TitanFlex’s aerodynamic credentials date back to 1999 when John Cobb was commissioned by Trek to aero-enhance Lance’s TT bike for the 2000 Tour de France. In suggesting the drag goals to shoot for John wanted to demonstrate to Trek that Softride wasn't the only slippery frame in production. John knew about TitanFlex since 1993 and asked to borrow a monocoque (AL-Ti) frame for this project.
For the sake of establishing base-line numbers bikes were set up to fit Lance, but tested without him onboard. John told me that when the TitanFlex was fitted with an aero seatpost, its drag was virtually the same as the Softride. Trek obviously had no reason to make any data public.
Fast forward to 2012…a new wind tunnel facility constructed explicitly for bicycle testing came on line in Scottsdale Arizona. The FASTER Aerodynamic Research Center offers state-of-the-art testing at significantly lower costs than tunnels originally built for airplanes and automobiles.
FASTER is also a Scott and Cervelo dealer, so they were able to provide bikes with superior aero attributes--a Cervelo P3 and a Scott Plasma 2. All bikes were tested with the same Profile Altair 52 wheelset, Michelin Lithion tires, Fi'zi:k Arione Tri 2 saddle and Profile’s Ozero base bar, T2+ clip-ons and ABS brake levers. Everything was set up in the same X-Y coordinate locations thereby harmonizing stack, reach and pitch. Sadly, Lance was not available to hop aboard.
Nominal wind speed was 30 mph. The wheels were spun at 23 mph. The bikes were mounted on a platform and slowly rotated 25 degrees in both directions from the wind source to simulate real-world conditions. In all runs at least two drag force recordings were made at each 5 degree increment of rotation (yaw).
On average, the TitanFlex AL-Ti tested slightly slipperier than both the Cervelo P3 and Scott Plasma 2. Click here for the detailed results.
Click here for data comparing the TitanFlex AL-Ti with the Transition model.
My perspective as a cyclist and coach for 25+ years is understanding that a bike's drag is a fraction of the total drag experienced when the rider is onboard. For this reason I believe the holy grail of fast cycling is the "sweet spot" position that optimizes power production whilst minimizing total drag...for the duration of an event--not just for the time it takes to conduct a fit session. Achieving this position is constrained by strength, flexibility and comfort. Strength and flexibility fall in the realm of training. TitanFlex addresses the comfort factor. Similar to the benefits of compression apparel, the titanium boom’s suspension properties reduce road vibration--and its resulting fatigue--permitting a rider to sustain the most aerodynamic position their strength and flexibility will allow.
|Titanflex AL-Ti||Titanflex Transition|
|Cervelo P3||Scott Plasma 2|