For his first competitive time trial outing since the Giro d’Italia, Bradley Wiggins will be on a newly-minted Pinarello Bolide at the Tour of Poland. It’s gold people, gold. Fit for a future individual World time trial champion?
Bradley Wiggins only rode his Pinarello Bolide time trial bike in anger once in the 2013 Giro d’Italia and he didn’t even finish the stage on it. If you recall Wiggins punctured and needed a bike change, finally finishing second on the stage by 10 seconds. Not that stage winner Alex Dowsett was bothered. The mechanic who built the new-for-Poland Bolide, Sky mechanic Alan Williams (@Williams1910), recalls watching that fateful Giro stage.
“I remember him hitting a pothole and thinking, ‘Uh-oh, that was a rough one, I wonder if he got away with that and then… puncture. But it was good for (ex-Sky rider) Alex (Dowsett), though I reckon Brad would have won the stage if he hadn’t needed a bike change.”
And speaking of bike changes, the Bolide in Poland is the same model Wiggins rode in Italy, albeit with a few modifications and, of course, a few modish decals added. If you are Olympic time trial champion, you can probably get away with a bit of gold on your time trial machine and a unique design on the head tube to replace the Pinarello logo.
“The Bolide was basically designed around Bradley, they used him as a model,” explained Williams, “it was Dimitris Katsanis, one of the aerodynamics guys attached to the Olympic ‘Secret squirrel’ team who helped design it, it was his baby really. When we put the bike in the wind tunnel – with no rider on it – it was 23 per cent more efficient than the Graal. Even with a rider on it, it’s four per cent better than the old bike. OK, four per cent doesn’t sound like a lot, but at this level, it all counts.”
Such is Williams’ attention to detail, there was even debate about what to do with the handlebar width adjuster screw holes. “Last year we put some silicon in there and tried some screw heads, but in the end, it just adds a little bit of weight, so we left them out.” Yes, cut down screws and silicon sealant add weight and, at this level, you don’t need that, not even a few grammes.
And there’s a new saddle for Poland and the back end of the season – including the Verona World time trial championships that represent one of Wiggins’ targets for the end of the season. “The UCI banned you from sticking on any non-slip strips to the saddle, so Fizik designed a new saddle with a non-slip material stitched in to the nose. Edvald actually tried it out at the Olympics.
Almost inevitably, a bike with brake shrouds and internal cable routing, tight clearances everywhere takes more than 30 minutes with a multi-tool to assemble. Williams admits that the first time he received the new Bolide he “laid all the bits out, every nut and bolt on a big sheet of cardboard” and took his time. It took a day, to be honest, but once you get the hang of it and understand how it goes together, you can do it in about half an hour.”
The frame has all the drillings and secret compartments required for Shimano’s Di2 gruppo, with the transistor in the top tube and battery in the down tube, accessed via the head tube. But Wiggins is running mechanical 11-speed and it’s got nothing to do with any ‘old-school’ affectations.
“The levers on the mechanical group set mean that Bradley can actually stretch out about 5mm longer and hang his hands off the front of the levers,” notes Williams, “because the UCI measure from the centre of the moving part of the lever, so there’s no worries there.”
But, if the mechanical levers are ‘old’ then the rear disc is decidedly new. “It’s actually wider, more teardrop, than the old Pro disc, it is a lot wider, so much so that it wouldn’t actually fit into the Graal. The Bolide frame was actually designed with that rear disc in mind.” From which you imagine a lot of the aero benefit accrues.
And where is the Osymetric ring that Wiggins used? “There wasn’t any benefit,” states Williams, “or if there is, there’s not a lot in it, so Bradley is running a round 55 chainring rather than the 56 he and Froomey were using with Osymetric. The ring wasn’t as stiff as a Shimano, so there was the possibility of some flex when you were sprinting on it or climbing. Plus the shape of the ring meant the rear mech was moving forward and back a lot to take up the slack.
“There might have been some benefit in it from a psychological point of view, but I think for there to be any benefit at all you need to be a tall rider, you needed to sit well back in the saddle and have your hip and knee at a certain angle to get anything from it, so someone like Sergio (Henao) would end up fighting to get the ring over the dead spot.”
In other words, there was no ban on the French design.
So, if you need this, the last word in aero slickness, fear not, all the parts are in mass production and you can get one to rattle round the club ’10’ on a Wednesday night if you have the right credit rating. It would set you back around £15,000, but you might get a deal for cash if you turned up at Pinarello in person waving a wad of Euros. But you’d not get gold paint, no gold SRM Power Control 7 and no RAF/mod roundel either. You have to earn those, not just buy them.