Fresh from unveiling Boardman Bikes’ new AiR/TTE at the Ironman Hawaii expo, we caught up with Chris Boardman (pictured above with Pete Jacobs) to talk through the development process of the new tri bike…
220: When did the development start for the new AiR/TTE?
Chris Boardman: The development started just before the launch of the 2010 model. As soon as one model is released, I know the things I didn’t manage to get in in time!
Who was involved in the process and were there any new influences (be it recent wind tunnel data or bike science, other bikes or technicians) shaping the finished design?
For the new model, we’ve have worked with Dimitris Katsanis, the composite engineer who has worked with me for nine years on the GB Olympic team equipment, and another member of that R&D team who did all our CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics). We have stuck with the same wind tunnel that we’ve used from the start. Some of the tube shapes have been refined, others have been wholly reworked with a huge focus on the whole front end.
What areas did you particularly focus on improving?
The forks have been totally redesigned with a whole new internal brake that performs as well as a road brake but is totally integrated. There are no external cables at all now and we’ve developed our own bars/stem that integrate with the frame. To be honest there are so many new areas, it’s not possible to list them all here. But it’s all been worth it as the frame drag has dropped a whopping 20% (at high yaw angles) over it’s predecessor, which was already a really clean bike.
Was the bike course at Kona a key factor in the design or versatility across the long-distance spectrum?
Kona made us really think about yaw (wind angle of attack) and our research showed us that the average wind angle is a lot higher than people realise (between 10 and 20 degrees). [Computer] modelling predicts the bike Pete [Jacobs] will use this year could save him as much as 7mins over the 180km bike leg as opposed to 2012, and that was being pessimistic.
Off the back of Pete’s 2012 win, what is the presence of Boardman Bikes like in Australia?
Sales growth in Australia has continued to be very strong and we expect that to continue. Of course having top athletes like Pete really helps with exposure but, on it’s own, it isn’t enough. It gets people’s attention but then you have to have good product and the responsibility for that is on us. I’m confident that the 2014 bikes are another big step forward.