by the Bora-Argon 18 team hotel in the days leading up to the start of the Tour de France to take a closer look at Sam Bennett’s race bike.
The Irishman is riding Argon 18’s Nitrogen Pro, the Canadian company’s latest aero road bike, with a frame designed to reduce drag through careful tube shaping and the use of integrated brakes.
Tour Tech 2016: 9 aero road bikes
Sam’s Tour de France hasn’t gotten off to a great start. He crashed on the opening day when several riders collided with barriers in the sprint finish, but the brave soldier he is, it’s continuing to race.
He positions himself as s sprinter - he has won a stage of the Critérium International this year and finished highly in other races, including 7th overall at Tour of Qatar, a race that attracts sprinters.
He’ll be racing the Nitrogen Pro, the updated aero bike that was first unveiled at the Tour de France last year. The frame is made from carbon using a layup that saves a whopping 130g over the previous Nitrogen, with a claimed 833g weight.
It’s fully equipped, with a Shimano Di2 electronic groupset and an FSA K-Force Light carbon fibre crankset with a solid outer chainring. That’s a Power2Max power meter sandwiched between the cranks and chainrings.
The FSA sponsorship continues, with Vision Metron 81 wheels. Vision is owned by FSA and is used for its range of wheels, with this 81mm deep-section wheel being one of the deeper wheels. It’s more commonly used on time trial bikes but we presume Sam likes the aero benefits they provide and isn’t worried about the extra weight.
It’s FSA again when we turn our attention to the handlebars and stem. Like many sprinters, he’s using an aluminium handlebar in a 420mm width. That’s a 120mm stem with no spacers between it and the frame. Slammed! That’s a K-Edge aluminium out-front mount for his computer.
FSA handlebar tape with a natty red and white striped finished wraps the handlebars and once again we see the team keeping its sponsor happy with FSA stickers applied to the front of the handlebars, providing more coverage from head-on photos and television coverage.
Vittoria released is new Corsa tyres infused with Graphene goodness last year, and it’s enjoying quite a lot of exposure this summer with a number of squads using its tyres. The tan sidewalls look great, don’t they? They’re 25mm wide, as has pretty much become the standard in the peloton this year.
One of the key features of the Nitrogen Pro’s design are the TRP mini v-brakes, with the front positioned behind the fork blades. The shape, very flat and slim, and the positioning is designed to reduce drag.
Of course, the tube shapes are all designed to reduce drag, with an aero seatpost and integrated seatclamp. The cables are all routed internally, the Di2 wiring entering the top of the top tube just behind the stem. It’s not quite as advanced as the cable routeing on the Specialized Venge or Trek Madone.
Let's hope Sam Bennett can recover from his crash and put in a good performance during the remainder of the race.
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