The 'Air Deflectors' featured on the new Bianchi Oltre RC will not be allowed in UCI-sanctioned events, cycling's governing body confirmed this week.
On Tuesday, Cyclingnews reported that the Air Deflectors were not part of the official approval process for the new bike, meaning that they cannot be used in races.
Last week, the bike was launched, described as a "hyperbike" by the Italian manufacturers. In order to go beyond the realm of the ordinary superbike, the all-new Oltre RC - which is the first complete frame/component platform designed and manufactured entirely by Bianchi according to the brand - is claimed to be an “unprecedented” aero bike.
It has Air Deflector technology which Bianchi explains is inspired not only by motor racing but also by aerospace and architecture. This is a world-exclusive, patent-pending technology that “simultaneously reduces the drag against the frame and amplifies the work done by the handlebar by protecting the low pressure it creates for the legs.”
The new aero cockpit is one of the most impactful and revolutionary aspects of the Oltre, according to the company. “The cavity in the centre generates a vortex behind it that reduces the air pressure and resistance hitting the athlete’s legs, so less power is needed to create more speed.”
However, it appears Bianchi was never intending for them to be used in UCI events, as when the bike was presented to the UCI for approval, the deflectors weren't fitted. That the Italians currently do not sponsor a WorldTour or Women's WorldTour team is a moot point.
"The Bianchi Oltre RC was presented and homologated without the so-called deflectors," the UCI told Cyclingnews. "Therefore the use of the mentioned parts will only be possible outside of UCI sanctioned events."
The deflectors apparently do not account for Article 1.2.034 in the UCI's technical regulations, which states:
"Protective screens, fuselages, fairings or any other device that is added or blended into the structure, and that is destined or have the effect of reducing resistance to air penetration, are prohibited. Aerodynamic assemblies and protuberances on the head tube or elsewhere are prohibited."
The deflectors appear to be removable, and while the parts themselves are illegal, the UCI said that the Bianchi Oltre RC remains legal without them.
Last week, Bianchi supplied figures that it says compare the new bike with the previous Oltre XR4, which made our Editor's Choice list in 2017. And these are:
-17.1 watts at 50kph
-5.1% CdA in crosswinds
-45 seconds over a distance of 40km
6.85kg in size 55
+30% advantage over the best aero race bikes(opens in new tab) on the market in variable wind conditions
Yes, 30% faster than the best aero race bikes on the market sounds like a lot - but Bianchi doesn’t name the competitor bikes it tested the Oltre RC against and there's no white paper supplied either.
However, there was no details supplied of how aerodynamic the bike is without the deflectors, which appears crucial now.
CW's resident aero expert and data scientist Tom Epton's take, last week, on the Bianchi Oltre RC is: "I think the idea of the inbuilt air channels is legit. It's a trickle down from F1. But the reality is, and I'd be interested to see some data, this type of thing saves very few watts. Way less than a change of position. So it's a poor investment from a £/W perspective."
The bike has not yet been ridden by any of our expert reviewers.
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