Kona 2016 – CUBE Kona Prototype

Everyone brings their A-game to Kona, especially the manufacturers. And while this usually shows up in the form of product launches, sometimes this means full on prototypes. And based on the gallery below, Andreas Raelert will be rocking one of the most sinister looking of all.

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Last year the CUBE Aerium C:68 was put through a battery of wind tunnel testing by Swiss Side’s expert aerodynamics team and modified for best possible performance. The bike was then equipped with Swiss Side HADRON Ultimate 800+ aero wheels, and Swiss Side tells us it ultimately saved Raelert 10-plus minutes over the 180 km bike course.

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For this year, the engineers at CUBE are, once again, working together with the aerodynamics team at Swiss Side to create a bike specifically for the 2016 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. With over 50 years of Formula 1 experience, Swiss Side’s engineering team is number one in aerodynamics, bringing the latest technologies to cycling research and development. Raelert’s new triathlon time trial bike was developed with development methods used in Formula 1, including analyses computational fluid dynamics (CFD), wind tunnel testing, performance simulations and measurements with the unique Instrumented Bike.

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While future production versions may include integrated storage and hydration (becoming common on most, if not all, super bikes), this bike was built specifically for Andy’s needs. As Swiss Side tells us, the naked, clean bike solution presented is the fastest in terms of aero and the one which maximizes the performance for Andy.

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Speaking with Swiss Side, the enlarged bottom bracket area actually comes from the drive for low cross wind sensitivity, (details below). Swiss Side also saw that minimizing cross-wind sensitivity is key to performance because the rider can remain confidently in their low aero position for a great proportion of time. As the rider is 75-80% of the total drag of the bike and rider system, minimizing rider drag is where the real performance gains can be made. Therefore, Swiss Side approached the design with such a holistic approach. Their aim is not to design the fastest bike or wheels, but to design the fastest complete bike and rider system.

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So minimizing the cross-wind sensitivity was a driving parameter in the development of this bike. There were two resultant features from this approach. Firstly, the slotted head tube which acts like a slotted wing on an aircraft, delaying the stall of the head tube area to higher-cross wind angles, which means lower sensitivity and increased sailing effect (drag reduction with cross-wind).

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Secondly the enlarged bottom bracket area helps keep the center of pressure of the frame low, making the bike less roll sensitive in wind gusts and more stable for the rider. From a structural point of view, it also fit well with the low-mounted seat stays, which was done for aero drag reasons. Cube is considering using this enlarged BB area for equipment storage, but it will be a structural consideration as they continue to develop the bike towards the production version.

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When it comes to benchmarks and comparisons, the team wasn’t able to provide full details other than to say the new Cube bike is a significant step ahead of the competition. Or as they put it: “The results do not disappoint!”

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Stay tuned tomorrow to see if all the hard work by CUBE and Swiss Side pay off. You can find live coverage via Ironman.com, including a live blog and video stream, which will begin on Saturday, Oct. 8 at approximately 6:25 a.m. HST (9:25 a.m. on the West Coast and 12:25 p.m. on the East Coast).

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