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Was it ever in doubt? Filippo Ganna’s Hour Record attempt was always likely to be something special, and he duly delivered with a stunning 56.792 km to eclipse both Dan Bigham’s previous benchmark and the so-called “best human effort” of 56.3 km set by Chris Boardman in 1996.
Much has been made of Ganna’s 3D-printed Pinarello Bolide F HR, and rightly so. The new Pinarello has not only set two new Hour Records in just two public outings, but it also gives a glimpse into the future of frame manufacturing and aero tech.
We got up close with both Ganna’s race and spare bikes just minutes after his stunning ride to bring you this new Pinarello in all its glory.
Done and dusted. After two new world records in the space of two months, 56.792 km will surely stand for quite a while.
Top Ganna by name, the top-est rider of all time by nature.
The Bolide moniker has donned several innovative Pinarello aero frames over the past decade, but this latest iteration, a 3D printed, humpback whale inspired, ultra-narrow track bike must surely be the most innovative of all?
The humpback whale tubercle-mimicking ridges on the seat tube and down tube are said to help the airflow coming off the rider’s legs to attach to the aero profiled tubes and significantly reduce the drag of the overall rider and bike system.
The relatively deep ridges generate vortices in the troughs between the bumps on the seat tube, helping reduce airflow separation and hence the drag on the frame.
The new bike is also incredibly narrow. Pinarello focused on reduced frontal area as one way of further reducing the aero drag on the bike.
It’s remarkable just how narrow the new front end is…
Could barely slide a fiver in between that fork and disc wheel.
As narrow as the gap between fork and wheel are…
The 2mm between hub shell and fork leg is quite incredible. Furthermore, it’s not just a small gap between the fork and hubs, the hubs themselves are significantly narrower than standard hubs at just 69 mm (down from 100 mm) wide at the front and 89 mm (down from 120 mm) at the rear. Presumably the hubs were oiled rather than greased, the same setup Bigham used for his successful attempt in August.
It’s the same out back, the Bolide is so narrow it could almost slide between a wall and a picture frame.
Such a narrow bike needed narrower wheels, and Princeton Carbon Works created these bike-specific wheels for the Hour Record project. In fact, the wheels and hubs were designed for optimal efficiency in terms of both shape and width with the bike dropouts then made to match.
It’s not just about going fast, Ganna wanted to look good too. These Top Ganna chrome decals certainly tick that box.
Every aspect of frame, fork and wheel integration was considered. The head tube nose cone flows onto the fork head, which in turn flows onto the down tube, all in a way that complies with the UCI regulations. While the front wheel hugs the down tube cutout as close as possible.
The tyres are also narrow. 23 mm Continental GP 5000 TTs got the nod, and bulge out on the wide disc to almost seamlessly integrate with the disc wheel. Ganna was riding the same clincher setup as used by Bigham back in August, with pressures said to be “not quite the 15 bar you might put in a track tub, but significantly higher than you would run on the road.”
Narrow and deep, that’s the magic recipe for an aero profile. Head on, the frame and fork are extremely narrow, viewed from the side the tubes are very deep to improve the airflow over the bike and reduce drag.
Ganna’s bars are also custom made and 3D printed specifically for the new world record holder. The base bar is narrow and profiled, but it’s the extensions that are perhaps most interesting. The kinked risers are actually an aerodynamic intervention, designed to control the airflow onto Ganna’s legs and reduce the overall drag on the bike and rider system as a whole.
These channels in the elbow-like risers direct the airflow as it comes off the riser.
The exact shape of the extensions is designed to perfectly match Ganna’s forearms, maximise aerodynamic efficiency while still complying with the UCI regulations. The “elbow rests” are relatively high on the extension, presumably to bring the rests in line with the UCI’s 10 cm maximum height difference between the elbow support point and the highest point of the extension. As such, Ganna actually rests his forearms on the extensions rather than his elbows, it’s a position commonly adopted by those pushing right to the limits of the UCI regulations.
The grips themselves are different from the mesh-like grips Ganna has used on the road this year.
Sticking with big and narrow, Ganna used a Wattshop Cratus Aero modular crankset with a huge 65-tooth front chainring.
The crank arms are again phenomenally narrow as is the Q-Factor at just 134 mm. The crank lengths are adjustable, and while we don’t know which length Ganna opted for, the cranks offer anything from 160 mm right the way up to 175 mm, with the usual 2.5 mm jumps in lengths.
But again, what is narrow head on, is relatively huge when viewed from the side. Aero is everything and the Wattshop Cratus cranks are effectively one large aero profile with a great big chainring stuck to it. The chainrings themselves are low friction additive infused 1/8” track chainring. While the stepped edge chainring design ensures the outer plates of the chain sit flush with the chainring to reduce air-flow separation.
Ganna didn’t just have one bike, though. UCI regulations state all Hour Record attempts must have two approved bikes on site. The bike Ineos Grenadiers presented for photographs was actually Ganna’s spare bike, we did of course grab some photos of the actual record bike also.
The race bike was practically identical to spare bike, bar the inclusion of power meter pedals and a Garmin mounted under the saddle.
Oh, and a name badge seat post height marker.
The race bike was taken for a UCI check immediately post ride. This is the scene just moments after the finish with the cranks removed and a UCI commissaire on site presumably for some form of motor check. The motor (Ganna himself) had already dismounted the bike.
Ganna resisted the temptation of Speedplay Aero pedals used so often for track record attempts, and instead opted for Favero’s Assioma Shi power meter pedals. The Assioma Shi do add a considerable 13 mm to the system Q-Factor, but I guess when the bottom bracket of your 3D-printed track bike and the Q-Factor of your matching aero cranks is already so far reduced, the extra 13 mm might just bring the power pedals back up to a normal width. No doubt Dan Bigham was tearing his hair out somewhere at the thought of throwing away all those narrow-aero gains.
The Assioma Shi pedal spindles are not compatible with Dura-Ace pedal bodies, and so the Shimano Ultegra pedal body claimed its first Hour Record last night.
We caught a glimpse of the inner side of those cranks, chainring, and the crank spindle while the UCI did their bike checks. Note also just how narrow that non-drive side crank arm is.
The rear end of Ganna’s race bike is, again, pretty narrow with truncated aero profiles on the seat tube and seat post to smooth the airflow off the rear of the bike.
Ganna seemingly used the same Muc-Off treated Izumi Kai chain. Muc Off claim to have poured 700 hours of research and development into the chain and sprocket treatment process. The result is a chain claimed to be 30% more efficient that the stock component, and 7% more efficient than the optimised chain supplied for the Bigham record. The sprocket treatment alone is said to result in a 4% decrease in wattage losses. These sound like huge savings, but considering high-end drivetrain components are already so efficient the relatively large percentage savings here are found in areas of minuscule opportunity. That said, at “Ganna speed” and over the course of an hour, the savings could quickly add up to meaningful gains.
The drive-side of that Top Ganna disc wheel gets the Princeton Carbon Works logo treatment.
Ganna did have a third Pinarello track bike at his disposal on the night.