|Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish will both be riding these things in this year's Tour de France. |
Their teammates, however, will not.
There is a pretty sketchy catch to that claim, though. Read on.
|One of the secrets to the bike's aerodynamic slipperiness are these special faired-in brakes. I'm assuming they are unique to this particular bike, and they look like they'd be a nightmare to work on.|
The comparison is not between competing aero road bikes, but rather, between the Venge ViAS and the company's own Tarmac "normal" road bike. To make the claims more blurry, the tests consisted of the rider on the Venge wearing an aero skin suit and aerodynamic helmet, while the rider on the Tarmac was wearing more "standard" bike clothing and helmet. Even Specialized's own calculations say that about half of the time savings could be attributed to those differences.
Here's a telling quote from one of the cheerleading sites:
"Before the launch was held, there was heated debate inside the company about whether inviting journalists to test in this way was a good idea. What if the results weren't impressive? Perhaps this is why we tested aero setup vs standard setup instead of just the bikes themselves with identical clothing and helmet. Nonetheless, even if the bike difference was half, it is still a huge difference."
Umm. . . no, it really isn't.
More than that, though, is the fact that much of the calculating comes from computer modeling and lab testing -- but every company that pushes some new technological breakthrough loves to point to lab tests that "prove" their new product will save X seconds over Y miles. How much of that holds up to "real world" riding or racing, though? Can a bike that's being raced in the middle of a peloton deliver on that promise of time saved? Or will the effect of riding in a pack (even at the front of that pack) negate most of the claims in the heat of competition?
Lastly, unless someone is a top-level professional racer, what does it even matter?
Only a skeptical and cynical retrogrouch would bother to ask those questions, though. The performance-addicts will happily put themselves into debt over those questionable 120 seconds.