Tour de France winner Chris Froome and Team Sky will be riding a Jaguar-optimised Pinarello Dogma F8 bicycle in the gruelling three-week event next month. The team will race the bike for the remainder of the season.
Jaguar built its reputation on sporty, luxurious performance cars. Up to now, its involvement with Sky has been as a supplier of support vehicles. But this time it’s Jaguar’s aerodynamics skills that have been put to use – and the results have been eye-opening.
On its own, the new Dogma F8 is said to be 26,1 per cent more aerodynamic than the Dogma 65.1. With a rider mounted, it’s said to be 6,4 per cent more aerodynamic. Just the frameset is a staggering 40 per cent more aerodynamically efficient.
Why the fuss about aerodynamics? At the top end of the sport, tiny incremental gains can often make the difference. The significance of aerodynamics in cycling was recognised only in the 1980s. Before then, much of the focus was on lightening bikes. However, the sport’s governing body, the UCI, has set a minimum weight limit of 15 pounds (6,8 kg). It has also restricted the shape and design of competition bicycles.
The Dogma F8’s first race will be the Critérium du Dauphiné, which starts on June 8. Less than a month later it will be in action on the Tour de France, which starts in Leeds on July 5. Besides last year’s win, Team Sky also won in 2012, with Sir Bradley Wiggins.
Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Principal of Team Sky, singled out Jaguar’s use of advanced CFD [computational fluid dynamics] facility and skills. “I’m confident our riders will start the Tour de France on the fastest bike we’ve ever used,” Brailsford says.
More than 300 CFD “virtual” runs were done between October and January. The drag of every single component was measured so individual changes could be tracked. Wind tunnel tests were used to verify the CFD results. Jaguar uses the same methods to optimise the aerodynamics of its road cars.
So what have they changed from the bike’s original design?
* Aerofoil-shaped tubing that complies with UCI regulations
* A new aero seatpost
* Low-drag fork that ensures seamless airflow to the down tube
* Re-routing of the rear derailleur cable so that it exits the frame at the back of the dropout to reduce turbulence
* Three holes on the seat tube allow for a lower position for a second drink bottle, cutting drag.
* The seat monostay around the rear brake is now asymmetric. This channels airflow cleanly around the brake calliper, while using the minimal amount of material, Jaguar says. The upper section of the rear chain stay is also “heavily asymmetric”, they say.
Pinarello has made its own improvements to the Dogma F8 to maintain the handling, weight, stiffness and aerodynamics standards set by its predecessor. Weight has been cut by about 9 per cent and a better grade of Torayca T11001K carbon fibre has helped further stiffen it.
The real test is, though, how does it ride? By all reports, well. Defending Tour champion Chris Froome is reported to be very enthusiastic abut the new bike and is confident it will take him to a repeat win.
And there’s more to come, it seems. “This should be the first of many opportunities to support Team Sky technologically in the future,’‘says Mark Cameron, Global Brand Experience Director for Jaguar Land Rover.
* Previous collaborations between supercar and bicycle manufacturers include Ferrari and Colnago. Mclaren, Lexus and Lotus are among those who lent their names and expertise to high-tech machines.