Boardman Elite AiR/TT/1 First Look
Following on from the launch of Boardman Bikes in June 2007, Boardman Elite is a top-level brand that promises cycles designed and built for all-out performance. The first model to emerge from Chris Boardman’s Elite stable is the AiR/TT/1, which is claimed to utilise ‘superior aerodynamic knowledge, advanced carbon engineering and cutting edge materials to create a fast, stiff, lightweight and truly world-class frame’.
Hyperbole apart, the fact is that the AiR/TT/1 is essentially a production version of the world-beating cycles raced by British Cycling’s track squad in recent years and, as such, has to be considered as exactly the machine described above.
It also has time trial 'form', since a UK Track Bike modified for TT use was ridden by both David Millar and Stuart Dangerfield in world championship events. The modifications to that bike included special rear dropouts to bring the Over Locknut Dimension from a track-specific 120mm to the 130mm needed for a derailleur cassette-carrying rear road hub. Similar dropouts, right down to the direct-exit rear mech control cable route, may be seen on the production frame.
The frame is designed by composites guru Dimitris Katsanis who, in addition to creating the UK Track Bike programme in 2002, built the Metron carbon frames campaigned on the track by numerous national cycling federations prior to the UCI’s Millenium clampdown on cycle frame design. The shape of the frame spars was determined by Computational Fluid Dynamics modelling. Instead of a traditional teardrop cross-section, the AiR/TT/1 uses laminar flow airfoil technology, finding a claimed 25percent improvement in air drag.
One major benefit can be seen in the design of the long seat post, which thanks to a symmetric section is reversible to offer a nominal choice of 74deg and 78deg seat angles. Using expertise honed working for Advanced Composites, the firm that built the composite tub for the McLaren Mercedes supercar, Katsanis has dialled the optimal balance of weight and stiffness for competition.
The AiR/TT/1 is offered in S, M and L sizes, with top tube lengths of 530mm, 550mm and 575mm respectively when the seatpost is orientated for a 74deg seat angle. Turning the post around shortens the effective top tube length by 30mm. The two smaller frames share an 80mm head tube and 567mm front centre dimension, while the L has a 120mm top tube and 603mm front centres. All three feature a bottom bracket drop of 67mm.
Price is £2499 for frame, fork and reversible seatpost, a limited number of AiR/TT/1s will be available from early June 2008 and Boardman Elite frames will be distributed in the UK through Italian Solutions.