‘A monumental celebration of road cycling’ is how the Rouleur Classic event is dubbed and, if you’re into bikes, then it is all that and more besides. This two-wheeled dreamfest takes place from the 2nd to the 4th of November 2017 at Victoria House, London and it’s a must-see event. British Pro cyclist Adam Blythe will be speaking at the event on behalf of Ridley Bikes, but he’s keen to see what else is on offer too.
And, while Adam might have bags of talent, he’s also benefited from technical advances in the world of cycling over the years. “I personally think skin suits with pockets have changed cycling,” he says, “you don’t often see many shorts and jerseys in racing these days.”
A good example of this is the POC Raceday Speed Suit, which has been engineered to improve aerodynamic efficiency and offers a combination of performance, ventilation and support. The woven stretch fabric used on the shoulders reduces drag and improves aerodynamic performance, while the comfortable 4-way stretch main body fabric is highly breathable.
Elsewhere, the Endura D2Z Encapsulator TT Suit has been developed with Drag2Zero and was tested at the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 wind tunnel. It’s based on aero technology and has been refined in collaboration with Movistar Team and the Cervélo-Bigla cycling teams, so it’s designed to perform.
Other changes are also afoot in the world of pro cycling according to Adam. “I think aero bikes and all the equipment on them has to be the most exciting development at the moment,” he adds. “Every bike manufacturer wants to have the most aero yet lightest bike available, which is driving advancement in bike technology. With disc brakes becoming more and more popular, I think that gives wheel and tyre companies a big chance to develop their products to be faster.”
So what else to expect of the Rouleur Classic then? It’s an event that showcases the best that the cycling world has to offer, so expect a feast of two-wheeled treats. The Cervelo P5X, for example, is a highlight. Aero excellence is integral to Cervélo’s DNA, and the P5X time trial bike is no exception. More than 180 hours of wind-tunnel testing, along with extensive CFD analysis of 150-plus frame iterations, pushed the limits of performance further than ever before to create the P5X. Then there’s the Colnago K-Zero, which features reduced drag thanks to integrated brakes and the handlebar and stem assembly all being one unit.
The Factor Slick TT, meanwhile, has been developed with supreme handling in mind. It features a Twin Vane Evo design combined with the widest-possible bottom bracket – BBRight. Factor were able to make sure that the Slick was stiff enough to handle the forces generated by a top level pro when putting out maximum wattage. They increased the size of the chainstays to better handle the pedalling loads and created the wide stance seatstays to improve rear-end stiffness. The design also allows the wind to move more smoothly over the back of the bike.
Helmet design is another area that has evolved immensely over the years, so does Adam think cycling safety has improved since he’s been on two wheels? “I think if we went back 10 years and there were the same amount of cyclists on the road now as back then, I would say no. But with so many cyclists on the road today it suggests that cycling is safer. Now you see as many cyclists as taxis in and around London these days, which is great, but I feel there is a lot more work to be done.”
In terms of competition helmets then the Giro Aerohead MIPS takes safety and aerodynamics that little bit further. Giro pioneered the aerodynamic helmet category with the original Advantage in 1985, and have now redefined it with the Aerohead MIPS. It’s their fastest time trial helmet ever. Using a polycarbonate shell, trademarked wind tunnel ventilation and internal channeling, this helmet is proven to boost cooling power by nearly 10-percent while remaining aerodynamic.
Back with the bikes, and the 796 MONOBLADE RS is LOOK's most aerodynamic two-wheeler to date with 100% of its components developed by LOOK themselves and seamlessly integrated into the frame. This amazing specimen is the result of more than 10 years of research and development conducted by their design engineers. However, it’s the Ridley Dean FAST that sits among the very fastest time trial bikes on the planet thanks to sculpted, wind-cheating designs, moulded-in F-surface technology and all-internal cable routing.
With Adam keeping his eyes on the latest performance gear at the event, the Santini Speedshell Road Speedsuit is likely to catch his eye. The combination of materials allows the suit to cover your muscles like a second skin, providing maximum aerodynamic advantage. The innovative NAT chamois with NEXT technology core provides a cooling effect that helps to improve circulation, guaranteeing maximum comfort while you push on your pedals.
That said, Adam is also quick to cite his own best-ever kit favourite… “I think the best bit of kit I’ve owned are my custom Nike shoes. I couldn’t live without them,” he says. On the other hand, is there any area within cycling that needs further improvement? “I think gears. We have just increased the amount of gears we have in the last 10 years. Nothing else, apart from a larger choice. I think we need to see gears in the hubs of wheels, no cassettes, no rear mechs. Everything internal.”
Going back to safety gear though, Specialized's most advanced Win-Tunnel-developed aerodynamics and ventilation has resulted in the S-Works TT Helmet. It sports a removable shield, and ultra-light construction, but it’s the striking Bullet Helmet that provides an answer to the age-old dilemma of ventilation versus aerodynamics. With its narrow shape and closed shell it is a seriously aerodynamic creation, but a quick adjustment to the Airslide system turns it into a helmet with sufficient ventilation to tackle climbs on hot days.
Last, but not least, the Storck Aero 2 Platinum is an uncompromising and super-light machine with minimal drag due to its rigorous aerodynamic tube design and Zeitjäger time-trial aero handlebar. It features carbon-integrated brakes, versatile adjustment of the saddle and the frame can be equipped with electronic as well as mechanical shifting components. In addition, a high stiffness-to-weight ratio ensures optimal power transmission.
So, is there anything on show at the Rouleur Classic that he would love to own himself? “I’m mad for anything that’s a one off,” reckons the pro cyclist. “Something individual will always tickle my fancy.”
And what would he say is the most important aspect of a winning team in cycling – the bike or the rider? “Always the rider,” adds Adam. “But the bike helps. A lot.”
Pro cyclist Adam Blythe will be speaking at the Rouleur Classic on behalf of Ridley Bikes. Rouleur Classic, the world’s finest cycling exhibition, takes place from the 2nd to the 4th of November in London.