Oval test day... at Silverstone! - Road Cycling UK

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Oval test day… at Silverstone!

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A very fast pedal car…

Formula One isn’t my favourite sport on TV. If you ask me it’s a bit like watching cars drive past on the M1. However Oval invited us to lunch at a test day to see their latest developments in Aero products and have a spot of lunch, so we could hardly refuse.

I was advised to wait outside the entrance to Silverstone and wait for Morgan Nicol, the Founder and President of Oval Concepts, he would bring me a pass to get into the highly secure paddock area. Who should show up to meet me but Magnus Backstedt, ‘fresh’ from the Tour of Catalunia, he’s an Oval test pilot riding components ‘into the ground’ so that they can assess them and get valuable feedback from an experienced pro rider.

Specialists in aerodynamics

Oval are a small component design and engineering company, based in Switzerland they have built a solid reputation in a very short space of time, partly because of their ground breaking aero fork designs, but also because of their ability to make a good carbon product.

Jordan are one of the leading carbon technologists in Formula 1 and have partnered Oval in making prototypes and test bars to their specification. Morgan Nicol (car names get everywhere) has been working on the latest TT bar and 12 prototypes will be made for testing by pro riders. Jordan have access to wind tunnels, stress testing rigs and state of the art manufacturing so they can provide a considerable advantage to a small company like Oval.

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Fast on a bike but wants to drive a fast car…

So this teamwork with Jordan will enable them to bring a pretty radical new aero bar to the market. It’s still a way off reaching the shops but should be available sometime next year and yes it will be really expensive. They have made the bar with integral brake levers and extension clamps which has certainly neatened it all up. The first few will be custom fitted and the extensions will be bonded into place. The same options will be available on the extensions (straight, curved etc)

As for the car testing, well it’s very noisy and surprisingly competitive, the pit lane is a hive of activity as the cars are rushed in and out of the garages. And they are really, really fast. But there is a lot more to this arrangement as Jordan are keen to point out they are keen to spread their considerable expertise into other sports and Cycling is very popular with the drivers and engineers.

off for another 200mph lap…

We had a trip around the circuit to see the cars at different corners and even I was impressed with the speed and ability of these cars. They drive around 100 laps in testing and download piles of data, the technology is incredible as must be the amount of money it costs to run a team.

We were allowed to wander down the pitlane and check out the cars during the lunchstop. The carbon fibre panels and car parts are so light it’s a wonder that they stay on the track. There was one garage just full of tyre warmers and computer equipment, F1 has come a long way since Fangio.

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Oval on Backstedt’s TT bike

Jordan have Kestrel bikes kitted out with Oval components to train and ride around the paddock on, their drivers are using cycling as a main part of their training regime. I just wonder if they’ve fitted Michelin tyres to them though?

In the cycling world Oval have already won a major tour at last year’s Vuelta and Liberty Seguros are continuing as a fully supported Oval team. Magnus Backstedt is an Oval test pilot, he is already using a TT bar and a fork on his TT bike (see picture). Liquigas – Bianchi will be using Oval components in the Tour de France this year too. And like many top bike racers Magnus is a speed freak and is dead keen to have a go at car racing, if only they can find a car big enough.

More pictures of the Jet Stream designed TT bar later…

• Oval is Distributed in the UK by Upgrade Bikes Ltd. Tel: 01403 711 611
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