The UCI Hour Record is perhaps the purest discipline in cycling: man and machine against the clock. The man, Sir Bradley Wiggins, needs no introduction, and this the machine the 35-year-old role to smash the record.
Pinarello and Jaguar combined to provide Wiggins with this, the Pinarello Bolide HR – an adapted version of the Italian firm’s Bolide TT bike, on which
Wiggins won the world time trial title in Ponferrada last year.
Sir Bradley Wiggins smashes UCI Hour Record
Jaguar offered its aerodynamic expertise for the project, resulting in a claimed 7.5 per cent aero improvement over the roadworthy Bolide, thanks largely to a new one-piece handlebar, and updated fork design.
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This is the bike on which Wiggins covered 219 laps of the track at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark to set an new UCI Hour Record benchmark of 54.526km.
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Into the history books
Pinarello has a strong connection with the hour record, stretching back to 1994, when Wiggins' childhood hero, Miguel Indurain, undertook his successful attempt on the iconic Espada track bike. Fast forward to 2015 and the record once again belongs to the Italian firm, with Wiggins recording a distance of 54.526km on the Pinarello Bolide HR.
Given the high speed and the consistent conditions of an hour record attempt, aerodynamics and stiffness took primary importance in the design of the Pinarello Bolide HR. Pinarello used the Bolide TT bike as a starting point but, given that a track bike has no need for brakes or derailleurs, had some scope to improve the aerodynamics of the machine. Analysis of Computational Fluid Dynamics saw Pinarello update the fork. On the road version, the front of the fork is shaped to house the brake, while on the track version the brake isn't needed so the front of the fork can be smoother, resulting in a 'significant' reduction in drag. The frame is painted in the colours of Wiggins' new eponymous team, with flashes of gold throughout a reference to the 35-year-old's 11 Olympic and world titles.
Pinarello also sought to smooth airflow between the front wheel and fork by reducing the gap between the two, shaping the fork legs closer to the disc. The shape of the front dropout was also modified to reduce turbulence behind the dropout and subsequently improve airflow. Pinarello also took into account the fact that on the track a rider will spend almost half their time on the banking and so analysed the impact of lateral airflow.
Pinarello say that carbon fibre frames are traditionally made in two or more parts then bonded together, as this method allows for quicker and cheaper production, however this also adds weight and 'zones of possible stress concentration'. As a result, the Bolide HR frame was made in one piece to create the lightest, stiffest frame possible.
As a result of its position at the front of the bike, the handlebar plays a significant role in the overall aerodynamic performance of the machine. Again, CFD analysis was used, while also remaining within the UCI's 3:1 regulations (whereby a component or tube cannot have a length-to-width ratio which is more than 3:1), to reshape the handlebar, using 3D printing to produce the finished result.
"Behind the spacers for the arm rests, a low pressure zone is generated, because of the transition between the parts," reads Pinarello's white paper on the Bolide HR. "A proper design of this zone helps to reduce this, and consequently the drag. "Standard technologies, such as CNC or carbon moulding, would be excessively long and expensive to produce this particular shape, so we used an additive manufacturing method (also known as 3D printing) to manufacture a titanium handlebar. In the additive manufacturing technique a high energy source locally melts the powdered material (typically metal), as defined by a 3D model, binding the material together to create a solid structure. 3D Printing is a relatively new technology that so far has mainly been used for rapid prototyping and for low-volume production of component parts."
There is, however, only so much that can be designed on computer and Wiggins tested the bike extensively during training on the track, and this time was also used to decide upon the best gear for the record attempt. Wiggins and his team toyed with the idea of using a 60t-tooth chainring with a 14-tooth rear sprocket, before switching to a 59-14t combination, however a late decision was then made to go for a 58-14t setup.